The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mostly Whole Wheat, Rye, Spelt Sourdough

riverbread's picture

Mostly Whole Wheat, Rye, Spelt Sourdough

Hi All - wanted to share a recent loaf in my quest for a open crumb but whole wheat loaf with decent rise... which so far is still eluding me. I’m new overall to sourdough (a classic quarantine baker if you will) but have been working with WW for health and flavor benefits mostly. 

Still struggling with a few areas, namely judging bulk fermentation, and handling during shaping though. Any feedback is always appreciated!


240g Red Fife Whole Wheat Flour (Anson Mills) - 68%

40g Whole Wheat Spelt Flour - 11%

45g All Purpose - 13%

25g Rye - 7%

70g Mature Levain - 20%

7g Salt - 2%

288g H2O - ~82% Hydration


  1. Autolyse for 3 hours (flour and 278g of water)
  2. Mixed Levain and Salt, then kneaded using Rubaud method for about 5 minutes
  3. After 30 minutes rest, did 4 sets of coil folds every 30 minutes for first 2.5 hours of bulk fermentation, then let rest approximately 3 hours (final dough temp was around 75F) 
  4. Pre shape then bench rest for 15 minutes 
  5. 12 hour cold proof, baked from fridge (covered @ 450F for 20 minutes, uncovered @ 425F for 25 minutes) 

  Results were okay as you can see, not quite as good of a bloom as I’d hope and also one big hole tunneling through, but may keep trying with this formula... 



idaveindy's picture

That looks pretty good!

I'm a home miller, and like to do 90% WW loaves.

WW, rye, and whole spelt all ferment quickly.  Dark/whole rye and whole spelt ferment _very_ qucikly.

This list is my experience, so it may not apply to you in part or in whole.  My Fresh-milled flour ferments quicker than store-bought whole grain.

1. Unless the whole grains are coarse ground, 45 min soak (autolyse with no levain) is plenty.  the enzymes in the bran start converting starch to sugar as soon as they are wetted.  Especially spelt and rye.  

personally, I leave the white flour out of the autolyse, so that the bran gets first access to the water.

If your spelt is finely ground, I suggest  leaving it out of the autolyse as well.  I think it turns to sugar all too quickly.

2. I am not a fan of rubaud mixing for whole grains.  If, after trying the other things, try eliminating rubaud as the only change, to see how it goes.

3. IMO,  20% levain is too much for all that whole grain and that time.  Try 35 grams (instead of 70), and adjust final dough flour/water accordingly.  If your levain is built with mostly whole grain, then reduce to 7%.  Whole grain starters tend to super-charge things.

4. 6 hours of bulk ferment (from the point where you add the levain to the point of doing the preshape) may also have been too long. With 10% or 7% levain, try 5 hours.


I'm not sure what the thick bottom crust means.  Maybe too much sugar (from enzyme action on the starch) or too high temp, or too high hydration.


Bon appétit, amigo.

riverbread's picture

Ah thank you so much for these suggestions! Super helpful pointers and also nuances I definitely had no idea about :) Will give some of these a shot, especially splitting up my flours for the autolyse, this weekend.