Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread is leavened bread that is naturally fermented. It is made of whole wheat flour, water, sourdough starter, and salt. This sourdough bread recipe is so simple and easy to make with minimal equipment and simple ingredients! Baking with whole wheat is way easier than you think! We love this homemade sourdough bread with soup or anywhere you’d eat a slice of brown rye bread, it’s mildly tangy, chewy, and incredibly moist!

whole wheat sourdough bread

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This whole wheat bread recipe is made with whole wheat flour that I mill at home, learn more about where I buy my organic whole grains to make whole wheat bread and what grain mill I use in order to make whole wheat flour at home. Once you start baking from whole wheat berries you’ll want to make all kinds of bread recipes! Try these Whole Wheat Tortillas or Sourdough English Muffins for a start! These sourdough bagels are scrumptious too (and I used all wheat flour for them before with fantastic results!)

So, you want to bake Artisan bread at home, using all whole wheat flour? This sourdough bread is perfect for the new beginner and doesn’t require kneading, a bread machine, or a stand mixer. It’s the perfect loaf of no-knead whole wheat bread packed with healthy grain and made with minimal effort! I make this bread in the morning and it’s ready to bake in the evening, put it overnight in the fridge for a chewier crust and tart taste. 

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe:

We love this no-knead sourdough bread made with 100% whole wheat flour. This bread-making method is mostly hands off and instead of kneading the dough, the gluten actually forms from the easy fermentation and slow rise. This recipe makes one loaf of bread that is made by a stir of a spoon and left alone to rise covered for 8-12 hours until doubled in size. After a few folds, it’s shaped, left, to rise again, and dropped in a preheated pot until browned. The wetness of the dough is key to super moist bread!

whole wheat sourdough bread

What Is Sourdough?

A sourdough starter is simply just a mix of flour and water that has been fermented until it becomes alive. The constant flour feedings and protein within the flour start to rise and collapse which is a sign its active. If you’re starting a fresh sourdough culture you should plan to make your wild yeast at least 7-10 days before baking. Once you build it up, you’ll have to feed it every day at room temperature otherwise store it in the fridge and feed it once every 2 weeks to keep it alive (even when not using.) Cold won’t kill it, as a matter of fact, it only gets better with age and the flavor starts to develop a sweet vinegary flour smell.

The easiest feeding ratio to work with is whatever weight you have, then use the same weight of flour and water. I keep 1/4 of a gallon of sourdough starter, so, I know that 1 heaping cup is just right. Even if you go over, a good culture will leaven anyway. Use a kitchen scale to figure out your ratio.

What is the black liquid on my sourdough starter? If you see a film of dark liquid forming on the top, don’t worry just mix it back into the culture and revive the culture with a good stir and a fresh feeding. Once the naturally occurring bacteria kick in it’s very common to see.

New to Sourdough baking? If you are wondering how to make Sourdough Starter, you can buy Sourdough Starter straight from us. With one feeding you can jump-start the bread-making process. Don’t be intimidated to ask a local bread baker for some too, sometimes they’ll be happy to give some away! If you know a friend who is building one up, they will sometimes be happy to discard some.

The Best Whole Wheat Flour To Use:

Whole grains that have been freshly ground at home using a Grain Mill, is the best kind of flour to use! Hard wheat is a healthy grain high in protein perfect for making bread recipes! Typically, I like to use a mixture of hard red wheat berries with hard white berries for making whole wheat bread. Red wheat is more rustic and hard white wheat is milder in taste and lighter in color.

Generally, store-bought whole wheat flour is labeled by the type of grain it is made from, for example, King Arthur whole wheat flour is made from hard red wheat and Wheat Montana Prairie Gold is a hard white wheat. You don’t want to use soft white wheat as that is a whole wheat pastry flour low in protein. Generally, hard wheat varieties are bread flours high in gluten. Gluten is a protein that gives dough its elasticity, helping it rise and keep its shape better.

Whole Wheat Flour vs All-purpose flour: all-purpose flour is a low-protein flour made partly from soft white wheat and another hard wheat variety to meet in the middle for having many uses. What is whole wheat flour? Whole wheat flour is when you grind the whole grain of wheat known as wheatberries into a fine powdery flour. White whole wheat flour is milled from hard white wheat. You can buy organic whole wheat flour at food co-ops like Azure.

Pro-Tips To Feed Sourdough Starter:

The key to a great loaf of bread is to use an active and live sourdough starter. The best way to test if your culture is good is to dollop a small amount into warm water, if it floats to the top it’s alive. Another way to test if it’s working is to tie a rubber band around the amount of starter, in your container right after a feeding. If it has risen or doubled in size after observation then it is also alive. A healthy sourdough starter should be refreshed regularly, and every two weeks from the fridge (even when not using.) If your sourdough starter is out on the counter then it should be fed on a daily basis as the yeast growth will have more activity in warmer climates.

sourdough starter

Sourdough Time-Saving Tip: take out your sourdough starter the night before baking and give it a feeding. Leave it on the counter overnight and in the morning it should be doubled in size and active to use for your sourdough recipe. If you have forgotten about your sourdough starter in the fridge, don’t throw it away, sometimes you can revive it with regular daily feedings until it activates again. I know someone that hasn’t fed their culture in months and was able to revive it again. This should be done at room temperature until you notice activity or progress in growth.

Measuring Whole Wheat Flour:

How to measure flour? I’ve learned that fluffing up the flour and spooning it into a measuring cup doesn’t quite work with freshly ground whole wheat flour. Because the germ, bran, and endosperm are present, wheat flour is fluffier in volume taking up more space in a cup. It’s best to scoop the flour directly from the canister using a measuring cup and gently shaking off any flour rather than scraping a knife across the top.

measuring whole wheat flour

Recipes by weight always remain the same in the amount of flour you use. In grams, one cup of white flour weighs more than a cup of whole wheat flour. That is because white flour is more compact being made up mostly of the endosperm.

Ingredients:

This whole wheat sourdough bread recipe makes one loaf. For bakers % use 100% flour and 75% water, 2 % salt, and 0.25% yeast culture. Make 2 loaves to pop one in the freezer and have one to eat fresh during the day.

  • Whole Wheat Flour- 3 1/2 cups of freshly ground flour works well here. I run 1 heaping cup of hard red wheat and 1 heaping of cup hard white wheat berries through my grain mill to make 3 1/2 cups of flour.
  • Water- I like to use warm water to hasten this slow fermentation process. Cool water will make fermenting go even slower.
  • Sea Salt- is an essential ingredient and will enhance the flavor
  • Sourdough Starter- is a bacterial culture used in place of Baker’s yeast commonly known as commercial yeast. To make this with dry active yeast use 1/2 teaspoon of dry active yeast and increase the liquid by 1/4 cup.

How To Make Sourdough Bread:

Ready to make 100% whole wheat bread? This recipe for whole wheat bread is super easy and comes together in less than 10 minutes! Sourdough whole wheat bread will be a breeze if you start with an active starter. I like to use my heavy dutch oven pot with a metal knob, plastic will melt off! If you don’t have a banneton, parchment paper will be just as good and clean-up even easier. Use a small bowl or food container to hold the dough in its final rising periods, this helps the bread keep its shape so, it doesn’t spread out. Here is how to make bread with a natural culture.

  1. Feed your sourdough starter the night before baking and rest overnight to double in size.
  2. Make the dough and mix together the dough ingredients with a wooden spoon or bench scraper to make a wet dough. Kneading is not required, this is a no-knead type of dough, so it’ll be sticky and wet.
  3. Ferment Dough (bulk rise) at room temperature for up to 12 hours, stretching and folding in between (a total of four times.)
  4. Shape the dough into a classic round loaf, by pulling the ends towards the center until you make a ball. Do this on a floured surface and repeat again if you find your dough too soft. Sometimes it takes more than once to shape the dough into a round ball. The dough is ready when the surface of the dough is getting tighter and stronger, and holding its shape. Place the loaf on a lightly floured piece of parchment and place it inside a bowl. Using a banneton basket or bowl will help the dough take its shape instead of spreading out and going flat.
  5. Score dough with a sharp knife or razor blade. A scoring tool is very handy. Let it rise a second time.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500°F with a dutch oven pot and lid.
  7. Carefully, place the loaf with the parchment paper directly into the hot dutch oven pot and shut it with a lid (use oven gloves.)
  8. Bake for 25 minutes covered, then uncovered for 5-15 minutes until browned.

Overnight instructions: put the dough into the fridge after it has been shaped into a loaf and has rested for at least 2 hours. Then you could cover it and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning take out your dough and bring it to room temperature for at least 1 hour before baking. Preheat the pot in an oven and bake as directed.

Best Pot To Bake Sourdough Bread:

Improve the quality of the crust by baking the bread in a dutch oven or another covered vessel like a cloche. Baking bread in a heavy pot with a lid creates steam, allowing the dough to open up before the crust starts forming. This helps create a crisp crust with air bubbles that you can’t get from just baking in the open oven. Preheat the dutch oven pot along with your oven at a high temperature of 500°F, this will create a steaming chamber perfect for bread. Another way to create steam is to preheat an empty pan in the oven, then fill it with hot water to create a blast of steam for your bread.

How Long To Bake Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:

It usually takes about 30-45 minutes to bake one loaf of sourdough bread from 100% whole wheat flour. Bread is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 190°F in the thickest part of the bread.

How To Store Sourdough Bread:

Once you figure out how to bake sourdough bread, storing it is the easy part. How to store sourdough bread or keep bread fresh? Whole wheat bread is best left at room temperature for up to 2 days. Bread can last in the fridge longer however, it will turn stale faster when refrigerated. The best way to revive refrigerated bread is to make toast or a breakfast casserole where it can get reheated again. Once the bread cools on a wire rack transfer the loaf of bread into a gallon-freezer bag and remove any excess air out so it doesn’t dry out the bread.

You can freeze bread if you know you won’t be using it within 2 days. Although sourdough bread can last longer than regular whole-wheat bread, it can still grow mold on it if not stored properly. Keep it in cool spots and avoid storing it in warm areas, as that can spoil faster.

How long does bread last in the fridge? Whole wheat bread can keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. However, it is a good idea to use it for bread crumbs, French toast, or casseroles since it gets stale from refrigeration.

Can You Freeze Sourdough Bread?

To store bread longer and have it hold its freshness, it is best to preserve it by freezing it. Whole wheat bread freezes well.

How to freeze bread: completely cool bread on a wire rack. Transfer the loaf into a gallon freezer bag or twist tie bag and keep excess air out. Double wrap to prevent frost and freeze for up to 3-6 months. To speed defrost, place it into the microwave thaw on defrost mode or thaw it overnight on the counter.

Creative Ways To Serve Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:

We all know you can make a sandwich from a slice of bread, but how far can you stretch sourdough bread? No-knead sourdough bread is amazing with butter or a drizzle of honey and that’s not all! Here are creative ways to use up leftovers and eat sourdough at its best!

  • Use leftovers to make sourdough bread crumbs or croutons. If you don’t like it as tart bake it the same day to make milder bread, then your whole wheat bread crumbs won’t be sour.
  • This garlicky avocado spread or eggplant recipe is amazing over toast or a slice of this hearty bread!
  • Turn it into whole wheat sandwich bread and make Rueben sandwiches.
  • Rub whole garlic clove over the hot bread crust and sprinkle with salt, this is a snack my husband grew up eating in Ukraine! It’s like garlic bread full of flavor!
  • Eat sourdough bread with Borscht or your favorite bowl of soup. This is a well-hydrated bread, perfect and chewy to dip into soups.
  • Make open-faced sandwiches or slice up your favorite deli meat and make these easy tea sandwiches with kielbasa.

how to make whole wheat sourdough bread

 

Q&A

Is Whole Wheat Bread Good For You?

Is whole wheat bread healthy? Wholesome bread is the food that our forefathers lived by for thousands of years and grain is the biggest food group to eat from on the food pyramid in order to maintain a healthy diet. Grains are a good source of nutrition, rich in dietary fiber and other nutrients.

Whole wheat vs Whole grain: Wheat is a type of whole grain that is removed from the husk and made into powdery flour. Read more on the types of grain I use to make whole wheat flour and where I buy [eafl id="23108" name="hard red wheat berries" text="whole grains"]. There are many different whole grains differing in the amount of protein and gluten.

How Many Slices of Bread in a Loaf?

One loaf of this Artisan bread makes about 14 half-slices of bread.

 

Tips For Making Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:

  1. Make sure you feed your sourdough starter for at least 6-8 hours before making the dough.
  2. I like to use a sharp serrated knife or electric knife to cut the bread. For easier cutting, cut an Artisan loaf of bread in half first then each half into slices.
  3. Mix and match with different freshly milled whole grains to get the color and texture of bread that you like. You can also use a mixture of hard red and white wheat flour from the store.
  4. Want a fluffier loaf? Add 1 teaspoon of wheat gluten for fluffier bread.
  5. My schedule for making this bread is usually a head start at night to feed my sourdough starter, then in the morning I will make the dough and let it ferment throughout the day. It’s pretty much a hands-off process most of the day then I will shape, rise, and bake the bread in the evening.
  6. Preheat the oven with a heavy cast-iron pot or dutch oven. Baking bread in hot vessels creates steam and a crunchier crust.
  7. For whole wheat bread flour use high protein grains like Hard white wheat or hard red wheat.
  8. If you don’t like the sourness of sourdough bread bake the bread the same day you make the dough. The longer you ferment the dough the more tart it will be.
  9. Feed the sourdough starter at least 4-12 hours before starting the bread. The sourdough starter should be active and bubbly.
  10. Stretch and fold the dough throughout bulk rising. I like to do it several times before shaping the dough.

 

More Sourdough Recipes:

More Whole Wheat Recipes:

How To Make Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Fermenting Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 14 slices
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread is leavened bread that is naturally fermented. It is made of whole wheat flour, water, sourdough starter, and salt. This sourdough bread recipe is so simple and easy to make with minimal equipment and simple ingredients! Baking with whole wheat is way easier than you think! We love this homemade sourdough bread with soup or anywhere you'd eat a slice of brown rye bread, it's mildly tangy, chewy, and incredibly moist!

Equipment

  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 5-quart dutch-oven pot with a lid
  • 1 wooden spoon (or bench scraper to form the dough)
  • 1 sheet of parchment paper

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour** (400 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (300 grams)
  • 1/2 cup active sourdough starter (130 grams)
  • 1 3/4 tsp sea salt (10 grams)

Instructions

Directions:

  • fed sourdough starter
    Feed your sourdough starter the night before and leave it on the counter to double in size.
  • In the morning, make the dough by mixing together the whole wheat flour, water, sourdough starter, and salt. The dough should be sticky and wet.
  • Let it ferment and rise for up to 12 hours in a warm place, stretching and folding in between a total of four times.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and into a ball, pulling the ends to the center to make a round shape.
  • Place on a lightly floured piece of parchment and place into a bowl to hold its shape. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven with the dutch oven pot to 500°F. Place the dough with parchment paper into the hot dutch oven and cover it with the preheated lid. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Then bake uncovered for 5 more minutes.

Notes

To make whole wheat flour** I grind 1 cup of hard red wheat and 1 cup of hard white wheat berries to make 3 1/2 cups of freshly ground flour. Use a hard variety for high-protein flour. 
  • To hasten the fermenting time, soak the flour in water overnight and then add the sourdough starter in the morning with the salt. 
 

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 279mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 3gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 3IUCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg

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16 comments

    • Trevor

    I’m so glad I found this recipe. I’ve tried it a couple of times (and other recipes). I ended up increasing the recipe by 2.5, substituting in a little vital wheat gluten, and I decreased the cook temp to 450 and increased the time to 30 plus 5 (because of the larger size, and ended up with the most amazing loaf of sourdough I’ve ever had.

      • Trevor

      I made the larger size because I only have one of those huge dutch ovens.

    • Trevor

    When you do the overnight soak, do you mix the flour and water (if so how much) or just let the water seep into the flour?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi, the overnight soak is usually just water and the flour. Then the rest of the ingredients get added the next morning.

    • Anna Shmulevich

    The bread came out delicious! Soft and yummy! I did put in the fridge for a day. I like the little sour taste.😊
    Thank you so much for the easy and delicious recipe. I did use a store bought flour and it was just fine.

    • Debbie

    I love that this recipe has no oil or sugar. Any suggestions for making it into a sandwich loaf?

    • Eliana

    is there an option to let this rise in the refrigerator overnight?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Yes, you could.

    • Brianna Larsen

    I just wanted to leave a note to say thank you! It has been near impossible to find a sour dough recipe specifically for freshly ground flour. This recipe works up so well AND it’s so much simpler than other sour dough recipes that make my eyes cross with excessive steps. Also, the flavor is amazing. I am going to try the half hard red and half hard white next time. I have been doing 100% hard red and it’s got a great depth of flavor.
    I havent tried soaking the flour, but I make sure the starter is very active and do an 8-9 hour bulk rise.
    Can’t thank you enough! This is my new favorite bread recipe.

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      I’m so happy to hear your feedback, Brianna! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Rebecca

    Hi Alyona, I don’t have a scale to measure my flour and water- any chance you could share approximate cup measurements to use in this recipe for both store bought whole wheat flour and fresh ground wheat berries and water? Im excited to try this recipe! Rebecca

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      I haven’t tried this with whole wheat flour from the store, but if you’re using freshly ground flour it would be around 6 2/3 cups flour, and 3 1/4 cup water.

        • Wendy

        Respectfully Alyona, this answer doesn’t really make sense because in the original recipe you say “To make whole wheat flour** I grind 1 cup of hard red wheat and 1 cup of hard white wheat berries to make 3 1/2 cups of freshly ground flour. Use a hard variety for high-protein flour.” So, enlight of this, I have a very hard time wrapping my mind around the double measurements! I’m going to make this with freshly ground whole wheat hard white wheat for the high protein level exactly as you have suggested at 3 1/2 cups to 1 1/4 cup water…we’ll see how it goes 🙂

          • Alyona Demyanchuk

          Hi Wendy, to make whole wheat flour you need to grind hard wheat berries, once they are ground the volume changes. If you are starting with ground flour then you would use 3.5 cups. Hopefully this makes sense.

    • Alex

    This bread is the best sourdough bread I have tried in years. I remember eating similar bread my mom used to make. Great taste and very nutritious! Thank you.

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Thank you, Alex! Glad you love it!

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