Baking A More Traditional Sourdough Bread

No knead bread baking is here to stay, but try this and tell me if you think it’s just better bread. The longer, slower proofing times really help bring out maximum flavor in the grains.

Ever since reading an article in the January 1995 issue of Smithsonian magazine touting Poilâne bread of Paris as “the world’s most-celebrated loaves”, I’ve wanted to experience for myself what all the fascination is about.

This is a bread that historian Steven Kaplan, in his book “Good Bread is Back”, describes as simple, delicious and famous: “Fleshy, tender, with a taste that lingers in the mouth, bursting with odors of spices and hazelnut.” A Poilâne style miche (round loaf) also graces the cover of Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”. Reinhart spent time honing his craft in Paris and seems to have some inside knowledge on how it’s made.

Finally, for my birthday party in March (I called it my “bread-day party”), I joined the likes of Robert De Niro, Lauren Bacal, Steven Spielberg and the tens of thousands of mere mortals who are regular Poilâne customers and ordered one for myself and my guests to enjoy. I figured $48 for a loaf of bread was a bargain compared with a trip to Paris. Besides, these are monstrous loaves, weighing in at over four pounds. ( I can rationalize what I want with the best of ’em. )

The bread was certainly excellent, although amongst my friends it received mixed reviews. Even though the late Lionel Poilâne felt the bread reached its peak of flavor three days after baking, I think it would have been better the same day. In any case, this got me started on trying to duplicate the recipe. A few attempts at Reinhart’s version resulted in a fine whole wheat bread, but I wasn’t able to come close to duplicating the Poilâne experience. I even sifted out some of the bran as suggested and used Normandy gray sea salt. “What?” you say, “Normandy sea salt isn’t the magic ingredient that will transform my ordinary bread into something world class?”

Now, I realize it’s pure hubris on my part to even think about duplicating Poilâne bread at home or anywhere else for that matter. I should at least have a wood fire brick oven to bake in. But I did ultimately meet a fellow amateur baker who spent 20 years in Paris and felt he had come extremely close to nailing the recipe. I agree.

I’ve posted his recipe, instructions and accompanying video here. Whether or not it approaches the supreme heights of Poilâne bread itself, I thought the results were fantastic. Certainly the best (mostly) whole grain bread I’ve baked and on par with some of the best whole grain bread I’ve had anywhere. I can hardly wait to get that wood fired oven built!

Start the recipe in the evening…

Artisan Whole Grain Sourdough
Artisan Whole Grain Sourdough

A traditional whole grain sourdough bread recipe that yields certainly the best (mostly) whole grain bread I’ve baked and on par with some of the best whole grain bread I’ve had anywhere.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 42 hours

Yield: 1 Loaf


    Evening of Day 1:
  • 200 grams (7 oz. or 7/8 cup) water
  • 120g (4 oz. or 1/2 cup) sourdough starter
  • 236 grams (8 1/3 oz or 2 cups) whole wheat flour
  • Morning of Day 2:
  • 274 grams (9 2/3 oz. or ~1 1/4 cup) water
  • 85 grams (3 oz. or 7/8 cup) rye flour
  • 250 grams (8 3/4 oz or 2 cups) white bread flour
  • 170 grams (6 oz. or a tad over 1 3/4 cups) spelt flour
  • 13 grams (scant tbs.) salt


Evening of Day 1:

Mix all ingredients together

Ferment (let sit out at room temperature covered loosely with plastic) at 69F for 12 hours.

Morning of Day 2:

Add day 2 to day 1 ingredients

Knead, place in plastic covered bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Morning of Day 3:

Form a boule (round loaf) and ferment (let sit out on counter) 5 hours at 69F.

Bake at 485F for 40-45 minutes.


The recipe was created using grams for measurement. For those without a kitchen scale I have translated to ounces and cups. Some of the measurements don’t translate all that nicely, but what I have here is close enough.


Thanks to Franz Conrads for calculating the dough hydration levels in baker’s percentages terms for this recipe.

Don’t sweat the 69° proofing temperatures too much. If you come close, great, but I go with whatever my house temperature is at the time. If it’s summer and your house is very warm, do try and find the coolest spot you can. Temperature does impact results but unless you are running a bakery, you may enjoy the varying outcomes.

The original recipe calls for 20 grams of salt. Too much in my unqualified opinion. 13 works just fine. Feel free to experiment.

Regarding baking time and temperature, all ovens vary somewhat and you might have to make some adjustments here. After the first couple of times with this recipe, I found the bread baked just right in my La Cloche at 485 F for the first 30 minutes, then 10 more minutes at 450 with the lid off.

If you treasure “big holes” in the crumb, experiment with increasing the hydration. You’ll get a flatter loaf, but more open crumb.

Jan. 4, 2010 Update: Breadtopia reader, Wil, contributed this great recipe variation with herbs.

Apr. 26, 2011 Update: See Joe Doniach’s variation of this recipe with photos that tell a story by themselves.

Here are some photos of the actual Poilâne loaf from my bread-day party…





Here’s a particularly gorgeous example of this bread by Jacquie of Aptos, California.

Jacquie's whole grain sourdough

Traditional Whole Grain Sourdough

Comments from our Forum

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  1. sfox7076 says:

    I have been making this bread for about 6 years now. It is our weekly bread. I am always pleased with the result. However, the dough is always much wetter than in the video and I also almost never get big holes in my finished product.

    The starter is really strong. The starter is based on locally ground all purpose flour. The whole wheat (which is a bread flour), rye and spelt is all local as well (from Farmer Ground in NY). For bread flour, I use King Arthur's Sir Lancelot as I have not found decent white bread flour that is local (the whole wheat bread flour makes the bread way too dense).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  2. ROCELLE says:

    Hi Eric,
    The recipe calls For leaving The The dough In the fridge for 24hrs. Can I leave it out for 12hrs and then form the boule and let it rise 1/2 time which is 2.5hrs?

  3. Eric says:

    Sure. You can certainly succeed with some combination of long and short proofing periods. I'm only guessing here since I wouldn't know for sure without trying, but I think that if you forgo the fridge step and proof at room temp for 12 hours, that the second rise after shaping the boule wouldn't need to be as long as 2.5 hours. It could be considerably less. You'd want to keep your eye on it and be ready to bake sooner if it looks like the dough is ready.

  4. Schniewind says:

    I just tried this whole grain sourdough recipe for the first time. I am generally happy with the result though mine turned out a tad gummy in the center. So my question goes back to the ingredients. I had a choice at the store of whole spelt flour or light spelt. It doesn't specifiy here. I went with whole.

    Next was a choice between dark rye flour (Bob's Redmill) or Light Rye flour (also Bob's). I chose the dark rye. Now I got very little rise in the 24 hour refridgerator period. I thought it would be a disaster so I'm very happy with merely a little gummy but very hearty and tasty. Was it the use of the dark rye and whole spelt that inhibited the fermentation? Or was my starter just not that vigorous?


  5. Eric says:

    I don't think the whole flour would inhibit the fermentation exactly, but it will contribute to a denser loaf. A weak starter wouldn't help, but it is possible the bread just needed to bake longer? Are you checking the internal temp of the loaf before taking it out of the oven?

  6. Eric says:

    Glad to hear the progress. Just plain ol' experience goes a long way too.

  7. Eric says:

    Hi Tina,

    That's a gorgeous loaf. Your results sure speak for your success.

  8. 65fussie says:

    If this is a no-knead sourdough bread, why is it kneaded for 10 minutes?

  9. bonny says:

    Hi Eric,

    First time user and first time baker - this is the very first bread I ever baked from sourdough culture - and the culture is also my first attempt. The resulting bread has awesome flavour but I have some ways to go to get to some of the finer looking samples on this site.

    First, my result of which I'm very proud:


    Now to the questions:

    1. The bread is very dense - almost what was described before as gummy, but not quite. Looks like a little
      more time in the oven could have sorted it out. However, the temperature in the oven was 250c or there about
      and when I checked the temperature inside the loaf, it was just over 99c (210f) so it should be fully baked, right?
      Also, the colour on the crust is a tad darker than I wanted it to (I think although I have no reference point for
      the type of flour I used).
      So - would reducing the temp in the oven a tad help here?

    2. The bread is not as tall (as it has not risen) as many of the finer samples here. This is probably due to the
      fact that I could not get as much rise out of the mixtures in any of the stages (unlike the video).
      Any idea what I can do to improve the activity level of the starter? Once out of the fridge for a couple
      of hours I can see lots of bubbles but I can not see the phenomenal growth that others can show.

    As this is the first time I'm doing this, there are lots of things that I am not aware of, I'm sure, but I'd like some
    pointers so I can check on my next attempt :slight_smile:

    Thanks for a wonderful site and hopefully a long term hobby for me :slight_smile:



  10. Eric says:

    Not your imagination. Some breads, especially whole grain, morph for the better within a day or two or even 3 of baking.

Earlier Comments

558 thoughts on “Traditional Whole Grain Sourdough

  1. Betty

    I’m following the recipe exactly, the bread turns out fine, but I’m finding it still a bit ‘doughie’, what should I be doing different. I’ve tried cutting back the water and I’ve tried baking it a bit longer, to no avail. It is still ‘dense’, I would like it more ‘airy’.

    • Jackie

      You know, I’m wondering if the opposite tack might be better–making the dough softer and wetter rather than harder and dryer.

  2. Irene Bensinger

    What is the ideal finished temperature of this whole grain sourdough baked in La Cloche? Thanks.

  3. Stevem

    Try putting a pan of water underneath ur breab pan to deflect the direct heat from the bottom burners

  4. Mary Sue Sylwestrzak

    I’ve recently gotten back into sourdough and am noticing that the bottoms of some of my loaves are very dark, nearly burned. I am using the La Cloche baker (both rectangular and round) and usually start with the loaf covered at 485-500 for 30 minutes, then drop down to 450 or slightly less. I take it out when the internal temp is 205-210. Any ideas? I have a fairly new electric oven that I’ve put a thermometer in to make sure the temp is right. Thanks!

    • Annie

      Mine never to that and the one difference I see is that I only heat the oven with the baker up to 510 and then turn the oven down to 450 the instant I put the bread in. By turning the oven to 510 it doesn’t cool down so much while I’m fiddling with the scoring. But definitely I would try to turn your oven down right away and only bake at 450. My bread gets up to 200 (internal temp) in about 38 minutes. I never take the lid off during the cooking as I really like the golden crispy crust the way it is.

      • Annie

        Here’s the bottom

        • Annie

          Sorry about getting 2 copies of the bottom shot. when I
          “replied” I didn’t notice that the file name was still in the “choose file” field. Don’t know why it should have been there.. does anyone know how to delete a post?

    • Laurie Montour

      I have a well-insulated, and therefore hot oven, so I automatically bring down my temps by 25 degrees. I also remembered a cookie sheet in the deck ovens at cooking school. Since I use my cookie sheets lots but not my shallow muffin pans much, I have the latter on the bottom shelf of my oven. The metal absorbs some of that high heat and redistributes it. Since I’ve been doing this, no more blacked bottoms.

  5. Kairn Pieper

    Amazing .First try ! Followed your starter recipe .Then whole grain sourdough.
    Here’s the result.Im hooked .Thank You fabulous videos

  6. I have recently started making my own bread. I love this site. I wanted to make croissants and found the video priceless. thank you. I’m looking at this recipe and I’m wondering if anyone has used the whole wheat for the whole recipe. I cannot use white flour. My body does not agree with it (no matter what kind). Can I use it instead of the bread flour? If I add gluten will it make up for the lack of bread flour? Any suggestions?

    • Rich

      Hi Colleen, welcome!

      I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV. I’m also relatively new to making my own bread, so take what I say with a grain of salt (pun anyone? 🙂 ).

      I heard of people with wheat allergies using Spelt flour instead, and many having success with that. I just bought some white Spelt that I was going to use to substitute for the whole grain Spelt in this recipe. I never thought about substituting the white wheat flour with white Spelt. I may try this soon.

      I’m not sure as to how well it substitutes in this recipe. I have seen comments where people use Spelt wherever it calls for regular wheat flour.

      Eric would probably know more about this.

  7. Anyone have any experience or recipes using malted whole grain flour? I appreciate any info. Thanks

    • Dave

      My only experience with malted wheat is using it as a sweetener in bread recipes. I learned this from the Tassajara (bakery in San Francisco) method – see the Tassajara Bread Book. They use a sponge method, very effective for 100% whole wheat bread.
      I don’t know about using it as a flour.

  8. Anyone,
    I have produced bread from a few recipes on this sight and all have looked and tasted great. I’m in the process of making the whole grain sourdough. Everything went exactly like the video until I finished the 24 hrs in the fridge. The dough did not rise at all. I was a little curious about the proofing in the fridge as I thought dough/starter was kept in the fridge to keep it inactive. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions. Thanks in advance.

    • Rich

      I’m not at all knowledgeable about what may have happened as to why your bread didn’t rise in the refrigerator, but I can share two similar occurrences for me:

      1) I once tried to replace all the white flour with only whole grain, and that dough did not rise at all;

      2) it took a few weeks until my starter became powerful enough to rise really well in the fridge;

      3) I’ll add a third point: after I started mixing with a kitchenaid and doughhook, I seemed to notice my dough rose a lot more in the fridge as well as out of the fridge;

      I’m not sure this helps you any, but it may give you some ideas for improvement.

      Good luck.

    • I was going to say the same thing as Rich’s point #2, plus even a couple degrees difference in fridge temps can make a bit difference. You could play with that a little.

      • Jackie

        Why is it important to do that long proofing in the fridge rather than on the countertop? I don’t really understand that part.

        I left mine in the fridge for about 18 hours…it didn’t change. So, dreading having to start over, I put it on the countertop and 6 hours later it totally fills the bowl. Maybe that would have happened in the fridge anyhow but I kind of doubt it. I’m about to go do its last stage so hopefully all will end well. 🙂

        • Jackie

          It came out really dense. Not gluey or anything; just no big irregular holes or stretchy dough. Kind of reminded me of Irish brown bread.

        • Steve

          Jackie, I have exactly the same question. What does a 24-hour fridge rise get you? I’m currently 12 hours into my fridge “rise” and I don’t see much happening — and my starter is pretty potent based on the last few loaves of sourdough I’ve baked.

          • Rich

            Steve: I can tell you that at 12 hours into the delayed fermentation (in the fridge), I don’t normally see much either. I’ve noticed that things don’t really get all that interesting until about 18 hours or so into the delayed fermentation. That’s not to say you’ll necessarily see the same thing, and I would imagine there’s a wide range of variation.

            My first 5 or so loaves, over a period of about 6 weeks, were rather dense as well. After that, my loaves rose higher, and the bread improved greatly in both, crumb and flavor.

            I can also tell you that after several months now, my loaves are still improving. I’ve been experimenting with how much starter I maintain, and after reducing the total amount to less than 2 cups, I noticed a huge improvement in flavor and rise. I assumed that too much starter (I only refreshed about 1/2 cup per week, out of a total of about 6 cups, instead of the recommended 1/2 total amount) may have resulted in too sour and less well maintained starter. I’m not sure there’s a correlation, but I did notice a great improvement in quality.

            Another thing I have recently begun doing is increasing the rise time on the fridge (to a total if 36 hours), and I feel the rise is higher after the 5 hour proofing as a result.

            I guess my point is: don’t give up on this fantastic bread. Use the recipe as a departure point, and experiment with the recipe, isolating one desired effect at a time, until you get that perfect loaf!

            • Jackie

              Thank you! I will experiment further! I will definitely try a longer time in the fridge too, although my house practically qualifies as fridge. I do think that next time I will also add a little more water. My loaf wasn’t very pliable.

          • Jackie

            It occurs to me that 12-24 hours “soak” time is recommended by most people these days. Maybe 24 in the fridge gives you soak time but not overworked sourdough?

  9. Rich

    I can’t tell you what it means to me to have found this site. I’ve spent decades (yes, DECADES) searching for a decent sourdough rye in this country, and never found one. Occasionally, I’d see a loaf of artisan bread here or there, try it, and think, “Close, but not exactly”. I tried baking my own, but whatever I’d do, it just didn’t come out right.

    Finally, after many years, and after finding your site a few months ago, I decided to give it another go. I ordered your starter, and strengthened it for several weeks. This was the first recipe I tried. It looked most like the bread I grew up with in Europe.

    Wow! You absolutely nailed it! The first loaf I baked, I let it cool, sliced off an end, and spread some room-temperature KerryGold on it. Perfect! Absolutely amazing! I was in heaven!

    I have since baked loaves for friends and family (many won’t believe they came out of my kitchen: they think I bought them somewhere! If only I could…).

    I quite unintentionally baked a variation on this recipe: I use the whole spelt flour (which is all our grocery store carries for spelt flour). I would imagine it might rise a little higher if I used the white spelt flour. On the other hand, I quite enjoy the somewhat darker, more robust variant. It tastes very much like the bread of my childhood.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Jon

    My dough didn’t rise as much in the fridge or in the proofing basket like the video showed. You would think it was my starter, but it was healthy and doubling after feedings. What’s the problem? I fear that my bread will be too dense.

  11. Christine

    I baked the bread yesterday and it pretty much was a brick. One question I have is this: I’d like to try this again and instead of using, as the recipe asks for, roughly 1/3 white, 1/3 rye/spelt, and 1/3 whole wheat, use 2/3 white and 1/3 whole wheat. Any suggestions on how to adjust other things, mainly amount of water? Wouldn’t I need less of it?

  12. Nicholas Stoller

    Thank you for this website and this excellent recipe. I’ve wanted to try Le pain poilane since I read about it in the New Yorker but am not willing to fork over $45 to have it shipped transatlantically. I was then inspired by an Adam Gopnik article about baking bread with his mom including a poilane. I worked my way up from the no knead recipes on your site to this one and it really came out beautifully. Thank you for your help. I’m now having insanely fresh bread every day.

  13. Christine

    What kind of rye flour do you use? Many recipes I’ve come across ask for medium rye flour, but I’ve found that’s almost impossible to come by. Everyone seems to be selling dark rye flour. I have dark rye at home; somewhere someone said they sifted their dark to “get” medium–would that be ok?

  14. Gina

    Hi, in French, “la” means “the”, so if you say “the la cloche”, it’s like saying “the the table”.

    The object is not a “la cloche”, it’s just “a cloche”, so you can just say, for instance, “drop the ball into the cloche”.

    This doesn’t detract from the recipe, for which I thank you very much. Back in 1976, my friend and I visited the Poilâne bakery in Paris. They offered us a private tour which included the wood-fired oven in the basement.

    • Annie

      Just two cents here: You are right Gina about the proper French usage. However, I believe that “La Cloche”, written with capital letters, is a name brand and that was what Eric was referring to. So in that case the double “la” is appropriate. Maybe he could have just said “clay baker”. But I knew what he meant.

      Isn’t there a car called “Le Car”? As in I let my son drive the Le Car?

  15. Steve

    I cant seem to find the temperature of the fridge for the overnight fermentation.

  16. Eva

    Ok, had a chance to watch the video which answered all my questions. However- what a cool bread knife- where can we get one like that??

  17. Eva

    I just have 2 quick questions. I am new to using the la cloche. Did you put the bread in cold oven or use a pre-heated la cloche and oven?
    @- how long did you knead the bread? I can’t wait to try this recipie! Thank you!

  18. Adriana C

    I wish to try the above recipe as soon as possible .I have an active white wheat sourdough 70% hydration.Please let me know what % hydration you had for 120 g shourdough used for biga recipe .

    Thank you for a prompt reply ,
    Adriana C

    • Gorgeous bread, Linda. Love your vintage cutting board too.

      • Thanks. I’ve brought this bread to several dinner parties and it’s been a huge hit. Love your website. Can’t wait to bake some more bread soon.

        I lugged the cutting board home in my suitcase on a recent trip to France 🙂 Great find to say the least.

  19. Angela Li

    I made whole grain sourdough bread today. It came out great. We love its taste, crust and texture. It is really a wonderful whole grain bread.

    I can not believe I had 100% success rate by trying three recipes from the breadtopia website (no knead sourdough, rye sourdough and whole grain sourdough). Thousands of thanks. 🙂

    There is one thing I do not understand. The no knead sourdough and rye have strong sour taste, but the whole grain one only has a hint of sourness ( I used same starter, which I got from breadtopia, it is very active. I followed all recipes word for word). I am totally new to bread baking. Can anyone explain why the whole grain one is not as sour as the other two even though it fermented for a much longer time. Any advice on how to make it more sour would be much appreciated.

    • Angela Li


      • Wow. I missed this post earlier. Such beautiful bread, Angela. Great photos too.

  20. Bonnie

    My dough was very wet, perhaps because my starter is not stiff enough? Bread spread out as it rose for those last post-frig 5 hours so, like some other posters mentioned, it was more a flat bread. Is it a sticky dough, like a no-knead, or should it easily clear the sides of mixing bowl? And how long should I knead it? Is it possible to over-knead this bread?

    I could not find spelt flour so substituted white wheat; could that be the problem?
    Thanks so much. I love the ingredients so I know I will like this bread once I figure it out.

  21. George

    Thank you so much for this marvelous recipe. I would like to ask you if you could provide the quantities of the ingredients as a percentage to the whole quantity of wheat you used. The main reason I am asking is that I would like to make two or three loafs of bread 🙂

    • Michelle

      This recipe actually makes two “standard” loaves of bread. I find that doing a single loaf actually is TOO big (for two people). I have since played around with the recipe: I use the 2 cups of whole wheat flour for the sponge. For the rest of the recipe, I use 1 cup bread flour, the rest is unbleached white. Then I add 1 T. olive oil, 1/2 T. of raw sugar, almost 1/4 cup ground flaxseed. Then I make breadsticks, pizza dough or bread. I love whole grains, but too much (for me) is overpowering.

      • George

        Thank you Michelle for your response 🙂 I was curious about percentages because I think that in this way it is easier to use the recipe with larger quantities. For example the recipe as a whole uses 741 gr wheat. This quantity counts as 100%. We can estimate the quantities of all the other ingredients having the wheat quantity as a reference. For example the overall water is 474 gr which means 474/741 = 63,9% = 0,639. Τhe 120 g sourdough starter is 120/741 = 16,1% = 0,161. Now, you can transform your recipe to larger quantities easily. For example, if you want to use 2000 g wheat for the whole process you have to use 0,639X2000 g = 1278 g water or 0,161X2000 g = 322 g sourdough starter etc. You can do such estimations for every ingredient at any stage of the recipe. So, I would like to know if someone (or the author) have used such way of measurements. Of course experimentation is one path I will certainly follow it 🙂

        • Nicky B

          Hi George, the percentages you describe are known as ‘bakers percentages’, and are used, as you discovered intuitively, to scale up or scale down a recipe (Wikipedia gives details). The only thing you failed to consider is the flour and water in the starter: for example if the starter is 50% water, 50% flour by weight, the recipe are uses 120g starter , then the extra 60g flour is added to the flour total, and the 60g water is added to the liquids total. This is done to workout the percentage hydration of the dough, and as others have noted, wetter dough produces better bread. There is a trade off as wetter dough gets hard to handle. A further consideration is kneading dough on a floured board incorporates more flour and dries the dough. For this reason I perfer to knead dough in a large glass bowl, without adding any extra flour.

          • George

            Nicky, thank you for your answer. I did omit starter’s contribution to the overall flour and water. I thought that I could use starter as an ingredient and not as a mixture of flour and water. You are right and I will alter my estimations :-).
            I have made bread with this recipe 5 times now and I started to experiment with quantities and time from the second one. Usually I knead on a floured board and if I experience dried dough I add some water. I don’t know if it is better or not to add water at the end of kneading but it is certainly more convenient.
            Nicky, I would like to ask you about the hydration percentage of your dough. Is it very wet and usually sticks in the bowl?

  22. Amy

    Will Sprouted whole grain wheat flour work for this recipe?

    • Hi Amy,

      All flours have their own moisture absorption properties so whenever you substitute flours in a recipe, some adjustment of water may be necessary for the results to remain consistent. Every other variable may be affected as well. So, while sprouted flour will work, and may not make an enormous difference in the outcome, the only way to know anything for sure is to try it and see how it goes. You can always make adjustment later if necessary.

  23. Steve

    I only keep whole wheat flour, and white bread flour and plain white flour. Can you adjust your recipe so I can use my stock. Thanks

    • Linda

      Most of the flour you mention is not whole grain. Why not try another recipe?

      • Gina

        Why do you say that? The whole wheat is whole grain, and so are the spelt and rye. Just because they’re ground doesn’t make them not “whole grain”.

  24. Matt

    If one were to try to adapt this excellent recipe for a baking stone with lava rocks in a cast iron roaster pan, would it looks something like this…
    1) Pre-heat oven to 500°F for 45 min with baking stone on middle rack and roaster pan with lava rocks on bottom rack
    2) Remove towel from boule 10 min before baking
    3) Place sheet of parchment paper onto peel and dust with cornmeal or semolina flour
    4) Turn boule out onto parchment paper and score
    5) Place the loaf on the baking stone and pour 1 cup not water
    6) Lower oven to 450°F
    7) After 5 minutes of baking, crack door to vent steam from oven
    8) After 20 minutes of baking, rotate loaf 180° and remove parchment paper
    9) After 40 minutes of baking, remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 1 hour
    I indent to do thump test and check internal bread temp for 200°F, but any suggestions for cooking time and temps would be greatly appreciated as I am just starting to learn! Best Regards, Matt

  25. Connie

    What a fantastic bread! I have just ventured out from a very basic white sourdough and this may be the holy grail of whole grain goodness! The long ferment gives such a great flavor! First time I made it, I baked the whole loaf. Today, I split the dough for the final proof into two smaller loaves and staggered them coming out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes… this size is much more manageable for my husband and myself. I baked it in the cloche at 450 for 20 min then took the lid off and lowered the temp to 400 for another 20 minutes. Bread temp was 209 and it tastes fantastic!

    • Jonny

      Thanks for the info on baking two smaller loaves, Connie. I baked mine on a stone, under a flower pot. I baked the first one at 450 degrees for 20 mins and then removed the pot and baked at 400 degrees for 20 mins. Thought I’d try a bit less time for the second loaf, so I did 450 degrees for 20 mins and then removed the flower pot and baked at 400 degrees for 15 mins. Both loaves ended up at 210 degrees, but the second one (with the shorter time at 400 degrees) seems the better loaf.

      LOVE this recipe!

  26. Nicky B

    I have to agree with Bubba about no knead. I made The wonderful recipe above, with all the various steps, last weekend and was delighted with it. But I have since taken the same ingredients and made fabulous no knead bread by mixing them all together in one go in the evening, then giving them a stretch and fold last thing. In the morning I don’t even prove it, just one fold, flip it over and straight into the hot Le Cruset pot. The crust is crisp, the crumb open. The flavour and aroma are beautiful, but less complex and noticeably less sour than the 3 day version. I enjoy long complex bread recipes when I have time, but no-knead means I can make delicious bread for my family every morning.

  27. Bubba


    Your breadmaking world is ready to be rocked if you have never tried “no-knead’. No Knead takes the kneading out of bread making by using time and fermentation to do the work for you. Not from a lazy point of view but one of judicious use of time to make even a better bread than you get by kneading. Kneading is to soften and elongate the gluten strands in the flour. No knead does it through time and more efficiently. I believe you can get much better crumb structure as a result. The concommitant use of the sealed baking vessel also has so much to do with making a great loaf of bread. The moisture (which is higher in a no knead) can’t escape the vessel and forms this wonderful crust which you can regulate how hard that crust is by leaving the bread in the oven from 0 – 15 minutes after removing the lid after the first 30 minutes of baking. The starches carmelize on the crust making the crust really sweet.

    So go ahead and try the ‘no knead” and be open to change. I still do a little kneading by making some rolls with milk and get that wonderful silky feeling as the dough softens and I also have some great French bread recipes that require a little kneading and lots of pulling and stretching over a 2 hour period that can also get the kneading “monkey” off your back. Your world is about to be changed forever.


    • Michelle

      Bubba, thank you for that great explanation which really got my curiosity going! That will be my next loaf~because I do like the nice, holy crumb (!) of sourdough.

  28. Michelle

    What a great website that I stumbled upon after my friend gave me a jar of starter last week! I have been baking all my bread for nearly 40 years, but only briefly dabbled in sourdough a long time ago…. and then my starter died.

    I promptly started working on this whole grain sourdough, improvising, as I didn’t have rye or spelt flours. In spite of that, it turned out to be an excellent loaf, one which I will bake again (today), this time using the right flour combo. I baked mine in a covered, glazed clay pot. I think the next time I will take the cover off earlier to get a crustier crust (hubby’s suggestion…) although I thought this crust was fine as is. Nice and chewy!

    BTW, I have never tried a “no knead” bread—somehow the idea just doesn’t sit right with me.

  29. Here is a picture of the loaf Eric I could not send it with my last message my tablet would not load the image for me.


  30. Hi Eric,
    I made a fantastic whole grain sourdough loaf yesterday, thanks to your recipe and video which I followed religiously!
    The crust was lovely, and the crumb was to die for, like you said in your video it was soft and tender.
    My husband feasted on it for supper with scrambled eggs, and said it was the best loaf that I have made to date.
    I shall be making this loaf again for sure, although I will have to improve my scoring techniques on top of the loaf.
    So once again many thanks for this wonderful website I have learned so much from it.
    M. Hale.

  31. Steffi

    I’m new to sour dough baking and only got started because I was desperate for a whole wheat/rye bread that tastes like the bakery bread in my hometown in Germany. This recipe is it!!! I couldn’t believe how similar the taste is and that I baked it. My only problem is that it came out a bit dense. Would making the dough more moist help that? Also, I let the boule out on the counter for about 8 hours instead of 5 because I had to go to work. Could that have something to do with the loaf being dense? Again, great recipe and very helpful website!!

    • Nicky B

      Hi Steffi, Try sieving the wholemeal wheat flour to remove the coarsest bran before you weigh out the 236 grams. I got this tip from ‘Fresh loaf’ blog, and have used it to bake a light and crisp brown sourdough using 100% wholemeal wheat flour. Hope it helps 🙂

  32. Rebekah

    Hi, I have a 4 week old starter. About a week ago it started smelling quite strong. Not the pleasant sour smell prior to this. Also it developed a layer on the top, sort of a bloom but not mould if that makes sense. I scooped the top off and continued to feed. It still smells very fruity/vinegary/nail polish removery. I baked a loaf of bread -your whole grain sourdough recipe and it was a total success in everything but the taste. VERY fermented tasting. Really really sour. Is there any way I can remedy this starter? Thanks so much for your advice. Also, I keep my starter on the bench. Should I be storing it in the fridge?

    • mike

      You keep your starter on the bench, that explains everything. After being ripe you should keep your starter in the fridge and feed it once a week. As for salvaging your starter, yes take some of it like 50 grams and add water and four in the ratio u wish, stir and leave to work, doubled put it in the fridge and feed two more times then keep in your fridge always and feed once a week.

  33. TA FoX

    I dare say this is the best bread I’ve ever tasted! I had a little problem with it sticking to the banneton due to a previous disaster with the KNM sourdough I baked a few hours before. So the crust is a tad messy looking, but it is otherwise FABULOUS! Thanks again Breadtopia for the wonderful site, I can’t believe I’m finally making delicious sourdough bread!

    • That looks like the best bread I’ve ever baked too!

  34. TA FoX

    This is my new favorite sourdough recipe, 2nd time I’ve made it this week!

  35. jeff

    Do the no knead rye as well as the sourdough multi- grain breads have to be baked in a La Cloche ( or similar device ) or can they be baked on a stone. Also,if it can be stone baked, does the baking temp/or time need to be adjusted? Thanks,Jeff F

    • Dee

      The idea is to create a closed environment to allow the steam to work. You can definitely use a stone in conjunction with a plain old clay flower pot – just heat the pot in the oven (start it cold) on the stone. Put the bread on the stone and cover with the upside down pot. Voila – a DIY La Cloche! Use whatever size pot seems to be right for your bread – 10-12″ is about right (shape is squat – not the taller variety). And buy a new one for this purpose only! Good luck and happy baking.

  36. Amanda

    I have one of those clay chicken/fish dishes, I think it’s called a romertopf. Would it work for baking the bread in do you think? Understandably the shape would come out a little differently, but that wouldn’t bother me.

    • Helmar

      It will definitely work out. For a long time I had used a Le Creuset and after I tested baking bread in a Romertopf, I abandoned the Le Creuset. The Rometopf gives a much better crust and crust flavor.

      Here is a Breadtopia-Video using a Romertopf:

    • Bubba

      I have used the Romertopf many times for the No Knead Method and it works fine. I had just cooked fish in mine the week before and it had a fish smell for the next couple of bakings. Maybe make some type of dish that would dissipate the fish smell & odor before baking bread. I have also used a cast iron dutch oven with cast iron lid, a dutch oven with a glass lid, a pizza stone with an inverted crock and all seem to work equally. As long as you can keep the moisture in seems to be the answer.

      I also have been experimenting with more and more water in my breads. I have put as much as 2-1/2 cups of water to 4 cups of flour and am getting great oven spring and open crumb. Some one said “wetter is better” when it comes to bread making and I am on track to see how wet we can go.

      • Amanda

        Hey Bubba thanks for your insight. A couple minutes after I posted this I found romertopfs for sale on this website! But with no directions, so I googled using a topf for bread baking and found some good directions at another site. I have a loaf in the oven now and I’m hoping it turns out.

        On your unrelated note, I will definitely be adding more water to my dough in the future. My current loaf is SO dry. I’m a little worried. Not nearly enough water in my opinion, especially since whole wheat flour is so much “dryer”. I will post after my bread is finished baking. Wish me luck!

        • Amanda

          Just pulled the loaf from the oven. It’s lovely, though a little burnt, and the crumb is not so great. No big holes how I like, though it does taste very sour. Next time I’ll split the dough in half to bake, and add more water during the process. Just fed my starter, so I’ll start another loaf in a few days.

    • Linda

      That is the baker I use for the whole grain bread. The biggest problem is that because the bottom is so deep, it is tricky to get the bread into the bottom of the baker without getting burnt or dropping it from so far up the bread deflates. I plan to get a le cloche. Try the romertoph though, yes, bread does have a different shape.

  37. Mike W

    I just followed the recipes of making my own

  38. Willy B.

    I made this bread today and it turned out fantastic. Great flavor, with a crispy crust. Thanks, I enjoy this site, especially the instructional videos. I could not have learned to make good bread without Breadtopia.

    Happy New Year

    • Willy B.

      Bread photo

  39. Erika

    What did I do wrong ? I thought that I followed the directions to a T and my bread rose great but when I turned it out for baking it went flat and never rose during the baking process . It smells great but is like a flat bread.
    What mistake did I make ?

    • Willy B.

      Erika, I will take a shot at this (but I am no expert) and say that your shaping may have been off. Without the tension on the dough surface, the bread will spread out rather than rise. I did a tri-fold on my dough and then did the cupped hands circular motion to form the boule.

      Just my thoughts; I hope this helps.

  40. Micah

    Hi There,
    Where can I find a great sourdough starter video or just a recipe on your site? Sourdough bread baking has proven to be pretty tricky stuff for me.
    Cheers :0)

  41. Bubba

    Was the spelt flour used in the whole grain sourdough unbleached white or the whole grain version. We have both available in our area?

    • Whole grain.

  42. Anne

    Where do I go to get the printed recipe for the Whole Grain Sourdough bread?

    Thanks for helping.

  43. Bill

    Have made this recipe with great success a couple of times. It gives fantastic flavour. Have now made the mistake (?) of offering it to my microbakery customers so have committed myself to making about 8 (smaller thank goodness) loaves. The schedule in the recipe doesn’t really fit in with my baking schedule (driven by taking kids to this and that) so I was wondering how you felt about 12 hours bulk fermentation then do some stretch and folds, before shaping into banettons. Would then then give it 12 hours back in the fridge before baking pretty soon after it comes out in the morning. It is going to be very embarrassing if I end up with 8 ‘bricks’ or ‘pancakes;’ they being the two most common fault modes for my bread.

    • Hi Bill,

      Give it a try with one loaf to see how it works. I would be more inclined to start with 12 hours in the fridge and then set out for the remainder.

  44. I made this bread to the letter. It tasted nice, but was fairly flat and dense. I would like a higher lift. What can I do to get a lighter, fluffier bread?

    • Btw, I let if rise for the suggested time, but when I put it in the dutch oven to bake it, it deflated a little and came out and spread out during baking.

    • Mike

      Hi Lisa, i had the same result as well, and nobody gave me any insightful input about what the problem was, until i thought maybe i should take the initiative and give it a little tweak myself.
      So i had to ways:
      1- decreasing the amount of starter incorporated within the dough by almost 40%, and that option was due to overripe starter that i had.
      2- Decreasing the time for retardation if option two was not to be considered.
      So i had relatively better result. Within the course of baking this bread over and over for several times, i managed to achieve satisfactory results in regards to taste, crumb, crust and oven spring. So i’ll give you an advice, see if your starter is very strong (it can double or triple in less than 8 hours or so), and if it smells acitic, then you may want to consider cutting down on it, but remain within the time frame indicated in the recipe. If your starter is not as i described, the problem could be with your Whole Wheat Flour. WWF tend to be strong due to high protein content. If you know how much is the rate of protein in you WWF and is around 14% then it is OK. If not you should then test it yourself.
      If test proved your WWf to be very strong…in fact my WWF is super strong…then you should consider cutting down on cool retardation time, or cutting down on the amount of WWF the recipe calls for and substitute it with bread flour.
      Try this and let me know what happens.
      Good baking,

      • Thanks Mike

  45. John


    Just purchased some ten grain flour. Any suggestions for using it or any sourdough recepts that anyone would recommend??

  46. Gigi

    I can’t help but wonder… my sponge (the first step of the process that you do the night before) is much dryer that shown in this video. Is 2 cups really the correct measurement for flour here? Is it possible that you need more than 7oz of water? It’s just not working with these measurements. Any help is appreciated.

  47. Ralph

    Try 20 minutes with the cover on 450 and 20 minutes with the cover off. It works for me.

    • Tks Ralph. I’ll do that.

  48. Joe, How do you keep from getting your bread too dark on the bottom of the loaf? I just made a round loaf in my Dutch Oven – 450 for 30 min., then 15 at 450. Top looked great but burnt on the bottom. Tks.
    Kathy in CA

  49. Kathy

    Eric, Just tasted my first sourdough round loaf baked in my Dutch Oven. It didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, or possibly when I transferred the dough from my bowl on to the parchment paper to go into my oven, I lost some of the rise?? It still tastes good and really crunchy, which I like. A few questions:
    1) The bottom got really dark – borderline burn. Any suggestions for the next bake?
    2) I forgot to let the dough sit for the 15 min., before putting in bowl for the second rise. Would that have anything to do with not getting a good rise?
    3) I’d like the sourdough taste to be a bit stronger? Should I proof for 10-12 hrs, then refrigerate for ?? (how many hrs.), then proof again for 2 hrs, then bake? Or, do you think it’s my starter?

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