Light Wholemeal Bread (Semi Leaven) Recipe

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Yeasted Bread Recipes


Light Wholemeal Bread is derived from the Leura Wholemeal Bread recipe which was a popular bread at our shop in Leura NSW. Again, it's a  'Semi Leaven' bread, because it contains some sourdough starter and a tiny amount of yeast, which creates a substantial bread, with a thick but soft crust.

The beautiful thing about this bread is that while it's quite a substantial bread, it's also quite soft and a little bit sweet, courtesy of the honey, which also helps leaven the bread. You can also substitute malt flour if you can get it - this gives the bread a lovely earthy colour, but not the same pronounced taste of honey.



In this recipe, notice the time frame - it's much faster than the typical sourdough recipes we have in the sourdough recipe section. You can start and finish this recipe inside of six hours, with only ten or fifteen minutes of actual handling time.

The Light Wholemeal Bread from this recipe is very suitable for daily use, especially good with marmalade or other tangy jams. Great underneath eggs and or bacon. If you're into sardines or tuna, this is made for you. The list goes on. The flavour is milder than a sourdough, but still you get that sensational aftertaste, making you just want to eat more.

This bread can use any form of starter you have - wet sourdough starter, old dough sourdough starter, over ripe or unripe sourdough starter.

Light Wholemeal Semi Leaven Recipe

You'll need:

600g of organic wholemeal flour (regular wholemeal flour will do if you are unable to access organic flour, or are a cheapskate, like me, at times...)



600g of organic light stonemilled flour (you can substitute plain flour, but if you are already using supermarket wholemeal flour, you might as well use it here too. It's already a white flour with bran added back in. See wheat flour in the site.

Stop Press: We've got both of these flours in stock at the new SourdoughBaker Shop Ingredients Supply Section. We use Australia Post for delivery to almost anywhere in Australia. At a flat rate of only $15 for up to 5 kilos freight, it makes sense to buy your organic and specialty flours in bulk while you're here. Our 5 kilo bulk pack saves you more than 12% on our already discounted flour prices.

200 grams of sourdough starter - old dough, wet starter, leftover dough, whatever you have. This recipe doesn't rely on ripe starter, but does deliver the flavour.




750 - 850 ml of warm water - I start at about 750 mls and add in more one splash at a time.

A tablespoon of runny honey (So you don't overdo it. Runny honey will go through the dough more easily than stiff. Put the jar of honey in a bowl of hot water with the lid off, if you like). If, in the taste test after you've made this bread, it's too sweet, the recipe will work fine without it.

Note: There are lots of things you can substitute for honey to add distinctive flavour to this dough. Try:

  • Roasted wattleseed, soaked in hot water for a few hours
  • Golden syrup
  • Raw caster sugar
  • Malt flour
  • Molasses
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Roasted sunflower kernels
  • Soaked linseed (overnight in hot water)

Measurements vary according to taste, but you get the idea...

12 grams of dried yeast.

24 grams of cooking salt

You'll also need:

Two Bread Tins. This recipe makes two Loaves of about a kilo each. You can experiment with tin sizes until you find one that suits this slightly-lighter-than-sourdough loaf.


Mix almost all the fairly warm water (warmer than luke warm) with the Starter, stirring them together to combine with a heavy whisk or a fork, till it's softened all the starter. You can leave this to stand for ten minutes if you like.



Sprinkle about 200 grams of the light flour over the mixture and add the yeast. Whisk it all together to form a loose paste with a heavy whisk or large spoon.



Allow to stand, covered, in a warm place for an hour to form a sponge. I put mine on top of my coffee machine. 

Add in the rest of the flour and the honey and combine the wet and dry ingredients. You may need a splash more water to do this, but be sparing - at this stage the dough looks dry, but it will soften soon.



Knead with both hands roughly till they form a big chunk of dough, no matter how rough. Rough is good. Cover, and leave in a warm place. If it's too tight, you can work water through the dough throughout this phase. It'll come apart, so add gradually.

Allow to rest for an hour or so.

Add salt by wetting the dough with either a spray gun or wet hands, sprinkling the salt over the top of the wet dough. You will notice a dramatic transformation from the rough chunk you left an hour ago to this smooth thing in your hands now.  That's 'Delayed Salt' at it's finest.

Knead it in until combined, which will be when the salt can't be felt as you knead. Round the dough, and leave with the seam on the bottom.

Let the finished dough rest and rise for about an hour or two, depending on the season. It's ready when you poke it and there is little, if any, resistance. It feels like it has given up. Your finger marks will stay there for a while. If it resists, it isn't ready.

Now cut the dough into two chunks of roughly one kilogram each. Round them, with the seam at the bottom. Rest for an hour or so. Again, if you poke the dough and it resists, it isn't ready yet. If it feels like it is giving in, it's ready.



Form into two cylinders, just by squeezing the bottom in with the outside of each of both hands, as if you are holding an open book in both palms. Spray or wipe with water, and dust with semolina or wholemeal flour or bran. Place dusted dough in a pre oiled bread tin.

Slash with one lengthways cut down the middle of the loaf. Allow to rise, covered, for about an hour - this bread rises quite a bit, so keep an eye on it. When the tin is broached by about a third of the dough inside, in other words when the dough has risen well out of the tin, it's ready for baking. If you've made good dough, you can achieve a good height in this loaf.

Bake at 160 degrees in a prepared oven (see 'how to use an oven properly') for 45 to 60 minutes. The honey allows a bit of colour in the crust. It's not burning - it's crusting.



If you like a really thick crust, wind the oven down to 140 and bake for another half hour.

This recipe tends to be a winner every time - keep it in mind when you're a bit time pressed, or want to use some starter which might not be ideally ripenened. Because of the small amount of yeast, the state of your sourdough starter is largely irrelevant to the result.

Other Sourdough Recipes include:

White Sourdough, using a wet starter

White Sourdough, using the old dough method

Spelt Sourdough

Wholemeal Sourdough

Light Rye Sourdough

Medium Rye Sourdough

Continental bread



For more Sourdough Breadmaking information, recipes and resources - read on!

If you would like to flesh out your knowledge about sourdough breadmaking at home, have a look at the Recommended Reading section. I have listed a number of my all time favourite breadmaking books there. Follow the links if you would like to purchase any of the books online. Remember, if you buy a book through this site, it will help me to continue building this free sourdough breadmaking resource.

While you're here, have a look at SourdoughBaker's Online Shop. A dedicated shop for the keen home baker.

Right now, you can get the following essentials:

  • Equipment Supply, which will be loaded soon with products to make life simpler when making bread at home.
  • Ingredients Supply, which has a wide range of freshly milled organic flours and other essential ingredients.
  • Sourdough Starter Supply, which enables you to shortcut the process of making sourdough starter from scratch. A lot of experienced sourdough bakers actually use these to enrich or modify their own ferments too!
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Happy Sourdough Baking!