Whole Grain Sourdough

A great article, if you haven’t already read it, for “recipe” vs “look and feel of dough”: Demystifying sourdough bread baking

Inspired (or reminded) by this thread, I just added a little section on dough hydration to my demystifying sourdough bread baking post that @easummers recommended (thanks!). You can read it if interested, but in short, as with length of proofing time, I think that no two bakers (in their own kitchens with their own different flours) are going to get the same consistency of dough by following the same recipe.

And in some cases, again, depending on your particular flour, it can be wildly different from what a recipe author sees in their kitchen with their flour and their technique.

So I think you need to approach any bread recipe expecting to need to make adjustments to the amount of water you use to get a workable dough consistency. At least that has been my experience.

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EA Summers,

Thank you. I apologize for the long delay in acknowledging your reply. I’ve been busy with a freelance project but also made a couple attempts at bread-baking. I tried a loaf following a recipe at Zero Waste Chef (https://zerowastechef.com/2015/09/17/sourdough-bread/), which turned out well, with a fairly open crumb. But then I tried the recipe here under the first link you provided; it did not turn out well. I’ll post some questions under the forum for that page. I appreciate your help! It’s a learning process for me.

Thank you for your response to my post; I’m sorry for the delay in acknowledging your thoughts. I liked your article and understand that I need to develop a feel for what my dough tells me.

Out of curiosity and having seen many original comments describing the dough as too wet, and a recent comment of too dry (and that is true of almost all bread recipes … just a fact of breadmaking and all of the variables as noted) … I made this recipe twice this week.

I did review the videos and one thing of note: day 2 mixing (middle to end of the first video) … @eric adds starter, water, salt, rye and spelt flours. For the white flour, he adds a bit at a time, mixing in between additions and finally turning the dough out on the bench to hand knead. This is how I’ve made “kneaded bread” before I started making high moisture breads. And the benefit … actually the necessity in this particular recipe is that you stop adding flour or add more until you reach the desired dough feel which is depicted in the video and described as tacky but not sticky.

My first round with this recipe, I used all Bob’s Red Mill flours and when I had added the recipe quantity of flour, my dough was on the sticky side. If I wasn’t sort of testing things, I would have added more flour to get to the tacky … but I wanted to see how the slightly wet dough would bake.

Soft crumb, hearty enough for sandwiches, toasts well … I waited 12 hours to slice and think it tasted even better after 24.

Round 2, I used my WheatMontana AP White flour which is fairly high protein (13.3) and my normal white bread flour. This time, as I was adding the white flour, I got to tacky, not sticky and still had 41 grams of flour left, so I stopped adding flour as the dough was perfect look and feel.

Pretty similar bakes. I think round 2 has a slightly more open crumb and I like the taste a little better.

Hardly a scientific test as on any day things might go different, but I’m guessing that if I took round 1 to the correct look and feel, I would have added perhaps 80 grams more flour to that mix than to my 2nd mix … a fairly significant difference with just 1 of the flours (white) being different and the temp, humidity in my kitchen being pretty much the same both rounds.

At any rate, no right or wrong with those that find “the exact recipe” too wet or too dry … although I’d recommend adding dry to wet as in the video. Then either stop adding flour when you are at the dough feel you want or add additional flour if the dough is too sticky after the recipe amount.

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These are beautiful! You’re inspiring me to give this recipe a go. I also enjoy hand kneading, and I love how with a hand-kneaded dough, arriving at the right hydration can be about feel.

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Hi Eric. I’m new to sourdough baking. When it says in the recipe on the 1st day to combine sourdough starter should it be just out of the refrigerator starter or just fed starter?

I appreciate your help and patience.


Hello Kevin,

I am not Eric, but I’ve made this recipe … twice very recently. I used refrigerator starter, BUT it was recently fed AND my starter tends to stay active as in when I do take some out and feed, it bubbles up in 3-4 hours even in my very cool (62-65F) house.

So … if your refrigerator starter was recently fed and/or you are confident in its getting active very soon after feeding, use the frig stuff. If you follow the video and mix up the day 1 ingredients in the evening per the video, it has 12 hours to respond for the day 2 fun.

The other advice I’ll give is as noted in my posts above: add the ingredients per the order in the video (2nd 1/2 of the first video) … basically the day 1 overnight “starter”, water, salt, flours with the white flour last and don’t add all of the white flour. Add maybe 2/3 and then add incrementally, kneading/mixing until you get to the consistency shown in the video. You might use all of the white flour or less or you might need to add more. Different flours, humidity absorb liquid different.

If you review all of the comments you will see that some people felt the dough was too moist and sticky with the recipe amount, some thought too much flour. My experience in my recent 2 bakes with the difference being only the type of white flour was first version needed more than the recipe and 2nd version less.

I know more than you asked, hopefully it is helpful!

I was so busy watching your video that I might have doubled the amount of spelt. Should I continue with the 24 hour proofing and see what happens?

I don’t know if you’ve had time to go through the last several comments … I am the Liz that did some experiments with this recipe … recently.

So, here is my take based on my recent experience: if you doubled the spelt, but then added white flour to the dough consistency in the video (not necessarily the recipe amount), you are fine to continue on. The main thing is to get to the dough look and feel, not the exact amounts of the flours. If you added double spelt, it will be a bit more whole grain and that should not affect outcome … except that normally more whole grain means a bit more liquid which should have equated to a lot less white flour.

If you think the dough looks and feels fine, don’t worry about how much of each. If you added double spelt AND the recipe amount of white, I’m thinking you might have a very stiff, dry dough. If that is the case, I’d still do the 24 hours and see how things look and feel at that point. Part of what happens in that 24 is the flour absorbs the liquid and the gluten develops.

Thanks for your help! It appears that I did double the amount of spelt AND add all the white flour. I proofed the dough for 24 hours and it’s very dry and stiff but rose. I’m going ahead with baking it as an experiment. I’ll try to recipe again next week and will pre-measure all the ingredients so that this doesn’t happen again.

You’re welcome! I’ll be interested to know how this comes out in the bake if you decide to share that. Over many years of baking, I have at least been able to recoup bread crumbs and/or croutons from not so perfect loaves … if toast and plenty of butter doesn’t work :slight_smile: !!

Pre measuring is a good plan. But with the white flour, just know that you might need less or more than the recipe quantity and go for the slightly sticky-tacky that is in the video. I made the recipe twice with the only difference being the type of white flour and the difference was 80 grams.

This is such a yummy loaf! I baked it last night, and just cut it for breakfast. The sour flavor is distinct but not overpowering. I love the taste of the combined whole grains (all of which I ground in my beloved Mockmill). The internal temp when I took it out was 198 - I wanted it at 200, but even 10 extra minutes of cooking didn’t get it there. It is perfectly baked, so maybe my thermometer is off. Or does altitude affect the internal temp of bread?

I will be scaling this recipe for family production (four little kids and a set of local Grandparents so quadruple it), adding toasted seeds and making it weekly. Thanks for such clear instructions!

So I have no spelt the plan for me now is for day 2 250 grams dark rye and 250 grams all purpose white flour and a dark beer for all or part of the water??? Thoughts??

This is delicious bread. I used locally available flours, all organic to make and I have made 2 weeks in a row. As is my usual practice, I made the recipe as written the first time around. The dough was very stiff and seemed dry to me. I also got no oven spring during baking. So the next time I added more water to the leaven, 10 grams and more water to the dough, another 16 grams. I also reduced the time of the dough in fridge to 22 hours and the proofing time to 4 hours after the dough came out of the fridge. This time I got a really good loaf almost double the height of the first loaf. I may add some more water to the leaven next time, we’ll see.


Where can non-GMO flour be found? Spelt & rye in particular.


Breadtopia store!!!

I am assuming you are in the U.S. if not, someone else needs to reply. But if in the U.S. the Breadtopia flours or berries if you grind your own … EXCELLENT! I have no affiliation with Breadtopia other than being a very happy customer and a member of this forum :slight_smile:

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@clyde and @easummers Clyde and Liz, I completely concur! I am an extremely happy customer of Breadtopia and I also have no other affiliation with it other than loving everything I have purchased from them.


@clyde With the lovely recommendations of @easummers and @Leah1 you may not need any more information, but I just wanted to let you know that Breadtopia’s grain is certified organic, and organic certification isn’t granted to genetically modified organisms or crops or product with gmo ingredients.