Whole-Grain Sourdough Bread

As I’ve admitted often in the past, I am a bread addict. A junkie through and through. I love good artisan style bread, whole grain, sourdough, plain sandwich bread or otherwise. I’m generally a huge fan of  all natural yeasts. I love making breads, wines, and beer of my own. The organic process of natural fermentation just fascinates me. What we now call “naturally leavened” in the old days, was well, bread. Those days you did not go to the grocery mart and buy pre-packaged zombie yeasts. You made it yourself. You can make a simple starter for one loaf or as I do use a sourdough starter. Its not hard at all, it just takes some planning and a little smidge of patience.

I often test recipes and experiment, this is one I played with a little. I especially love utilizing my sourdough for lots of things even beyond breads. For this trial I was hoping to get a less dense all grain bread. For me I find it annoying seeing breads and recipes marked “whole grain” when they are not actually whole grains. So this one is half Rye, Half white wheat flour with a bit of a boost from vital wheat gluten. I don’t typically keep regular wheat flour in the house, EVERYONE complains about it tasting like cardboard. If your lucky enough to have refined or less picky palates on hand by all means utilize standard wheat.  This bread was great by itself (or with herb butter!), is still fairly “whole grain-ish” but not as dense as loaves I’ve made in the past.  I imagine it will due nicely toasted and served with a dip as well. However you serve it this is great and well worth the time.

Whole-Grain Sourdough Bread:

  • 1 cup water (warm: up to 113 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast (since its whole grain I wanted to give it an extra boost)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour for kneading

In a bowl combine water, yeast, starter and honey. Allow to sit at room temperature 10-15 minutes. Combine with flours and wheat gluten. Stir or knead to combine. Flour your working surface with the all purpose flour , use it sparingly since your making a whole grain bread they have a tendency to become dry. Knead the dough 5-10 minutes until its smooth. Place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature 4-5 hours.  Place in the refrigerator over night.

The next day:
Place on the counter for 4-5 hours. This gives your dough a chance to bounce back and just hang out and relax. Take out your dough and divide it into two parts. Form both pieces into balls and liberally flour them. Place aside lightly covered with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap. Let rest 1-2 hours or until they have puffed back up.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. If you’ve got a baking stone or tile you will preheat it as well. I have a “steam tray” at the bottom of my stove that is simply an old broiling pan. Preheat this as well if you’ve got one. When the oven is nice and hot quickly but gently put the dough onto your tiles or stone. (If you have neither a well floured cookie sheet will work). Using a very sharp knife, or razor blade slice into the tops of your bread making a design if desired or simply a criss-cross (+) slice no more than 1/2″ deep.

For the steaming tray pour 1/2 cup ice cold water into the tray and shut the oven door. If you’ve got a spray bottle you can also spray the sides of your oven. Be careful not to hit the heating element if you’ve got an electric stove.

Bake 15-25 minutes or until golden brown. Interior should be approximately 190 degrees inside, if you tap on it with your finger or a knife it should sound hollow. Some like their outer crust much darker, some like it barely browned. Which ever you prefer.