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Aug 23, 2020

75% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

This 75% whole wheat bread is so flavorful, and it actually gets more tasty over a couple of days. It's wonderful when spread with lots of good salted butter, as toast, and spread with soft herbed cheese.

Seventy five percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

The crumb of this bread is a little more dense than most high hydration loaves. That is because of the high percentage of whole wheat.

Whole wheat contains bran, which is nutritious, but also cuts through the gluten strands in the dough, preventing the very large holes you would normally get in a loaf with a higher percentage of white flour.

That doesn't mean it isn't delicious. It has a wonderful nutty, wheat-y flavor and it was perfect for grilled cheese.

Seventy five percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread loaf

This week the From Our Dinner Table group is cooking from our favorite cookbooks. I have a crazy amount of cookbooks, but I immediately turned to Ken Forkish's book, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.

I've been baking my way through the book since 2013, yet there was only one bread formula I hadn't tried. This one! It was time to finish my quest.

This is the book that taught me how to make wonderful artisan bread by hand. As the liner notes say, "it offers a complete baking education."

Where Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, the artisan bread baker's holy grail and cult favorite, can be intimidating (20 pages for one recipe, which I finally conquered), Ken Forkish's book is totally accessible.

Plus, the author has a wonderful story about how he gave up his Silicon Valley career, went to baking school, moved to Portland, and opened a bakery, and five years later, a pizza shop.

Seventy five percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread crumb

As a fan girl, I actually made a pilgrimage to his bakery when visiting Portland. At the time he even had a wonderful new upscale restaurant called Trifecta, so we went there one night for dinner. My husband told the waiter that I had a bread blog and was a big fan, and the next thing you know, they brought me a gift of gorgeous crusty rolls and homemade butter to take home. Sigh....

I need to mention too that Ken Forkish also wrote another book, The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home, which, of course, I immediately bought and love.

Seventy five percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread slices

I've also baked my way through two other cookbooks, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and Artisan Bread Every Day, both by Peter Reinhart. These books taught me how to laminated dough, make amazing Panettone, and work with rye. Plus, I learned all about Struan bread, which is Peter Reinhart's multigrain loaf that varies from cookbook to cookbook. I highly recommend all of Peter Reinhart's books. I have them all.

I will admit to having 57 bread books in my collection, and I'm not ashamed. I'm getting pickier these days, and rarely buy new ones. However, I just fell for and bought New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More by Bryan Ford. The book, and Bryan's story, is captivating. I can't wait to bake from it.

Seventy five percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread cut and sliced

Note: My only issue with Ken Forkish's formula is the amount of starter you have to discard. He's pretty aggressive on that front. Plus, his starter is 80 percent hydration. For a while I was maintaining two starters, one at 80 percent, and one at 100 percent (100 percent is kind of standard).

I've since figured out how to pull out some of my 100 percent hydration starter, build up just enough for his formulas, and not have to throw too much away.

I would recommend starting with his formula so you can learn his method, and then play around with it to make it your own. P.S. He has a chapter on that too!

Pure levain country blonde bread

The photo above is from my first bake from the book. It was the recipe for Overnight Country Blonde, which is on the cover of the book. It was a very proud moment.

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Seventy five percent whole wheat sourdough bread

This formula makes one loaf, but it can easily be doubled to make two loaves. It's a mixed method recipe, meaning it included both a sourdough starter and yeast in the final dough.

75% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

75% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
This 75% whole wheat bread is so flavorful, and it actually gets more tasty over a couple of days. It's wonderful when spread with lots of good salted butter, as toast, and spread with soft herbed cheese.


For the Sourdough Starter (Levain)
  • 50 grams active starter (fed about 24 hours ago)
  • 200 grams bread flour
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 200 grams water at 85 degrees F. 
For the Final Dough
  • 45 grams bread flour
  • 355 grams whole wheat flour
  • 330 grams water
  • 10.5 grams fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 180 grams of the sourdough starter/levain


To Make the Levain
  1. Mix the starter with the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water by hand until incorporated. 
  2. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. 
To Make the Final Dough
  1. Mix the bread flour and whole wheat flour in a large bowl or dough rising bucket. 
  2. Add the water and mix by hand until incorporated. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and yeast to the dough and then add the 180 grams of the levain/starter. Mix with a wet hand by pinching the dough and folding it alternatively. When pinching the dough you  are trying to dissolve all of the salt and yeast grains.
  4. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and then stretch and fold it. Wait 30 minutes more, stretch and fold the dough again. Wait another 30 minutes, and stretch and fold the dough. Cover and let rise until 3 1/2 to 4 hours more, until it reaches 2 1/2 times its original volume.
  5. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust a tea towel with flour and place it in a banneton.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and place it seam side down on the work surface. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Reshape the ball to tighten it up with a bench scraper and place it in the banneton, seam side down (or up, if you want to slash the dough).
  8. Proof the dough overnight, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. You will able to bake the loaf straight from the refrigerator.
  9. About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with an empty covered Dutch oven placed on the middle rack.
  10. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the top. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Slash the dough if necessary with a lame or sharp knife. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. 
  11. Bake the loaf covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. 
  12. Lift the loaf out of the Dutch oven with the parchment and cool fully on a wire rack (remove the parchment from the bottom ).
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Forkish, sourdough, whole wheat
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I don't think I've ever cooked my way through an entire cookbook. Having found one that inspired you to do so is amazing.

  2. Your bread is always so beautiful! I will have to pick up a few of these books so I can elevate my skills so I can make this lovely loaf.

  3. I've been wanting to make a wheat bread with my starter so I'm pinning this one for later! It look delicious.

  4. Not a comment. A question. What is the reason for the yeast in this recipe?
    Does that make it lighter than other whole wheat breads??

    1. Just to speed up the timing. Plus, the sour flavor is already pretty strong.

  5. That texture is just GORGEOUS!!

  6. What a gorgeous loaf of bread! I wish I could grab a slice from the page!

  7. So I can eliminate the yeast and it will just be more tangy?

    1. You can. It will take longer to rise and be more tangy.


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