Our Daily Bread: From Grain to Loaf…Part 3

Click Here For Part One

Click Here For Part Two

How To Make Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Making whole wheat sourdough bread can be a somewhat tedious thing, however I continue with it because it allows me the ability to make bread without using yeast.  This is why I keep a sourdough starter on hand and make bread from it enough to keep it active and alive…someday it just might not be possible to get to the store for yeast, plus you can use extra starter to make delicious Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes.

First you need a sourdough starter.  You can either make your own or purchase one.  I made my own 5 years ago using whole wheat flour and rye flour…this website has lots of good advice on how to make your own sourdough starter.  Most sourdough starters that are available for sale on the internet are usually made using white flour to make white sourdough bread, which is still a far better choice than continuing to eat commercial white bread in my opinion.

Over the years I have learned, that when it comes to making sourdough bread, the number one thing you must do 100% correctly is energize the starter or it will NOT raise your dough.  This requires feeding the starter at least every 12 hours and letting it energize in a warm place (about 72F).

I usually store my starter in the fridge in a glass bowl with a plastic lid.  About 2 days before I plan to make bread I remove 1/2 cup of the starter in the fridge and, using a non-metal bowl and a wooden spoon, immediately mix in 3/8 cup (6 full tbsp.) of LUKEWARM non-chlorinated water. I then thoroughly mix the water into the sourdough starter and then add ½ cup (8 tbsp.) of whole wheat flour. After that, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter nearest the wood stove.

After 12 hours there should be bubbles and activity. At this point it becomes a generous 1 cup portion of thick, doughy sourdough starter. I personally prefer to work with a thicker sourdough starter, you may prefer differently, if that is the case then do your own thing 🙂

To the 1 cup of sourdough starter, I then add ¾ cup of non-chlorinated water, thoroughly mix the water in and then add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and let it sit and energize for another 12 hours. And then ONE MORE TIME  I add another ¾ cup of non-chlorinated water and 1 cup of whole wheat flour and let it energize for yet another 12 hours.

foamy active sourdough starter

At this point you should have about 3 cups of bubbly, active sourdough starter. If you don’t then use 2 cups of the starter to make pancakes or oatmeal cookies and start over with the feeding cycle using the leftover 1 cup of sourdough starter, adding ¾ cup of water and 1 cup of whole wheat flour every 12 hours. Try letting it energize in a warmer place. Replacing ½ cup of the whole wheat flour with ½ cup of rye flour can also help. Make sure you are using quality non-chlorinated water, using municipal water without filtering out the chlorine first WILL eventually kill your sourdough starter (and just imagine what it is doing to your body…YUCK!).

up close picture of bubbly sourdough starter, it should have a "beery" fermented grain smell

After you have put your starter through two or three 12 hour feeding cycles it should be energized enough to make bread.  Here is that recipe the I use, it is very simple and easy!

Simple Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

1 cup of ACTIVE sourdough starter
1 cup of non-chlorinated water or whey (by-product of cheese/yogurt making)
1 tsp. of salt, preferably celtic sea salt
about 3 cups (more or less) of whole wheat flour, preferably freshly ground (see part two)

Mix together your ACTIVE sourdough starter, water and salt. Gradually, about a ½ cup at a time, knead in the 3 cups of whole wheat flour. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, this can take as long as 20 or 30 minutes. You can also use a mixer with a dough hook or a bread machine set to the “dough” cycle.
Put dough into a buttered loaf pan and let rise in a warm place (75-80 degrees) until doubled in size, this can take as long as 12 hours sometimes. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 180 degrees.

kneading the dough

the finished loaf 🙂

These last two recipes are good ways to use up extra sourdough starter when you are in the engergizing phase.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes

2 cups sourdough starter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
a little milk or cream, if needed, to thin the batter

Thoroughly mix together the sourdough starter and eggs. Then add your baking soda, make sure you mix it very well or you may end up with little lumps of baking soda in your pancakes. Let the batter sit for about 5 minutes, the baking soda will neutralize some of the lactic acid (where the “sour” taste comes from) in the sourdough starter and this chemical reaction is what helps to leaven the pancakes. If the batter is too thick, thin it with some milk or cream. Cook just like regular pancakes. I prefer to use a cast iron griddle coated with butter over medium-low heat.

my favorite use for extra sourdough starter...fluffy, nutritious whole wheat pancakes!

Whole Wheat Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup soft butter, lard, or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups Rapadura Sugar (whole cane sugar, the most nutritious sugar) or Demerara Sugar
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
3 cups rolled oats
1-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Optional ingredients
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup snipped pitted dates
1/2 cup of currants
1/4 cup raisins

Cream together the butter and and rapadura, add the sourdough starter and oats. Then sift in the flour, salt and baking soda together. Only add 1 cup of flour at first and then add more if necessary until you get a nice cookie dough. Add all your spices. Mix very well and let sit in the fridge for about 24 hours. The sourdough starter will feed upon the new flour in the cookie dough, this will make the oatmeal cookies less dense even though you used 100% whole wheat flour. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 dgerees. Mix in one or two or ALL of the optional ingredients, you may have to knead them in. Tear off pieces of dough and pat into cookie shapes and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, more or less. The exact time will be determined by how big and thick you make the cookies.

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