Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread

Equipment/flour note: This recipe requires a dutch oven a heavy-duty pot with a tight-fitting lid because these durable pots capture the steam from the dough to create the thick, blistered crusts you typically only can get from commercial baking ovens. (Dutch ovens can get quite expensive, but for bread-making purposes, my favorite is the relatively affordable cast-iron type.) Also, a cheap digital kitchen scale isn't absolutely necessary for this recipe McDowell kindly converted gram weights to cups and tablespoons but will make the work go a lot more smoothly. Also, please be sure to read the whole recipe before you get started; it requires a few days of planning. As for flour, obviously everyone doesn't have access (yet) to fresh-ground wheat that's been carefully bred specifically for whole-grain bread. But mid-sized operations like North Carolina's Lindley Mills and California's Community Grains are working with farmers in their regions to produce top-quality whole wheat bread flour products, and are worth seeking out. McDowell says that some Whole Foods outlets offer Community Grains flour ground at the store a definite win if you can get your hands on it. If you can't find a regional product, King Arthur's organic 100 percent whole wheat flour is available nationwide and should "give you decent results," McDowell says.



(4 cups) whole wheat flour



(2 cups) water, at room temperature



(2 teaspoons) salt



( cup) Starter


Step 1: This is known as the autolyse step. Mix the starter and water together in a large bowl or plastic bread-making tub (see video below I used a bowl). Add the flour, and mix well. Let sit 20 to 40 minutes.


Step 2: Mix dough by hand, squeezing and folding it to develop gluten. Here's how.


Step 3: Let it rest, covered, for 3 hours, periodically folding as above (3 to 4 times).


Step 4: Shape the dough into a round by gently folding it over on itself, leaving a smooth, round top and a seamed bottom. This is known as a boule. Let it rest, covered, 20 minutes.


Step 5: Very gently place the boule, seam side up, into a floured proofing basket for 1.5 to 2 hours. If you do not have a proofing basket, you can take a linen (or fine mesh cotton, but linen is best) cloth, rub plenty of flour into it and place it in a small mixing bowl. Make sure there is ample flour covering all surfaces that the dough will touch, and also be sure that the bowl is deep enough to really shore up the sides of the boule. (I used a bowl-shaped metal colander as my proofing bowl, lined with a well-floured cloth.) About an hour into the proof, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and put the empty Dutch oven, with cover, into the oven, so that it will become blazing hot.


Step 6: Very carefully, drop the boule into the hot Dutch oven, seam side down.


Step 6: Make a few incisions along the top membrane about inch into the dough's surface, to help with the loaf expansion. McDowell uses a straight razor. I used a serrated (bread) knife. (I forgot to do this in my second loaf.)


Step 7: Bake approximately 30 minutes , then remove the lid of the Dutch oven and bake until the boule is a deep brown 10 to 15 minutes more. (You can insert an instant-read thermometer into the loaf when done, it will be within a few degrees of 212 degrees F).


Step 8: Let cool on a metal rack at least one hour; 4-6 hours is optimal to let the loaf develop flavor.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: Entire recipe (43 ounces).

Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

Amount Per Serving



Calories From Fat (4%)


% Daily Value

Total Fat 10.36g


Saturated Fat 1.62g


Cholesterol 0mg


Sodium 5394.14mg


Potassium 775.42mg


Total Carbohydrates 450.64g


Fiber 17.34g


Sugar 3.01g


Protein 92.07g