If you are looking for a whole wheat sourdough bread recipe that is super soft and lofty, then this is your ratio.
Getting a whole grain loaf to cooperate can be tricky. They are often dense, and sometimes they can even feel undercooked. I have come up with a great formula that produces a very soft and springy loaf with all the great flavor of real whole grain. The secret lies in the flour.
The Right Flour Is Essential
I like to use an ultra-fine sifted whole wheat flour for this recipe. It is similar to a whole wheat pastry flour. The wheat is ground very fine and then passed through a sieve to remove any large pieces of bran.
Straight-grind whole wheat will also work well but it might not have a crumb that is quite as light and airy as the sifted flour does. Stone ground or home ground wheat will have a wonderful flavor and texture in this recipe. Play around with different grinds until you find your own personal favorite!
- 475 grams (4 cups) whole wheat flour
- 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) water
- 12 grams (2 teaspoons) salt
- 250 grams (1 cup) sourdough starter, 100% hydration, stirred down
- 95 grams (1/4 cup) honey, optional
The Night Before
- In a large bowl mix all ingredients into a shaggy dough.
- Use wet hands to knead the dough in the bowl just until it comes together.
- Let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Do a series of stretch and folds in the bowl as shown in this video. Repeat the stretch and fold process four to five times, waiting about 5 minutes between each stretch and fold turn.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment overnight at room temperature.
The Next Morning
- Do one stretch and fold in the bowl to deflate the dough.
- Lightly flour your work surface (I like to use sprouted whole wheat flour for this step) and turn the dough out onto the flour.
- Shape the dough into a loaf by patting it into a thick rectangle. Pull the top towards the middle and use your fingertips to seal the seam. Flip the dough around and pull what was the bottom third down over the seam, again sealing it with your fingertips. Crimp the ends of the loaf and pull them toward the center just a little bit. This should give you a thick log shape. Let the loaf rest seam side down on the flour surface for 5 minutes.
- Place the dough seam side up in a generously floured (again sprouted flour works best) brotform banneton. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place the dough in the refrigerator for 6 to 48 hours or let it rise at room temperature until doubled.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F with a baking stone inside. Alternatively, you can bake the loaf in a clay baker (by following the manufacturer's instructions) or Dutch oven at 450°F.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the loaf and turn the proofed dough out onto the parchment.
- Score the top of the loaf with a lame, razor blade, or sharp knife.
- Move the loaf to the oven or clay baker using the parchment as a sling.
- The bread will benefit from a heavy spray of water on the raw dough at this step. Alternatively, you can place a pan of steaming water on a lower rack in the oven.
- Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, spraying it with water one or two more times 5 to 10 minutes into baking. If you have added honey to the recipe the bread will darken quickly. If the bread is getting too dark place a sheet of parchment over the top of the loaf. If you are using a covered baker of any kind, bake with the lid on for 25 minutes, and off for 15 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.
This recipe makes a large batard-style loaf. You can split it between two small loaf pans if you want a smaller sandwich-size loaf! Bake smaller loaves at 400ºF for 30 minutes.
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