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Easy Whole Grain Red Wheat Sourdough

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Time to craft your own easy whole-grain red wheat sourdough bread from scratch! This beautiful loaf is wonderfully rustic in color and flavor while having a delightfully fluffy texture and nutty taste. This is everything you’re looking for in a whole wheat bread!

Easy Whole Grain Red Wheat Sourdough on marble cutting board.

There’s something incredibly satisfying about baking your own wholesome, whole-grain sourdough bread.

The entire process of sourdough amazes me. I think about how incredible our natural world is and am just amazed at how the diversity of organisms work together for our good, even the organisms we can’t see (like the bacteria used to leaven sourdough!)

Anyway, I’ve always been into baking for health. My bread may not win any awards for its aesthetics, but it is fluffy, delicious, and full of wonderful nutrition.

Check out the infographic below about some of the many wonderful benefits of whole grain sourdough! Some of these things are just not possible in the more popular sourdough recipes using refined white flour.

Sourdough is a pretty magical food, isn’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to share my sourdough recipe using 100% hard red wheat. It’s pretty similar to my other 100% whole wheat sourdough recipe, but it gives a much nuttier, rustic flavor.

Recipe Ingredients

For this easy whole grain red wheat sourdough recipe, you simply need:

  • Whole Grain Red Wheat Flour
  • Filtered Water
  • Sourdough Starter
  • Salt
These are bowls of ingredients for the whole wheat red wheat sourdough recipe. Hard red wheat flour, water, salt, and starter.

Sourdough Instructions:

Mixing ingredients for sourdough in a large glass bowl.

1. Mix Dough

Using a food scale, weigh out 500 grams of red wheat flour. Add 100 grams of healthy sourdough starter (bubbly or unfed starter both work, as long as it’s well-maintained & healthy), 425 grams of water, and 12 grams of salt. Stir all the ingredients together thoroughly. Mix well, using hands if necessary, to form a shaggy dough. All you’re aiming for right now is that it’s mixed well and there are no dry bits of flour. It doesn’t need to be smooth or a ball.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Stretching & folding the red wheat sourdough.

2. Stretches & Folds

After your 30-minute rest, begin the stretches & folds. You will do a total of 4 sets.

Grab the dough from the edge and pull up as high as the dough allows without ripping, then fold the dough down to the middle. Repeat, working your way around the whole bowl, until the dough is tight and no longer wants to stretch. Let the dough rest 30 minutes, then do another set of stretches & folds. Repeat this cycle until you have completed four total sets of stretches and folds.

You may do as many as 8-12 stretches in the first set, and as few as 4-5 in the last set as the gluten develops and tightens more quickly.

This is a glass bowl showing the dough fermenting.

3. Bulk Fermentation

Transfer your dough to a clear, straight-sided container. Wet the back of your hand and press down on the dough to flatten it so you can mark the starting point for the rise on the side of the container. Mark that starting point, then measure the volume of your dough. If your container has measurement marks, use those. If not, just use a ruler. Take the temperature of your dough with a thermometer. For a dough temp close to 75 degrees, aim for a 50% rise and mark the goal line for your rise to help you track. For a 70-degree dough, aim for a 50% rise. Adjust your target rise accordingly for other dough temps (see this post for more info).

This is sourdough resting during the preshape on a dark counter.

4. Pre-Shape

Once the dough rises to your target, pour the dough out on a clean work surface and pre-shape. This is where you lightly form it in a ball to help build structure–I do this with an easy set of stretches & folds to form a ball, and then roll the ball over so the smooth side is on top and I do a couple tucks to pull it tight. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.

These are hands shaping the red wheat sourdough into a batard.

5. Shape

Turn your dough ball back over so the smooth part is down on the counter. Press the dough into a rectangle with your hands. Shape it into a boule or batard, however you prefer. You can watch my video to see how I shape mine.

This is the sourdough batard in a proofing basket.

6. Proof

Cover and place in the fridge for 8 hours (up to 48 hours).

This is a person scoring the sourdough batard with a lame.

7. Prep for Baking

After the cold proof, pre-heat a lidded baking vessel (such as a 3-quart dutch oven or other baking pan) to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the oven is pre-heated, remove the dough from the fridge. Turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or a dough sling and score it down the middle.

This is the sourdough loaf pan in the oven.

8. Bake

Carefully remove the preheated pan from the oven. Transfer your scored loaf to the baker. Spray it 10 times with a spray bottle of water. Quickly place the lid on the baker and then put back in the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid. Lower the oven temperature to 425°F and bake for another 13-15 minutes until the interior temperature of the dough reads at least 205°F.

Allow to cool until the bread reaches room temperature before slicing (if you can…I know it’s hard! Nothing’s better than warm bread fresh from the oven. But allowing it to fully cool gives the best crumb).

I mean… just look at this bread. It’s so soft, so airy… not at all the heavy and dense like the bricks I used to end up with!

It all comes down to having enough liquid in the recipe, putting the work in to develop good gluten structure (the stretches & folds) without overdoing it–it’s finding the sweet spot with fermentation. And then using a covered baker, especially a smaller, cozy one that can “hug” the loaf a bit as you see in my pictures above, helps it keep good structure in the oven while it’s baking.

100% Whole Red Wheat Sourdough cut open to show crumb structure.
Easy Whole Grain Red Wheat Sourdough sliced and layered on a cutting board.

Tips & Variations

  • Feel free to try different combinations of whole grain flours or other types of red wheat, such as rouge de bordeaux and yecora rojo. While this is written for red wheat, you can substitute some of the red wheat for other whole grain flours if you wish. Results may vary.

More about Whole Grain Sourdough

Baking sourdough with whole grain flours, especially if you freshly mill your own wheat berries, can be a learning curve.

I have written a free eBook about the whole process of whole grain sourdough where I am able to get much more in-depth than I can in a single recipe post.

To get this free eBook, sign up for my weekly email newsletter and it will be emailed to you immediately!

Other Whole Wheat Sourdough Recipes

Here are some other delicious whole grain sourdough recipes:

This is a cooling rack of whole grain sourdough bagels with various toppings next to cream cheese bowl with a knife.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bagels – Discard or Active Starter

cranberry sourdough bread sliced in half

Cranberry Sourdough Bread

100% whole wheat sourdough slices on cutting board

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread – Fluffy & Soft!

close up of sourdough starter in glass jar

Can I Use Sourdough Starter Straight from the Fridge?

Whole Wheat Sourdough Nutrition Stats

The following stats are an estimate based on my macro-calculator of choice (MacroFactor). Your results may vary.

For 1/12 of the loaf, the nutrition stats are as follows:

This is a chart displaying the nutrtion stats of the the whole wheat sourdough. The stats are also written in the paragraph below the photo.
  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 33 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams

Fresh Sourdough Storage

This bread is best eaten within a few days for optimal freshness. However, keep it in an airtight container and it can last up to a week!

You may also wish to freeze half the loaf if you don’t think you can eat it quick enough. This bread thaws well.

Helpful Equipment

Here are some of my favorite items for making great loaves of sourdough bread.

  • Food Scale – I love this one specifically because the panel pulls out which makes it easier to use with big bowls.
  • Bench Scraper – A simple bench scraper is cheap and helps so much with shaping!
  • Bannetons
  • Lame (Scoring Tool) –
  • Full Kit – Better yet, you can get a full kit for a very reasonable price!

Don’t Have a Starter?

If you want to make your own whole grain bread but don’t have a sourdough starter, check out my fresh milled whole wheat bread recipe.

Slices of whole grain sourdough made with hard red wheat on a cutting board.
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Easy Whole Grain Red Wheat Sourdough

This delicious & nutritious loaf of red wheat sourdough gives all the great nutrition that whole grains can give while tasting absolutely delicious!
Prep Time8 hours
Cook Time45 minutes
Fermentation & Proofing16 hours
Total Time1 day 45 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 100% whole wheat sourdough bread, bread, fresh milled flour recipes, red wheat sourdough, sourdough, whole grain
Servings: 12
Calories: 149kcal
Author: Holly Lee
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Clear, straight-sided Container for bulk ferment–optional, highly recommended
  • Bench Scraper for shaping–optional, but helpful
  • Banneton
  • Dough Lame or sharp knife for scoring
  • Lidded Baking Pan Such as 3-qt dutch oven
  • Spray Bottle filled with water

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Whole Wheat Flour Hard Red Wheat
  • 425 grams Water
  • 100 grams Sourdough Starter Active or unfed okay
  • 12 grams Salt

Instructions

  • Using a food scale, measure out 500 grams of flour, 100 grams of sourdough starter, 425 grams of water, and 12 grams of salt into a mixing bowl. Stir together thoroughly until it makes a shaggy dough. Let rest 30 minutes.
  • Perform stretches & folds. Grab the edge of the dough and pull up until you get resistance, but be careful not to rip it. Fold the dough back down to the other side of the bowl. Work your way around the whole ball of dough, doing 8-12 stretches and folds. Let dough rest 30 minutes in between, and repeat this 3 more times for a total of four sets of stretches and folds with 30-min rest in between.
  • Right after the fourth set, transfer your dough to a clear, straight-sided container to monitor the bulk ferment. Wet the back of your hand to press down & flatten the top of a dough. Make a mark on the outside of your container to mark the dough's starting point. Assuming a dough temperature of 75 degrees F, aim for a 50% rise. Do a 75% rise if your dough is 70 degrees. Adjust rise up or down accordingly for a warmer or cooler dough.
  • When your dough reaches its rise target, pour dough out onto the counter and complete a pre-shape with light stretches & folds to make the dough into a ball. Using a bench scraper, turn the ball over so the smooth side is facing up. Let dough rest 20 minutes.
  • Use your bench scraper to turn the dough ball back over, smooth side down. Flatten the dough gently into a rectangle with your hands and shape your loaf into a batard or boule. Using your bench scraper if needed, pick your shaped dough up and place it into the banneton, smooth side down. Pinch the seam together tightly to create more surface tension.
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours (or up to 2 days).
  • When ready to bake, put a baking vessel, such as a dutch oven with a lid into the cold oven and pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. When the oven is ready, pull your dough out of the fridge. Turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or dough sling. Using a lame or sharp knife, score the dough down the middle. Pull the baking pan or dutch oven out of the oven. Remove the lid and carefully place your dough inside. Spray the top of your loaf 10 times with a water bottle, then quickly replace the lid.
  • Put the bread in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid after 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes until the interior temperature of your loaf is at least 205 degrees F.
  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 6 hours to prevent a gummy crumb when slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

Unfed starter works for this recipe as long as your starter is generally well-maintained. But if you have better results feeding your starter before use, you can continue to do that.

Nutrition

Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 151mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 2mg

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