Breads / Breakfast/Tiffin items

Basic Sourdough Loaf – half whole wheat

whole wheat sourdough loaf

Are you tired of reading the words whole wheat and 100% in my post titles? Well, I myself am! But I really am at a loss to name these posts myself. I’ve posted a lot many loaf recipes. And there are more to come. All of them have whole wheat. Most of them are 100% whole wheat. In fact, if you look at the crumb structure, most of my slices look very similar, with all the loaves having an almost similar shade of brown! The pictures are similar to each other too! And if I don’t transfer them from the camera to the computer and tag the pictures the same day or the day after, I myself can’t distinguish one bread slice from the other!!!

The point is, these are all whole grain bakes, mostly with wheat, and some, mutli-grain ones. But the technique is different. And the hydration levels are different. The proportion of different ingredients in each is different. And, most importantly, each of them taste different. whole wheat sourdough loaf

This particular loaf for example, is a basic sourdough loaf. I succeeded in making my sourdough starter at the third attempt. The first time, I acted too smart and used a basic sourdough recipe but replaced all of the all-purpose flour with the regular Indian whole wheat flour. Predictably, it was no good. The second time around, I forgot to follow up and feed it at the right intervals, and ending up with mouldy stinking goop. The third attempt, thankfully, was successful. I felt nearly the same way one would feel on scaling Mount Everest!

My first sourdough bake was a basic loaf, again from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, but I tweaked it somewhat to incorporate whole wheat. This one isn’t 100% whole wheat; at least, not yet. I am working on it though. Oh! And by the way, the starter I made at the third attempt is half whole wheat too.

The sourdough tastes wonderful. For starters (pun not intended!), the flavour of this loaf is amazing. The recipe makes lean dough, meaning there’s no sugar or fat added. Yes. There’s no added sugar. No jaggery, no honey. There’s no milk either. It is a loaf of bread with the four most basic ingredients – flour, water and salt!

whole wheat sourdough loaf

The starter is 50% whole wheat and 50% unbleached white flour (i.e. maida). In the final dough, I added 1 ½ cups of whole wheat and ¾ cups of maida. The final bread, therefore, has a larger percentage of whole wheat than its white counterpart. That said, it is still the loaf with such a large percentage of white flour that I’ve baked in about a year. I’ve tried increasing the wheat flour to about 80%, but I wasn’t too happy with the texture. Hopefully though, I’ll get there soon. For now, let’s get to the recipe.


I’ve halved the recipe and increased hydration since I replaced part of the bread flour called for in the recipe with whole wheat flour.

PS: This is my fifth post for this month. I’ll be blogging the whole month through, except Sundays. I’ll be doing all baked goods and this week is going to be completely sourdough bakes


Makes one 8 inch by 4 inch loaf, weighing about 600 gm. For the pictures in this post, I made one loaf in a 4 inch by 3 inch pan (weighing around 400 gm) and used the rest of the dough to make one other shaped bread that you’ll see later this week!


Unfed sourdough starter – 1/3 cup

Whole wheat flour – ¼ cup +1 ½ cup

Unbleached plain flour (maida) – ¼ cup + ¾ cup

Water – 1/8 cup + 1 cup

Salt – 1 tsp


Remove the required quantity of starter from the refrigerator and leave it on the counter till it comes to room temperature (30-60 minutes)

Take the sourdough starter, ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ¼ cup of maida and 1/8 cup of water in a mixing bowl and knead into a ball of dough. Lightly grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover it up and set aside for it to double. It can take two hours on a warm and humid day or as many as four hours or even longer for this to happen. The refrigerate overnight

The next day, take the levain out of the fridge and leave it on the counter till it comes to room temperature

To make the final dough, take 1 ½ cups of wheat flour, ¾ cup of maida and salt is a large mixing bowl, one that can accommodate the doubling of the dough

Cut the levain into smaller bits and add it to the flour along with 1 cup of water. Mix till the dough forms a ball

Place the ball of dough on the counter and knead for 1-12 minutes till you get soft and supple dough that passes the windowpane test

Lightly grease the same bowl in which you mixed you dough and place the ball of dough in it. Roll it around once to coat it in oil. Cover it and set aside for it to double. It took me about 3 hours on a humid day in Chennai

Once doubled, carefully remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to the counter. Shape it into a loaf. If you so desire, you can also shape it into a boule or any other free-form loaf. At this point, you can refrigerate the shaped loaf overnight or let it double on the counter

If you like loaves with super crunchy crusts, preheat the oven to 250 deg C with a heavy-duty pan on the lower rack while it is pre-heating. Simultaneously, bring a pot of water to boil. Once the oven is ready, pour the boiling water into the pan on the lower rack and place the risen loaf on the middle rack. Repeat this process – pouring boiling water into the hot pan and close the door – twice more. Now reduce temperature to 220 deg and bake for 25-30 minutes. The loaf should be a nice golden brown all over and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom Cool on a wire rack

If you prefer a regular soft crust, preheat the oven to 200 deg C and place the risen loaf on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 180 deg and bake for 25-35 more minutes. The loaf should be golden brown on top and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. It should also feel firm when removed from the pan. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour before slicing


18 thoughts on “Basic Sourdough Loaf – half whole wheat

  1. I know you explained about the starters in Chennai yet, all this sounds complex to me. I will understand the process only after I get my hands dirty. Bread has a nice texture.

  2. Nice to see your sourdough bread. I find increasing hydration helps when using all whole wheat. I love the texture you got, perfect for a loaf.

  3. Reminds me of the long and interesting demo you gave us at chennai .. Would love to see that video once more to learn more from a master baker like u 😊👍

  4. A whole month of whole grains, huh :D? I can see why its easy to get lost. I guess I better start using that book, Nandini. I want to bake some breads like you :-).

  5. Nandini, you can repeat yourself many times if you want…but please continue posting all your breads..I love just to look at them..I know you are just a stone throw away, I am hoping I will drop in to taste these sometime..such beautifully made bread!

  6. Wow that bread has such a marvelous texture and Nandini, your clicks they are so so live…you feel as though the bread is right in front of you…just want to pick, apply a nice layer of butter and munch…ha ha …well at least I can make a wish! You rock my dear!

  7. Bread looks beautiful nandini!!! That hole-y texture is something bread baker’s yearn for in their loaf!!! I m not into sourdough yet, but all these posts are tempting me so much to make one immediately!!!

  8. Love the crumb texture of your breads Nandhini and no we are not bored hearing whole wheat. I think you are the only girl who experiments so much in our group and shares all your knowledge. Kudos to you…

  9. I love these breads Nadani and when you started explaining the starter I think I fell for it. Only waiting for the school reopening when I have a regular schedule and its cooler then you are going to be bombard with lots of my doubts. Just be prepared. Hope I get a bread like this,

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