Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making an Easy Delicious Natural Whole Wheat Rye Sourdough Bread

Making Bread is not a mystery.  People have been making sourdough bread for thousands of years. You can have fresh hot bread out of the oven. It really is easy and just takes minutes of stirring in ingredients a few times over 2 days.  I never even touch the dough until the last minute.   Below I show you each step.
It starts with having an active sourdough starter. A rye sourdough starter adds extra health benefits and really works well.  I have made other sourdough starters out of other ingredients and by far the rye starter is more active.   To create your own sourdough starter, start with a glass container.  Keep the container covered on the counter.   Add about 1/8 cup of water and add rye flour.  Later in the evening add a tiny bit more of water and stir in more rye.  Repeat this process twice a day.  In a few days you should have about 2 cups or so of starter. By feeding the starter a bit of water and rye twice a day, the yeast will multiply until there is enough yeast to make bread rise. Your starter will have air bubbles.   After you have your active starter, you can take about 1 cup of this starter and put it into the refrigerator to keep for the next loaf of bread.  Always keep your starter covered.  So now you are ready to make bread.  It really is easy.  When I want a fresh 100% whole grain bread for Sunday morning, I start on Friday morning.  For your first batch of bread you can use as much of this first starter as you wish as long as you save aside 1 cup of wonderful starter.

You will need: 

2 cups starter. (which you will grow over the first day starting with that cup of saved starter that you have been keeping in the refrigerator)
1/4 cup sugar or molasses (not honey)
1/4 oil (I used light tasting olive oil) and
1 1/2 tsp salt and
enough whole wheat flour to knead into the dough. 

1. Friday (day 1) morning:  Take all the starter out of the refrigerator and add a little bit more water and stir in more rye flour.
2. This is the Friday (day 1) evening picture.  The rubber band marks the level I started with in the morning (1 cup).   Stir down in the same glass cup and add more water and rye flour.  Make a thick batter.

3. Saturday (day 2) morning add more water and rye.  Save aside some of the starter in the glass cup (glass cup on the left).  That cup goes into the refrigerator.  To the bowl (on the right) add the rest of the starter and more water and whole wheat flour making up enough starter to reach the  2 cup mark.
4.  Saturday afternoon – about 4pm it is time to move the starter into a mixer and knead with the dough hook.
This is how it looks.
Saturday afternoon about 4pm.  The starter has risen to 3 cups – Stir it down and pour into mixing bowl.
Add 1/4 sugar (not honey as honey may suppress the natural yeast)  add 1/4 cup oil and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.  That’s it plus enough whole wheat flour kneaded in by the dough hook until dough is elastic and stretchy.  Cover bowl and let the dough rest until evening.
5. About 4 hours later - It’s evening.  Knead dough a bit more and turn out onto parchment paper. (the first time you’ve touched your dough)
Flour generously and shape into loaf.
Lift parchment and bread into a loaf pan.
Boil a small pan of water.  This water will go into a cool, unheated oven.  The water helps warm the oven and keep the top of the loaf moist.
Place the loaf and pan of hot water into unheated oven. Close the oven door and leave the dough alone until morning
6.  Sunday morning.  Pull unbaked bread out of cool-oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for about 40 minutes
Bake until instant read thermometer reads 200 degrees
Pull parchment and bread out of oven.  I love parchment paper…It makes clean up so easy
Yummy 100% whole wheat/rye bread.  Delicious
While Ted and I enjoyed our hot bread, this was the view from our kitchen window!


  1. I make a lot of sourdough bread, and I agree, the rye starters are much more active, and less prone to going...awry (pardon the pun). If I haven't fed a starter in a while, and need to recharge it, I do one feeding with 50% dark rye flour, and it's usually enough to bring it back up to speed. I'm actually feeding my starter today, as I need to make some bread for stuffing next week. How is it almost Thanksgiving already?! The snow looks lovely in your garden by the way, and a little chilly! I bet it made your fresh bread taste all the better!

  2. Gloria, It's been a long time since I made sourdough bread, but this looks like a delicious choice. And as winter approaches, it's hard to resist the sensory delights of warm bread inside with snow outside. -Jean

  3. Hi Clare- Yes, looking out at the snow eating comforting bread did feel good...I was especially appreciative because I am back to rotating foods and I miss wheat bread, so Sunday I could have wheat and I was happy.

  4. Hi Jean - yes bread is a delight. This one is made with 100% whole grain, but you can use some unbleached flour instead when kneading in the mixer. I love not getting my hands on the sticking gooey dough and the cleanup that goes with it. This bread is easy, you just let the natural yeast take the time to raise the bread. An extra note: a thicker batter-dough starter is more sour in flavor...I keep a starter more on the heavy pancake type batter texture and the sour flavor is very mild.

  5. Hi, Gloria!
    And, happy {early} Thanksgiving. I popped over to find a recipe for starting my own sourdough starter and low and behold here you are teaching us how to make some yummy bread, with the starter. Now is that kismet, or what?? :D I'd been on the phone with a friend last night who said "if I can do sourdough starter, anyone can." Well, I'm not so sure about that. But, with your guidance, I shall give it a try. Stay warm, my friend!

  6. Hi Kate - you can do it...just give the starter time to multiply. Some recipes have you start with a bigger amount of water and flour and then throw some away the next refreshing and feed it with the flour and water and throw away...but I start with a small amount and use all the starter. That saves on ingredients and it works great. After you have the starter, just keep it in the refrigerator and feed it at least once a week. You can take some of it and also make pancakes. Have a great week. Guess what the lavender that you gave me as a gift is in a big pot and huge! Love it - hugs