The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PR whole wheat sandwich loaf without yeast

sreinert's picture

PR whole wheat sandwich loaf without yeast

I've been baking PR's whole wheat sandwich loaf often with a sourdough starter and it comes out great. I would like to try omitting the big slug of yeast in the final dough. Has anyone done that? Would it affect the taste or the crumb?

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

I am also interested in using sourdough for whole wheat. Which recipe are you using, specifically which book and page? I like the one in "Bread Bakers Apprentice" on page 270 just called "whole wheat bread". It makes a very nice 100% ww loaf.

I think you could just leave the yeast out of your recipe. What do others think? How much starter are you adding? If the dough is rising nicely, it will be fine - probably take longer to rise though.

Ford's picture

I presume you  are talking about the recipe in PR's "Whole Garin Breads," pp78 et seq. I have substituted an additional 5 Tbs. of refreshed Mother Starter for the yeast. 

I have found that Mike Avery's recipe is easier and also gives excellent results.   Slightly modified from Mike Avery’s recipe:


This recipe is from Mike Avery’s web site and discussed further on another web site: and

It is certainly simpler than that from Peter Reinhart, and has not suffered from the simplification.  Avery specifies the finely milled whole wheat flour, while Reinhart says any grind for most of the dough.  Avery likes to use less dough in his loaves than I do, therefore, I have increased the amount of ingredients while maintaining the same ratios.  I have kept the hydration of the starter the same as that which Reinhart uses, for no reason other than that is the hydration of whole-wheat starter I had at hand.  [For starter of 100% hydration, use 29.7 oz. or about 3 1/3 cups of starter and 2.8 oz. less of liquid.  For starter of 188% hydration, use 43.0 oz, or about 4 3/4 cups of starter and 16.0 oz, 2 cups, less liquid.]  I usually bake three loaves at a time.

3 cup (27 oz.) 82% hydration refreshed whole-wheat starter
3 2/3 cup (29.4 oz.) water or scalded milk, 190°F cooled to 90°F
7 3/4 cup (32.9 oz.) whole-wheat flour
4 tspn. (0.8 oz) salt
1/3 cup (4.5 oz.) honey or brown sugar
8 Tbs. (4 oz.) melted butter
1 to 2 cup (4.3 to 8.5 oz.) whole wheat flour during kneading
Melted butter for greasing the loaf pan and the crust of the baked bread, if desired.
Yields 103 to 107 ounces of 86 to 93% hydration dough for three loaves.

Place the starter, honey, salt, and liquid in a bowl and whisk them together, then whisk in the melted butter, and enough flour to make a batter.  Stir in the rest of the 7 1/2 cups of flour to make a shaggy mass of dough.  With a floured hand or a wet one, massage the dough, making sure there are no unmoistened lumps.  Let the dough rest of about thirty minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for ten or fifteen minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test.  The dough will loose its stickiness as it is kneaded.  Add as little of extra flour during the hand kneading as you can.  Less is good.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of plastic.

Let the dough rise at room temperature, about 70 to 75°F for one to three hours.  Stretch and fold the dough over on itself three or four times during the rising period.  The longer rising time will give a more pronounced sourdough taste and a better crumb structure.  I suggest that two hours rising is about optimum.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Brush three 4” x 8” loaf pans with melted butter. Divide the risen and degassed dough into three equal parts and form to fit the loaf pans.  In forming the loaf, stretch the skin tightly so the loaf will maintain its shape.  Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter, cover with plastic, and allow it to rise until it comes well above the top of the pan, about 2 inches.  Place a pan on the bottom of the hot oven and add a cup or so of boiling water to the pan. Lightly spray the top of the dough with water.  Place the bread pans on a shelf above the boiling water.  Spray water into the oven two or three times during the first five minutes.  After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350°F, and continue baking for another 40 or so minutes, until the interior temperature reaches 195°F, or the loaf gives a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

Place the baked loaf on a wire rack and brush with melted butter.  Cover with a damp cloth or paper towel and allow to cool.  Do not slice before it has cooled.  The cooled loaf may be packaged in a plastic bag and frozen, if desired.


sreinert's picture

Yes, I'm using the recipe in WGB, starting on p. 78. The taste and lightness are awesome so I think I'll keep using PR's method, but try substituting sourdough starter for the yeast in the final dough.

hanseata's picture

I bake this bread often, always with sourdough - it's the first 100% whole wheat bread that I really like, though I use less sweetener (19 g honey).

You can leave off the additional yeast in the final dough, the rising time will just be somewhat longer, ca. 3 - 4 hrs. for each rise, depending on the room temperature in your kitchen. I didn't see a difference in taste or performance.

For my commercial baking I have to add some yeast - but I use less than in the recipe: 5 g -  to have reliable proofing times.


sreinert's picture

Leaving out the yeast without adding more starter is an even better idea; thanks, Karin. I don't mind waiting longer for the rise.