Light Wholemeal Sourdough

This is a 70/30 blend of strong white bread flour and wholemeal flour , which gives it a great texture and a fairly subtle flavour that allows the sourness of the dough to come through.

To adjust how “sour” the loaf is, you can play around with the time between refreshing the starter – when you feed the starter with flour and water. Refreshing more often, or with greater quantities of flour and water, will reduce the sour flavours in the final bread. The longer you leave a refreshed starter for, the more acids build up which create the sour flavour, but also more of the yeasts are used up. Try to find a balance that works for you in terms of the flavour of the dough, and the rising amount and time.

Light wholemeal sourdough

This is also the last loaf of bread that I will ever make in the clapped out tiny gas oven. It’s been emotional (not really), and hard work (very), but I’ve made some loaves that I have been very pleased with. Recently, the oven temperature dropped and we decided it was time to get a new oven, so now we’re waiting for the electrician to come and install the replacement. Obviously I’ll have to give it a test drive this weekend…

Light wholemeal sourdough

Light Wholemeal Sourdough – makes two boules

  • 240g wholegrain flour
  • 560g strong bread flour
  • 530ml warm water
  • 300g white starter @ 130% hydration
  • 16g salt
  1. For this loaf, I refreshed the starter twice at 12 hour intervals, building it from 50g of rye starter to the finished white starter by adding 100g of white flour and 130g of water each time. I kept the left over starter and refreshed it once more to make sourdough pancakes.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Autolyse for 20 minutes, then stretch/fold a dozen times.
  3. Bulk ferment for 4 hours, doing a stretch/fold a few times in the first couple of hours.
  4. Divide and shape into boules, and transfer to well floured bannetons. Proof for 2 hours at room temperature. Transfer to the fridge in plastic bags and rest overnight (this step is optional).
  5. Preheat the oven to maximum with a lidded cast-iron pot (Dutch oven) on the middle shelf. Bake one loaf at a time for 30 minutes with the lid on, then reduce the temperature to 230˚C and bake for 15 minutes with the lid off.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
The crumb is light and open, with colour from the wholemeal flour

The best rye sourdough recipe

This recipe is practically foolproof – a 100% rye bread, made with a rye sourdough starter, and baked to a dense, dark, and chewy loaf that tastes delicious.

The crust is cracked and dark, despite the low oven temperature. The crumb is dense, moist, and chewy

This simple recipe came about as a result of my oven breaking. I’ve made rye breads before, but needed a straightforward loaf that I could bake at a reasonably low temperature, as my oven has recently taken a dive and now only reaches 180-200˚C.

Two rye loaves proofing in floured bannetons

It doesn’t get much simper than this – three ingredients, no kneading, and excellent results.

100% rye sourdough

  1. Refresh the rye starter for a couple of days prior to baking. This loaf will not rise much, but the starter will add complexity to the finished flavour.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Divide in two, shape into rough rounds and place into bannetons floured with rye flour. This bread does not require kneading, or a bulk ferment. Proof the loaves at room temperature for 4-6 hours, or proof for 4 hours then refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 200˚C with a lidded cast iron pot (“Dutch Oven“) on the middle shelf. Bake loaves one at a time for 45 minutes with the lid on, then reduce the temperature to 180˚C and bake for 15 minutes with the lid off.
  4. Cool on a wire rack for two hours before slicing. Slice thinly.
The two finished rye loaves

Pugilese – a ciabatta style bread with a sourdough starter

As I mentioned in my previous post, my oven – a long suffering little gas thing – has finally started to give up. The maximum temperature varies, but recently hasn’t topped 200˚C on the middle shelf. This means it isn’t much good at the moment for baking dark sourdough loaves with blistered crusts like porridge sourdough or fig and raisin sourdough.

This dark multigrain loaf was baked in a very hot oven… This won’t work for me right now

Still, I’ve resisted biting the bullet and heading down to the shops for bread, and instead have been working on some recipes that will get good results at medium temperatures. Rye bread, for example, works very well at a low temperature. It’s hardly an “every day” bread, however, so have also been experimenting with how to make a ciabatta style loaf at home in my dying oven.

The pugilese - "ciabatta" style loaf - proofing in a banneton
The pugilese – “ciabatta” style loaf – proofing in a banneton

I’ve made ciabatta before, using whey as part of the liquid. That post also includes instructions on the stretching and folding of the dough, which is very elastic and can be difficult to manage. The word “ciabatta” refers to the shape – a slipper. These loaves are slightly different. Leavened with a mix of sourdough starter and a little instant yeast, these round ciabatta style loaves are more like “Pugilese”, another Italian bread from the Puglia region. The major difference is the round shape, which needs a well floured banneton due to the slackness of the dough.

Two rye loaves and a pugilese – some of the breads to come out of my “broken” oven

Pugilese – makes 2 small loaves

Firm Starter


  • 300g firm starter
  • 285g white bread flour
  • 11g salt
  • 3g instant yeast
  • 255g lukewarm water
  1. To make the firm starter, refresh a sourdough starter with white flour to 130% hydration (130g water for every 100g flour). On the day before baking, combine the firm starter ingredients. Knead for a few minutes to combine, then place into a lightly oiled bowl. Allow to rise for 4 hours, then refrigerate overnight.
  2. The day of baking, remove the firm starter from the refrigerator an hour prior to making the bread, and cut up into about a dozen small pieces.
  3. Combine the firm starter with the remaining dough ingredients. The dough will be very wet and “slack”. Autolyse for 20 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough a dozen times, then bulk ferment for four hours. Perform stretch/folds several times during the first two hours of the bulk ferment.
  4. Flour a work surface, two lined bannetons, and your hands. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Try to work quickly but gently, so that the air in the dough is not squeezed out. Shape the dough into rounds and place into the well floured bannetons. Dust the tops with flour and cover loosely with cling film or a tea towel.
  5. Proof for 1 – 1.5 hours. Preheat the oven to 200˚C with a lidded cast iron pot (“Dutch Oven“) on the middle shelf.
  6. Bake the loaves one at a time in the cast iron pot, for 30 minutes with the lid on, then 15 minutes with the lid off.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for one hour before slicing.
The best way to enjoy this kind of loaf – with a dish of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar
One of the finished “Pugilese” loaves