Simple, no-knead Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread is made from freshly milled wheat berries, salt, water, and a sourdough starter. That’s it! It’s the staple bread I make for our family and the children even request it! I share the secret of how to make sourdough bread using all wheat flour! It’s possibly the BEST wheat Artisan loaf!
Sourdough Bread Recipe
My sourdough journey began when a friend gifted me a jar of her homemade sourdough starter. I was a beginner trying to make a good loaf of sourdough bread. However, I was shocked to find out how complicated some recipes were, so, I was determined to make it easy!
Although I began my first Artisan bread with mostly bread flour and a three-day process I’ve thankfully come to a much easier method in creating a good sourdough loaf! However, what made everything more challenging was that my husband was requesting whole wheat sourdough bread from the beginning. The hardest part? Most recipes call for a combination or part wheat flour as 100% wheat can make denser bread when used in full, but not this loaf because, I have a secret for success!
Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
My goal for making a sourdough bread recipe, was for it to be simple, 100% whole wheat, and delicious! To my surprise, I was able to come to a bread recipe that tasted like Candian Black bread, (if your Slavic you probably know that tangy rye bread that many love!)
This simple Sourdough Bread is perfect for the beginner or everyday cook who wants to make their family a nutritious loaf of naturally leavened bread! It’s a simple hands-off method and to be honest, I only slap and fold it maybe once or a few times during the day. So, basically, you just need a few minutes to combine the wheat flour and water overnight, and a few minutes in the morning to mix the sourdough starter in with salt. The rest of it is mostly hands-off until the shaping part in the evening.
The overnight process may take a step longer, but the timing is perfect for my busy schedule as I can feed the sourdough starter and mix the wheat and water the night before. Once the dough is made early the next morning the whole process is nearly hands-off and you shape the loaves in the evening. You can either bake it that night or refrigerate the dough to make a crunchier crust. I’ve baked this bread either way and must admit refrigerating before baking made a nicer bread crust!
(The loaves in the photo were refrigerated after shaping, which means I soaked the flour the night before, made the dough the next morning, and refrigerated the dough that night to bake it the next morning.)
This no-knead bread is currently a favorite bread recipe that we make from a sourdough starter and it’s a gratifying feeling once you take beautiful loaves out of the oven!
Secret To Using All Whole Wheat Flour in Sourdough Bread?
So, you may be wondering, what’s the secret to using all whole wheat flour in sourdough bread? Here it is, it’s soaking the flour in water the night before you make the dough. This creates an elastic dough easy to work with since it hydrates the wheat flour. It’s a must if you want to use ALL whole wheat flour, especially from wheat berries.
What is a Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is made without commercial yeast, but rather a sourdough starter (cultured flour.) A sourdough starter is basically natural leavening made from a sponge of flour and water. You can make a starter in as quick as 5 days! Use as you would yeast only in bigger amounts as it’s a sponge.
So, it’s bread made with sourdough starter instead of yeast, like in the ancient times, except sourdough is still widely used throughout many bread baking industries like bagel shops!
The preparation method for sourdough bread typically consists of fermenting the dough long enough to leaven the dough and can take up to a 3-day process including fermentation, refrigeration, and baking. Some bread recipes can be baked the same day, however, a true Artisan loaf is a minimal 2-day project.
Sourdough bread can be served any time of the day, including a savory brunch, fun breakfast idea, or dinner! Serve it with a tossed salad for lunch or a meaty deli sandwich for dinner! It’s similar to a hearty rye bread loaf, that Russians and Ukrainians enjoy especially with Red Beet Soup (Borscht.) You can also make a hearty Rueben sandwich with this sourdough bread!
Bake Sameday vs Refrigeration:
The most traditional way to make Sourdough bread (Artisan bread) is to refrigerate the dough after the loaves have been shaped. Massive production Artisan Baker’s will feed the sourdough starter a day in advance and prepare a massive amount of loaves the next day with the previously fed starter. Since they make so many loaves, they bake the same day they make the loaves. However, keep in mind they use commercial ovens that may even produce steam for a crunchier crust.
Baking bread for the home cook is still possible, however, the extra step of refrigerating the dough can make a drastic difference in the texture of the crust. Since most home ovens don’t have water injectors, one can add a steaming pan of hot water to the bottom of the oven rack to create a steam oven at home.
To bake the same day- shape dough into loaves 2 hours before baking to allow the bread to rise. Bake at 500°F covered for 25 minutes, then uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
Proofing the loaves- overnight can make a better crust texture. Form dough into loaves and then allow them to rise for at least 30 minutes. Place into a Banneton proofing basket and refrigerate covered.
How To Make Sourdough Bread?
To make a sourdough bread recipe follow these easy steps;
- Mix the wheat flour and water to form a dough. Set aside.
- Take out your sourdough starter and feed it. Leave the flour mixture and sourdough starter, overnight, at room temperature.
- The next morning, make the dough. Combine the starter, wheat flour mixture, and salt. Mix the dough together with your hands and allow the dough to sit and ferment all day.
- Slap and fold the dough a few times throughout the Proofing time (2-3 times in total.) The dough rises best in warm places.
- In the evening, shape and form the dough into loaves.
- Bake same-day or refrigerate the loaves overnight.
Baker’s Tip: bake your bread at a high oven setting of 450°F-500°F, covered. This will steam and create a beautiful bakery-style crust.
How to Make Sourdough Starter?
A sourdough starter is cultured flour, which basically means you are combining flour and water to sour (leaven) the sponge. Starters are usually wet, similar to a sponge. To start your own sourdough starter, mix equal amounts of flour and water for up to 21 days or until the starter passes the float test. This can take 7-21 days depending on the flour and climate.
I’ve had the best and strongest starter when using all unbleached white flour. When I would occasionally add wheat flour to my starter it was much weaker and resulted in many flat loaves of bread. Unfortunately, I had to discard that starter.
Then, I was given a sourdough starter that was originally maintained for years and years by a relative. My aunt had asked a baker to share some and from then on, she’s maintained it and shared it with others. It is the strongest sourdough starter that I’ve ever had! This stuff foams after I feed it!
My advice is to start a sourdough starter that perhaps someone has already kept up with, if not make your own using all unbleached bread flour for the best results.
How To Feed Sourdough Starter?
I’ve had the most active sourdough starter by feeding it 1 heaping cup of unbleached bread flour and 3/4 cup of warm water mixed together first, before whisking it into the sourdough starter. The warm water helps the starter, culture quicker rather than using cold water. These proportions have worked successfully in a quart-sized starter to a gallon-sized sourdough starter, which I currently have.
The bigger the sourdough starter, you’re likely going to have to dump the starter into a large bowl to feed it so it won’t overflow on you (I’ve had that happen where my sourdough starter was 3/4 full in the jar and after I fed it I came back to a jar of starer that overflowed.
My given feeding amount always stays the same, no matter how much starter I have. My sourdough starter is the best it has ever been and I will continue to do this. I’ve heard people discarding sourdough starter in order to feed it because they stick to specific proportions of feed, but I don’t do that, and why would I? If I have the most active starter that I’ve ever had!
I Don’t Have Sourdough Starter how can I quickly start one for the recipe?
Need a quick sponge to use as a sourdough starter? Mix 1/2 cup unbleached bread flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir in 1/2 tsp of yeast and allow the sponge to ferment anywhere from 2 hours to overnight at room temperature.
How To Shape Sourdough Loaves:
- To shape the sourdough loaves sprinkle a generous amount of (unbleached white flour) onto a work surface.
- Divide the dough into two pieces.
- Gently shape the dough into a rectangle.
- Fold in the sides of the dough to form a ball, then pat down and repeat. Then, using a bench scraper, tuck in uneven edges, and keep spinning the dough until you have formed the desired ball shape.
- Dust a Banneton basket with flour or line a small mixing bowl with parchment paper that is dusted with flour.
- Place the dough into the baskets or lined bowls.
- Refrigerate overnight. If baking the same day line your cast iron pot with parchment paper and place the loaves directly into the pot. Allow the dough to rise an hour before baking.
- Score the tops of the loaves before baking in either method.
How Long Does Sourdough Bread Take?
Like naturally leavened bread it will take longer than yeast. This Sourdough bread recipe takes about 24 hours to make and proof before refrigerating overnight.
Keep in mind most of the process is hands-off and just requires proofing. This is what I love about this recipe!
Ingredients To Make Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread?
To add the most flavor to your bread, use a good sourdough starter instead of dry yeast. Sourdough bread requires more proofing time but is so worth all the effort!
- Hard White Wheat Berries- freshly milled on a flour mill or kitchen-aid attachment.
- Sourdough Starter- is much needed. To make a quick sourdough starter mix 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Add 1/2 tsp yeast and allow the mixture to sit a day in a warm place.
- Water- I use warm tap water to speed up the proofing time.
- Salt- much needed
Making sourdough bread at home is simple with this recipe! It requires the most basic ingredients!
Tasty Ideas to use up your Sourdough Bread:
My Baking Schedule for Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:
- 9 PM: take out the sourdough starter from the refrigerator and feed it with 1 heaping cup of flour and 3/4 cup of hot tap water. In a separate bowl combine the wheat flour and water. Leave both on the countertop overnight.
- 8 AM: Feed the starter again at least 20 minutes before using. Measure out the amount of starter that you’ll be using. Add it to the wheat mixture. Mix in the salt using your hands and mix well. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm place or under a sunny window.
- 8 AM -7 PM: Slap and fold dough 2-3 times through the whole proofing time.
- 7 PM: Shape into loaves and allow the dough to proof for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Score and bake. Bake the same day or refrigerate overnight to bake the next morning.
*If baking the next morning score then.
What Size Baking Pot?
I use a 2-quart cast iron pot with a lid to make sourdough loaves. This recipe makes 2 small round loaves. You want to use an oven-safe small saucepan or cast-iron pot and an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil. I do not recommend a bigger pot as a well-hydrated dough can spread out and flatten. If you want to combine the recipe into one large loaf, you can then use a bigger pot but the baking time may vary.
How To Store Sourdough?
Some commercial bakeries par-bake the bread loaves to finish baking later at home or a business. Sourdough bread keeps best for up to 2 days at room temperature. To help bread from getting stale freeze any bread you think will not be used within the next day.
Sourdough bread is best frozen immediately after being cooled down to retain its freshness. Don’t wait until the bread gets stale. Use how many you think will be eaten and freeze the rest!
Storing: Store bread at room temperature for up to 2 days. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers to retain the bread from getting stale.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Bread?
Yes! To freeze sourdough bread, cool completely. Slice or freeze whole in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Reheating- Thaw fully before using.
Trouble-Shooting Sourdough Bread:
Are you experiencing under or over-proofed issues? Is your sourdough not rising? Are the measurements not reading up? I’m here to troubleshoot any questions you have on sourdough in general! First and foremost:
- Make sure your sourdough starter is active and alive. Many people do a float test where they drop a dollop of starter into a cup of cold water, if the starter floats–it’s good.
- If your dough is not rising your starter may be bad. Use it instead, for discard recipes and start over or ask for a really good sourdough starter from a friend.
- Don’t forget to zero out the kitchen scale, we don’t want you to measure the flour with the bowl weight too!
- Flat loaves can be a result of improper equipment. These loaves are small (they bake in a 2-quart cast iron pot) and high hydration sourdough bread is a very loose and wet dough. It needs the help of a pot to hold its shape. If you place it into a large pan it can spread and get flattened out for the lack of proper equipment. Another reason can be a bad starter.
- Soak your wheat flour overnight to have workable dough suitable for a sourdough loaf.
Best Sourdough Bread Tips:
- Don’t begin with a hungry starter! Feed your starter at least 20 minutes before preparing the dough.
- For bigger air pockets make the hydration of the water to flour about equal (100 % hydration.) The stickier the dough the more air pockets. You can calculate the hydration level with a calculator but I’m so old school.
- For the chewiest crust, pre-heat the oven at 500°F with the cast iron pot and lid. Remove the pot with oven mittens and transfer the dough with parchment paper right into the hot cast iron. Cover and bake in the oven for 25 minutes then uncovered for another 15 minutes. The steam traps inside the pot and can create a nice chewy crust with air bubbles (similar to a steam oven.)
- Soak the wheat flour before beginning! It is very important for making 100% whole wheat bread! Otherwise, it won’t be as elastic and harder to work with.
- Cooking Scale– highly recommend a kitchen scale to get accurate measurements. Altitudes can vary and scales help!
- Banneton Proofing Basket– not only does this bread, basket leave a crust design but it comes with a cloth cover to cover your bread.
- Kitchen Aid Attachment Grain Mill– we use the same exact attachment to grind our own wheat berries.
- 2-Quart Cast Iron Pot With Lid– highly recommend a cast-iron pot with a lid to steam the bread, it creates a chewier crust.
- Parchment Paper– convenient for removing and placing bread into cast iron.
- Large Mixing Bowl– to prepare sourdough in.
- Bench Scraper– used to shape sourdough bread.
- Scoring Knife– used to cut and make designs on sourdough bread.
- Rice Flour– can use unbleached bread flour or any flour to prevent dough from sticking when working with and shaping.
More Sourdough Recipes:
More Bread Recipes:
- Subway Bread Recipe (Italian Herb and Cheese Copycat)
- French Bread Recipe
- Naan Bread (Stonefire Copycat)
- Pita Bread Recipe
- Moist Wheat Bread Recipe
Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
- mixing bowl
- 2-quart cast iron pot with a lid
- Bench scraper
- parchment paper or a banneton proofing basket
- 900 grams whole wheat flour (milled hard white wheat berries)
- 800 grams warm water
- 260 grams active sourdough starter* (1 cup)
- 18 grams salt (1 Tbsp)
- In a large mixing bowl combine the wheat flour and water. Cover and leave overnight on the countertop.
- In the morning, mix in the salt and starter. Cover and allow to sit for 12 hours in a warm place or under a sunny window. (Slap and fold the dough 2-3 times during this time.)
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Pat into a rectangle and fold in all the sides to form a ball of dough. Repeat for more structure. Using a bench scraper shape into the final ball.
- TO BAKE THE SAME DAY: line two cast iron pots with parchment paper and sprinkle generously with white flour. Place the dough inside, seam down, and rise for 1 hour. Score and bake.
- TO BAKE THE NEXT DAY: place dough balls onto two well-floured banneton baskets, seam up and refrigerate covered overnight. The next morning, transfer onto floured parchment paper and score. Then place into 2 pre-heated cast iron pots and cover with lids. Bake as directed.
- Bake loaves at 500°F covered, then 15-20 minutes uncovered.
- If possible pre-heat the cast iron pots with the lids on to create steam when baking. This creates a beautiful crust! My loaves in the photo were baked the next day in pre-heated cast iron pots.
- I typically remove my sourdough starter and feed it the night I combine the wheat and water. So, both are on my countertop. Then I will feed the sourdough starter again for about 20 minutes before mixing it together with the wheat flour in the morning. This activates it again and makes it more alive.
- I like to finely ground a few gallon-sized freezer bags of wheat berries and keep them in the freezer until needed for bread recipes like these.