The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Working with whole wheat and rye

abigails's picture

Working with whole wheat and rye

Hi all! 

I'm a sourdough novice, and have finally been having success with loaves baked according to Alex's excellent youtube video ( This bread is at around 71% hydration with 100% bread flour. Now that I've been consistently baking nice loaves, I'm wondering how to go about starting to use some percentage of whole wheat or rye in my mix, or switching from bread flour to AP flour. 

The first loaves I ever baked were using Maurizio's beginner's recipe, and although the flavor was stellar, I could never get my proofing time right or the dough strong enough, and ended up with a bunch of sad, flat loaves. I'd like to start getting back to that flavor profile, though, but am unsure if I should try subbing a small percent of the bread flour in Alex's recipe with some rye and whole wheat, or if I should go with a whole new recipe. How would whole grains or AP flour affect the recipe? (Gluten development, fermentation time, hydration, etc.) Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks so much!


berryblondeboys's picture

I Abi. I'm a new (like NEW) sourdough baker myself, though I've been baking bread with whole grain (at least 50% for years), but always with commercial yeast.

I know a lot of people advise to start with white flour recipes and as you build the skill to move on to whole grains by changing the formula little by little from there, but I find that counter-intuitive. I say that because each loaf is different and when you switch types of flour, it's like starting over and who wants to do that continually? So, for myself, I decided to do sourdough using at least 50% whole-grains from the beginning. I just made my first loaf earlier this week and for a first attempt, I'm pretty happy with it, but next time I'm going to do a recipe MEANT for whole-grain sourdough and I found a recipe that seems clear enough and uses 50% whole wheat flour. I haven't tested it, but I plan to work with it in a couple of days. Here it is:

Maverick's picture

Start with 10-15% rye or whole wheat. You will find that there isn't a big difference in the handling of the dough this way. Flavor wise, if you want a little more sour taste go with rye. Whole wheat will be more nutty. Another option is white whole wheat, which will be milder than the regular red whole wheat most commonly used.

Here are 2 recipes that I really like if you want something more like a San Francisco sourdough flavor profile: