The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole grain sourdough books

Lolakey's picture

Whole grain sourdough books

Hi everyone. 

I want to get my hands on a book with mostly whole grain recipes. Doesn't have to be 100% whole grain, but 50 % and upwards is good. I see quite a few books focusing on WG that use commercial yeast, or a combination of sourdough and yeast. I would prefer one that focuses on naturally leavened bread, more artisan in style, or a book that at least explains how to adapt recipes when omitting commercial yeast. I really enjoy Hamelman's Bread and, as well as Ginsberg's The Rye Baker. I have Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, which I have mixed feelings about when it comes to the sourdough aspect. 

How is Chad Robertson's Tartine book in terms of whole grain recipes? Should I go with Tartine no. 3 instead? And what about The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, or do those recipes mostly contain commercial yeast? 

Any tips appreciated! 

charbono's picture

is a good book, but it doesn't have real sourdough.  King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking is good.  Thom Leonard's Bread Book is small, but especially good for home millers.

Lolakey's picture

Thank you, I will check those out!

idaveindy's picture

I have all the ones that you mentioned.

LK Bread book is all 100% WW, but it is all but 1 commercial yeast.

 LK BB goes into "desem" which is a type of sourdough. Has instructions to make a desem starter (no commercial yeast) and technically two desem bread formulas: one young desem bread formula, and one formula for a mature desem.   

I thought the rye formulas were sourdough, but they use a "rye sour" plus commercial yeast, not true sourdough rye.

The  first Tartine book is not for >50% WW bakers, but Tartine #3 is. But #3 is mostly ancient grain, like spelt, einkorn etc., plus add ins. t is also light on _100%_ whole grains.

Both tartine and tartine#3 in kindle format regularly go on sale for $4.99 or less if you want a cheap way to see if you want to drop $25 or more on a hard copy. Just wait 3 to 6 months.

I agree with those who say Robertson is the better artisan, while Reinhart is the better teacher.

Reinhart's Bread Revolution is mostly sprouted flour. only one or two formulas without sprouted flour. 


Note: when attempting formulas you see here at TFL and The Perfect Loaf, be watchful about who uses home-milled flour.  It is not a direct replacement for store bought WW that has sat around on the store shelf and dried out.


The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg and Francois, is at least 50% and higher%  WW formulas. (ie, all recipes are high % Ww).  It has a little sourdough, not much. Kindle edition goes on sale once or twice a year.


Martin Philip's ( of KA Flour co) "Breaking Bread" book goes on sale in Kindle edition occasionally. Last sale was only $1.99. He has a few high% WW formulas.


The isolation bakers depleted the hardcopy used cookbook market, so it will take a while for inexpensive used copies to come back at Amazon. the ones listed now are almost all overpriced for used copies.


If you have a Half Priced Books store near you, visit the discount section, which is $3 and under.  Even if a book has only one 100% Ww sourdough formula, it might be worth $3.  I bought several  that way, the Village Baker by Ortiz, Local Breads and Bread Alone by Leader, and Best Bread Ever by Charles Van Over.  Those are books that i would not have paid full price or Amazon price for, but for $3 a pop, it's a nice little library.


Goodwill or other  thrift stores have book sections where you might find a classic  that the pickers missed. Look for books by Forkish, James Beard, Ed Espe Brown (Tassajara Bread Book), Beranbaum, Carol Field, plus all other above mentioned.

Hope this helps.


Lolakey's picture

This helps a lot! Thank you so much.

I think I will go with Tartine 3 at least. I enjoy baking with ancient grains, so that's a plus. Trying out the kindle version when it goes on sale is a good idea.

I hear a lot of people talk about Ken Forskish (Floiur, Water, Salt Yeast), but I assume I won't find many whole grain recipes in there either? I also had Local Breads by Daniel Leader in mind, but then I heard the book has quite a few typos in the measurements, which kind of put me off. I don't know if the rest of the book is worth it if I need to constantly double-check everything. But it looks like it covers exactly what I'm after? 

I will look up the titles and authors you mention! There are so many books on sourdough baking, and I kind of want to get my hands on the good ones, those who get into the nitty gritty, or at least those where the baker has carefully tested and crafted his or her formulas and techniques.

I am not from the US unfortunately. These books are hard to come by, especially in thrift shops and flea markets, where most books are written in Norwegian (all the way from Norway here!). So I have to rely on the good ol' online shopping, sometimes having to order internationally. Thankfully has free shipping, but still, it's not cheap. I tried to see if I could order Reinhart and Hamelman from the national library services once, but no, they didn't have them in their catalogue (!)

TFL is full of great recipes and resources of course, but oh, I do love baking with an open book on the counter, covered in flour and smeared with old sourdough discard. 

About fresh milled flour: I am aware of that, so I always hold back water during mixing with store-bought flour in case I need to adjust. I also watch the dough in terms of strength/gluten development and fermentation, and adjust accordingly with more/less time, more/less stretch and folds and so on. It has worked very well so far :)