Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread

As a kid I recall more often than not eating baguettes brought home from my Dad’s restaurant, usually procured through a late night call asking for “some bread for tomorrow”. On the weekends my Mom and Grandmother would slice these baguettes at a super slanted angle and make French toast, probably one of the perfect breads for such a thing, but aside from these baguettes we also had a sack of pre-sliced whole wheat bread — which coincidentally also makes great French toast in a different sort of way. It was always whole wheat (even before that was the in thing to buy) and it was mostly just a vehicle for peanut butter & jelly, cinnamon & sugar, straight butter, or whatever other clever things kids can dream up. I always preferred the baguette (and especially these baguettes) with its wonderfully crunchy crust, but there’s a special place for a PB & J sandwich that has so much peanut butter when dropped it would always land on the peanut butter side (imagine a cat always landing on its feet).

“Why don’t we ever have good ol’ sandwich bread?”, I heard my wife recently whisper to herself in the kitchen. This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard such a statement and scattered comments like these got me thinking back about that sliced bread1 I had as a kid. Nostalgia turned to motivation as I felt urged to develop a pan loaf with many of the same characteristics but 100% sourdough, and with somewhere around 98% fewer ingredients — you know, just flour, water, salt and yeast.

whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread in panThe perfect sandwich bread to me is related to that sacked bread from the supermarket, but only in the most remote way possible — perhaps only in the fact that it’s square-ish and sliced. I want a thin and shiny crust with a moist and light interior, a slightly sweet taste not from honey or sugar but from the whole grain itself. And that’s important: I want to actually taste the grain in this bread, not some strange flavor masked by something sweet. The interior should be tight but still light and well fermented, coaxing out maximal flavor from the grain. As far as aesthetics go, you can alter the way this bread rises and opens (or doesn’t open) at the top to suit your taste. I still prefer to impart my signature rustic feel and dark bake, but the final tweaks are up to you.crust and crumb

But first, let’s talk about flour.

Flour Selection

I chose white whole wheat for this recipe because I love the sweet flavor of it, especially compared to red whole wheat which can have a slight bitterness that sometimes pushes through. For the bakes leading up to this post I used Grist & Toll Star White Whole Wheat. I’ve found the flour to be quite strong (in terms of protein) with no gummy flavor to it, which is nice. I recommend using white wheat (King Arthur White Whole Wheat will work well, too) for this recipe but if you don’t have any on hand red wheat will work just fine — the flavor profile will be slightly different but still in the same vein.Grist and Toll flourThe small amount of red whole wheat was mostly used to build my levain (per usual) but also because it does add a slightly strong flavor to the bread, just enough to balance out the sweetness. If you’re more a fan of the white wheat, sub the 10% red for white in the formula below.

If you remember, my recent Spelt Sourdough entry also used type 85 flour and I explained there that this can be approximated by mixing 50% white bread flour with 50% whole wheat. In this formula I’m only using a small percentage so again, feel free to mix whole wheat & bread flour to get the desired quantity or sub it out for another blend.

In the end I really like the flavor and characteristics imparted by these flour choices but it is flexible. I know sometimes we just want to bake bread with what we have in our pantry and not have to go out and pickup special flour — by all means, experiment (and please let me know how your modifications turn out)!

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread Formula

A word of warning upfront: this formula has a very high hydration; the structure of the pan helps keep this dough together and permits me to push water as far as the flour will take it. This amount of water imparts a significantly moist and soft texture to the interior that is typical of sandwich bread, and the results are definitely worth the added hardship of dealing with such a wet dough.

Keep in mind that your flour will act differently with all this water added so hydrate accordingly. Start with a lower percentage and work your way up until you find the perfect point for your flour mix. The dough should be wet looking, extensible and very soft, but it should not be overly “soupy” or falling apart — if this happens hydration is too high for your flour. You can see below what my dough looked like right after mixing.extensible doughAfter a bit of practice this bread becomes easy to make and you can double the formula to make two pans at a time. I see myself making this bread fairly often, freezing one loaf and using the other, this way we always have sliced whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread at the ready.


Total dough weight: 1200g
Pre-fermented flour: 5.00%
Hydration: 100%
Yield: One loaf in a 9” x 5” x 2.75” pan

The USA Pan used for this bake has a silicone coating, and while I lightly oil the pan with olive oil I don’t really think it’s necessary — I have yet to have anything stick to this thing. It’s heavily used here in my kitchen mostly for my sourdough banana bread but now also traditional sandwich bread and even sourdough tea cakes.

Levain Build

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
25g Mature liquid starter (100% hydration) 50%
25g Giusto’s Stoneground Whole Wheat 50%
25g Central Milling Type 85 50%
50g H2O @ room temperature 100%

I used half Central Milling type 85 and half Giusto’s whole wheat for the levain build, but you can change this up if you’d like (e.g. use 100% whole wheat or 100% white whole wheat) just keep an eye on its fermentation rate as a higher percentage of pure whole wheat will peak much faster.liquid levain

Dough Formula

After a few trials I arrived on a final dough weight of 1200 grams for my bread pan. The resulting bread was nicely sized and perfect for what I’m looking for but I think it could be pushed even further, perhaps somewhere around 1300-1400 grams if you want an even taller loaf, one that rises and slightly spills over the edges.

Note that the baker’s percentages listed below are with respect to the final dough ingredients and do not take into account the levain.

Target final dough temperature (FDT) is 75ºF2.

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
438g Grist & Toll Star White Whole Wheat 78.95%
73g Central Milling Type 85 13.16%
44g Giusto’s Stoneground Whole Wheat 7.89%
3g Diastatic Malt Powder (optional) 0.53%
555g H2O @ 90ºF 100.00%
14g Fine sea salt 2.47%
73g Mature, liquid levain 13.16%


1. Levain – 9:00 a.m.

Build the liquid levain in the morning and store somewhere around 74-76ºF ambient.

2. Autolyse – 1:00 p.m.

Mix flour, diastatic malt and water (reserve 100g of the total water for later mixing) in a bowl until all dry bits are hydrated. Cover bowl and store somewhere warm (around 75ºF) for 2 hours.

3. Mix – 3:00 p.m.

Due to the high hydration of this dough it’s helpful to build some strength at the start of mixing before adding in the reserved 100g of water.

Add the mature levain and about 25g of the reserved water, mix thoroughly by hand to incorporate and then slap and fold for about 6 minutes, just until the dough starts to show signs of a smooth surface and holds its shape on the counter. If you aren’t comfortable with this method, or don’t like it, you can do stretch and folds in the bowl until your dough tightens up and is slightly hard to stretch out and fold over. Around medium development.

When finished sprinkle the salt on top of the dough and use the remaining 75g of water (or less if the dough is starting to feel too wet and falling apart) to help dissolve. Pinch through a few times and fold the dough over itself to help incorporate. Keep folding the dough until all the water is absorbed and it comes together, it will end up slightly sticky.

Transfer dough to a tub or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.

4. Bulk Fermentation – 3:20 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

At 74-76ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for a little less than 4 hours. Watch the dough! With this much whole grain it’s possible your dough could ferment faster than mine.

Perform 5 sets of stretch and folds during bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes (the first set starts 30 minutes after you finish mixing). After the fifth set of stretch and folds, performed gently, let rest for the remainder of bulk. The dough will not rise an incredible amount, but it should be slightly jiggly and some bubbles on top and at the sides. You want to see a slight convex edge between the dough and the bowl.

5. Pre-shape – 7:00 p.m.

Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on your bench and dump out the dough. Shape into a single round mass and let rest 20 minutes uncovered. Because this dough is highly hydrated rely mostly on your bench knife and try to touch the dough as little as possible. I use my knife to pick up and pull the mass around in a circle, forming a relatively tight skin on the dough.preshape and oiled panUsing a little olive oil lightly oil the baking pan.

6. Shape – 7:05 p.m.

Shaping this dough can be challenging. The good news is it’s pretty hard to mess it up, just form it as best you can into a “tube” the width of the baking pan and get it in there with as much tension on the surface as possible. The structure of the pan will force your dough to rise upward whereas with a hearth loaf we’d really have to ensure a proper shape so there’s no spreading in the oven.

Moderately flour the top of the dough and flour the work surface. Flip the resting round over onto the floured surface and fold the side edges at the top up and over to the middle (imagine a round bottom that tapers up to a point at the top, it will look like an inverted diamond of sorts). With floured hands take the point at top and start to roll the entire mass of dough downwards, with each roll pushing the dough with your thumbs inward toward the bench — imagine rolling up a beach towel. At the end of this you’ll have a tube that has essentially been rolled downward. Transfer to your oiled pan with the seam on the bottom.

An alternative shaping method that might be easier to perform is to simply fold the sides slightly up and over towards the middle, then roll up the dough tightly. It won’t be as spread out to the sides, but the dough should relax in the pan overnight.

7. Rest & Proof – 7:10 p.m.

Cover your pan with plastic and then retard in the refrigerator at 38ºF for 11-12 hours. Even at such cool temperatures this dough can quickly overproof so keep an eye on it in the fridge in the morning.

8. Bake – Next Morning: Preheat oven at 6:10 a.m., Bake at 7:10 a.m.

Preheat oven for one hour at 500ºF.

I did a very rough score on the top of the dough before placing into the oven. If you choose not to score at all you’ll most likely get a taller loaf, and depending on how tight you shaped your dough, there may be more or less of a rupture on top. In the future I’d like to play with an even longer proof in the fridge with no score at all. This should yield an even more tender crumb and hardly any dramatic fissure.scoring doughI cut a rectangular piece of parchment paper and set it directly on my baking surface, just incase the heat was a little too high for the pan to handle.

Spritz the top of the dough in the pan with a hand mister and place it into the oven on the parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes at 450ºF with steam, and an additional 30 minutes at 450ºF without steam. Then, turn the oven down to 425ºF and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until done (the internal temperature on my loaf was 205ºF).

With dough at this hydration you have to ensure you bake it fully, otherwise the crumb could be undercooked, slightly gummy and just not baked to its potential. The above times and temperatures are a good starting point but they may vary slightly for your environment (and altitude). If you notice your loaf coloring too fast in the oven lower the temperature 15-20ºF at each step and lengthen the bake time to suit.

I steamed the oven in my usual way, described here in my post on how to steam your home oven for baking. While this extra steam might not have been necessary I wanted to ensure maximal rise and a thin & crisp crust. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to remove the bread from the pan, then remove and let cool directly on the wire rack for a few hours.

If you cut this bread too soon the interior may not be completely set so give it a little time to relax.


sourdough sandwich bread

With only four ingredients this healthy bread is a daily bread that has a mellow, sweet taste. The crust is supple but not mushy and the keeping qualities from sourdough mean we’ll be done eating this entire thing well before any threat of spoilage. This is unmistakably a bread that can be made every week to satisfy those old fashion sandwich cravings (perfect for kids, too).


whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread crustThe crust is killer. The intense caramelization is so appetizing it makes your mouth water before you even have a bite. You can see lots of little blisters on the surface of this loaf (thanks in part by the extra steaming in the oven) that provide a little crunch when toasted, a perfect contrast to the extremely tender crumb inside.


whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread crumbBread like this asks for a certain level of tightness, it needs to hang on to all those fantastic ingredients you’ll be sandwiching in there. The high level of whole wheat helps ensure a fairly closed crumb but more important is the full level of fermentation. You’ll notice no dense areas, no gummy sections, everything is well fermented and very tender. If you recall at the start that was one of the criteria I had for this bread and it’s readily satisfied.


Channeling my smørrebrød history I made an open faced sandwich with ripe tomato, basil, goat cheese and extra virgin olive oil — just perfect for this bread after a heavy toasting.tomato, goat cheese, basil and EVOO on sourdough sandwich breadSweet, soft, mellow and contrasting. All part of a bite and all contributing to the grin on my face. I’ve come to really enjoy the flavor of Grist and Toll’s Star White Wheat and I can’t wait to try this recipe with a few other varieties I have, including my own fresh milled white wheat berries. I don’t think you could go wrong with using red wheat instead of white, but as I mentioned previously white wheat has a slightly sweet and more subdued taste that works well with bread like this.

Well, there you have my take on a whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread. I feel like I’ll be tweaking this bread into the future as I already have a few things I’d like to try out: use a large percentage of fresh milled flour, push fermentation even further (perhaps 2-4 more hours for the final proof) and finally increase the dough weight to 1400 grams to see just how high I can get this bread to climb. Some other welcome additions could be a seed or cornmeal topping and heck, even a little cornmeal mixed into the dough to add another level of sweetness.

Oh! I’d be remiss if I talked so highly about that thick slathering of peanut butter and leave without proof. Once this loaf cooled I was waiting knife-in-hand and it was the first thing I concocted, even the photo couldn’t wait.

PB & J on sourdough sandwich breadBuon appetito!

  1. And baguettes too, and I just posted a recipe for baguettes!

  2. This is a few degrees lower than usual, my slap/fold mixing method ended up cooling off the dough more than expected.

  • downtheriver

    Maurizio! Perfect! I am now disappointed that I’m off to NOLA next week for a conference for work, and it will be a week before I can try this…should be perfect for the holes-hating boyfriend, who still buys commercial bread for his peanut butter sandwiches…thank you!

    • It’s my quest to get rid of that commercial bread 🙂 Thanks and tackle this when you get home, safe travels!

  • Awesome stuff! So excited to try this. Was just thinking about this yesterday as I was eating Josey’s toast that I need to find a way to make bread in that shape. So timely.

    • Josey’s toast sure is something special, love that place! Let me know how this works out for ya, Ivan, I really am liking this formula — as the PB&J shot (and the other 5 this week) hopefully show 🙂

  • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

    Beautiful bread, as always! Congratulations! Another one to put on my list. It’s growing… 🙂
    Today is time to prepare starter to bake in the weekend. The ultimate try of fresh milled wheat! Walnuts in 😉 my favorite way to eat walnuts.

    • Thank you! That’s good, let’s keep a long to-do list for you that way there is always something new to bake! Fantastic, you’re going to love the flavor of that fresh milled flour + walnuts — divine! Happy baking 🙂

      • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

        Hey there,
        Waiting for the third turn of my “perfect” loaves of fresh milled wheat, walnuts in!
        This time I guarantee that the dough is warm, in the oven with minimum temperature… it feels great by touch, I can see it raise and lots of little bubbles!! I think this time it will be really perfect. I’m very happy til now, can’t wait to see the result coming after baking!!

        • Excellent! Hope those loves turned out exceptional 🙂

          • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

            I was hoping too, but not really. Disapointing actually. Too sour… Again, I didn’t check the dough temperature, just by touch. It felt lukewarm, so… I don’t know what happened this time (maybe too much heat – inside the oven I measured 32ºC!, too much time heating). Worse, my food processor broke down when I was “grinding”. I start looking for a home mill but…
            I think I will go back to flours “ready to use” for awhile 🙁 try your older recipes maybe…

            • Darn! Could have been too much whole grains in there, fermentation will really pickup… especially with fresh milled flour. You’ll get a lot of sour flavor if temps are high (further speeding up fermentation), too! Nothing wrong with ready to use flour, it’s still amazing sourdough 🙂

              • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

                Hi. Basically I give away this bread and everyone told me it was good. I prefer the previous ones, sweet 😉
                Today I went to a store that will try to repair my machine. I won’t give up of this delicious bread… it is to good!! 🙂 I need to go back to my “cold” environment. Meanwhile maybe a rye bread will be baked or your new one, sandwich bread! (That I need to read, until now I just looked into the pictures 😉

  • cherstuff

    As soon as the part is in and my oven is repaired I am definitely making this. Thanks for another inspiring post.

    • You’re welcome, hopefully that oven gets fixed soon! I know you’ll like this bread 🙂

  • Bill Soleo

    What type of bowl is that ceramic one? Looks quite nice

    • Thanks, it’s my favorite vessel to make bread in. It’s a Heath Ceramics large serving bowl.

      • Bill Soleo

        perfect! thank you sir

  • tfisher

    Why up salt to 2.5%?

    • I increased the salt here, and should have explained why, to help temper fermentation just a bit with this much whole grain. But also I find with whole wheat a little extra salt really helps bring out the flavor of the grain itself, and in this case the majority of the white wheat. The bread definitely doesn’t taste “salty”.

  • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

    Hi Maurizio
    I just decided. I want to buy a home mill! Can you help me to choose one?
    Thank you!!

    • Great news! I’d say decide first how much effort you want to put into milling your flour. Do you want to do it by hand or do you want an electric motor mill? The hand cranked mill, like my GrainMaker, is fantastic but it is labor intensive and requires more time to produce flour. If you’d like the convenience of an electric motor a KoMo is a really fantastic choice. The downside to an electric mill is you might not get flour that is quite as fine as my GM, and it will raise the temperature just a bit more, but again, you can mill a heck of a lot more flour in a shorter time period.

      Here are some brands to check out: GrainMaker (manual), KoMo (electric) and Hawos (electric). Those are all very respectable and highly rated mills in my opinion!

      I hope that helps, feel free to email me (the Contact link at top) for more info if you’d like!

      • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

        I have to confess. I visited a brewery this weekend and it was love at the first site with that hand mill…
        I need to check the offers around and choose one that can be shipped to Portugal. GrainMaker will be the first search!
        Thanks for your help! I will have questions for sure. Talk to you soon!

  • Allison Louise Bush

    Hi Maurizio

    Again thank you for this site and all the great information. I have had quantam leaps in my baking since I found it 🙂
    However, I still having an issue and would be appreciate some help!
    I have been baking some great sourdough breads in a small cast iron casserole that I have and they come out great! I have recently started to use your method of steaming the oven with freestanding loafs. This is where I have the problem. They spread out.. Still taste good though 🙂 I have tried several things. Spent some time getting my starter up and running consistently, feeding it with 75% organic wheat flour and 25% organic rye flour. Twice a day. Its healthy now 🙂 I dont overproof, I use the dent method. It must have something to do with the bulk. During the stretch and fold I feel the resistance coming and it tightening up and pulling back (maybe not pulling back enough?). At the end of the bulk I have all the signs, high and bubbly rise, dough curving away from the sides. Shaping is still challenging. Could the reason be that I am not creating enough surface tension at this point? The flour options we have here in Norway are very limited. Only one bread flour with high protein that I have found. Have bought some different flour types in sweden but still along the same line. I am actually considering ebay or amazon even though the postage may be prohibitive. Any idea what´s going on?

    • That’s so awesome to hear, you’re very welcome! Usually I see spreading like that when the dough is over proofed, but if the finger poke method shows a slow bounce back after poking it could be other things. If you’re retarding the dough in the fridge overnight keep in mind the finger poke test may not be as reliable as it would be if the dough was proofed on the counter. The dough chills quite a bit in the fridge and becomes more firm, you could still be overproofing without realizing it… 12 hours is a good benchmark though — let’s look at shaping first and if that doesnt solve the issue we can back off on your proof time a few hours.

      The next thing I would look at is you might not have a tight enough shape with your dough before you put them into their baskets for proofing. Make sure you shape rather tight so they hold their shape when you put them in the oven the next day. For your next batch try to really tighten up the dough on the counter and see if that helps.

      Another thing that helps is to bake straight from the refrigerator. The dough will still be cold and stiff which helps them keep their shape. When you take them out quickly score them and get them into that hot oven!

      I’m sure the flour you’re using out there will work just fine. Local is best anyways 🙂

      Let me know how it goes next time!

      • Allison Louise Bush

        Thank-you so much 🙂 from your advice I have a hunch it could be the proofing. Many moons ago a baker told me the poke test passed when took a very long time to bounce back or it didn´t bounce back at all. I have baked bread in tins for so many years that I never knew otherwise. This is a great reminder for me to re-read the things I think I know 🙂 Bake planned for saturday so I´ll let you know. I expect to do the happy bakers dance 🙂

        • Right on! Sometimes rereading an old book or revisiting an old topic makes you realize something new! Hope the bake goes well, let me know!

          • Allison Louise Bush
            • Allison Louise Bush

              Hi Maurizio, I posted a picture to help diagnose. Still not there, but finding out more. My fridge at its lowest setting is 44 degrees farenheit. So my proof went for only 9 hours and when poked it slowly returned. They started spreading a bit in the oven, but still managed to rise a bit. Still not got the oven spring I am looking for. The crust is semi hard and chewy. Very hard to slice. The crumb very nice. Very tasty but would love to get this right and not have to only make in the casserole. I have the oven set up with lavarocks, backing stones etc. The recipe is the best sourdough bread one, at 86% hydration. A bit difficult to shape but managed. My favourite hydration for this recipe and casserole is 80%. I plan to stick with this one until I get it right. Will try again with 76% to see if can have anything to do with the shaping. Any tips would be very helpful 🙂

              • Thanks for posting that picture. The crumb looks nice and light. I’d say reducing hydration is a good idea, you might want to stick to a lower hydration until you feel comfortable with it and then slowly work up. Getting that right amount of tension without completely degassing the dough can be tricky – it comes with practice at each hydration level.

                The fermentation in your bread looks great, though and I’d say your shorter proof is right on given your fridge temp. I would focus on shaping for a few bakes to see if that helps improve the height and crust.

                I hope that helps, keep me updated!

  • mitsuko sato

    Hello Maurizio!
    I’m new to sourdough baking. I began this obsession about 4-5 months ago. In that time I’ve had many failures (from working a modified tartine recipe I found on the kitchn and country loaf on my times) and a couple successes-this sandwhich loaf was one of the latter. I think it had a lot more to do with the recipe, and the guide/instructions you’ve provided on this site. I cannot thank you enough. My boys should be happy with their sandwhich bread- and if not, I won’t mind eating it all myself! Haha it is funny because I really hadn’t expected the recipe to work out, as I seemed to botch it from beggining (from levain build) to end (hadn’t realized it was an overnight final proof, proofed it on the counter as timing wise I couldn’t have done the longer proof). But this recipe withstood even this blunderous baker.

    I arrived at this recipe after trying out your banana bread- another huge success! I will be making the banana bread again this week (I just made it Saturday and it’s already gone ?). Also, I used sprouted spelt flour; it’s what I had on hand. It turned out really well- not gummy or dry, with excellent rise/oven spring. I plan on trying your beginners sourdough as well. I had built the levain for it yesterday, but got distracted and it rose and fell flat before I got to it. But anyway, thank you so much for the great site and recipes!

    • Sorry for the late reply! Thanks so much for the kind words, I really appreciate that! I’m glad this recipe worked out so well for you — it’s become a weekly bread for me and my family and we just love it.

      I’ve actually been working more on that banana bread recipe and have taken it to a new level, I hope to have this update out soon in its own post because I love it so much. We eat a lot of bananas here and I find myself secretly hoping to have a few extra, nice and ripe 🙂

      Thanks again for the kind words & happy baking!

  • Rodney Ferris

    You know, the light bulb went on… in your recipes you make all that levain and then only use some of it… I had two batches of starter as I read your recipe wrongly! No wonder I had this crazy experience of the living THING! So.. I assume that you give us a formula for the levain and then use SOME for the dough…right, not the almost 200g of starter that I ended up with plus water etc….

    • Yes, you only want to use the amount of levain called for in the Dough Formula! Otherwise you’ll have a very, very fast moving dough 🙂

  • Nivedita Sahasrabudhe

    Hi Maurizio,
    This is the bread I hope to make regularly eventually. But, the high hydration in this recipe scared me. So for my second sourdough loaf, I cast about for other whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread recipes. Found this: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/whole-wheat-sourdough-sandwich-bread and embarked on it. Had already started building a 240 g levain (100% hydration) with half white whole wheat. Yes, I frequently put the cart before the horse.. I mixed it up using 500 gms flour, 225 g water (at 90 deg, thanks to you!) and 300 g of (levain + ripe starter). Their hydration percentage calculation seems pretty weird or I am grossly misunderstanding it. How does 500 g of flour and 225 g water yield a 75% hydration dough? What am I missing? They say 30% of the flour is in the starter – which I took to mean that they are including starter in calculating final dough hydration – but that still didn’t add up – only about 58%. Unless they meant I should have used only 0.7*500 = 350 g of flour. If so isn’t that a convoluted way to provide a formula? Is this style of providing formula common?
    Needless to say, the mixed up dough looked very dry and not promising at all. So after 20-30 minutes I decided to add another 112 g of water to bring hydration to 75% by my calculation. It took a good 7-8 minutes I think of scooping up dough from bottom, and up over itself, turn bowl and repeat to get it to look and feel reasonable. Stretched and folded 4 times total and finally called it a a day for bulk fermentation 3 hrs later. I got so much better at handling this dough to make the first round mass in pre-shape stage. Got good tension on top! Shaping went fairly well, though of course this was only 75% hydration. I think I am ready to up the hydration a bit next time! Whoo!
    I ended up going with a 17 hour retard. Can’t explain why – it just didn’t feel ready at 12 hours. Baking set up was only a foil pan of lava rocks and a foil pan of wet towels. I don’t have baking stones yet. I ended up not scoring. The loaf rose well in the oven. It did fissure, but nothing ugly. I haven’t sliced it yet, and based on internal temperature (211.5 after 60 minutes baking )and large amount of levain I am guessing it will be dry and too sour. However, I have the following questions:
    1. After towels are saturated with hot water, do you end up with water in the bottom of your towel pan? I had about 1/2 inch. Based on the amount of steam I got, I think I might add more water next time. What is the function of the towels? That is, why not just a pan of water? Do they keep water from evaporating away too quickly? Or do they help minimize splashing hot water, in which case I’d better not add too much more water next time?
    2. Water on the lava rocks gave one gust of steam and then nothing too dramatic after that. Do you add water just the one time? Would another cup added at 10 minutes in help?
    3. Since I’m a newbie, I couldn’t figure out why you’d expect a longer proof in fridge and no score to produce “hardly any dramatic fissure”.
    4. I’m baking at sea level – are there any rule-of-thumb adjustments to baking temperatures I should make when using your recipes?
    Thank you so much for your detailed posts and recipes and for your answers! There’s just no comparison between your recipes and those from thefreshloaf.com!

    • Hi, Nivedita!
      Looking at that recipe I am also not sure of how they came up with 75% hydration, the numbers don’t work out to be so. Perhaps it was a typo — I get around 58% hydration as well.

      Yes, there is a mistake in my timeline between preshape and shape, will fix this! Should only be a 20 minute rest.

      1. Once the towels are saturated with water I stop pouring hot water on them. If you pour very slowly and move around slowly while you do this you’ll get maximal absorption. I try to avoid any standing water on the bottom of the pan, it just ruins the pan in my experience. Just boil a kettle of water and pour slowly until the towels look fully wet and they are steaming heavily, stop at that point.

      2. That initial couple of cups of water on the lava rocks create a blast of steam (you want to close your oven door as soon as possible after doing this) and then will slowly steam until all the ice is melted. Sometimes I will add another 1 cup of ice after 5-8 minutes of my bake, right onto the lava rocks.

      3. Usually the dramatic fissure on the top of a loaf can be attributed to under-proofing. If you don’t score at all and under-proof you’ll have a very explosive amount of rise in your dough and it has to go somewhere (it can’t escape the sides because of the pan so the only place is up). If you let the dough ferment longer, and longer you’ll approach the perfect proof point, or even a little over, where the dough will start to have sluggish rise. Lately I’ve been making this bread and pushing this proof point farther and farther. If you look at my Instagram picture of a more recent bake you can see I’ve improved on this recipe by proofing longer (I’ll have an update to this post, or a new one sometime soon) so the top doesnt rupture at all but the interior becomes incredibly soft and even more open. It’s absolutely fantastic.

      So to the point: a longer proof will eventually start to compromise oven spring but for this pan loaf it’s a good thing because the interior becomes more and more tender and that dramatic fissure isn’t exactly wanted anyways (it’s not bad, and really just a personal preference there).

      4. I have not baked often at sea level but I would say baking times should be reduced. This is easy to adjust with bread, just keep baking until it’s done to your liking and then pull it from the oven. You can see the delta between your times and mine and use those as a good rule of thumb for future bakes.

      You’re very welcome, thanks for the comments and I hope this recipe goes well for you, I bake it just about every week and LOVE it! By the way, my hydration here is very high so start somewhere lower and hold back the water, add it during mixing in stages so it doesn’t get too wet! Happy baking 🙂

      • Nivedita Sahasrabudhe

        Hi Maurizio,
        Thank you for your detailed response! Good to have confirmation that my math was correct. My loaf last week turned out better than I’d dared hope. It wasn’t too dry or inedibly sour and it sliced beautifully. There is plenty of room for improvement – starting with using your recipe. 🙂 I am too impatient to make one change at a time, so making a few this time around. Hopefully my loaves will converge to the ideal in the next few iterations.
        Thank you for pointing out your instagram update to this recipe. That loaf looks gorgeous. Also, I checked out a montage of your pre-shaping and shaping. Your movements are just so fluid and graceful. It really helps me in my attempts to have seen that.
        1. Understood about the wet towels. Thanks for clarifying!
        2. I’ve read the steaming instructions a few times and don’t see where you use ice. Do you pour a mix of ice and water at load time? About a cup of each? Yup, got it about closing the door quickly.
        3. Ah, I understand now why scoring is not needed if dough is proofed long enough. Thank you!
        4. Yup, will try reducing bake time and also reduce temperature a tad after the first 35 minutes or so.
        5. Tonight at the end of shaping, the loaf felt slack – as if I did not roll it tightly enough. Probably because I upped hydration to 85% this time. But, since I wasn’t sure, I gently got it out of the pan and back on the counter, rolled it with bench scraper into a round and let it rest for 15 minutes. After that shaped again. In general, is this a safe bet – to reshape after a rest, if one is not happy with the first attempt at shaping?
        6. Midweek I attempted a focaccia – just winged it, since I didn’t really find a sourdough focaccia recipe. Turned out a pretty tasty brick. Do you have a sourdough focaccia recipe? Especially one with some whole wheat?
        Bake day tomorrow is going to be hot – wish I’d checked the forecast! Live and learn. :-/ Thank you for all your help!

        • Thanks for the comments! I DO mean to have some useful videos here on my site very soon, hoping to get to that. I realize how helpful videos are for processes like these 🙂

          2. I pour ice (only) on top of my lava rocks in my preheated pan. I use probably 1-2 cups of ice.
          5. Yes, preshaping a second time can definitely help if you feel like your dough doesn’t have enough strength after doing a first shape — it’s kind of like giving your dough one more set of stretch and folds during bulk. I don’t like to use this technique, but if necessary it’s there to help.
          6. I don’t have a focaccia recipe just yet… that’s coming, though you can count on it 🙂

          Good luck with the coming bakes!

  • maccompatible

    So this is my third attempt at sourdough. This one turned out rather odd.. all seemed well until the final shaping step. I had great difficulty forming it into the right shape, with most of the dough seeming to be in the middle. I tried to roll it like a batard. Then it was in the fridge for nearly 14 hours. I overslept.. even though I put the pan in a silly balloon bag, it still seemed to dry out a bit on top. And it might have over-proofed.. I poked it, and it felt harder on top than underneath and didn’t spring back as quickly as I hoped.. I scored two straight lines down the middle, at 1/3 and 2/3 the width of the pan, then baked it as you said to. Only one side of the loaf rose. The other score virtually disappeared.. also, only the middle of the loaf rose. What do you think went wrong? Shaping, scoring, or proofing?

    • Hi! It sounds to me like shaping was the issue here. It could also be coupled with the scoring which might have prevented the dough from opening up on the side that didn’t rise. Next time try to focus a bit more on the shaping (reduce the hydration of this recipe if it’s too sticky or hard to handle) and try to get the dough into a long tube that is just about the same height throughout — a little more in the middle is ok and that’s what I always end up with as well. It can be challenging but I guarantee each time you do it you’ll get a better end result.

      For your proofing bag, check these bags out, I really like these ones as they give you plenty of space and can be sealed totally shut with a rubber band.

      I hope that helps!

  • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

    Hi there,
    I finally found a miller!!! So happy! Now I can try the recipes with fresh stone milled flour! And I will. If not soon, after summer vacations. Can’t wait… 🙂

    • Hello again! Wow that is GREAT news! Having a reliable source for fresh flour is an amazing thing 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how things go with your new supply once you get to using it!

      • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

        I have to wait until the end of the next month to start using the fresh milled flour but… I’m sure it will be great!! I’m so curious to start…
        For now I’m using bio whole wheat flour. Let me ask you. For this recipe (sandwich bread) to leave the dough proofing for about 18h will be too much? My other choice is to proof only for 6-7h… the last time I tried it and it looked like it needed more time.
        Next will be the polenta bread.

        • That’s awesome! Sounds like you have plenty of fresh flour sources now, and maybe some new friends 🙂

          For this bread I’d go for 18 hour proof instead of 7 hours. I like this bread really, really well fermented (so it’s super soft and tender). Since we’re baking this in a pan we can also let it go further than usual, the pan will help keep the loaf together and give it structure.

      • Mestre Boleira Sr Salgado

        Second source of fresh flour in one week! Today I offer some of my starter to a girl who works at a bulk bio grocery store here in Lisbon (I’m a regular costumer there 😉 ). In exchange she offers me any fresh flour I need!! So nice of her… Maybe we can be “sourdough bread best friends”!! 🙂
        Now it’s time to see how my bread turned out…

  • Juan Guillermo León

    Hello there!…thanks a lot for this site, really helpful and motivating.
    I was wondering about de Levain Build, since you say you can also use only whole wheat flour for it. Did you try that way? What result is expected? stickier? sweeter? or changes are too subtle to be noticed?
    Thanks again!

    • You’re welcome, thanks for the kind words!

      It’s been a while since I’ve used a 100% whole wheat levain, nowadays I mostly do a 50/50 mix with white flour and whole wheat. An all whole wheat levain is similar to what I make now but it does ferment faster and have a stronger flavor to it — however, in the end it really is a really small percentage of the overall bread formula so I wouldn’t say it makes a huge different for me, in most of my bakes.

  • Lon


    When I made the whole wheat sandwich loaf I had issues shaping and rolling it up. There seemed to be a lot of air in the dough and when I tried to roll it up with your technique, it was so wet that it would rip the “skin” I had created and then spill out. Do you ever recommend punching down the dough or have further instructions on how to shape this? Thanks!

    • I don’t usually degas my dough at all but with this pan loaf you could certainly do that. Since we are after a more closed crumb for this bread a gentle degas could help achieve that (and help shaping).

      This is a challenging dough to shape because it’s so wet. I make this bread quite often (once a week at least) and when shaping I liberally use flour on my hands on bench and move as quick as possible so I have little interaction with the dough. Another thing you could try, if you were feeling overly adventurous, is to use water on your bench and hands instead of flour for the final shape. You could keep a bowl of water next to your dough and dip your hands in when things start to stick. I know some bakers use this technique for very, very wet doughs with great success.

      I hope those suggestions help!

  • Zand Bakhtiari


    I was wondering if I could substitute wheat with white flower or do a mixture of both?



    • Zand — I’ve used white flour in this as well and it tastes great but I was going for more of a whole wheat loaf for this this one. I love the flavors in the resulting bread when using mostly whole wheat and with a pan loaf like this you can really push the hydration (since the pan helps keep structure).

      Happy baking!

  • kmegapeachy

    I’m so glad I found your website. Baking bread has always been a life goal for me. I’ve gone a few rounds with Chad’s Country loaf from Tartine and finally got the courage to go 75% wheat this past weekend. It was great but I’m looking for a nice loaf the family will love for sandwiches. I hope to give this one a go this weekend. I’ve never tried to steam in the oven before so I’m a little nervous about that. I wanted to ask what would happen if I didn’t steam? Is it really necessary? Would it still turn out ok since the dough is on the wet side? I’m not really looking to get a hard crust on this one.

    • Welcome! I bake this bread just about every week. I always steam my oven but honestly I don’t think it’s 100% necessary. You might not get the same shiny crust (you might) but that’s not a huge deal in terms of taste and structure. I would recommend just spritzing the top of the dough in the pan lightly with a hand mister and then bake. I’m sure the bread will still turn out amazing!

      • kmegapeachy

        Thanks for the replay! I actually baked off a loaf this morning and I did steam with kitchen cloths (don’t have lava rocks yet) and used a spritzer. The crust looks great and can’t wait to cut into it! Bake On!

  • drjennyb

    I really want to try this recipe Maurizio. I have a huge commerical bread pan – its 12″ x 5″ x 4.75″. Do you think I could use that for this recipe or would i need to double the ingredients? Thanks.

    • That’s a big pan! You could definitely use it knowing that the loaf might not be as tall as mine shown here, but rather a little more squat and longer. Alternatively you could scale up the recipe by perhaps 33%, or more, and fill out the pan more. Up to you! 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking.

  • Ollie Bucolo

    Wonderful bread! I’ve played around with this recipe a bit now, but always with less proofing time (and at room temp.) When you take these loaves out of the fridge, do they go right in the oven or do you let them come up to room temp first? How does this affect oven temp and baking time?

    • Thank you! I always bake my bread directly from the oven, the only rare case is when I’m in a rush and I have to bake earlier in which case I might let the dough ferment more on the counter before baking. In either case I bake them at the same temperature every time.

  • Elisa

    Wow, this recipe looks incredible! I’ve been baking baking sourdough breads for family every 2 weeks for about a year now but I wanted to find a pan loaf to throw int he mix to make sandwiches for the kids a bit easier to make. I’m going to try this recipe this week! Any thoughts on making this multigrain / seeded?
    I also LOVE your ideas about how to use leftover starter. Genius! 🙂

    • Thank ya! I love this pan loaf recipe, I bake it very often here and it’s perfect for sandwich bread. I’ve been playing with it and adding in different percentages of various grains and all have been a success so I’d say have fun with it! You could sub out 10-20% of the whole wheat for whole spelt, white whole wheat, or even Kamut and it would be delicious. As far as seeds, I’ve been topping this bread with a multi-seed mixture (sesame, poppy, sunflower, etc.) and I love the crunch it gives to each bite. You could also mix in a percentage of seeds directly into the dough and that would be great as well. If you do this, and you soak the seeds, be aware it will increase the hydration quite a bit so be ready for that (you might want to reduce the overall hydration to suit).

      Aren’t those sourdough waffles awesome!? Happy baking 🙂

      • Elisa

        Thanks a bunch for writing back! I so appreciate your response and I’ll be giving this a go this weekend after I refresh my starter. I’ve got spelt and kamut on hand so that’s perfect! cheers! 🙂

      • Elisa

        Just wanted to let you know that I made three loaves this weekend and they are amazing!! This will definitely be our new go-to weekly bread. I did sub some sprouted grain flour and kamut and also added in some soaked flax and sunflower seeds and it’s simply wonderful. I just adjusted water accordingly. Nutritious yet still the perfect texture for a sandwich bread. Thank you again! I also made those waffles with the leftover levain and they are hands down the best waffles I’ve made at home (and we too make waffles weekly and I’ve tried a loooot of recipes). Next recipe to try is the sourdough pizza which is something I’ve wanted to tackle for a while. Cheers!

        • Ahh love hearing all that! Thank you so much, happy your bread (and waffles) turned out so amazing. I love this bread because it’s so versatile, you can swap in and out different grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruit…

          Thanks again and you’re going to love the pizza 😀

  • kotryna

    Hey, Maurizio! do you think its ok to use a silicone loaf pan to make sandwich sourdough loaf? or should i use the sturdy one?
    thanks xx

    • That’s a good question! I’ve never used anything like this. First, make sure it’s able to withstand the temperatures we’re baking at here, we don’t want it to melt 🙂 I’d say if it’s ok to handle the temps it’s worth a shot as long as it’ll hold the dough structure.

      • kotryna

        thanks for a reply, Maurizio! I wish i could try to bake it in the silicone pan, but i can’t get my starter super active, i don’t know what im doing wrong. Im feeding it every 12hours, its already 10days old. it gets bubbly and rises a lot, but when i try the float test, it doesnt rise in the water. maybe you have something in mind, what might be wrong?:/

        • Have you had a chance to check out my sourdough starter maintenance routine post? It might give you some clues and ideas on how/when to adjust your starter feedings. It might be that your timing is a bit off. Another possible reason is it could be too cold in your kitchen right now given that it’s winter (at least for me, here) — try to keep your starter warm! I like 75-78ºF.

  • Tayelor Wallace

    Maurizio, thank you for the time you put into this wonderful site! I am gathering scores of recipes that I can’t wait to try. On this one though I got a bit lost in the flour discussion. I currently have a 100% hydration starter using white whole wheat. I also have bags of bleached all purpose and a small bag of whole grain rye. What would you suggest I use or should I make mix them? Thanks in advance!

    • You’re very welcome! I would suggest using your white whole wheat flour for the same white whole wheat percentage I have in the recipe (the majority flour used), then for the “type 85” I call for you could do a mix of 50% white flour and 50% whole wheat (or white whole wheat if you don’t have red).

      If you dont’ have red wheat at all you could use a small percentage of rye and white whole wheat just to add some flavor. For example, I call for 73g of Type 85, you could do perhaps 30g whole rye and 43g white whole wheat. Or even go higher with the rye, I love rye!

      I hope this helps 🙂

      • Tayelor Wallace

        That is exactly what I was needing! I am actually about to pull my second bake of your Multigrain sandwich bread you wrote on the King Arthur site out of the oven. We are loving these recipes!
        I would like to ask one more question if you have time. I have been baking a non sourdough bread for several years that has brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in it. My family is transitioning into sourdough, but I would like to add in some honey or other sweetness into this or the multi grain recipe. How much would you suggest and when would I incorporate it?

        • I would start somewhere low with the honey and work up from there. I’d say somewhere around 2-5% (somewhere around 10-15g) of the recipe and see how it tastes; if you want more sweetness increase and if it’s a bit cloying, reduce. I would incorporate the honey any time during the mix stage (after autolyse).

          Happy baking!

          • Tayelor Wallace

            Wonderful, thanks again!

  • Adam

    Was wondering if I could add some honey into this? To make it even sweeter.

  • Ran Cimer

    Hello! Thanks you for your wonderful site! I wanted to ask, where I live I can only get “whole wheat flour”. I know it sounds funny, but that the situation. No white/red etc. can I just try and use 100% of that as the flour in this recipe?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi! That whole wheat flour you have access to is most likely one of two types of wheat: red or white (the color designation represents the actual wheat kernel’s color, not the flour). From there you also have hard and soft varieties that have different baking characteristics.

      You can certainly use any whole wheat to make this recipe, the flavor profile will be different if you don’t use what I have here, but that is totally fine! This is a very versatile bread, use what you have (and if your flour is locally grown & milled that’s even better!).

      Hope that helps 🙂

      • Ran Cimer

        Thank you! It certainly helps 🙂


    Great recipe! I currently have a loaf proofing in the fridge. It’s a goopy mess, pretty sure it’s over hydrated, but trial and error is the way to learn! Question for you: if I don’t do any steam in the oven at all, can I adjust the bake time and still make this loaf?

    • Yes, you can definitely bake this without any steam at all. You most likely wont need to adjust the bake time, just keep an eye on the dough near the end to prevent any burning. Happy baking!

      • EZANO

        Great thanks!!

  • Ravi Vijay

    Hello. I live in India and I was searching hard for a whole wheat sourdough pan bread recipe. So I had to give this one a try. I am fairly new to baking and you have explained your method very thoroughly for a novice like me to follow. I made a few adjustments to your method but still got amazing results (as compared to my previous attempts).

    a) I used atta flour as that is very readily available in India (we mostly make chapatis out of it)
    b) I lowered the hydration to around 86% otherwise the dough becomes really unmanageable for me.
    c) I did the second proofing at room temperature (impatient me :))
    d) I had no method of inducing steam in the oven. So I sprayed some water on the bread before putting it in the oven , inverted a similar sized bread pan over the original pan and fixed it in place using binder clips. And I miraculously got a nice oven spring ! I was earlier worried that the bread is not rising too much during the second ferment , maybe your measurements are such that it doesn’t crown the pan while rising.
    e) Lastly my bread browned a bit faster than I would have liked. The inners were a little gummy (only a little) . Will try it this weekend with a reduced temperature during the bake without steam.

    Thank you so much for this great recipe !

    • Really awesome to hear that, Ravi! I’m glad you started with a lower hydration, it’s a good idea to do so until you test out your flour a bit to see what works. I’ve used atta before (my wife is Punjabi, born in USA) to make chapatis but I actually haven’t tried making bread with it, yet.

      Thanks so much for the feedback and happy baking!

  • frank

    Hi Maurizio.. Well, I tried the pan loaf twice now – last week and this week. The first time I was doing too much and didn’t read the instructions well enough – I ended up using dark whole wheat for the white whole wheat and make a fairly nice looking brick! It actually looked pretty good, and with a fairly strong toast was fine to eat.. Here’s that attempt: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/51026/100-hydration-whole-wheat-sandwich-loaf This week I tried again and followed the instructions spot on. I get my flour from a local mill, and used 50/50 whole wheat and unbleached white for your type 85 flour. I had to go out for a dinner, so after about 2.5 hours of bulk and 4 s/folds put it into my cold cellar at about 55 degrees. When back from dinner about four hours later, I shaped it and put it in the fridge for the night. It handled well through the slap and folds, stretch and folds, and shaping. It was a fairly ok log with some surface tension when i put it into the pan. It all looked good. But there was no really rise – I didn’t get a double in the bulk or over night. You say in your description this bread doesn’t rise much – but maybe I need to leave it out at room temp in bulk and get to a double in size before shaping? Here’s this week’s attempt: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/51137/100-hydration-whole-wheat-sandwich-loaf-redux (not sure why i go the ‘dog’s head’ volcanic eruption – happened after I took out the steam). It’s obviously lighter than my first attempt, but both are wet to gummy and don’t look light and fluffy like yours does.. any advice? thanks!! Bake happy.. !

    • frank

      I just realized I used the wrong flour. I had read somewhere online that I could “make” white whole wheat by sifting out the bran from whole wheat flour – so that’s what i did and used. Someone replied on TFL site telling me they are not the same and explained the difference – a problem with believing what you read online! So I’ll get some white whole wheat flour this week and try again next weekend. But if you could still tell me about the rise you expect during the bulk fermentation – should it double during those four hours? And I’m curious, looking at your baked loaf – it almost seems like you score in the shape of a capital letter “I” across the loaf – meaning a long slash for the length and then a small score across the top and bottom edges of your pan – or so it seems from the way your loaf splits open at the ends.. Thank you again for your incredible site! Truly remarkable..

      • Frank — the comments on The Fresh Loaf are correct, you can’t make white whole wheat by sifting. As they said it’s a completely different type of wheat from red wheat. That said you could use either red or white, just make sure it’s *whole* and nothing sifted out. If you sift out some of the bran/germ (and thereby get closer to “white flour”) it will likely be able to take on less water and be more gummy in the end.

        I don’t really use the amount the dough rises as a good indicator for when to end bulk fermentation. I find the rise can be misleading, especially when you have a very wet dough that’s mostly whole wheat like this one. I typically like to shoot for around 3.5-4 hours at 76-80F dough temperature and stop bulk when the dough looks like it’s jiggly in the container, has some bubbles on top and the sides and looks smoother and stronger. Keep an eye on the dough after 3 hours into bulk and make the call based on how it looks and feels. I know these are general terms but there are a lot of variables at play (the most important being dough temperature)!

        I scored this with a single long slash, it just looks like an “I” because of the way it opened naturally. Lately I’ve been proofing this dough longer and longer so the dramatic oven spring is reduced.

        Hope this helps, happy baking!

  • Eric Dillon

    Hi Maurizio, a random and simple question but one that i want to make sure i do right. When you take the internal temp of a loaf of bread like this one (or any loaf for that matter), where do you insert your temp probe? I just do not want to take away from the integrity of the crumb and also take away from the appearance on the crust with a hole in it haha! Thanks!


    • Hi, Eric! I will usually stick the probe right inside the “ear” of the loaf — the area where it has opened up from the score. If you find a good spot you won’t even see the hole afterwards. I’ll insert the probe there until it’s about midway into the loaf.

      Hope that helps, and I totally understand the desire to keep the loaf pristine!

  • Eric Dillon

    Hey Maurizio again. So I’m in the autolyze process of this recipe right now. I was about 30 minutes in when I realized that I didn’t mix in a portion of my flour… I changed your recipe up a bit and added a small percent (7%) of rye flour and this is the one I didn’t add (the kids are crazy around here) until after the dough had been autolyzing for 30 mins.

    Would you think this have any ill effects on the final outcome? I wanted to get the rye in there so it was part of the autolyze. Either way, it’s in there now lol!

    • Hah! I could see that happening around here too… No biggie, the bread will turn out just fine!

  • Anna Pm

    Hi Maurizio, I can´t find all the different flours you use, I guess that´s why I don´t get those large holes, well I have to work with what I have. I have a question though, what to do with the rest of the levain? for instance in this recipe you call for 125 g levain and only use 73 g or what happens if I use all of it? my concern is that I have a lot of starter in my fridge and want to use it somehow, I already made your 3 recipes for leftover starter but I have more than that, sorry for taking your time for a dumb question and thank you for all you give and teach

    • You’re very welcome! I like to make a levain that has just a little extra just in case, there’s nothing worse than finding our your levain build was a little less than what you really need! You can always scale back the amount of levain you make to fit this recipe. If you find you can make a build that gives you exactly 73g then stick with that! I have some more recipes coming soon that will have some more ideas on what you can bake in the kitchen with leftover starter — stay tuned!

  • Lily Anderson

    Hi Maurizio!

    I’m not the hugest fan of whole wheat bread — was wondering how I can tweak the recipe to get a white sourdough sandwich loaf? I recently had one at Model Bakery in Napa and it was beyond delicious — I’m trying to make it at home! Any ideas you have would be great!! Thank you!

    • I like the idea of a really soft white sandwich bread — I’ll add this to my list of things to bake (and share here at my site)! You could always just change this recipe to use 100% white flour if you’d like. The texture might not be as soft and sweet as what you’re looking for (I’m not sure what Model Bakery’s bread is like) but I’ll work on this!

      • Lily Anderson

        Thank you!! I’ll check back soon 🙂

  • Mats Björklund

    Hi. I made a similar bread, but i use half spelt sour levain and half wildyest from apricot. The finely bread 800 grams become to be 14 cm height. Its more than dubbel upp from the baking pans top.

    • Wow, that’s quite the rise! If you’re going to go with that same flour mixture you could reduce the amount of flour or let the dough proof longer to breakdown the gluten structure a bit more (for an even more creamy interior). Sounds delicious, though!

  • Heather Khan

    I have tried so many sourdough recipes. None have turned out yet, but I am slowly learning and tweaking my recipes. I am desperate to create a sandwich loaf. Ramadan is coming up and we live on breakfasts of peanut butter and jelly, but I refuse to go back to my old habit of store bought refined grains =(. My long standing starter just recently somehow began growing mold on top – yuck and weird! So I am starting from scratch with this one. Here are my questions before I begin this loaf. Do you use your firm starter or your soupy starter for this loaf and does it matter which I use? Also, I am currently using SPROUTED rye for my starter. Will that make a difference in the texture of my final loaf? Should I create this new starter out of something else? I also do not have any whole white wheat, but I do have einkorn. Will this work as well? Could I use all einkorn, or would there be adjustments that would need to be made to do that? The options I have in my pantry right now are sprouted rye, sprouted spelt, einkorn, unbleached white (out of hard red) and oat flour.

    • You could use any hydration starter, really. Just make sure you account for the hydration difference in the final mix (if using a stiff starter you could add a little more water).

      I’ve never made or maintained a starter with sprouted flour but it should work just fine. It might be a touch more active so keep an eye on it and refresh it when necessary.

      You could use einkorn which is known to typically be a little on the weak side in terms of dough strength, I would probably try this recipe with reduced water (5%?) if using einkorn just to make sure I’d be able to handle the dough. That’s the good thing about a tin loaf though, if things get crazy just do whatever you have to do to get it into the tin 🙂

      I’d also be tempted to try this with a combination of sprouted spelt and einkorn — that would be delicious! For that, though, I’d certainly reduce the hydration, perhaps 10-15%.

      Hope that helps!

      • Heather Khan

        Thank you so much! I realized my sprouted rye has gone rancid, because my new starter smelled terrible day two also 🙁 tried with spouted spelt but not liking the results with the hooch that forms so quickly. I did purchase King Arthur whole white wheat, and I planned to try the type 85 with part einkorn all purpose and part whole white wheat. Do you think I should use regular unbleached all purpose instead of einkorn for more strength? Maybe after I get at least one loaf correct I can try experimenting with other flours too 🙂

        • Yes, I’d say that’s a great approach. Use some AP for a bit until you get the hang of things, then sub in the einkorn once all the other pieces are in place 🙂

          • Heather Khan

            Well for some reason I was never able to get my rye starter going again, even after buying new flour and sanitizing my containers and utensils. Any ideas on that? Anyway, I ended up just buying a starter, which is a San Francisco starter. However, it is very different than what I am used to and I am having to get used to it to be able to tell when it has peaked. It occurred to me today that this starter may not work for this bread! Will a SF starter work in this recipe?

            • Heather Khan

              First attempt = failure 🙁 I didn’t make a slash in it because I was hoping for the taller loaf. I think maybe my seam wasn’t down because it looks like it rose from the seam on one side instead of breaking open across the top. It’s also gummy inside! 🙁 As have all of my loaves been. I used KA whole white wheat and then used more of that and some AP flour for the 85 blend. Made sure my sponge was floating. Dough looked beautiful and handled the way you said. Cooked to internal temp of 205. Even had pan of hot water in the oven for more steam during steaming time. The crumb looks perfect, it’s just gummy :'(

              • Sorry to hear that!! A gummy interior can be due to either over hydration, under proofing, or insufficient bake time. Next time you try this you could try reducing the water just a bit, perhaps 5% of the formula. From there I’d suggest you really try to push that bulk fermentation, you want to see quite a bit of activity in the dough! If the dough ruptures dramatically on top that’s usually a sign it was under proofed and could use more time fermenting (plus it tastes better!). You could also try reducing the bake temperatures and bake a little longer, close to 208ºF or 210ºF to really ensure there’s no unbaked section in the middle.

                I hope this helps next time! As with most things baking, it usually takes a few tries to really dial things in.

  • deepa

    Hi Maurizio, I have tried some of you recipes and they have turned out well – thanks for sharing your recipes. As I am still learning about sourdough, I wanted to learn how to calculate the sourdough starter amount in the Levain, i.e. is there a formula for calculating the percentage of starter that works well in the levain. Example – if the levain amount is 73 gm at 100% hydration ( as in the recipe above). How do we distribute this and what do we consider to decide the starter amount. . Would the following work – 15 gm – starter , 30 gm water , flour – 30 flour . thanks

    • You’re very welcome and I’m glad to hear that!

      Per your example: 15g starter, 30g water and 30g flour you’ll have 50% starter. You get this by 15g starter / 30g flour * 100 = 50%. Everything is related to the total flour amount.

      For more, check out my Beginner’s Sourdough post where I discuss Baker’s Math in more detail.

      Hope that helps!

      • deepa

        Thanks Maurizio for your reply. I think I was not clear in writing my question. If a recipe specifies the quantity of Levain and does not mention how much starter in levain.
        How do we decide how much starter to put into the Levain, when the starter amount is not specified. TIA .

        • Unfortunately there’s no real answer to that question. You can use any amount of mature starter to create a levain, it depends on what you’re after. For example, lately I’ve been making a levain that’s 100% starter, 100% flour and 100% water — this ripens in about 3-4 hours at warm temperatures. Another alternative could be 20% levain, 100% flour, 100% water that will ripen overnight after 12 hours at room temperature.

          The starter amount is variable and up to you. If you’re doing a recipe for the first time just make the levain with any starter amount and use it when it’s ripe and ready to go.

          Hope that helps!

          • dipa

            Thank you once again especially for your patience. Your answer is really helpful in demystifying starter and levain for me.

  • Matthew Harrison

    Good morning, novice bread baker here with some questions on your recipe. I’ve just gotten into sourdough baking starting with the Tartine recipe that’s seemingly everywhere. Similarly to your intro on this page, my wife wanted me to try something in a pan so we could have more uniform slices, so i tried this out. I’ve not had much success unfortunately, but I’m also super new to this and need some questions answered if you don’t mind… First one, is that I’m confused about the process surrounding adding the salt. So I went through and did the slap and fold you suggested after seeing some vids on how to do it, and it seemed to really help my dough firm up and get a skin on it like I expected. But then the recipe has me wait a while and add more water and the salt, cutting it through with my fingers to incorporate it fully. I can understand that adding salt at the start with the flour would inhibit the yeast action, but it seems to me too that adding it later means I’m undoing the strengthening work I did with the slap and fold, afterwards my dough sort of becomes a batter almost that never seems to recover any muscle. For comparisons’s sake, I saw that the King Arthur website’s basic sourdough recipe has the salt go in with the flour at the start, though they’re the only other place I’ve seen that does it that way. So after the folding-in-the-bowl fermentation I tried slap and fold again to rebuild some tension, but then the dough just wanted to come apart, I had to give up and mostly shovel it into my pans. So despite good yeast action (I had lots of bubbles after baking) I got no oven spring and it was still very wet in the center, despite probe temping showing a proper 205 degrees. Where do I get the structure I need to make a dough instead of a batter? Thanks much in advance, and I’m really enjoying your blog! PS: I used a regular whole wheat starter and all King Arthur White Whole Grain in the recipe hoping for more “lightness” from it that previous heavy, squat loaves.

    • Hey! What you’ve experienced with the delayed addition of salt is exactly what I experience: the dough kind of falls apart. However, after you mix a bit more it will come back together in a cohesive mass. It’s a delicate balance, though, as like you said it can break apart more later especially when adding more water.

      With that said, there is no reason you can’t add the salt at the beginning of mixing, things will work out just fine all the same. I prefer to delay the addition because adding salt tends to tighten up the dough, making it harder to mix. However, if you’re not experiencing this go ahead and add it all at the beginning!

      I would suggest you also reduce the water by 5-10% on this recipe and see how the dough reacts next time. It sounds like it might be a bit high for your flour, which is not a problem it’s just something we have to adjust for (this adjustment happens all the time based on the flour, which changes by the bag).

      So, reduce the water a bit next go and go ahead and add the salt in at the beginning when you ad the levain, the dough will turn out just fine. Let me know how it goes and I hope this helps!

      • Matthew Harrison

        Hey there Leo, thanks for the reply, sorry for taking so long myself, I’ve been camping! So I did try again later with adding the salt with the flour right away, and really doing the water by eye and feel. I had a lot more luck, I was able to make a more firm dough that I could handle properly and make proper loaves out of. I had a decent rise and an all right oven spring as well, I was super excited! Here’s where the hard lesson comes in… I tested the internal temp with a probe thermometer and it was right on 205 degrees and all, but the probe was covered in doughy schmutz. From other baking like cakes and such, I knew that most things get tested with a toothpick or knife blade, and you want ’em to come out clean. Well I thought the same held for bread 🙁 So I baked it to death trying to get the center to be not gummy. I realize I probably had great loaves that would have dried out properly if I’d took them out and left them alone for a few hours. Oh well, maybe someone else will read this and learn the lesson easier than I did! I had such luck right up till the end though, that I’m going to try again and I think it’ll work out all right. Thanks much for the help and I’m sure I’ll bother you again in the future!

        • With bread you’ll usually not pass the “toothpick test” as the internal crumb is still setting after/during baking — this is the reason why most recipes say to let the bread rest for some time after finishing baking (although I know it’s hard and fresh, warm bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures!).

          You’re very welcome! Yes, keep me posted on how it’s going 🙂

  • Paul Shrimpton

    Really appreciate this! After spending a couple months trying to form a decent 100% whole grain loaf in the dutch oven, I followed your 100% hydration technique in the bread pans with whole stone-ground red fife. Surprisingly good oven spring — my crumb was more open, and the bread is good but maybe slightly too gummy. I had a dark crust at 190C, so I pulled it out of the oven. I also sliced into the first loaf (did two at the same time) after 2.5 hrs and perhaps could’ve let it rest longer. Next time will try the lower temperature and longer bake as you suggest. (Also, I didn’t do all the stretch and folds during bulk fermentation, as I had to leave the house). Overall, though, a really good result for the first time with a bit of room for improvement. Thank you, Paul

    • That’s great, Paul! I’ve found with the Red Fife I’ve baked with it usually needs a slightly lower hydration than other hard red. You might want to try reducing the hydro as well if you find the interior is still a bit gummy after baking.

      Happy baking!

      • Paul Shrimpton

        I reduced hydration to 95% and let cool right down to room temp before slicing. No gumminess, just a nice, glossy crumb!

  • Jolene

    Love this recipe. Thanks, Maurizio! I used red whole wheat and got a pretty strong-tasting wheaty loaf, so I want to try this out with white whole wheat. I do a lot of heavily whole wheat baking, but like you say, there’s just something about mellow sandwich bread. My 9″x5″ loaf pan is shallow, so I lined it with a tall sheet of parchment to guide the loaf upwards. That probably wasn’t necessary since this bread had a lot(!!) of strength despite the hydration level, but the loaf looked great, so I’m not complaining. Also, I’m lazy, and dumping a loaf in a pan for an overnight proof takes fewer steps than getting out the pizza peel and wrestling a loaf into the Dutch oven…Different pros and cons on the final bread product in both of those cases. Thanks again!

    • Right on, thanks for the update! yes, a loaf of pan bread sure is satisfying, both in making it and eating it 🙂 Glad it worked out well for ya!

  • Darlene

    Just tried this loaf yesterday, and it is delicious toast for breakfast today with some homemade butter! But when I cooked it last night the crust was starting to burn and I couldn’t do the last 15-20 minutes at a lower temperature. It seems cooked through, any ideas what happened? Is it possible I had too much steam? Thanks so much for all the great advice and recipes, I will be trying this one again 😀.

    • Excellent, really glad to hear that. It’s possible my listed temperatures are a bit to high for your oven/environment — you could try reducing the max heat by 15-25°F and see if that helps you bake longer without burning.

      You’re welcome and I hope this helps — happy baking!

  • Helen

    I made this recipe and have received rave reviews which I thank you for Maurizio! One thing I am wondering about is steaming: I don’t have a pizza stone or the set up you suggest yet, so I tried the following: 1 baked them separately. 1st one, I put directly on the oven separation shelf (it’s well insulated to separate the top and bottom ovens) so I thought that may substitute okay. Secondly, I used my big roasting pan upside down over top of the bread, with no steam container for this one. Result: nice rise, open texture. 2nd bread, I also placed on same shelf but this time I added a steaming container of boiling water, then again placed the roasting pan upside over top to trap the steam inside with the bread. Result: less rise, still open texture but a wee bit denser. My next bake I plan to get the home steaming set up going that you have outlined and try again. It is a bit challenging doing this at home!

    • It is challenging, and requires a little more effort, but I find the results totally worth it! Thanks for posing an update and your results, that helps me (and others) when testing things in the future!

  • Helen

    Update: I tried your steaming at home method but with salt blocks that I had on the bbq (still haven’t purchased pizza stones). It all worked like a charm- Thanks so Much Maurizio! I really can see the change in results following your guidance (for bread and steam).

    • Excellent! Salt blocks, interesting and what a great idea. Thanks again for the updates on all of this! Happy baking 🙂

  • Karen Pickering

    Thank you for your website! I’m very much a beginner. I’ve struggled with my starter but have finally arrived at a beautiful starter that smells like it should and rises and falls predictably every day as u describe. But I want to make bread now! I’ve tried the beginner sourdough and this recipe and the results have been tragic. Unfortunately where I live in Cincinnati, they don’t have a hockey team otherwise my bread slices could be used as hockey pucks!! My husband says he can use my loaves to weigh down our pool cover! In this recipe, when I mixed the leavin with autolyse, you talk about “slap and fold” or “stretch and turn” but my dough, at that point, was so wet and sticky that I can’t handle it at all. I tried to put it on a board with flour but in order to handle the dough at all, I ended up adding a tremendous amount of flour just to handle it. I’m so confused! Help! One thing that I did notice is that you say to cover the leavain and I used a towel. There was a “crust” covering my leavin after the allotted time. Is this a problem? What do u cover your leavain container with?

    • You bet, Karen, and welcome! When you make your levain feel free to cover it with a plastic lid if you have one. Sealing it like this will help the crust from preventing.

      Sorry to hear about the horrible bake! It sounds like your flour and/or environment dictate the need for less water in your mix. I’d reduce the hydration of my recipe above by 10% and give it another go. Even after reducing it 10%, hold back some of the water (perhaps 100g) during mixing and add it in only if it feels like the dough can handle it.

      With baking hydration adjustments are almost always needed and we have to be cognizant of that as we’re mixing. It doesn’t mean it has to make things more complicated, it’s just a small adjustment we have to do each time we bake (kind of like adjusting the liquid in a pancake batter!).

      Hope this helps and good luck on the next go — let me know how it goes!

  • Damian Smith

    Hi Maurizio, Im continuing my journey with sourdough through your wonderful recipes and insight. Ive just made the Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread on Sunday last and it has come out exactly in colour & texture as per your instructions ( the flavour is wonderful ) I changed some of the flour listed as its not available here ( Dublin `Ireland) I substituted the Giusto’s for Malted flour & didn’t have the diastatic available though given the colour & moistness not sure it would need it ? . I had as you predicted a lot of work on the very wet dough but I found the slap and fold at the beginning really helped ( though closer to 10 than 6 mins ) .
    Could I ask you if you have ever used Miso in this recipe as I think it would be amazing as it has the texure to complement it. If so could you share how this could be done ? thanks again

    • Hey, Damian! Your modifications sound great. The diastatic malt is totally optional and probably not needed for this recipe since it’s mostly whole wheat anyways.

      I’ve never used miso in this recipe, sounds delicious, though! I’ve actually never worked with miso at all, it sure would be a fun experiment. If you do try it out, please let me know how it goes.

      Happy baking!

  • Mimi Chau

    Hi Maurizio!
    This looks so good! I’ve been craving a homemade regular whole wheat sandwich loaf lately! I have a question about the levain. On Fridays (the only day I can bake sourdough) I have to leave for school at 7 am and will not be able to bake until like 4:45 pm. Do you recommend I just use a smaller amount of starter in my levain in order to have it ready by the time I am available? If so how much?

    • Mimi Chau

      Also, if I do not have T85 flour, what would be a good substitute? Thanks so much for your recipes and help!

      • Yes, use a smaller amount of mature starter to build your levain — this will lengthen the time between when you mix and when it’s ripe and ready to use. The exact time will be variable based on the flour you’re using (more whole grain speeds things up) and the ambient temperature (warmer is faster). Generally I like about 10-12 hours for maturity when using 20% starter in my levain mix (assuming around 76-78°F ambient).

        If you don’t have T85 you could do a mix of white flour and wheat flour: half and half. That should get you close!

        Hope this helps and happy baking!

  • Hi Maurizio, great blog! I tried your similar recipe on King Arthur Flour, but I used red whole wheat instead of white. My loaves turned out beautiful. My only comment was that they were a little more sour than I like, but they were still good. I have since gotten some white whole wheat and I’m going to try again. On this post, you leave the loaves in the refrigerator for 11-12 hours, and on the KAF one you leave them in the fridge for 14-18 hours. Does the longer proof result in a more sour loaf? Or is it just the red whole wheat that I used? Like a previous commenter, I would love to have a recipe for a white sourdough sandwich loaf. I thought my kids may enjoy a completely white loaf while I work them up to eating the better grains. I have been trying to come up with my own recipe, which probably proves that it’s not too hard to bake bread. But my loaves have huge air bubbles, which means that my sandwiches are messy. My husband is a hobbyist beekeeper, so I think it’s fun to incorporate a tablespoon of honey into my loaf. Otherwise, I’m sticking to as few ingredients as possible–bread flour, white whole wheat, rye, water, salt, and starter (100% hydration).

    • Thanks, Steph! Glad to hear the bake went well, despite the small additional sourness. Yes, generally (and assuming a few other things) longer time in the fridge at cold temps when proofing will mean a more sour loaf. Try the reduced proof time and see if that helps. Additionally, you could try making the levain out of all white flour instead of using whole wheat (or as I say here, Type 85). This should help reduce acidity further.

      I do have plans to make an all-white sandwich loaf, stay tuned! A touch of honey is, well, a nice touch, as well 🙂

      Happy baking!

  • Keith Schoeler

    Hi Maurizio! I absolutely love this bread. I have a bit of an opposite question to what Steph T just asked. I love the sourness of this loaf and have found myself wondering why it is so noticeably and repeatedly more sour than the others I bake. I would love to oomph up the sourness of my other loaves. I most commonly use your “My Best Sourdough” recipe as my base and tweak from there. Per loaf, that recipe would be about 8.5% levain opposed to the 13% levain here. Do you think that is the main difference? I’m retarding them roughly the same amount of time, the pan loaf usually slightly shorter. The flour type percentages are always similar. The only other significant difference between the recipes is the hydration. Wondering how much hydration may play a factor or if I should just experiment with a higher levain percentage. Thanks as always for your resources!!

    • Pleased to hear that, Keith! I’ve actually been experimenting more with pan loaves and should have some more recipes with pans coming soon — they’re so fun and delicious.

      Yes, a higher pre-fermented flour (the levain) percentage could lead to a more sour loaf. Additionally, you could try using some rye flour in your levain and also the final dough mix. Rye helps increase acetic acid production for a more sour flavor. I wouldn’t go overboard on the rye, though, as the more you include the more dense your loaf will be. It’s up to you on the percentage, but even 5% plays a big role.

      Finally, if you can try to push the cold proof in the fridge. There’s a limit of course, but if you could go even a few more hours you should notice more sourness.

      Those are a few ideas to try the next go and see if you get a more sour result. Hope that helps and thanks for the kind words!

      • FredSBassett

        I’m excited for more pan loaf recipes. I’ve tried once to use your Best Sourdough recipe (but with only white flour) in a pan, but it looks like I need a larger loaf. I’m not sure I can go to that high of a hydration with my flour, since it already feels soupy at 87%, but I look forward to seeing your white flour pan recipe.