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This whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread is the perfect vehicle for your sandwiches, or turn into toast – slather with some butter and jam. This whole wheat sourdough bread is perfectly light and fluffy.
Right now if you’re like me you are having trouble finding a bag of bread on the shelves. Like clean wiped out. All the bread. Gone.
Luckily, a while back in January I had made my 2020 mission to start a sourdough journey. So when the shelves were bare, I didn’t panic.
I just busted out my sourdough starter and got to work. Now since, a bag of flour is also quite rare and so is yeast it’s come in quite handy to have my starter, who I named Hagrid in case you were wondering. And although, all purpose flour was cleaned out there was whole wheat flour available.
So that’s the inspiration behind this whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread. With no yeast, and using some whole wheat flour, my sourdough starter to the rescue! Empty bread shelves don’t scare me!
What Is Sourdough?
Ok let’s back things up a bit….
Sourdough is basically an ancient way of making bread. Sourdough doesn’t rely on commercial yeast, but on wild yeast. By simply combining flour and water, you create a live fermented culture from the wild yeast found on the grains of the wheat that the flour is made from. The more it is “fed”, meaning fresh flour and water, allows the wild yeast to multiply.
Because sourdough relies on wild yeast, the process can take much longer than commercial yeast bread recipes. But the complex flavor and texture is far superior of any other bread you will ever eat.
For more Sourdough 101: What Is Sourdough?<– click here.
Is Sourdough Bread Better For You?
Yes. 1000% yes. Sure at first glance, the nutrition label might look the same to conventional bread. But the long fermentation process is what has sourdough sailing past the conventional bread loaves by a mile for its health benefits. Plus it’s made with just a few simple ingredients compared to store-bought bread that has added chemicals and preservatives.
Whole grains, in general, that bread is made with can contain lots of great minerals. But the body can have a hard time absorbing those minerals due to phytic acid that is present in grains. But the lactic acid created from the fermentation process helps to break down the phytic acid allow your body to be able to absorb more of those minerals than you would be able to with bread made from commercial yeast.
Also, sourdough bread can be much more easily digested and enjoyed, especially those with a gluten sensitivity. The long fermentation process helps to already start the process of breaking down the gluten in the bread making it much easier to digest.
So more vitamins, minerals, and it’s easier to digest. Basically, sourdough is awesome.
What Makes Sourdough Bread Sour?
So the thing that makes sourdough bread, well, sourdough, is its “sour” flavor. And although the bread relies on the wild yeast, the sourness doesn’t actually come from it.
According to the Kitchn, The sour flavor is due from two kinds of good for you bacteria — Lactobacillus and acetobacillus . These bacteria grow alongside the wild yeast in the sourdough culture creating lactic and acetic acid, creating that sour flavor.
The amount of sour your bread will have in the end can depend on how you develop the culture, the age of the starter, the flours used – but ideally it will have a touch of sourness that plays well with the earthy, sweet, yeasty flavors of the rest of the bread.
Let’s Start With Your Sourdough Starter From Scratch
If you haven’t gotten around yet to making your sourdough starter then let’s get going! What are you waiting for? It will take about 5 days to make your starter before you can attempt this bread. But it will be worth it. Here is the full guide on How To Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch.
Once you have your starter raring to go then you will need to feed and mantain your starter.
What Goes In This Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread?
- Your bubbly, active starter – you’ve got that ready to go right? 🙂 Good.
- Whole Wheat flour – my preference is King Arthur Flour, organic if you can.
- Bread Flour – If you don’t have this you can use all purpose flour, but bread flour has more protein so it will provide a better structure.
- Milk – I like to use full fat milk, but I think a lower fat milk would be fine. I haven’t tried this with alternative milks.
- Warm water – Warm is best to keep that yeast alive and happy.
- Honey – This will sweeten the dough
- Unsalted Butter
Start With An Active Starter
We want to start by making our dough. This is a no knead dough and it couldn’t be simpler to throw together. Basically stir and forget it. You want to make sure to start with an ACTIVE STARTER.
How can you tell when your starter is ready?
I have two ways:
1. The Rubberband trick
Place a rubberband around your starter jar where the height of the starter starts when you feed it. And then when you see it’s doubled in size, it’s ready! Like so…
2. The Float Test
Still not sure? Take a spoonful (just be careful to not deflate the bubbles) and place in a bowl of water. Does it float? If it does, then you’re ready! If it doesn’t let the starter continue to bubble away before using it.
Make Your Dough
Ok now that your starter is bubbly and active. Let’s make some bread. In a bowl whisk together the starter, milk, water, honey, and oil together.
Once this has been whisked together, then add the flours and salt. The dough will be shaggy, so you will need to bring the dough together with your hands. Then cover with a damp towel and let it rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Don’t forget to feed your starter again!
Ok once the dough has rested, you want to shape the dough into a smooth ball. And the cover it again with a damp towel to allow it to rise and double in size, 6 to 8 hours.
Shape The Bread
So you had a good night’s sleep and you’re ready to shape bread right? Me too. Once the dough has risen, you want to coax the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough. Start by dimpling the dough with your fingertips.
And then I flatten the dough into a rectangle and then roll into a log. Tuck the ends underneath. And place the loaf in a pan to rise again. Be sure to cover the pan.
This time it will rise about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the pan.
Yay! It’s time! Time. To. Bake. Is there anything better than the smell of bread baking? Is that a Yankee candle smell yet? Well, it should be.
This bread will bake for about 45 minutes in a 375°F oven. Voila! Gorgeous, am I right?
Tips For Making This Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Make sure your starter is active before you start. Drop a small piece in a bowl of water to see if it floats. It it does, then it’s ready! If not, then it may need 1-2 more feedings.
- Use Bread Flour. Yes you can use all purpose flour, but bread flour gives the best texture.
- Use A Kitchen Scale. For best accuracy, it’s best that you weigh your ingredients and not rely on volume (measuring cups)
- Damp Towel!! When you let the dough rise overnight, be sure to use a damp towel to cover it so it doesn’t dry out and not rise properly.
Why Didn’t My Sourdough Bread Rise?
This could be because your sourdough starter wasn’t quite bubbly and active enough. Be sure to do the “float test” before you begin.
Another culprit could be a cold kitchen! If your kitchen is cold the bread will take longer to rise. Ideally, your kitchen should be around 70°F.
Make sure your water is warm. Just like the dough likes a warm kitchen, it will also like warm water to keep it happy and keep it rising.
How Do I Store Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread will actually last longer than storebought bread at room temperature because of the long fermentation process. The bread will be fine at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. Once the bread has cooled completely (you can let the bread sit out for a full day before wrapping to allow to cool) then store in a sealable plastic bag or bread box.
Whatever you do, don’t cut into the bread until it’s cooled which can affect the texture and make it dry out faster.
You can also freeze any leftover bread for 3 to 6 months. I always just store mine in a sealable plastic bag.
More Sourdough Recipes
- Sourdough Brioche Bread
- Sourdough Bread Recipe (From Starter!)
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Sourdough Focaccia
- Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- Sourdough Rye Bread
More Whole Wheat Recipes
- Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- Whole Wheat Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes
- Whole Wheat Banana Bread
- Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tools To Make This Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe
You can check out My Favorite Sourdough Bread Tools and Resources.
- Loaf Pan
- Sourdough cookbook – ok not necessary but it’s chock full of amazing recipes that once you master this loaf you will want to make next.
- Bread Knife
- Cooling Rack
And don’t forget to enroll in the Traditional Cooking School complete Sourdough course – it will teach you EVERYTHING!!
Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- 150 g (3/4 cup) bubbly, active starter
- 270 g (1 cup, plus Tbsp) warm milk
- 30 g (2 tbsp) warm water
- 40 g (2 Tbsp) honey
- 30 g (2 Tbsp) oil plus more for coating pan
- 120 g (1 cup) whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
- 360 g (3 cups) bread flour
- 9 g (1 1/2 tsp) salt
- 14 g (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter melted
- Make The Dough. In a large bowl, whisk together the starter, milk, water, honey, and oil together with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Mix to combine. Finish by hand, until a rough dough forms. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Replenish starter with flour and water. After dough has rested, work the dough into a smooth ball, about 20 seconds. The dough will be supple and smooth when it comes together.
- Bulk Rise. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature, 70oF, until double in size, about 6 to 8 hours. The dough will look nice and domed when ready.
- Shape. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently dimple the surface with our fingertips to release any large air bubbles. Roll the dough into a log, tucking the ends underneath. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly coat a 9-inch loaf pan with oil. With floured hands, cup the dough and pull it toward you to tighten its shape. Place into your local pan, seam side down.
- Second Rise. Cover the dough and let rest until it has risen about 1 inch above the rim of the pan, about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, depending on room temperature.
- Bake. Bake the dough in a preheated 375F oven on the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes. When finished, remove the loaf from the oven and brush the crust with the melted butter. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
- Make sure your starter is active before you start. Drop a small piece in a bowl of water to see if it floats. It it does, then it's ready! If not, then it may need 1-2 more feedings.
- Use Bread Flour. Yes you can use all purpose flour, but bread flour gives the best texture.
- Use A Kitchen Scale. For best accuracy, it's best that you weigh your ingredients and not rely on volume (measuring cups)
- Damp Towel!! When you let the dough rise overnight, be sure to use a damp towel to cover it so it doesn't dry out and not rise properly.
- Storage: The loaf is best consumed within 2 days, stored in a plastic bag at room temperature.