The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My daily bread: 65% wholegrain sourdough

jefklak's picture

My daily bread: 65% wholegrain sourdough

I have been baking sourdough for three months now and it's starting to come together. I'm working through Mr. Hamelman's BREAD book (with other mellow bakers) and I've experimented with a few of the recipes I have found to be the tastiest (and easiest to bake). I've derived a base recipe based upon the "pain au levain with wholewheat" recipe. I know a lot of people out here love the "Vermont Sourdough" (which I also do), but I love wholewheat and don't see a lot of difference. 

Read more here:

It's the first time since I've seriously tried to employ the french fold technique, and it really does work wonders with wetter doughs. I've had a lot of trouble trying to mix these by hand (I refuse to use mechanical kneading). I've modified the recipe to allow for a higher hydratation value (as wholewheat does soak up a lot more water):


  • 145gr. stone-ground organic wholewheat flour (got at a local mill)
  • 10gr medium rye flour
  • 145gr water
  • 2 tablespoons of your starter (mine’s a white wheat 100% hydratation one)
final build
  • 605gr high-protein flour (all-purpose bread flour will do nicely, I didn’t have any at this point)
  • 40gr medium rye flour
  • 200gr wholewheat flour (also finely stone-ground)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 590gr water
  • the preferment
This should give you a 65% wholegrain bread with 73% hydratation. These are the methods I've used:
  1. autolyse for 30-60 minutes
  2. french fold (still very sticky & wet, stopped doing this after about 10 minutes)
  3. stretch & fold 3 times during 2 hours as the dough is still very slack due to the hydratation level
  4. retarding final proofing in baskets in the fridge

I love the big holes in the bread, it was very "mushy" and has a good bite, but there was only one problem, I want a more sour bread (not tangy but mellowy now)

I retarded the bread for 24 hours as an experiment, and another loaf for 40 hours. 
After baking the latter showed clear forms of overproofing (very flat, lost it's strength after pushing it onto the baking sheet)

I wanted to taste the difference but could not find any difference! Wow, how come?
Tried another taste test this morning and let my girlfriend do the same, same conclusion - we could not find any difference. Strange.


I'm baking the very same thing right now, but tried another thing: 100% hydratation preferment and 24 hours of resting  on the counter instead of 12 hours. It really smelled sour (!), hopefully it'll help. I did accidentally mess up the flour/water ratio and now it's close to 75% (gave me a lot of trouble with french folding and shaping)
Conclusion: still need to wait for the last bake, but 24 hours retarding > 40 to keep the form but not for the taste.  


Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hey! I am not such an experienced baker, but I think you might find the solution to your problem here:

So, as I conclude from Mr. Hamelman's letter, you could also try:

- to raise the percent of prefermented dough;

- to try a stiff preferment instead of a liquid one (maybe with 60% hydration);

- prolonge a bit the bulk fermentation of the dough.

Your bread looks very nice, I hope you will manage to make it taste as you wish too. :)


All the best,


jefklak's picture

Thanks for the feedback! I've already read all the blog posts @ yumarama, they're very informative. I did play around with a more stiff starter (created a rye one based off my 100% white one and fed it twice a day for 1.5 week), but it did not produce a more sour taste (or not good enough to clearly tell the difference). 
I did read a few threads here at TFL, that the LAB thrives in wet and warmer conditions so I thought a wetter one would be better. I'll bake my second batch this evening, so I'll let you know if there's a difference.  

There are indeed two other things I could try, the preferment increase in the overall dough and a longer bulk ferment. But I think I'll need to reduce final proofing times then otherwise the loaves might overproof, am I right? 

bottleny's picture

Negalecting the white flour in your starter, the total wholewheat flour is 345g and rye flour is 50 g, while the white flour is 605g.

To my understanding, this should give you, (345+50)/(345+50+605) *100% = 39.5% wholegrain, based on the total flour weight. Not on the total white flour weight. Otherwise, a bread with 500g wholewheat and 500g bread flour would be called 100% wholegrain bread, but that's not what we really think it is.


Floydm's picture



dabrownman's picture

the crumb of your bread is spectacular if you ask me.  What a nice loaf of bread!

For a more sour bread you could try building a more rye sour levian with some more rye flour in the prefermentand adding a slice or two of white onie to it that fish out later.   The levain should ended up to be around 30-35% of the total weight and retard the levain for 12 hours before using it.   Then retard the dough 18 hours too and doing the final proof for 2-3 hrs (or when ever it pokes as proofed ) at 85 F.  That is how I usually get the most sour taste in breads and it should bring out more sour in this bread too I would think .

Very nice baking jefklak!

jefklak's picture

Thanks for the kind words!

I did notice another slight flaw this morning while eating another slice - the bread goes gummy quite fast. Well I did eat from the overproofed loaf but I can still imagine the other one having the same "bite" after a few days. I wonder what causes this, is it the high percentage of water present, or just the fact that I keep the cut slices in a plastic bag? 

As suggested by someone else, I'll try increasing the preferment to 35% next time, but doesn't this mean you should reduce the proofing/fermentation time afterwards? Ahh wait I get it, long bulk ferment means more sour but not overproofing because after shaping it gets time to rise again (but not much). Something to note, for experiment #4! thanks!

dabrownman's picture

not onie.  If you don't take the temp of your bread, use a probe and bake it to 205 F  then let it sit in the oven with the door ajar and oven off for 10 minutes before removing.  That should help cure the gummy issue.

Nice baking

jefklak's picture

Right, as it removes the excessive moisture? 

By the way, another protip: don't bake bread together with cake in 1 oven. Haha! Tried that last night, but was not a real success - the moisture from the cake was too much. I thought, let's get economic, but hey. 

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hey! I think "a stiff preferment" referes to your sourdough for the bread, built around 12 hours before. Instead of having around 320g preferment for this bread with 100% hydration, to try building a 60% one, with 120 g water and 200 g water. You could also add more rye to it, instead of 10 g, maybe 40 g or something like that (like dabrownman suggested). I would build this starting from 100% hydration wheat starter. I wouldn'n transform it. I would just take a bit from it, around 20 g, and build the stiff preferment for the bread.

When retarding the dough in the fridge I think you should also carefully check the temperature in your fridge. Inside my old fridge the temperature is around 10 degrees. In this case there is no way I can retard my bread more then 8-10 hours.

Good luck with perfecting this recipe!


jefklak's picture

Thanks for clearing that up, I misunderstood it. I'll try that, here's the next batch using 24 hours of "brewing time" for the 15% preferment @ 100% hydratation:

I did not have the patience to fully let it cool down haha the crumb is as open as the first one and the oven spring was amazing (I'll create another blog entry for that). It smells more sour than the previous ones but does not really taste that much more so. I kept a piece of the original and I'll try another taste test tomorrow. 

Next up, I'll try your method with the preferment and a higher percentage. 
A temp. meter is still on my tobuy list (wow, yeah) so I had no idea whether it's overproofed or not, except that they flattened quite a bit on the sheet pan (really like pizzas) but I relied on the oven spring which luckily was huge.  

PeterS's picture

to me, it looks great! I often see high hydration doughs get a little slacker over the fermentation process and have attributed it to the normal breakdown of starches, accumulation of gases and liquid fermentation products including, and notably, lactic acid. The higher water content just makes it more noticable. If your bread was truly overproofed,  my expectation is that you would have very little to no oven spring.

As far as the taste, try sampling your bread after 24 hours.

jefklak's picture

Thanks for your comments! Let's say that compared to the ones baked after 24 hours, these did not get a very good oven spring. It was still clearly present indeed but the other loaves did rise higher and got even greater holes. That's something I'm trying to learn, to correctly leaven bread UPwards instead of OUTwards as creating surface tension and the right proofing time is one of the most challenging things for me. 

I baked a 80% wholerye bread today and I think I underproofed it, as I forgot rye breads don't have a big oven spring so my pancake stayed like a pancake. Whoops!

PeterS's picture

I don't think there is a whole lot to be gained from fermentations measured in days, unless you are making wine or beer--I suppose. You should be able to get all the flavor you want with a 12-18 hr fermentation and less. I think you will have better control over your bread working on a shorter window.

When you say 80% is that 80% bakers percentage or 80% of the total flour?

jefklak's picture

I did initially try this bread with 24 hour of proofing in mind because it makes me easier to work with sourdough during weekdays. I'm home late (6 PM) and gone early (6:30 AM) and baking in the morning is no option. That's why I prepared a preferment in the morning, created the loaves in the evening but baked the next evening. 

It was 80% of the total flour used :-) I'm reading a lot on rye and the taste is fantastic but I still have a lot to learn. I'll post the results in another blog post in the next few days - you'll be able to judge for yourself if you think it has been underproofed or not. By the way thanks again for commenting so actively!

Litebrite's picture

That's a beautiful looking loaf of bread, especially considering the whole grain ratio.  I've been baking sourdoughs for just a little bit longer than you and my loaves are still a little hit or miss.  Great work!

jefklak's picture

Great you did actually attempt to bake the loaves twice? I'm honored! I'd love to see the pictures :-)

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