Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat

Based on a recipe from Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread.

Yield: 2 Loaves

Awhile back I posted a way of making sourdough starter from the Oregon Trail which you can find here. And, I posted a way of feeding sourdough starter which you can find here.
I also promised to post my favorite sourdough bread recipe. Here it is. Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread is amazing. Lots and lots of great bread recipes as well as more than most of us ever want to know about bread baking.
This is one of his most famous recipes for sourdough bread and it is great.
The simple change I made to the recipe is to feed my starter a couple days ahead of time and then make the final feed the night before I am going to bake the bread. Just take 10-3/4 ounces (304 gr) of starter out of the main feed, cover it with plastic wrap,  and allow it to sit on the counter over night. Then use the whole amount the next morning to make the bread.
This is delicious sourdough bread. It keeps well. It’s chewy and has just a slight tang of sourdough. It is absolutely great toasted.
And, like most bread baking, there is a lot of time involved, but not a great deal of work.

Recipe follows.


Liquid-levain Build
1 cup bread flour (4-3/4 oz/134 gr)
¾ cup water (6 oz/170 gr)
2 tablespoons mature culture (liquid (100%)) (1 oz/30 gr)


Take 10-3/4 ounces (304 gr) of well-fed 100% liquid sourdough starter found here. The starter should be fed the night before and 10.8 ounces (306 gr) of the main build taken out to rest on the counter overnight. Take about two tablespoons of the main starter for the next build and you can use the leftover for making pizzas, here or sourdough English muffins, here.

Final Dough
5-1/2 cups bread flour (24 oz/680 gr)
3.4 cups whole-wheat flour (3-1/4 oz/92 gr)
1-7/8 cups water (14-3/4 oz/418 gr)
1 tablespoon salt
Liquid levain (10-3/4 oz/304 gr)


Liquid Levain:
Make the final build 8 to 12 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70 degrees F

Mixing the Bread

  1. Except for the salt (add that later), add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook including the levain, bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and water.
  2. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 20 to 60 minutes. Note: autolyse is a neat trick of letting the flour, water, and starter (or yeast if the recipe calls for it) to rest and hydrate the flour. It also starts the formation of gluten. This reduces the amount of time needed for kneading the dough, too.
  4. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing on second speed for three to five minutes.
  5. The dough should pull away from the side of the bowl and be slightly sticky.
  6. Desired dough temperature: 76 degrees F.
  7. Spray vegetable oil on a large bowl and put the dough in the bowl turning it over to coat all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  8. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 2-1/2 hours, giving it one or two folds during that time.
  9. For one fold, fold the dough after 1 1/4 hours. For two folds, fold twice at 50-minute intervals. I use two folds. To fold the dough, slightly flatten the dough in the bowl (do not punch it down) and then fold 1/3 of the right hand side of the dough over to the center and then the left-hand side over that (like you were folding a letter). Then fold the letter in half and turn the dough over. You should have a nice sort of square package of dough. This folding process really strengthens the dough structure.
  10. Divide the dough into approximately 1.5-pound pieces shape into round or oblong loaves.
  11. Place both loaves on a parchment-lined baker’s peel or the back of a cookie sheet. This will make it easier to slide the bread into the hot oven once it a risen.
  12. Spray the loves with vegetable oil and cover with plastic wrap.
  13. Allow to rise for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 76 degrees F (alternatively, retard for up to 8 hours at 50 degrees F, or up to 18 hours about 42 degrees F).
  14. About 45 minutes before the end of the final rise, preheat the oven to 460 degrees F placing the oven rack at the bottom-most level. For best results, the oven rack should be lined with unglazed ceramic tiles or use a pizza stone or use an upside-down cookie sheet.
  15. After the loaves have doubled in size, slash the tops of the loaves with a razor blade or serrated knife.
  16. Have a spray bottle filled with cold water ready and slide the loaves onto the oven and onto the hot tiles, pizza stone or cookie sheet.
  17. Spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Do not spray the glass cover on the oven light because it might break.
  18. Two minutes later, open the oven and spray one more time.
  19. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
  20. The bread should have an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F.
  21. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: More often than not, this bread is retarded before the bake. The result is a loaf with moderate tanginess and a sturdy crust that conveys a lot of bread flavor.


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