Whole grain wheat sourdough loaf

There is something special about the whole grain flour. About the bran in it. It seems the entire grain's story sneaks to the light, if there is just a pair of ears to hear it. The story about the sunbathing, bending in the wind, resistance, and growth. About ups and downs. About the time needed to mature.

Whole grain wheat flour

I like to bake whole grain wheat loaf during the week, when I spent most of the day at work and in the afternoons you can find me everywhere else but in the kitchen. But I bake my bread anyway, I can't help myself. I prepare larger quantities of starter in the morning, knead the dough when I come back from work and let it rise in the fridge or at the room temperature, depending on how hungry I am. In both cases, it rises quite fast because there is much more sourdough starter in the bread than usually. In this recipe I will write the instructions for how to prepare the bread if you start in the evening.

Whole grain wheat bread
Yields: 1 big loaf

200 g whole grain wheat flour + 200 g water for sourdough starter
130 g whole grain wheat flour
170 white wheat flour
120 g water
10 g fine sea salt
10 ice cubes for creating steam during baking


1. In the evening, mix 200 g of whole grain wheat flour with 200 g of water and 1 heaping tablespoon of (active*) rye sourdough starter. Cover and let it ferment overnight until bubbly and doubled in volume.
* you could also use unfed sourdough starter directly from the fridge, it will work as well.

2. In the morning, your starter should be active and risen.

whole grain flour sourdough starter

3. Next, prepare the dough. In a large bowl mix together all of the above well risen starter (400 g), 120 g of water, and 300 g of flour. Mix until all ingredients come together. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit for 10 minutes.

4. In the meantime, prepare your rising basket. Make sure your basket is well floured so the dough will not stick to it when taking it out. I like to line my rising basket with a kitchen cloth.

5. After 10 minutes, add 10 g of salt and knead the dough for 8 minutes until smooth.

6. Shape the loaf. Stretch the dough a little bit and then fold the upper third of the dough over the middle. Turn the dough for 180° and repeat. Then, fold the upper half over the lower half and pinch well. You can see the shaping part in the video from the previous post. Transfer the dough to a rising basket and sprinkle some flour over the dough as well.

7. To rise the loaf, you have several options: you can rise it just at the room temperature (it will probably take two hours, depending on the temperature of you kitchen), you can first rise it at the room temperature and then put it in a fridge or you can rise it in a fridge only. I left my loaf for two hours in a fridge and two more hours at the room temperature.  Your dough is ready when it passes the poking test and the indent doesn't spring back quickly.

Whole wheat bread rising before after

8. Since my dutch oven is too small, I used my baking stone to bake this whole grain wheat loaf. At least 30 minutes before baking preheat your oven to the maximum temperature of your oven along with a baking stone and a baking pan, which you put under the baking stone on a lower rack.

9. When ready, take the loaf out of the rising basket and transfer it to the baking stone. I use my pizza peel for this. Throw 10 ice cubes on a baking pan, close the door and lower the temperature to 235°C/455°F. Leave the loaf to bake for 35-40 minutes or until nicely brown. If necessary, turn the loaf for couple of times to brown it evenly.

Whole grain wheat loaf baked

10. Cool on a cooling rack before cutting.

Whole grain wheat loaf
Whole grain wheat loaf crumb

The loaf is very delicious, it has nutty flavor and has really soft crumb. Let me know me how it worked for you :)

20 thoughts on “Whole grain wheat sourdough loaf

  1. Hi Natasa! I’m so glad I found your space- it is beautiful (and thank you for visiting me too!). I can’t wait to exchange bread baking stories and read more of your recipes. Hope you are having a nice start to your week :)

    1. Thank you Emilie :) I believe bread is (luckily) a never ending story, so much more to discover and learn, especially with wholegrain flours. Wish you a lot of sourdough inspiration :)

  2. That looks delicious! Please tell me that you have the loaf sitting on something inside that banneton and that you didn’t really get a massive spring! Beautiful presentation and the crumb looks sensational. Thanks.

    1. It’s all true, the oven spring gone wild :) Thank you for your thoughts, I really appreciate it!

  3. Natasha, this bread looks yo yummy (quite honestly, I can’t find any of your breads that doesn’t look yummy ;) ). I just have a question: why didn’t you follow the usual rhythm with this bread as you do with the others: starter fermentation-make the dough-let it rise-shape-proof-bake)? This recipe is missing the rising part and you go directly to shaping and proofing. Thanks a lot for your answer!

    1. Katarina, thank you for your support and question! I use this kind of recipe when I don’t have much time to rise the dough and do stretch and folds.

      So instead I make larger quantities of starter (in this case 400g -> 200 g flour + 200 g water) which basically can be considered as the dough preferment, because I add smaller quantitites of flour in the second part. I can easily prepare the starter in the morning, before I go to work and when I come home in the afternoon I add flour, knead it and the dough rises fast and I can bake the bread in the evening/late afternoon.
      With having larger quantitites of starter, the dough will rise fast in the second part (proofing).

      Since the dough ferments less time the crumb might not be as dark as if you would let it rise overnight, since there is less residual sugars that have been digested by bacteria.

      Hope this helps :) If not, please let me know, I would love to clear things out more.


      1. Natasha, I have not seen you reply earlier :( Thanks for the explanation! It does make sense as 400g of starter is a sort of preferment. That is exactly what I thought as I read the recipe. But I don’t have much knowledge on preferments (all the types and functions or effects of preferments). This may be a post idea? :)


        1. Katarina,

          thank you for the post idea – great idea!

          May your bread rise well :) Let me know if you need any help and how it turns out.

          Happy baking,

  4. Im making your sourdough starter as we speak, my original didnt start after 9 days of trying only to find out using white flour doesnt work lol. My question is, what if I dont have a basket or stone? If I just use a normal loaf pan in the over is that ok? Should I still use the ice cube trick or is that for baking stones? Ps Im in the USA and it was a bit confusing reading your measurements but at least Im learning conversions :)

    1. Hi Monika! :)

      Hope your starter works this time! In his first days it appreciates warmth (77-80°F) and whole grain flours to get an enzyme boost.

      Instead of rising basket you could use any bowl (glass, plastic) that you would line with a kitchen cloth and then dust it with bran or rice flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Or even a egg carton box :) Or anything else that you find appropriate and you can find it at home, just that it gives a dough a little support during the rise.

      Yes, this recipe would also work in a loaf pan. Since this is not so much hydrated dough, you can also use poking test to see if it is ready to be put in the oven.

      And you could also use ice cubes in the beginning. It’s good for the crust development. If there is no steam in the beginning, the crust seals too early and it’s not so crunchy and the dough can’t expand so much. You could also pour some water on a tray (but I find it more tricky, got several burns in the past).

      So sorry about the conversion, I might include US units in the next recipes :)


      1. I’m new to sourdough bread and I saw this this question. I also don’t have a proofing basket or stone. If using a loaf pan, do I need to let the dough rise in the loaf pan and transfer it in the oven when ready? Or do I need another bowl for let the dough rise and then transfer it to the loaf pan? Do I need to flower the loaf pan before baking?

        So many questions and my starter is kicking ;)

        1. Hi Sjanette, thank you for your questions!

          This bread can also be baked in a loaf pan – as there is a lot of starter we put in the dough, the dough will rise fast. You can simply mix the dough, knead it, roll it (or shape it as batard) and transfer it to a loaf pan and then rise it until passing the poking test.

          You could also use the option you mention – mix the dough, let it rise in a separate bowl until almost doubled in volume and then shape it and transfer it into pan and leave to rise again – this is how I made pumpkin rolls (the recent post on the blog).
          If transfering the risen dough to a pan, it might be that we could deflate the dough as the pan is more tricky to load the bread in. I’ve never tried this option. If I try it, I will let you know how it turns.

          This is the charm of sourdough baking – you can simply choose the option that most fits your schedule and needs.

          Yes, make sure you first grease the loaf (I usually use butter or coconut oil) and then dust it with flour so the dough won’t stick and it will be easier to take it out.

          What kind of starter did you make and what kind of loaf pan do you have – a ceramic or any other?

          How much water does your whole grain flour absorb? I’m curious about different flours around the world (you’re from Netherlands, right?) :)

          Happy sourdough baking! :)

  5. Zivjo,
    tile rustikalni kruhi z domačimi drožmi so me prev fascinirali. Rekla sem, da bom tudi sama poizkusila. Začela sem s tarterjem, nato po treh dneh zapesila kruh po zgoraj zapisanem receptu. zamesila sem iz 250g pirine ponozrnate in 250 g črne. sedaj po prepogibanju pa kruh noče narasti. počivas že več kot 6 ur, vidno pa je le malo mehurčkov. Kaj sem naredila narobe? Kako lahko rešim situacijo? Hvala za odgovor in lep pozdrav, Maja

    1. Pozdravljena, Maja!

      Ste delali po tem receptu ali po postopku Chada Roberstona (v tem receptu ni prepogibov)?
      V kakšen stanju je bil starter, ko ste ga zamesili v kruh? je bil aktiven, torej narasel in z mehurčki? Se je starterju po vsakem hranjenju povečal volumen?

      Če testo ne zraste, je vzrok lahko v prešibkem starterju. Če starter ni aktiven, ne bo dvignil kruha. Ob uporabljenih mokah (pirina, črna pšenična) bi moralo testo moglo hitro narasti.

      Lep dan,

  6. Natasa – thank you for posting a whole grain sourdough with no commercial yeast! So many recipes are “sourdough” but include commercial yeast to help boost the heavy whole wheat flour – thanks for NOT doing that! I have two questions for you about this recipe.
    1. Why do you still use some white flour/all-purpose flour in this recipe?
    2. You’ve said you leave this one to rise while you’re at work, but then you also said it rises for about 4 hours (2 at room temperature, 2 in the fridge). How many hours can it safely rise in the fridge? I’m away from the house for about 8 hours if I hustle home. Would proofing it this long in the fridge over-proof this dough?
    Thanks again for your commitment to sourdough! This blog is great!

  7. Hello. I have a question about sourdough starter. So when i take out a spoon of sourdough, for a prefermet, how much of flour and water should i give it back to my starter. Is it the same amount of water and flour as i take it out or half and half of it. Thank you :)

  8. I just used this recipe to make 2 loaves using my own starter (hydration ratio unknown) and both loaves worked perfectly. Both were machine mixed in my KitchenAid and shaped to round loaves. Baking was done on a standard baking tray since I don’t have pizza stones or a Dutch oven with lid big enough.

    First time I followed recipe exactly using cold starter and about 4 hours of fridge proving.

    Second time also with cold starter. But I accidentally used about 20% more water in step 3. 2 hour fridge and 2 hour room temperature proving.

    Dare I say loaf two actually turned out even more to my tastes but both were fantastic.

    After a month of trying different recipes and methods to get wholegrain sourdough to work for me, this recipe does!

    Well done recipe and method! Foolproof I might even say.

  9. Hi Natasa. Is it essential to use a starter made from rye flour? If so, how would you get that going? Kind regards Patti

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