Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

It used to be difficult to find good, whole grain bread here in Umbria, but over the past nine years that we have been here, things have changed. I can now buy a wide variety of whole grain breads from just about anywhere, including small, local grocery stores. Since I have access to great, healthy bread now, I find I am making it at home a lot less. I do enjoy making my own bread, however, and sourdough bread is not a variety you often find here in Italy.

I bought a sourdough starter from King Arthur flour  over six years ago that I still use today. I dry it out when I travel from Italy to North America, and then again when I return to Italy six months later. I feed the starter twice a day for a few days until it is bubbly and sour smelling.

Once it has been refreshed, I know it is ready to use again. You can create your sourdough starter from scratch at home, but it is a bit of an involved process that I will not get into here. If you want to give it a try, check out King Arthur’s Sourdough Starter Recipe.  It takes about a week to get a healthy, bubbly starter, and if you have the time, it is a fun process. I have created my sourdough starter from scratch a couple of times in the past.

For this bread, I used a combination of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour as I was worried that an all wheat dough might be too dense. My bread turned out great, wasn’t at all heavy, so next time I will use only whole wheat flour.

The trick to getting a nice crust on your bread is to either use a wet dough, or this method that I used in this recipe which involves baking the bread in a cast iron or terra cotta covered casserole. This process creates a great chewy crust, and a soft crumb, which is just the kind of bread we love.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

Yield: Two Loaves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • 5 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Bubbly Sourdough Starter (See Notes Above)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Plus More For Oiling Bowl
  • 3 Teaspoons Fine Sea Salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups (Approximate - See Notes Above) Warm Water


  1. Dump the flour, starter, olive oil, and salt into a large bowl or basin of stand mixer.
  2. Slowly add the water, stirring to mix until the mixture comes together. Use only as much water as needed to create a shaggy dough.
  3. Either use the dough hook of your stand mixer, or turn the dough out onto lightly floured counter and knead until smooth. (About 4 minutes by machine, 8 minutes by hand.
  4. Oil a large mixing bowl and dump the dough into it.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen until the dough has doubled in size, about 6 to 7 hours.
  6. Place two oven-proof casserole dishes in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. (cast iron or terra-cotta work great)
  7. Dump the dough onto a counter and divide in two.
  8. Shape each half into ball and cover with kitchen towels and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes or until soft and puffy.
  9. Using a little flour, shape the dough into balls with your hands and place each into the preheated casserole dishes.
  10. Use a sharp knife to slash two or three cuts into the top of the loaves to allow for expansion while baking.
  11. Cover the casserole dishes and bake covered for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove the lid and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the bread registers an internal temperature of 190 degrees F with a thermometer.
  13. Cool on wire racks before slicing.

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