“Turkey” variety Heirloom Wheat
We have recently begun using flour milled from heirloom wheat in some
of our breads. Our heirloom flour is supplied by the Heritage Grain and
Seed Company in Lawrence from “Turkey” variety hard red winter
wheat, grown by Bryce Stephens in Decatur County, Kansas, and milled by
Heartland Mill, in Marienthal, Kansas.
“Turkey” variety hard red winter wheat was introduced to Kansas
in1873, carried by Mennonite immigrants from Crimea in the Ukraine, fleeing
Russian forced military service. While no statistics were kept of the
actual amount of seed carried in this earliest introduction, estimates
based on vernacular history range from as little as 360 pounds (one peck
per each of 24 families) to as much as 36,000 pounds (one bushel per each
of the 600 families). This is enough to plant 6 to 600 acres.
The Mennonite history relates that this seed was carefully hand selected
for the soundest kernels and packed in the luggage of the immigrants on
their long journey to new farms in a new and distant land. These farm
families gave us more than seed – they also carried with them the
agricultural knowledge and skills necessary for this crop to be successful
in Kansas – where the climate and soils were much like in their
lands in the Ukraine.
The farmers and the wheat thrived – the variety proved well-adapted
to the soils and the hot summers and cold winters of the Kansas plains.
In the mid-1880s, grainsman Bernard Warkentin imported some 10,000 bushels
of “Turkey” seed from the Ukraine, the first commercially
available to the general public.That 10,000 bushels (600,000 pounds) would
plant some 150 square miles (10,000 acres). By the beginning of the twentieth
century, hard red winter wheat, virtually all of it “Turkey,”
was planted on some five million acres in Kansas alone. In the meantime,
it had become the primary wheat variety throughout the plains from the
Texas panhandle to South Dakota. Without “Turkey” wheat there
would be no “Breadbasket.”
Today hard red winter wheat is planted to twice the acreage in Kansas
than a century ago, some ten million acres. While half the genes in the
modern wheat crop have their origin in the old “Turkey” wheat,
only a hundred acres of actual “Turkey” were planted for harvest
in the summer of 2009, on the same northwest Kansas farm that is the source
of the heirloom flour in our bread.
In the field, Turkey is taller than its modern semi-dwarf descendents.
It yields less wheat per acre, but does retain its cold and drought hardiness
and its resistance to the most common wheat diseases. We love its baking
qualities and the flavor of the bread we make with it. While we have no
illusions of “Turkey” dominating the high plains again, we
are proud to be playing a part in its survival as a living crop.
Our hearth loaves are handcrafted fresh daily
working, early-rising bakers who apply their talent and
personal touch at each stage of the baking process.
We use either natural levain or yeast preferments in our breads. While
this requires more time and attention from our bakers, it results in better
tasting, better textured bread for you.
All WheatFields hearth breads are baked on the masonry
sole of our wood-fired Spanish oven. The J. Llopis oven imparts
unique crust and crumb flavor and texture and is a joy to use. We burn
fewer than 12 cubic feet of local hardwood per day to bake hundreds of
Baguette: The French standard. A crisp crust and an open,
irregular crumb with lots of yeast fermentation flavor make ours a true
classic. Great for sandwiches, crostini, or on its own.
Ciabatta: As Italian as the baguette is French. Somewhat
flat, somewhat rectangular, Ciabatta has a wildly open crumb and a complex
fermentation flavor. We add a touch of extra virgin olive oil.
Country French: Our flagship Pain au Levain is naturally
leavened and made with organic unbleached flour with stone ground wheat
Kalamata Olive: WheatFields Sourdough, loaded with ripe
Kalamata olives. Maggie Glezer (Artisan Baking Across America) calls ours
“by far the best.” Available as either a regular boule or
a “mini”: too big to be called a roll, too small for a loaf.
Multigrain: Naturally leavened wheat dough loaded with
whole sprouted wheat, oats, flaxseed and sunflower seeds. 100% organic
Pain de Campagne is, literally, Country Bread, and is
the traditional bread of the villagers and farmers of the French countryside.
Historically, PdC had as much as 10% rye flour, was risen with levain
and baked in a wood-fired oven. Ours is all of that, plus, we add some
spelt (l'epautre) flour and season with sun-and-wind-dried Breton sea
salt. 100% organic flour.
Pain Ordinaire: A simple loaf of everyday French bread.
Made with unbleached flour and a yeast preferment. Really not so ordinary.
Pecan Raisin: Pecan halves and sweet Thompson raisins
in a light, naturally leavened dough. Perfect toasted and spread with
sweet creamery butter.
Rustic Italian Round: Choose from our plain or rosemary
loaves every day. Rustics are made of very wet dough that gets lots of
fermentation time. The results are round crusty loaves rich in flavor
with an irregular open crumb. Risen with bakers’ yeast and an overnight
Pane della Famiglia is a large Rustic Round, though
the flavor is somewhat enhanced by the longer baking time required for
the larger loaf. The crust of the best loaves is flour striated and chocolate-brown
approaching ebon on the sides.
Semolina Bread: WheatFields’ interpretation of
this southern Italian classic. Durum wheat flour gives this bread a golden
hue and a chewy crumb. We bake semolina baguettes, loaves, and rolls.
Some get topped with sesame seeds, others with a poppy-sesame mix.
Sourdough Rye: Classic deli bread great for Reuben, pastrami,
and ham and Swiss sandwiches. Try it with smoked salmon and wasabi mayo,
open faced. Our seeded version has black and brown caraway. On certain
days, we offer fruited, onion, or seedless versions. 100% organic flour.
Spelt Bread: Milled from an ancient variety of wheat,
our stone-ground whole grain spelt flour comes from our friends at Heartland
Mill in Marienthal, Kansas. 100% organic flour.
Steel-cut Oat: Another of our classic naturally leavened
breads with a portion of organically grown steel-cut oats.
Walnut Raisin: Thompson raisins and California walnuts
in our naturally leavened Pain de Campagne dough. Toast it at breakfast,
of course, but also try a soft goat cheese spread atop. 100% organic flour.
Walnut Sage: Country French with walnuts and fresh sage.
We serve our immensely popular “No. 9” sandwich on this bread.
The sage and walnuts complement the turkey-cranberry pairing –our
“everyday is Thanksgiving” bread.
WheatFields Sourdough: Mildly (but distinctly) sour.
our organic unbleached flour and a hint of rye, leavened with
WheatFields’ own sourdough culture.
100% Whole Wheat: The heartiest in our Pain au Levain
series, this loaf is about as fundamental as bread can be: 100% organic
wheat ground between natural granite millstones and baked on the hearth
of a wood-fired oven. Made with a natural wheat levain. 100% organic flour.
Rolls: We make rolls from several of our doughs: rustic
rolls from French , brötchen from MultiGrain, sesame-coated from
Semolina, and the always-popular ciabattine.
Bagels: Every Sunday morning we bake bagels the old
formed, boiled, hearth-baked, and, of course, organic flour.
We may occasionally bake breads that are not described on
this list. Rest assured that they will live up to what you have come to
expect from WheatFields breads.