Wednesday, May 26, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Hi Haley,

I have been a negligent sister of late, which is why I’m giving you a particularly juicy post. Don’t expect a lot of words, here. It’s 8:11 on my kitchen clock. It’s been some time since we’ve lived together but you might remember that I’m not exactly a barrel of sunshine in the wee hours. And when one starts one’s work day at 10:00 at the earliest, that makes 8:00 the equivalent of 6:00. So instead of feeling guilty for sitting here in a tattered green robe with no inclination of brushing my hair for at least another hour, I’m pleased by ---kettle boiling---my early rise and this industrious start to the day. Oh, and there’s Caleb, doing a monkey dance in purple underwear. This is my world.

Time for an Americano or two and a piece of toast.

This is my country whole wheat sourdough bread.

It’s nearly 100% whole wheat, save for the starter which is made from all purpose flour. It’s really good. The crust is crusty! The texture is open--it’s a very rustic bread with not much of a sour flavour to it; the starter is fairly mild and overrun by the flavour of whole wheat. You can use the starter to make other types of sourdough bread.

You need to take a week in advance to make the starter, which you can then keep indefinitely in your Frigidaire. You also need to be flexible and ready to pay attention to your intuition.

1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 cup warm water
¼ tsp active dry yeast

Mix, then let stand at room temp until tripled in volume, 8 to 24 hrs. Refrigerate for three days.

½ cup water
¼ cup flour

Cover and refrigerate for three more days.

It’s ready to use. Every time you use it, you must feed it. To feed the starter, divide it in half. Half you will use for your recipe, and the other half you will feed and return to the fridge. After dividing add 1 cup flour and ½ cup water and return the starter to the fridge.


½ your starter
½ cup water
1 cup flour
Combine these ingredients. Let the preferment sit at room temperature from 8 to 12 hours. It should be bubbly and have risen noticeably.

Add to the Preferment:
5 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp salt
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water (you may need to add an extra ¼ cup water if dough is too stiff)

Mix using a wooden spoon. Then use your hands to lift and fold the dough over on itself. This is to ensure that all the ingredients get incorporated throughout the dough. The dough will be quite wet and sticky. It will get all over your hands. If you want to minimize the dough to hand stick, wet your hands before touching the dough.

First Rise: Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 8 to 10 hours. The dough will have risen but it doesn’t need to have doubled.

Flour your counter top then use a spatula to scrape the dough onto your counter. Use a knife to cut it in two. Flour your hands and shape each dough hunk into a boule (fancy word for ball). Flour two cotton tea towels and set each in a colander or bowl. This is where you will place your dough to rise. The bowl/colander will give the dough shape as it rises.

Second Rise: Let the boules rise for 2 to 2.5 hours. They will have risen noticeably and look sort of puffy. They will not necessarily double.

Baking: Half an hour before you plan to bake the dough (ie, when the dough has half an hour left of rising time), place two round casserole dishes or over-safe pots into your oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you don’t have round pots you can use square but round are much preferred.

After 20 minutes to half an hour of preheating time. Put on your oven mitts and remove the pots from the oven. Gently put your hands under one boule and tip it into a pot. Put the lid on top and place it gently in the oven. It will deflate a bit. Don’t bang the pot into the oven as you don’t want to add to the deflation. Repeat with the second boule. Bake the boules with the lids on the pots for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lids and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Let the bread cool completely before cutting in to it.


  1. Purple underwear? Monkey dance? Hhhmmm.. Our worlds aren't so different.. except that my monkey is not-quite 3. I'm going to get that starter going asap!

  2. Shoot. I should have checked your website out first before succumbing to the recipe for a sourdough starter in my bread book this afternoon. Yours is waaay simpler. Thank you for it. The bread looks yummy. The one I'm attempting in apparently 9 days has cranberries in it. Keep up the awesome site!