The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

(4-plan) Journey to perfect a 100% WW Sourdough Pullman Loaf

texasbakerdad's picture

(4-plan) Journey to perfect a 100% WW Sourdough Pullman Loaf

Well, I got corona tested today, I don't have coronavirus, just a cold. I plan to bake again tomorrow morning.

My wife was very pleased with my last loaf, but she had some requests that I will be adding to my requirements list.

  • The last loaf had almost no sourness to it... I am not exactly sure, because not muched changed from loaf #2 to #3 and loaf #2 was 3/10 on the TexasBakerDad sourness scale, and loaf #3 was 0.5/10. I think maybe my 60g starter was a bit more fermented on loaf #2, also on loaf #2 the aliquot jar showed 2.5x when I loaded the loaf into the oven and on loaf #3 it was about 2.25x. Anyway, my wife said she preferred the dough to have some amount of sourness, I am thinking a 1.5/10 on the TexasBakerDad sourness scale :-)
  • She said she didn't enjoy the flavor of the bran flake topping.
  • She said I needed to bake bigger loaves, I told her I was keeping things small while I was experimenting and she said... "But, I want MORE BREAD!" (Well, too bad, I aint gonna make huge loaves while I experiment, I didn't tell her that though, hahahaha).


The wife has tasked me to come up with a sandwich bread recipe our family can bake at least once a weak to completely replace our regularly purchased box store sandwich bread.

This post is for the recipe for my fourth attempt to make the perfect loaf.


  • Soft and light
  • 100% whole wheat
  • Recipe must be easily repeatable and easy to execute.
  • Recipe must be designed for a covered pullman loaf pan.
  • My 12 year old daughter must be able to bake the bread from start to finish
  • Sourdough leavening only.
  • From start to finish, the bread must be completable in 1 day.
  • Process must exist to enable the baker to know with reasonable certainty that the loaf is perfectly proofed.
  • Dough needs to contain a few softened chewy seeds, grain berries, etc. for texture and flavor.
  • (New) Don't use bran flakes as a bread topping.
  • (New) 1.5 out of 10 on the TexasBakerDad sourness scale, whatever the heck that means :-)

Modifications from Previous Bake

  • Try out DanAyo's suggestion of dumping the dough directly into the pullman right after kneading with the ankersum, eliminating the stretch and folds, the preshape, and the shaping steps. The purpose of this change is to considerably simplify the bake process. I hope everything turns out well. I am going to be very thorough in my pan prepping, extra butter, extra flour.
  • Skip the scoring step... I really have no idea how this will play out with this recipe.
  • Since there will be no stretch and folds, no preshaping and shaping, the dough won't have as much structure, so I am not sure how far I will be able to take the rise before the dough collapses. I think I will play it safe this time around and load the loaf when the aliquot shows a 2x rise. But, I would like to do more bakes in the future where I try different rise amounts. Also, I might find that a slight overproof helps avoid the crust breaking during the oven bloom.
  • During my previous bake, the crumb was still a bit warm when I cut the loaf after letting it cool for 1.5 hours. I will up my cooling time to 2.5 hours.

Fourth Attempt


  • 60g (12%) sourdough starter (50:50 hard red)
  • 50g rolled outs
  • 30g (6%) honey
  • 10g (2%) non-iodized salt
  • 30g (6%) virgin olive oil
  • 475g (95% if you include rolled oats) well water
  • 450g hard white wheat (sifted to remove bran)
  • sifted bran to be used as topping


  • 0:00: In large mixing bowl, add: 475g of boiling water, 50g rolled oats, 30g honey, 10g salt. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • 0:10: Mix in 30g olive oil
  • 0:11: Without kneading, mix the 450g of hard white wheat to combine into a shaggy mess. Let autolyze for 10 minutes
  • 0:21: Smear 60g starter over the top of the dough mess. Use mixer or hand to knead at medium speed for 10 minutes.
  • 0:22: Prepare pullman pan, liberally butter all sides and apply flour.
  • 0:26: Transfer dough to pullman pan. Siphon off 20g of dough to aliquot jar.
  • 5:45: Preheat oven 375dF
  • Estimate a 6 hour rise time, but will move to next step when aliquot jar shows 2x rise.
  • 6:36: Brush top of loaf with melted butter and sprinkle bran on top of loaf, put lid on pullman and stick in oven for 1 hour 30 min.
  • 8:06: Pull from oven, transfer loaf to rack. Let rest until cool, probably 2.5 hours.
  • 10:36: Slice using slicer then put loaf in plastic bread bag to keep it soft.

I am excited about this bake, things could go surprising well or terrible, the suspense!


Benito's picture

Great to see your baking evolve of this bread.  I hope your wife doesn’t read what you wrote!


idaveindy's picture

One of the key things on sourness, is that it does not so much depend on the strength or sourness of the starter/levain, but on the time length and temp of the bulk ferment and proof.

Loaves 2 and 3 used more starter and less ferment time than loaf 1.   If you go back to less starter, and a longer bulk ferment, or a longer proof in the fridge, the sourness may come back.  DanAyo taught me that. Also explained here:

The last link probably explains it best.


Also, the longer (warm) autolyse makes more sugar. So you may want to cut down on the honey.


texasbakerdad's picture

That is just it though. Loaf #2 was sour, loaf #3 wasn't. Both had very similar fermentation times. That is why I listed the known differences between #2 and #3 that might have caused the sourness.

Loaf #2 proved the loaf can be sour enough with the current time tables, I just need to figure out why loaf #2 was more sour and then learn to control that variable to achieve a consistent sourness.

I don't want to lengthen the recipe any longer, 8-9 hours from start to cooling is just about perfect.

idaveindy's picture

Bake 3 had 31 fewer minutes of fermentation time, if I read and calculated correctly. And bake 3 had at least an hour longer for the hot water to cool down than bake 2.

If you figure out how to get a tangy loaf in 9 hours, I'm all ears.  I've always had to do an overnight bulk or overnight fridge proof to get it.

I agree with Benny, you're making good progress.

texasbakerdad's picture

idaveindy, you can be hard to follow.

"more than one change?"
Are you asking me if I thought there was more than 1 change? There were probably 5-10 changes that had an impact on the bread, 2-3 of them are probably worth investigating.

"Bake 3 had 31 fewer minutes of fermentation time, if I read and calculated correctly. And bake 3 had at least an hour longer for the hot water to cool down than bake 2."
Are you saying 31 fewer minutes and cooler dough is the reason Bake 3 was less sour?

"If you figure out how to get a tangy loaf in 9 hours, I'm all ears."
Loaf #2 was too tangy and it fermented for 9 hours. I wouldn't say it was a super tangy loaf, but as stated in my list of requirements, I only want a 1.5/10 on the TexasBakerDad sourness scale.

idaveindy's picture

>>"more than one change?"
>Are you asking me if I thought there was more than 1 change? 

Just a rhetorical question as the subject line.

>Are you saying 31 fewer minutes and cooler dough is the reason Bake 3 was less sour?

I'm saying it's a possibility. Lower temp = less fermentation by both the LAB (which produce acid) and by the yeast.  dough temp in the upper 80's favors LAB if i recall correctly. 

I have a feeling that getting it "dialed in" will be a matter of getting the dough temp just right. Dough temp is a major factor that needs to be balanced against time and %PFF to get fermentation and acid production just right.

Those two links to explain how temp relates to acid production.

texasbakerdad's picture

Thankyou for the helpful insights.

clazar123's picture

If this is supposed to be a weekly bread for sandwiches that can be easily made, why add the complexity,stress and uncertainty of using SD levain only? SD Natural levain recipes are never precise, consistent recipes-there are always tweaks and judgement calls to be made. It would seem to me that this loaf should be easy and non-stressful to make with a rapid, consistent turnaround. After all, if it fails, there is no bread for lunches. Why not make the weekly sandwich loaf an easier, tasty loaf and then make other, more complicated breads on a periodic basis to satisfy the sour-loving,SD craving bread lover? One of the reasons commercial yeast was developed and wholeheartedly embraced was because of  the foibles of natural levain in the home kitchen. Commercial yeast was EASY compared to the use of natural levain and it still is.

I am into de-stressing and simplifying right now because the world is providing enough complicated stress. Just my .02 but YMMMV.

Regards and bake some delicious fun.


texasbakerdad's picture

"why add the complexity, stress and uncertainty"
This must be the way my wife feels about marrying a bloke like me. She might able to provide some insight into why we torture ourselves the way we do.

Seriously though, lately my sourdough has been pretty amazing... so much, that I feel like giving the starter a gender and a name. Any ideas? The only minor issue I have with sourdough these days is that the timing of the rise can vary either way by about 15%. BUT!!! Considering I never measure or attempt to control temperatures (temp of water, ambient temp, freshly milled flour temps), my times vary quite a bit anyways, so I am ok with that and used to it. Since I try to bake by feel, varying times don't mess me up too much. If I ever decide to go into production mode on a loaf I like a lot, I might get a bit more anal about temps and such.

The aliquot has so far been a huge blessing, it is helping me learn a lot about how my starter behaves and how to better judge proofing. My journey to create this sandwich loaf is teaching me a lot along the way... for me, it is more about the journey and less about the perfection and the sandwich loaf. For my wife... it is all about the sandwich loaf.

clazar123's picture

I get the allure and the enjoyment of the journey. I guess I was really responding to the requirement to make it easy enough for your daughter to make.  Or for you to make it quickly and easily.  So for you I would say,"Have fun" but if you really need for daughter to start baking I would say,"Make sure she is having fun".

I will follow you with interest.

texasbakerdad's picture

Valid point.

My daughter is quite a good cook for her age and she likes being challenged. But yes, I am cognizant of making the recipe too difficult and not fun for her. There is a balance I am trying to reach between too simple and too difficult for her. I THINK, since I will be maintaining the sourdough starter for her, that using the sourdough won't make things too complicated, especially if she is able to use marker lines on the aliquot jar as a biological timer for bulk end and proofing end.

The use of non-commercial ingredients is very high on our priority list.