100 percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf – 1

As I mentioned in the earlier post, to the best of my ability I tend to eliminate the use of all refined ingredients in my bakes. A couple of experiments with maida/All Purpose Flour (APF) are all that I can tolerate with a new recipe, before my system itches to go the full hog and play with 100% whole grain flours.

However, while it is easy to slip easily into this process while baking cakes and cookies, I am a bit more cautions when it comes to breads because even though I have achieved sufficiently appealing 100% whole wheat loaves at times, the outcome is not consistent and depends on the moods of both myself and my wheat flour ‍😎

That nevertheless does not deter me from continuing to experiment and my fortunate family ends up being the recipient of my endeavors *insert evil laugh*

Sourdough (SD) being the current love of my life during this corona lockdown as you have seen from the slew of past posts, it was but a matter of time before I turned my attention to creating a whole wheat SD loaf. This was undoubtedly a challenge, seeing how even a regular commercial yeast, whole grain loaf is not easy to unfailingly get right.

A little bit of persistence and an initial non success (there will be a sufficiently frightful picture below, to disturb your peace) and then I managed to obtain an end product that was reasonably pleasing for a second attempt.

Of course the trials will be ongoing but my dear reader, the impatient me wants to inflict this one on you in the meantime. Hence also, the optimistic usage of the number 1 in the title, to indicate a potential for upcoming and hopefully more successful versions in future.

For now, bear with me and let us venture into this together.

Sourdough bread – 

As always, if you are a beginner, I would recommend that you first go through this post on SD that gives you some idea of what SD is and how you can create a SD starter which is the vital ingredient in any SD bake. This method also gives you a whole wheat starter, as compared to method 2 which gives you a maida starter.

However, that is not really significant though, since any starter can be converted to an alternate flour at the time of feeding.

The process – 

So this recipe is just a variation of the earlier ones for SD Loaf 1 and SD loaf 2, with a few ingredient changes. In this one I have also eliminated egg and dairy and hence it is also vegan. Also, please note that whole grain flour tends to absorb more water and the recipe has been created accordingly to take that into account.

And before we embark, let me show you that promised picture of the initial unsatisfactory loaf and also the successful loaf. I hope they will be sufficiently distinct for you to know which is which 😂😉

Loaf 1 (the initial trial) –

Loaf 2 (the current recipe) –

The steps – 

The steps are similar to the previous SD maida loaf but I will repeat here again for easy reference.

As I mentioned, the process is quite similar to making bread with commercial yeast, the difference being that the SD dough takes much longer to rise.

1. Make or have your SD starter ready –

Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.

2. Prepare the Levain –

About 5 – 6 hours before making the dough, take a portion of the starter and feed it with equal weights of flour and water in a 1:4:4 ratio.

For example if I need 90 gm of levain in the recipe, I will take 10 gm starter and feed with 40 gm water and 40 gm flour at least 6 hours before beginning to make my dough. If my starter is known to double in less than that time, I will create my levain accordingly.

Usually the quantity of levain used is 20% by weight, of the total flour in the recipe. For a quicker sandwich loaf, I have used 40% of the total flour (exact figures in the recipe below).

The float test is a good method to see if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.

3. Autolyse the dough –

Around 1 -2 hours before the levain is ready, mix the rest of the flour and water from the recipe and let it sit covered in a bowl. Autolyse has many benefits and loosely speaking they include helping the dough to fully hydrate, giving a better flavor and texture to the finished product etc. Of course there is much chemistry behind this but I will not get into that here.

4. Kneading –

One can perform hand kneading or machine kneading with a stand mixer. This is done till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.

5. Bulk Ferment –

The kneaded dough is rolled into a ball and smeared with a bit of oil and left to ferment and rise in a covered container (sometimes if the hydration is high, I also prefer to do around 3 Stretch and Folds aka SnF at intervals of 30 min – 1 hr).

6. Shape the dough and place in loaf pan –

When the dough has increased to around 1.5 times its original volume (around 3 hours in my warm Indian kitchen), it is then shaped and placed in the greased/lined loaf tin.

7. Final rise –

The tin is covered in plastic wrap and set aside till the dough  rises again to nearly double (around 2 hours in my kitchen)

8. Preheating oven –

Around 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

9. Scoring and baking –

Slash or score the dough and bake it in the oven. Timing will depend on individual ovens.

SD Whole Wheat loaf recipe –

Time –

Approximately 11 – 12 hours from start to finish.

Makes – One 8.5×4.5×2.5 inch loaf


For the dough –

1 – Levain – 180 gm – See Notes

2 – Whole wheat flour any brand – 220 gm – See Notes

3 –  Water at room temperature – 150 gm – See Notes

4 –   Salt – 8 gm/1 teaspoon

5 –  Oil/ghee/butter  – 40 gm (I used oil)

6 –  Raw sugar (or any sugar) – 20 gm

7 – Oil for coating the dough – 2 teaspoons

Ingredients for greasing the pan and dusting –

Oil (any neutral type. I used Sunflower oil) – 2 teaspoon

Flour for dusting the loaf – 1 tsp

Equipment that I used – 

Kitchen Aid Bowl Lift Stand Mixer

Non stick Loaf Pan 8.5×4.5×2.5 inches

You can hand knead it just as easily and use any shape of pan or even bake a free form bread.

Method – 

1. Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been. FYI, whole wheat starters are thicker than pure maida (APF) starters.

2. Prepare the Levain – About 5 – 6 hours before making the dough (say 8 am), take 20 gm of the starter and feed it in a 1:4:4 ratio with 80 gm flour + 80 gm water. If the starter is active, the levain should double in around 5 – 6 hours or less.

Perform the float test if you need to confirm if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used. This step is not necessary if you are confident that your levain is ready even without performing the test.

3. Autolyse the dough – Around 1 – 2 hours (say 12 pm) before the levain is ready, mix 220 gm of WWF with 150 gm water and let it sit covered in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl or regular bowl.

4. Kneading – At around 2 pm, add 180 gm of levain and sugar to the autolyse. Knead for 5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Add the salt and oil and knead for another 5 minutes till the dough comes together.

Perform hand kneading if you do not have a stand mixer. Knead till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.


5. Bulk Ferment – Roll the kneaded dough into a ball.

Lightly oil your hands and do a stretch and fold. Grab one end of the dough and pull it up gently till as far as it goes without breaking. Then fold it over the ball of dough. Rotate the bowl and repeat the process until the entire dough had been stretched and folded, around 6 – 8 sections. Smear the ball with a bit of oil and leave it covered in a greased bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid bowl itself. You can use any container that can be closed or covered. The process may take you a max of 30 min (say till 2.30 pm).

The pic below is merely for illustration (I have a maida dough in my hands).

6. After another 30 minutes (say 3 pm), repeat the process again.

7. Keep ready the greased loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

8. After another 30 minutes (ie 1.5 hours after you finish kneading, say 3.30 pm), take out the ball of dough with lightly floured hands and place it on a lightly floured counter.

9. Weigh the dough and divide into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into a tight bun and place it in a line in the pan.

You can also make a regular loaf by pressing the dough into a rectangle whose length is equal to the length of the loaf pan. Gently roll up the dough into a cylinder and place it seam side down in the loaf pan.

10. Cover the pan with cling wrap and set it aside in a warm place till the dough rises. Mine rose to only 1.5 times its size in 5 hours (say 8.30 pm) Do not expect a rise which is similar to commercial yeast dough.

11. Around 15 minutes before baking (8.15 pm), preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

12. Dust some flour on the dough through a tea strainer. Score the dough with a blade and place it in the oven.

13. Timing will depend on individual ovens. In my oven I left it at maximum 250 deg c for the first 20 minutes until I saw the top browning. Then I reduced to 200 deg c for another 20 minutes.

14. Take out the loaf and invert it on a cooling rack. Slice ONLY when completely cool. Enjoy it plain or with any spread of your choice.


Notes – 

The levain quantity is ideally supposed to be 40% of the total flour, for a SD loaf. The total flour is around 310 gm hence the levain should be 124 gm but I have randomly used 180 gm. Which means 90 gm flour + 90 gm water.

The flour is 220 gm and is derived from subtracting 90 gm which the levain has, from the total 310 gm in the recipe.

The water is 150 gm, which means a total of 240 gms if you include the 90 gm that is used in the levain.

The hydration (meaning how much water you wish to use) is up to you. For a beginner, the hydration level in this recipe, is easy to deal with.

I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.

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About Currylines

A food and travel enthusiast who plays with words
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