How to make my 50% Whole Wheat Sourdough.

Healthy, hearty, and absolutely full of flavour. This 50% whole wheat sourdough is one of my most baked loaves at home. I love the way it handles, bakes, smells and most importantly, the way it tastes.

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough

For many years my standard home loaf was about 15-20% whole grains and often recipes that read whole wheat sourdough contain just that. In many ways, I think that it is false advertising and I have always wanted my bread to be healthier with the inclusion of whole grains and I have played around with various combinations of flour and ratios over the years. Through a lot of trial and error I learned how different grains absorbed different amounts of water and how the dough would ferment differently with the different quantities of whole grain.

This 50% whole wheat sourdough loaf has become a house staple and one of our favourite daily breads. It’s has a nice soft interior crumb, a rich caramelized crust bursting with flavour and it still has a decent volume.

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough

Flavour and Sourdough Starter Health

This 50% whole wheat sourdough bread is really an everyday bread. Sandwiches, toast, sides and even just sliced plain the flavour from the whole wheat really adds a nice texture to the loaf. One key to success with this bread just like most sourdough is the health of your starter. I suggest using a fully ripe sourdough starter when you mix the initial build for this bread. If your starter is normally kept in the fridge be sure to take it out and give it a few feeds at room temperature before attempting to make this formula.

Flour Specs:

Success with this loaf will really depend on a quality whole wheat flour. Try to choose stone milled and organic flour where possible. The flour I am using for this 100% organic. The bread flour is the Strong Baker’s from Ardent Mills and has the following specs:

  • 100% organic strong bakers flour
  • 12.3-12.7% protein
  • 0.54% ash content

The whole wheat portion is hard red spring wheat kernels, milled fine on a New American Stone Mill. The following are the specs for the whole wheat flour:

  • 100% organic hard red spring wheat
  • 12.5% protein
  • 1.6 – 1.8% ash content

Please not that if you are milling the flour at home on a komo or mock mill it will not be able to hold the same amount of water as per this recipe. You might consider sifting out some of the bran (save this for another recipe) or simply decreasing the hydration by about 7-8% until you find what works for your flour. You can also try to stress test your whole wheat flour using the instructions found in my 100% whole wheat recipe.

Whole grain flours are healthier but keep in mind they tend to ferment faster. The formula below is a guideline and you should still monitor the fermentation of your dough.

50% Whole Wheat Levain Sourdough Specs

Yield2 X 925 gram loaves
Total dough weight1850 grams
Pre-Fermented Flour4.6%
Levain % in Final Dough14.82%
Total Hydration84%
The hydration on this can be adjusted dependent on your flour.

Total Formula

This is total of all the ingredients needed to make this 50% whole wheat sourdough recipe. 

WeightIngredientBakers %
481 gramsOrganic bread Flour50%
481 gramsWhole Wheat Flour50%
823 grams Water85%
44 gramsSourdough Starter4.57%
21 gramsSalt2.18%
Total Formula

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough Dough Schedule

To help simplify the process I have created some sourdough schedules to help you plan your baking. Feel free to adjust the times based your schedule of course!

50% sourdough dough schedule

Mix the 50% Whole Wheat Levain – 9:00am

You could use the same levain build for the 50% whole wheat sourdough as in my beginner sourdough formula but I like to make the build with 50% whole wheat. This will keep the bread true to it’s name containing 50% freshly milled whole wheat flour.

The levain is 100% hydration and the ferments quickly due to the freshly milled whole wheat in the formula. I like to do these types of builds warm at 26°C/80°F and use them before they have fully peaked. This keeps the flavour on the sweeter more lactic side allowing the flavour notes from the fresh milled whole wheat flour to really shine through.

This levain build should be ripe in about 3.5 hours and should look similar to the levain in the video below.

WeightIngredientBakers %
22 gramsOrganic Bread Flour50
22 gramsWhole Wheat Flour50
44 grams Water at 26°C/80°F100
44 gramsLevain100
Total Yield 132 grams

Start by adding the water to your jar or container followed by the levain and both flours. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients fully. Cover and let stand in a warm place until ready, about 3.5 hours.

Autolyse – 11:00am

I usually let this dough autolyse between 90-120 minutes. This is enough time for the flour to hydrate and relax. By the end of the autolyse you should be able to feel some noticeable gluten structure in your dough. To test this, wet your hands and give the dough a window pane test.

100% whole wheat sourdough gluten
Your dough window pane test should look similar to this 100% whole wheat sourdough structure.
WeightIngredient
459 gramsOrganic Bread Flour
459 gramsWhole Wheat Flour
729 grams Water at 26°C/80°F
I have removed 50g of water from the final to help mix in the salt and levain.
  1. Add the flour to a large bowl or mixer.
  2. Add the water to the flour and mix until combined leaving no dry bits.
  3. Cover and leave in a warm place ideally the same as your levain build.

Please note: that this autolyse is WITHOUT the levain AND the salt.

Mix the Dough – 1:00pm

WeightIngredient
50 gramsWater
21 grams Salt
132 Grams50% Whole Wheat Levain
Final dough ingredients mixed in after autolyse.

Using a wet dough scraper or spatula add the levain on top of the dough. Use about half the remaining water to mix in the levain. You can mix this by hand I like to use my spiral mixer and mix the dough on 1st speed for about 5 minutes (about 7 on a planetary or Kitchen Aid style mixer) to ensure the levain is mixed thoroughly. If you are using your hands you can mix for about 10 minutes using your hand like a claw and pinching the levain into the dough.

At this stage allow the dough to rest covered for about 5 minutes. After resting the dough add the remaining water and salt and mix on 1st speed for another 5 minutes (7 for a planetary and 10 for hand mixing).

At the end of mixing you should see a strong gluten development. To test this wet your hands, grab a small piece of dough and gently stretch it out to create a window pane. Allow the dough to rest in the mixer for 5 minutes before removing it to a cambro or bowl. I like to lightly coat the container with oil by placing a few drops of olive oil in the bowl and then wiping it clean with a paper towel. After I spray a few sprays of water into the container or bowl.

50% whole wheat sourdough FDT

Desired Dough Temperature – 27°-28C/80-82°F

This dough can ferment at a warm temperature but do watch it during bulk. With 50% whole wheat and a higher hydration it can ferment quite quickly, especially in a warm environment.

Bulk Fermenation 1:30pm – 5:00pm

I like to keep bulk fermentation for 50% whole wheat sourdough between 3.5-4 hours. While I like to start the bulk fermentation around 28°C, my house is on the cooler side a the time of writing this and will drop to around 25-26°C by the end of the bulk fermentation. If it is your first time through this recipe I suggest only letting the bulk fermentation go for 3.5 hours.

After mixing, transfer the dough to a dough tub or bowl that you will use for the bulk fermentation and allow it to rest for 60 minutes. If doing a small batch of two loaves, I use an old ceramic bowl as the ceramic will hold a temperature and help you achieve your optimal fermentation temperatures. For larger batches I use a cambro container as seen in the folding video below.

Give the dough 3 sets of folds at the 60, 90 and 120 minute marker. Using wet hands, stretch the dough up and throw it over itself away from you. After the final fold let the dough relax for the remainder of the bulk fermentation. If you notice the dough is a bit slack you can add in an extra fold at the 150 minute market but try to give the dough ample time to relax before shaping.

At the end of the bulk fermentation the dough should have risen significantly 40-50% increase in volume and should still hold its shape quite well.

Divide and Preshape 5:00pm

Dump the dough onto your work surface. I choose not to use any flour while pre-shaping and if the dough is well developed with good gluten strength it is really unnecessary. Divide the dough into two, 900g pieces. With the scraper in one hand and the dough in the other pull the dough on the table stretching it into a round shape. If you find the dough sticking to your hand or bench scraper, very lightly flour them to prevent sticking.

Let the dough rest uncovered for 45 minutes, this will allow your dough to relax and help during the final shaping.

Shape – 5:30pm

This bread works well shaped round as a boule or oval as a batard. It will also bake quite well in a loaf pan. Another way this bread can be elevated is by rolling the shaped loaf in a damp towel and then in sesame seeds.

Lightly flour the top of your loaf and flip it over on to the table. Bring the bottom up and seal. Stretch the sides out and bring them into the center to make a tight package. Bring the top down about 1/3 of the way and pull the sides in. Now take the dough and roll it lightly to give an oval shape.

After shaping allow the dough to rest on the table for 2-3 minutes then flip it over and place it into the banneton seam side up.

Cold Fermentation and Final Proof 5:30pm – 9:00am the next morning.

Let the dough rest (covered in a reusable bag — I like to use a clear plastic shopping bag that I use over again) in the banneton for about 20 minutes then place it into the fridge overnight 3-4°C (38°F). If you have the option of a slightly warmer fridge 6-8°C/38-46°F you can let this rise at a warmer temperature and you will get a superior result.

By cold fermenting your loaf you will get sourdough bread with better flavour, longer shelf life and is easier to handle, score and bake. In my experience, This dough is best baked between 12-18 hours of fermentation but can go longer.

Baking 9:00am – 10:00am

Place your dutch oven with the lid on, inside your oven and preheat to its max setting for about an hour. I use a challenger bread pan but any dutch oven will work. Remove the preheated dutch oven from the oven and take the lid off. Place a pre cut piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and gently flip the loaf out onto the parchment paper. Using a lame at a 45° angle score your bread. Place the lid back onto the dutch oven and with the side cracked, spray water (about 15 sprays) onto the lid of the dutch oven before closing.

Place the dutch oven back into your oven and immediately lower the oven to 243°C (470°F) and bake for 22 minutes with the lid on and 14-16 minutes lid off. If the loaf is getting dark drop the temperature to 232°C (450°F) for the final 10 minutes of the bake. Keep in mind all ovens are different so you may need to adjust your baking times and temperatures accordingly.

Remove the loaf from the oven and tap the bottom to make sure it is fully baked. The loaf should feel light (it’s hot be careful) and sound hollow. Place the loaf on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

50% whole wheat sourdough

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough Final Thoughts

This is a great formula for anyone looking to increase the percentage of whole grains in their sourdough bread. The hydration can be increased or decreased depending on your flour and your skill level.

If you enjoyed this recipe and want to increase the whole grains even further make sure to check out my 100% whole wheat sourdough recipe. If this recipe or blog has helped you and your baking consider supporting us and helping us grow by tagging us in your baking and sourdough pictures.

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough Recipe Card

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50% Whole Wheat Sourdough

How to make my 50% Whole Wheat Sourdough.

  • Author: Matthew James Duffy
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: sourdough

Description

Healthy, hearty, and absolutely full of flavour. This 50% whole wheat sourdough is one of my most baked loaves at home. I love the way it handles, bakes, smells and most importantly, the way it tastes. 


Scale

Ingredients

For the levain:

  • 22 grams whole wheat flour
  • 22 grams organic bread flour
  • 44 grams water at 26C
  • 44 grams levain

Autolyse:

  • 459 grams whole wheat flour
  • 459 grams organic bread flour
  • 729 grams water

Mix In:

  • 50 grams water
  • 21 grams salt
  • 132 grams whole wheat levain (from the above build)

Instructions

For the levain:

  1. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.  Let rise for 3-4 hours in a warm place at 26°C/80F.

For the Dough:

Autolyse:

  1. Add the flour to a large bowl or mixer.
  2. Add 773g of the water to the flour and mix until combined leaving no dry bits.
  3. Cover and leave in a warm place ideally the same as your levain build.

Mix in:

  1. Using a wet dough scraper or spatula add the levain on top of the dough. Use about half the remaining water to mix in the levain. 
  2. Mix well and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining salt and water and mix until well combined. 
  4. Rest the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the dough until well developed 
  6. Desired Dough Temperature – 27°-28C/80-82°F

Bulk Fermentation:

  1. Allow the dough for bulk ferment at 26°C/78.8°F for 3.5-4 hours.
  2. Perform 3 sets of folds on your dough at 60,90 and 120 minutes. 

Pre-Shape

  1. Using a bench knife, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. 
  2. Pre-shape each dough into a round ball.
  3. Rest the dough for 30-45 minutes.

Final Shape

  1. Lightly flour the top of your loaf and flip it over onto the bench. 
  2. Bring the bottom up and seal. Stretch the sides out and bring them into the center to make a tight package.
  3. Bring the top down about 1/3 of the way and pull the sides in.
  4. Take the dough and roll it lightly to give an oval shape.
  5. Allow the dough to rest on the table for 2-3 minutes then flip it over and place it into the banneton seam side up.
  6. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes before covering and placing into the fridge. 
  7. Cold ferment the dough for 12-18 hours. 

Baking

  1. Place your dutch oven with the lid on, inside your oven and preheat to its max setting for about an hour. 
  2. Remove the preheated dutch oven from the oven and take the lid off.
  3. Place a pre cut piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and gently flip the loaf out onto the parchment paper.
  4. Using a lame at a 45° angle score your bread. Place the lid back onto the dutch oven and with the side cracked, spray about 15 sprays from a water bottle onto the lid of the dutch oven before closing.
  5. Place the dutch oven back into your oven and immediately lower the oven to 243°C (470°F) and bake for 22 minutes with the lid on and 14 minutes lid off.
  6. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. 

Notes

  • Please note that the X2 and X3 on this recipe card are not functioning properly.  I am working on fixing this.  You can refresh the screen to get back to the original numbers.

Keywords: 50% whole wheat sourdough

4 comments
  1. Hey Matthew! Thanks so much for such a thorough recipe. The whole site looks awesome.

    Quick clarifying question about the pre-oven water spray– is it meant to be sprayed mostly on the outside of the dutch oven or mostly on the inside? I had trouble visualizing this step: “place the lid back onto the dutch oven and with the side cracked, spray water (about 15 sprays) onto the lid of the dutch oven before closing.” Thanks again for your insights and infectious enthusiasm!

    1. Hey Max,
      Thank you for baking with me! What I do is I place the bread in the pan and place the lid on.
      Then I crack the lid and spray INTO the pan upwards onto the inside of the lid. The water hits the top
      of the pan and instantly turns to steam adding more steam to the chamber. I really like to give a good steam
      on my whole grain and higher hydration breads and I find the extra spritz helps a lot.

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