Sourdough Whole White Bread Recipe

Makes 2 loaves

 Use a part of your starter stored in the refrigerator, mix it with flour and water, and leave it to set overnight. The next morning the top of the starter will be covered with bubbles, a sign its yeasts are active.

 Mix and knead the dough. To ensure it is cooked evenly,  shape the dough into 2 normal-sized loaves, rather than one massive loaf.  Bake these loaves starting in a hot steamy oven and turning the heat down midway so the crumb can cook without burning the crust.

  Sourdough Starter
Follow the recipe  7 Days Starter Recipe  on this blog,  or use this recipe which takes 10 days.  You only need to make the starter once. When the starter is done, you can keep part of it indefinitely in the refrigerator and use it for future loaves of bread, so long as you feed it every other week or so. Don’t worry if the stored sourdough separates as it sits in the refrigerator, it is fine; just stir the liquids and solids together. As you are making the starter,  you can use part of it to make the Sourdough Baquettes  (see recipe) or Sourdough Waffles  (see recipe).

Whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
Water

Day 1 morning: Mix 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water in a glass or ceramic pottery bowl (not stainless steel or plastic). Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature.

Day 1 evening: Add 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water to the starter, and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature.

Day 2 through Day 9 morning and evening: Put the half of the starter away for later use. To the other half, add 2/3 cup flour and1/3 cup water and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature.

Day 10 morning: Stir 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water into the starter.

The starter is now ready for use, starting either on the evening of Day 10 or at a convenient time in the future. To store the starter for future use, put it in a glass jar and refrigerate until the day before you want to bake.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread
If you have more than the 2 cups of starter needed for this recipe, store it in the refrigerator for future use, or give it to a friend. I use here white whole wheat flour because it is slightly sweeter. The preferred baking method is to use a baking stone when baking bread as it helps the oven maintain an even temperature and gives the loaves a crisper crust. I also have an old baking sheet with edges that I preheat and throw water on to create a steamy environment for the bread. Don’t throw water directly on the oven floor or it will warp. A good baking sheet will also warp, which is why I have an old baking sheet, rusty and warped, that I use only for baking bread.

2 cups sourdough starter (1 pound)
2 cups very warm water
5 – 6 cups whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour)
1 Tbsp. salt

Setting the Starter:
On the evening before you want to make bread, mix the starter, water, and 2 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour) in a bowl large enough for the contents to expand. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, secure the wrap to the bowl with a rubber band, cover with a dish towel, and leave at room temperature overnight.

Mixing the Dough:
The next morning, the contents of the bowl will be bubbling. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or by hand), mix in 2 cups of flour at low speed, and then at high speed for 3 minutes.  Mix in 1 cup flour, and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.
Continue mixing in flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a moist, slightly sticky, dough. Remove 1 cup of the mixture, which will be your starter for future loaves of bread.  See  How to keep and care of Sourdough Starter  recipe  for how to store the starter.
Mix in the salt and 1/2 cup flour. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 4 minutes (or 10 minutes by hand), adding flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.

 Leave the dough to rest in the bowl, with the dough hook in place, for 1 1/2 hours.  Every 30 minutes (3 times total), turn on the machine and knead the dough with the dough hook (or by hand) for 20 seconds.

 Flour a board or counter, and put out the dough, kneading in flour as needed to make smooth, soft, supple dough. Divide the dough in two even pieces.
Shaping the Loaves:
To make the loaves, press each half of dough into an 8” x 8” square. Fold each corner of the square to the center, with the corners slightly overlapping where they meet, and firmly press all the corners together at the center. Repeat: fold each corner of the new, smaller square to the center, with the corners slightly overlapping, and firmly press all the corners together at the center. Turn the dough over so the seams are on the bottom.

Pull, push stretch, and roll the dough into long loaves.  Place baking paper on a wooden bread peel, or on the flat bottom of an upside down baking sheet. Flour the baking paper well.  Place the loaves on the baking paper, far enough apart so they can rise and bake without touching. Lightly flour the bread’s top surface, cover with plastic wrap, and then with a clean dish towel. Put the bread in a warm place and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 3 – 4 hours.

Baking the Bread:
Directions with Baking Stone:
At least an hour before you begin baking,  place a baking sheet with rims on the lowest shelf of the oven and fill it out with some water, and put the baking stone on the shelf immediately above. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (for my oven this is 555°F) with the baking stone and baking sheet inside. When the bread is fully risen, use a sharp razor blade to cut diagonal 1/2” deep slashes in the bread and quickly slide it, still on the baking paper, from the peel (or upside down baking sheet) onto the baking stone.

Directions without Baking Stone: At least 30 minutes before you begin baking, place a baking sheet with rims on the lowest shelf of the oven and fill it out with some water,  and move an oven rack to the shelf just above it. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature with the rimmed baking sheet inside. At least 10 minutes before the loaves go into the oven, place a thin metal uninsulated baking sheet in the oven. When the bread is fully risen, use a sharp razor blade to cut diagonal 1/2” deep slashes in the bread and quickly slide it from the peel (or upside down baking sheet) onto the preheated thin metal baking sheet.

Add some more water if needed before closing the oven,  onto the rimmed baking sheet (which is on the shelf just below the bread), quickly shut the door, and turn the heat down to 450°F. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 325°F and bake for 15 – 20 minutes if using a baking stone (or 25 – 30 minutes if you don’t have a baking stone). The bread is done if it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, or the temperature in the center of the bread is 200°F.
Place the bread on racks to cool for at least one hour before cutting (the bread finishes cooking from retained heat after it is removed from the oven).

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