Light Wholemeal sourdough recipe (using dough starter)

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Basic Sourdough Bread Recipes

Light Wholemeal Sourdough Bread Recipe

made using the dough starter sourdough (desem) technique.

Light Wholemeal Sourdough BreadThis lovely sourdough bread tastes like a fine wine - deeply sour, but understated. It's a treat for the senses, and will require a bit more commitment than some of the more basic recipes here. But the rewards, ahh, yes, the rewards...

When you have been searching for the holy grail of sourdough breadmaking for as long as I have, to discover someone has visited these shores before is both humbling and daunting. People who have breadmaking as their passion, I have observed, have none of the arrogance of coffee snobs. They just learn, and share, and learn some more. We all have failures, because we all experiment, and thus we get any chips knocked off our shoulders each time something doesn't work. It's a lovely thing, and so too is the world of specialist forums. So thanks to 'floydm' for bringing us A great forum, with many great minds freely sharing their breadmaking experiences.


The beautiful thing about sourdough breadmaking is that there is always another technique worthy of investigation. The dough technique has had me enthralled since I began using it. So much so that I have ceased using liquid starters in my breads these days - the dough method does the job better.

Dry dough sourdough starter Dough starter sourdough technique makes a very deeply sour starter, which is used more sparingly than regular or liquid sourdough starters. The enzyme balance is quite different to other starters too, due to the consistency - a tough dough.  Check out the 'dough' sourdough starter article in this website. Have a go at making it. When it's happening, come back here!

Light Wholemeal Sourdough Bread Recipe

using the 'dough starter' sourdough method.


You'll need:

1100g of white stonemilled wheat flour White organic flour

100 grams of wholegrain wheat flour

120 grams of dough starter

600 - 700 mls of water

25 grams cooking salt






Dry dough before mixingMethod:

Mix the dough starter with almost all the water - reserve about 100 mls for adding later. Break up the dough starter and stir through the water. The water will become cloudy with little lumps through it. Allow to stand for ten minutes to disperse, if you like.





Dry dough getting hydratedPour into your mixing bowl or dough box. Continue to break it into the liquid, so it activates more evenly in the dough.







Fist used to push flour into liquid

Add in about half the white flour and all the wholegrain flour, and stir till it forms a lumpy mixture. You have now made a sourdough sponge, or preferment. Allow to rest in a warm place for an hour, or simply pop the sponge in the fridge overnight.

After an hour, or the next day if you've put it in the fridge, add the rest of the flour and start kneading it into a large ball, pulling it away from the edges of your container as you go.


Allow the ball of dough to rest for a minimum of half an hour, but no more than an hour. This resting process is called autolyse, and it allows the development of an amino acid called cysteine to occur. Cystein is part of a chain of amino acids that make up gluten, and it can't develop while salt is present. 


Salt on dough

After the autolyse, spray the dough with water and sprinkle on the salt. The water will help the salt to adhere to the dough.  Push the salt into the dough with your fingers, making deep holes in the dough. The salt will spread through the dough.

Now remove the dough from the bowl, and press it into a flat rectangle. Roll it into a cylinder and turn it through ninety degrees, with the seam ending up on top. dock it down using firm pressure from your fingers, again making holes in the dough, till it again is a flattish rectangle. Roll it up along the short surface to form a short cylinder.

You can continue docking the dough down with your fingers and repeating the turns until the salt can no longer be felt in the dough. This method is an excellent kneading technique. There are pictures in the techniques section.

Once the salt has been kneaded through the dough, it is done. Now it needs to have its first (or primary) proof. If you leave it out of the fridge, the dough should ripen in about four hours in warm weather, and in up to eight hours in cooler weather. Even easier, pop it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It will ripen more slowly this way, and the flavour will become more pronounced as well.


 After the first proof, remove the dough from the box or bowl it's in. Place it on the bench, and simply divide the dough evenly in two. You can weigh it, or use your eye.

Round the chunks or dough. Place them back in the box and leave them overnight for their second proof, or simply leave them out until they fully 'gas'. This can take a few hours if the dough is cold, or an hour if the dough is already at room temperature.





Rest for another fifteen minutes, then pick up each cylinder using only the outsides of your hands, cupping the dough like a bowl with your hands underneath. I guess you could say it is a bit like holding a book in your palms. Stretch the face of the dough to begin a cylinder shape, and simply squeeze the base together with the outside edges of both hands.

Rounded dough


Lay the two cylinders on the benchtop, spray with water and dust with rice flour or semolina. Make a curvey 'S' shape shallow slash, and cross it through the middle to make a running writing 'f' (creative licence for 'flemish' sourdough...).

Place on flat baking trays, allow to proof (in boxes, as usual) until quite large and not resisting being poked with a little fingertip.

Final Proof

You will get quite a good rise from this. The crumb, when it's baked, will glow - because of the development that you will have achieved from so many kneadings.

This dough will rise very quickly from the final turn, so watch out. Have the oven preheated, with water placed in a bowl on the floor for slow release of moisture.  This bread will also get a good amount of oven kick, if you've mixed and turned the dough correctly.


Thick Crusted Desem SourdoughAs a default setting, I preheat my oven to 200 degrees celsius for all breads baked on trays. Once the bread is in the oven, I wind it down gradually in 20 degree intervals every 15 minutes. Once the bread has coloured well, it's done. This can be an hour or more. Once you get down to 140 degrees, don't go lower. Just hold it there.

This bread is best made with a thick crust, and is utterly delicious. I have to say that I've tasted a lot of sourdough bread in my time, and this one is up there for flavour. It's complex, delicate, earthy and subtle, all at once. Quite an achievement. 


Happy Sourdough Baking!












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