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50% Whole Wheat Sourdough - First Attempt

jstreed1476's picture

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough - First Attempt

Here's my first attempt at a sourdough with 50% whole wheat. I'm about 75% pleased with the result.

I've made a few sourdough loaves over the years, but have mainly used my starter for pizza dough.

I used a 100% hydration starter modeled loosely on the one described in Tartine Bread. It's about 3 weeks old and maintained with 50% whole wheat, 50% bread flour. I removed it from the fridge Thursday evening and fed it every 10-12 hours until early Saturday morning.

Here's the formula I followed--which is to say, made up as I went along.

Starter 100g

Hodgson Mill 50/50 Flour 400g

Water 250g

Salt 9g

I whisked together the starter and the water, then stirred in the flour about 100g at a time. After it was thoroughly mixed, I rested it for about 20 minutes, then kneaded in the salt.

My kneading schedule was adapted from the "periodic" model suggested by Dan Lepard. That is, for the first 30 minutes, I alternated 1 minute kneading sessions and 10 minute rests. Thereafter, for the next 90 minutes, I kneaded for 10 seconds and rested for 30 minutes. After each kneading session, I rounded the dough and placed it into a clear container. In all, I kneaded about 3:30, and after the final 30 min rest, I did a stretch-and-fold, rounded the dough, and let it rise it at room temp for about three hours. 

After it was about 1.5 times its initial volume, I shaped the dough and placed it in a cloth-lined wicker basket covered with a perfectly-sized Corningware glass lid. (To flour the cloth, I sifted about .25c bran out of the flour and spread it evenly over the cloth.)

It proofed about 4 hours, again a room temp. When it passed the poke test, I turned it onto my peel, slashed it (too shallow, in restrospect), and slid it onto my stone in a 500F oven with a couple of ice cubes tossed onto the oven floor. I meant to do the "magic bowl" thing and cover it with a stainless steel bowl, but alas, I forgot to pre-heat the bowl and didn't want to crack another stone.

After 10 minutes, I turned the temp to 450F, baked for 15 minutes more, then removed to a wire rack. By the middle of Breaking Bad last night, I could stand waiting no longer and sliced a piece. Lovely flavor. Perfect with butter. More sour than my family likes, probably, but really wheaty, too.

I think next time I'll try to push the hydration a bit higher and rely more on stretch-and-folds than kneading after the first 30 minutes. For now, I'm pretty happy with this as a first attempt.



loydb's picture

I keep my starter a 50/50 AP/WW mix as well. I just alternate types every feeding rather than mix. I think it gives a much deeper flavor than pure AP. I grind my own WW, and have found that 100% WW starters don't perform as well.



jstreed1476's picture

But I like the idea of alternating. Right now, it's just easier to use the 50/50 mix from the bag of Hodgson's. Thanks for the idea, though!

Aideuis's picture

Looks great.  I have struggled with scoring, so I picked one knife started burying the blade quickly through the dough and have gotten better results.  If it looked good to me before it went into the oven I cut deeper.  I also started keeping my knife as sharp as Sweeney Todd's.

jstreed1476's picture

I'm usually happy with my scoring, but for some reason I wasn't as aggressive this time around. Maybe it would've risen a bit better with a deeper slash. Happily, it still tasted fine. As for knives, my usual scoring knife is a ceramic blade that I use only for slashing. Ultra-sharp and thin, with very little drag.

Janetcook's picture


A very nice loaf for a first attempt!

I use only whole wheat in my starters and my loaves.  To minimize the sour flavor up your feeding schedule before a bake.  Keep the temp. at 75° or lower and decrease the hydration.  When I am going to bake a loaf I feed my starter at least 2 times but mostly I go for 3 feeds and my starters are very strong!   This evening one I have been working on today raised the lid on it's container - it was on it's second feed.

On MC's site 'Farine' there is a good article about Gerard Rubaud.  He uses freshly milled whole grains in his loaves and, as MC describes the taste , 'they are anything but sour' it can be done.

His feed ratio and schedule are posted there as well.

Here is the link for you:

Have fun experimenting!


jstreed1476's picture

Thanks for the suggestion! The link is a great resource. Next time I will speed up the feedings and reduce the hydration. I don't mind a little sour, but it's nicer when my family enjoys the same bread I do :-)

Maverick's picture

Nice crumb. The crust looks nice and thin, but I wonder if it is the picture making it look a little pale. I was wondering about the wide shape. My loaves tend to look like this as well. I have ordered some proofing baskets because I believe it is the free form shaping that is causing most of my shape issues. But I noticed you used a basket and your shape looks the same. Do you have any insight into this? Normally I would say overproofing, but I wonder if your stone was preheated long enough. Or perhaps it has to due with gluten development or just because it is a relatively new starter you are using. Still looks delicious to me :)

jstreed1476's picture

I probably do sacrifice some gluten development by cutting back on total kneading time so drastically. I could probably throw a couple more stretch-and-fold cycles in there, I suppose. Or use my Kitchenaid, though I'd rather not.

Possible changes to improve color (which was paler than I thought it would be) and shape:

+ Preheat to higher temp, e.g. 525F, and use "magic bowl" technique with no ice/water for steam.

+ Use hot water, not ice cubes, for steam.

+ Reduce temp after longer initial baking period. Or don't reduce temp at all.

Thanks for suggestions and compliment!

Maverick's picture

Kneading techniques are my downfall. I always want to try new ways instead of just trying to get one way right. This is one of the reasons I asked about the shape. I noticed your technique is different than what I have done before and I was curious about how it worked out. I noticed a recipe recently that used the KA to get a medium level of gluten development (after autolyse), then finished with the stretch and fold technique. I think this is the one I will try to perfect once my sourdough starter is back up and running. For my commercial yeast breads I think I will just keep trying to figure out the best way to use my KA. I think that running it at 2 just takes too long and I always feel like I am over-kneading. Maybe running it at 3 would work better (even though the manufacturer says not to). Sorry for digressing :)