My perfectly simple ´wheat and nothing else´ sourdough recipe.

musuron's picture

So I´ve finally honed down my method to the point where I think I should share my recipe. I have a 100% whole wheat starter that I started about a year ago (Unfortunately I lost my previous starters when I moved between countries a couple of times).

One point of this method is to save waste. I wasted a lot of flour in creating my starter, and I wanted to stop that. So I keep my starter in the fridge until I need to take out 2T of cold starter for this recipe. Yes, I said COLD starter. :) When my starter crock is low from taking out small bits to use for recipes, I simply take it out of the fridge, feed it a cup if flour and a cup of water, then leave it out for a day then throw it back in the fridge. No need to discard starter at any point in this process. I also designed this method around my busy schedule and aversion to needlessly complicated things.


Step 1
Whisk 2T starter straight from the fridge and 1/2 C cold water.
After it is thoroughly mixed, add 1/2 C flour of your choice.
Cover in a large bowl and let sit in a cool place for approximately 10-14 hours, or whenever you can get to it. One of the reasons my method works well for me and my starter, is that the times are flexible. Between all of these steps except the last one, you can wait 8-16 hours or so, even more, and you will be fine, as long as you time the last rise correctly.

Step 2
Add 1 C water and 1.5 C flour in the same way as before. If using a partial whole wheat/white mix of flour, I always add the wheat first, because it can use more softening up time than the white flour.
Cover again and wait 10-14 hours

Step 3
Whisk together approximately 2.5 c flour and 1 t salt. Add to the sponge mixture, and combine thoroughly, but do not knead. Using a danish dough whisk will help immensely with this step. Otherwise a wooden spoon works best for me.
Cover tightly and wait 10-14 hours.

Step 4
Knead as needed, then form the dough.
The longer you waited between the previous steps, the less time you will have to spend kneading, but if you wait too long, the yeast might not have enough umpf for the final rise.
My kneading method is that I use a marble slab that I spray with water. It works great for whole wheat doughs.
Knead and form the dough to your liking, then get it ready for it´s final rise, whether it is in a loaf pan, dinner rolls, pizza, cinnamon rolls, or in a banneton.

Loosely cover and rise and bake it to your liking. I use a la cloche or the old pizza stone and pan of water,both work nicely.

If you start this bread in the morning, it will be ready to bake the next evening.
If you start this bread in the evening, it will be ready two days later in the morning.
You can replace the 2T of starter with 1/8 t of commercial yeast. Makes a pretty decent loaf.

This is the method that I use most often when making sourdough, because it works well with 100% whole wheat, you can do it even when you are working 10 hour work days, and it doesnt waste flour-- ever. I enjoy that it is wheat and nothing else, but you can also add to it or use it for cinnamon rolls, pizza (add an extra 1/2 c of flour), bagels (same), monkey bread, etc.

318 users have voted.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 July 20

and, thanks for sharing your waste-not method of keeping your starter alive and your breads a-baking.



blanyon 2012 November 15

Anyone else tried this, I have had two goes and have made bricks! Taste is nice and sour but cant seem to get it right.



Seaniz 2012 November 16


I have no faith at all in volume measurements of flour. One recipe could expect that 1 cup of flour weighs 150g another recipe expects that cup to weigh 95g ... If the recipe doesn't mention how packed or not packed the flour should be you need to tweak it with some brain grease.


blanyon 2012 November 18

I adjusted the measurements to achieve around 70% hydration but there seems to be no rise at the final stage. Just interested as I like the concept.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 December 8

Hello ivyhui

Not sure if the original author is still around.  With only volume measurements it can be a bit difficult to be sure but it would seem that the hydration using estimates of the weight from the volumes given would be very low.  I would be thinking of adding another half a cup of water.  But the best way is to try it an see how it goes.  Not a great lot to lose.  You might end up with really nice bread.

Good luck with your projects.


ivyhui 2013 December 8

Oh, one more question.  I will be doing step 4 tomorrow morning.  The recipe did not say how long is the final rise.  I am a beginner in this.  Wonder if you can tell me how long I should let the dough rise before baing it.  I think it is doing great so far.  My dough doubled after step 1 and doubled again after step 2.  Thanks.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 December 8

Hello ivy,

That is a good question but it will depend on the temperature that you are working at.  By and large the dough should be allowed to increase significantly in volume after shaping but that will also depend on the shape that you make and whether the dough is free-form or is restrained in some way - say a banneton, a basket or a tin.  In any case it is likely to be several hours.

You can try the poke test.  Poke the dough gently with your finger and if the depression springs back quickly you need more time.  If it springs back more slowly and doesn't quite disappear then the dough is ready.  If it collapses and doesn't spring back at all you have gone too far but if you get it into the oven quickly and gently you might still get a reasonable result.  This test can take a bit of practice to be able to assess.

In an irish sort of a way, the amount of oven spring that you get is inversely related to the degree of proof.  An underproved loaf will often rise a lot and will split out of itself.  A properly proved loaf will often spring less but will retain its form while an overproved loaf will spread rather than spring.

Hope this helps.


ivyhui 2013 December 9

I just finished step 3.  Had to use 1 cup of water because it was too dry and unmanageable even with 1/2 cup of water.  My dough had doubled nicely after 10 hours.  I used 100% whole wheat flour in each steps.  My hydration now is somewhere between 93% (1cup=150g) to 111% (1 cup =125g).  I read on other websites that you need more water with 100% whole wheat flour (up to 104% hydration).  May be that is why previously other people who followed this recipe and said the bread was hard like brick.  I will knead my dough soon and may have to add a bit of flour if it is too sticky.  I will watch the final rise as you said.  I like to bake mine on a pizza stone with a pan of water underneath.  Would you bake your sourdough at 420 degree Fahrenheit?  Would you preheat your oven for 30 minutes with the pizza stone inside?  When should I put in the water (during preheat or after preheat)?  The water will get dried up very soon though.  Do you advice lower the baking temperature after a time period?  Thanks.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 December 9

Hello Ivyhui,

Yes, with whole wheat you would definitely need to work at a higher hydration because of the greater water absorption by the bran and germ.  I suspect that your hydration calculations are a bit out though, I am pretty sure that they wouldn't be as high as you indicate though I haven't done them myself as yet.

The low hydration and whole wheat could easily explain the production of 'bricks'.  The other thing about whole wheat dough is that the bran and germ creates discontinuities in the gluten strands and sheets and it can be more difficult to get a good strong dough and the rise and oven spring can suffer as a result.

I would agree with the idea of giving the pizza stone a good pre-heat and I would say that 30 minutes would probably be a minimum..  I put an oven proof dish in the oven before starting the heat and, a few minutes before starting the bake, I add boiling water to the dish.  This needs you to use oven mitts and take care as there is a lot of steam generated and quite a bit of spitting and splashing.  Not sure of the quantity maybe half a litre or a bit more but it lasts easily the amount of time that I have the steam in for (10-12 minutes).  Some people place a wet towel before adding the water to reduce the splashing but I am not sure how effective that is and I only used it once or twice.  Some others just use a water spray on a regular basis while others throw in ice-blocks.

I start off at 250C, usually for the first 10-12 minutes while I have the steam generation going and then progressively reduce during the rest of the bake and finish at about 180-190C.

Good luck with your bake.


ivyhui 2013 December 9

Waited 6 hours for the last rise (a bit less than double the size).  The dough was very wet.  It did not give an oven spring even with slashing, steam and pizza stone.  The inside is dense.  Wonder what I should do next to improve.  This is a 100% whole wheat sourdough.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 December 9

Hi Ivy,

From what I can see it doesn't look all that bad.  I have seen highly experienced bakers do not much better than that with 100% whole wheat.

I would think of backing off on the whole wheat until you get some more experience.  As I said 100% whole wheat can be a bit difficult to get right.  Have a look at SourDoms beginners blogs and practice on his Pane francesa recipe.  Once you get that right you can progressively increase the whole wheat (and hydration a bit) to build on your experience and get closer to 100% whole wheat if that is what you want.

Good luck with your projects.


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