How to Make a Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter: Baking the Loaf (Part 2)

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*To see how I made the starter and for instructions if you’d like to do it yourself, see How to Make a Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter: A Quarantine Adventure (Part 1).

A little more than a week ago, I embarked on the creation and cultivation of my sourdough starter–Ray Brewdbury.

I just love this photo.

After several days of feeding and monitoring, I deemed him ready to be made into my first sourdough foray–a whole wheat sourdough loaf. To make the bread, I used Paul Hollywood’s sourdough recipe because everything that man does is magic.

The Process

First, you need to ensure that your starter is ready. You can tell that your starter is ready to go if it’s bubbly, inflated, and full of large bubbles. It should smell yeasty, kind of like beer and fresh baked bread. You can also employ the float test: drop a small amount of the starter (no more than a teaspoon) into room temperature water. If it floats, it’s good to go. If it sinks, it needs more time and feeding. Continue to monitor and feed every 12-24 hours as needed.

The Recipe

This recipe was very simple to follow, and the original text gives great reasoning for why the steps are what they are. If you have a tried and true sourdough recipe, feel free to share it with me below!

Paul Hollywood’s Sourdough Bread Loaf

Author Elaine Lemm

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. bread flour (I used whole wheat flour only.)
  • oz. salt
  • 10 oz. sourdough starter (Make sure it's ready!)
  • olive oil (for greasing)

Instructions

  • Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a dent in the center and add in the starter. Mix with your hands to create a dough. Add a bit of warm water if it's too dry. Your dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
  • Sprinkle your workspace with some flour. Knead the dough on the floured workspace until it's smooth, silky, and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with a bit of flour. Knead for about 12-15 minutes.
  • Once the dough is smooth, silky, and elastic, lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place the dough in a cool, not cold place for up to six hours, until it's doubled in size.
  • Once it's doubled in size, place the dough on your floured work surface. Knock the air out of it and lightly knead for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl. Cover with a tea towel and place in cool place to proof for 12 hours.
  • Once ready to bake, preheat oven to 475°. Place a roasting tin filled with ice cubes on the lowest shelf of the oven. The steam creates a lovely crust on your loaf.
  • Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and grease very lightly with a little olive oil. Gently lay the risen loaf onto the sheet (do not worry if you lose a little air from the loaf as you do this, it will come back in the oven). Place in the middle of the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 F and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown, the outside crust crisp, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Place the loaf on a cooling rack, and leave to cool completely before eating. The sourdough will keep for up to a week.
Ray Brewdbury in the flour dent.
Ready for kneading!
Pre-proofing.

How It Turned Out

Overall, I think the loaf came out pretty okay for a first attempt. My main issue was that the bread came out somewhat dense. Whole wheat can tend to produce a denser loaf than white bread, so that may have contributed to it. Next time I attempt a whole wheat version, I may use a blend of bread flour and whole wheat flour to up the gluten content.

That being said, it tasted fantastic! It definitely had the distinctive sourdough tanginess, and it was deliciously hardy and a bit nutty thanks to the whole wheat. I’m certainly going to attempt sourdough again, but I’ll try a typical white version using the same recipe I used here. Watch out for this saga on my Instagram: eliztrogers. 🙂

Do you have any sourdough tips or recipes? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know what you think in the comments!

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