The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Opinion on a recipe for 100% wholewheat sourdough

alessia's picture

Opinion on a recipe for 100% wholewheat sourdough

Hi! I attempted a recipe from James Morton's Super Sourdough book (which I really like and so far loved every recipe I tried). My question is, do you think the water quantity is right? Here it goes:

350g wholewheat flour

350g water

(Autolyse overnight)


Levain (also overnight built) :

50 g wholewheat starter

125g ww flour

125g water

in the morning, mix everything together with 10 g salt, and knead for 10 minutes. Bulk for up to 4 hours, then shape and proof for 2 hours or retard in fridge.

I have used a mixture of artisanal (UK) wholewheat at 14% protein, Emmer and spelt flours; maybe that was my mistake as stoneground flours do take less water, I have learned. But I still think this recipe calls for too much water. I'd like to hear your thoughts!

I had to add another 50 g of flour, but it was still soupy. I did what I could with slap and fold and extra stretches and folds, but I ended up having to pour the dough into a tin, and baked it anyway. Haven't yet tried slicing it but it rose OK. It looks like cake rather than a loaf of bread. 


clazar123's picture

That is a very wet dough,indeed. WW can take higher hydrations if soaked a good, long time and appear lower but 100% is pretty high.

I wonder if there is a typographical error and the overnight autolyse should be 350g WW and 250 g  water?

Your "batter bread" may be a little close-crumbed but it is probably delicious. There is a whole line of batter bread recipes out there. It was much easier to make bread using them when I had hand surgery years ago.

Here is MY POST many years ago now. I see I was not into 100% WW at that phase but the concept of a batter is still apparent. Maybe the pics will look familiar.

Have fun!

Benito's picture

Wow 100% hydration is super high especially for your UK flours.  When I recently baked 100% whole red fife, I found 80% still too high, although that is a heritage grain but still.  I'd try it again at a much lower hydration.  By adding 50 g extra flour you dropped the hydration to 91% and you still found it soupy.  Try going much lower, say 75% and see how that feels, if it is too stiff then you can bassinage more water in until it feels right.  I'd rather have under hydrated dough than over hydrated.


GaryBishop's picture

Thanks for the reminder about that book. I had forgotten about it. The eBook is on sale for $8. I snagged a copy using my Google rewards points.

mariana's picture

Hi  alessia, 

judging by what I read in his book and having seen pictures of James's breads this recipe is correct. 100% wholeWHEAT sourdough is normal. For him, for his flour.

I am sure that he is using 100% whole wheat bread flour with much more than 14% protein. In whole wheat a lot of protein is in bran and has nothing to do with gluten, so high % of protein in wholegrain flours is deceiving. Normally, strong whole wheat bread flours would have 16% and higher protein level to absorb a lot of water. For example, Marriages 100 Percent Canadian Very Strong Wholemeal Flour.

For your flour it might be too much water if added right away or, generally speaking, just too much water for your flour or blend of flours. 

So start with 25% less water, both in the presoak (in the autolysed portion) and in the levain, mix your dough, see what gives, develop gluten well, and then add salt and a little more water as you knead, little by little, until you either reach the level of 100% hydration and still having a ball of dough or reaching the level of maximum hydration that your flour or blend of flours can tolerate and still stay cohesive, still being a ball of dough that is wrapped in a gluten cloak as it is being mixed in the mixer or kneaded by hand. 



alessia's picture

I will lower the hydration next time & see how it turns out. 

I did think of a typo (250, not 350?) esp because all of the other recipes I tried from this book (so far) have turned out great, with average to low hydration. But perhaps Mariana is right and I went for the incorrect flours and that is all there is to it. 

I'll experiment and post again!