Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread tastes fantastic and will keep fresh for several days. Milk and honey give this sandwich bread a soft crumb and crust. Sourdough starter enhances the hearty whole-grain flavor.
This recipe is a variation of my popular Milk & Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe. That bread is the what you want to make if you don’t have a sourdough starter, or if you want to make a fresh loaf of bread in just a couple of hours.
If you maintain a sourdough starter, you know the incredible flavor and texture the bread gets from the long slow rise that is needed for the natural yeast in the starter to grow.
If you don’t have one, check out my post to learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then check out my system to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter.
Although this sourdough wheat bread recipe takes a good 12+ hours from start to finish, the vast majority of the time is hands off.
To make this recipe even more convenient, you can let the dough rise over night. A long rise in the refrigerator does only good things for the bread.
Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread with a soft crust:
A timeline for making Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread:
- If your starter needs feeding, do that the night before or early in the morning of the day you want to make the dough.
- Mix the dough in the afternoon, allow it to ferment for 3-6 hours then refrigerate the dough before going to bed.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator first thing in the morning, shape the loaf and set it into the pan.
- To warm up the dough, turn on the oven just until it’s barely warm. Turn off the oven and set the pan with the cool dough in the oven. Remove the pan once the dough is back to room temperature. You can skip this step, but it does speed up the rising time.
- Leave the loaf to rise for 1 1/2- 2 hours, or as long as is needed to almost double in size.
- You should have fresh bread by lunch time.
- To make and bake the dough in the same day, feed your starter the evening before so it’s active by morning. Start the dough early in the morning and it should be ready to bake by late afternoon or early evening.
I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.
Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!
Hey bread lover, you might also want to try these other great sandwich breads; Honey Oatmeal Bread, Sourdough Sandwich Bread, Overnight Rye Bread, Sourdough Rye Bread.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread -with Milk & Honey
- 8 ounces active sourdough starter (1 cup (100% hydration))
- 4 ounces warm water (½ cup)
- 10 ounces bread flour (2 cups)
- 8 ounces whole milk (1 cup)
- 1 ½ ounces honey (2 tablespoons)
- 1 ½ teaspoons table salt
- 7 ½ ounces whole wheat flour (1 ½ cups)
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine the starter, water and 1 cup of the bread flour to form a thick batter. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to rise for 30-60 minutes. Warm the milk until scalding hot then set it aside to cool until it is slightly warmer than body temperature.8 ounces active sourdough starter, 4 ounces warm water, 10 ounces bread flour
- Add the scalded milk, honey and salt to the sponge. Stir to combine. Add the whole wheat flour and stir until the batter looks like thick pancake batter. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook.8 ounces whole milk, 1 ½ ounces honey, 1 ½ teaspoons table salt, 7 ½ ounces whole wheat flour
- With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining cup of bread flour. Continue mixing until the dough begins to gather on the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 5 minutes. If mixing by hand, add as much of the flour as you can in the bowl then finish kneading in the rest of the flour by hand.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Knead to form a smooth ball. If the dough is very sticky sprinkle a little more flour as you knead. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set aside in a warm spot.
- After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You're basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast and strengthen the gluten. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again.
- Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes fold the dough one more time. By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. If you want to finish making the bread in the morning return the dough to the bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. The next morning continue with shaping. Otherwise continue shaping the loaf on the same day.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Without kneading out the air, gently push the dough to a 9"x 12” rectangle. Tightly roll the dough from top to bottom to form a log shape. As you roll pinch the ends of the dough to form a tight roll.
- Grease a 9"x 5" loaf pan with a very light film of vegetable oil or with baking spray. Set the dough into the pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and rise until the dough almost doubles in size, about 1 ½ hours. It will take longer to rise if the dough is cold from a night in the refrigerator. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- Use a sharp knife or razor to cut a 1/2" deep slash down the center of the loaf. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds.1 egg for egg wash, Sesame seeds for garnish
- Bake about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The interior temp should be about 200 °F.
- Cool in the pan about 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before slicing.
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Tuesday 2nd of May 2023
This is our go-to, everyday bread that I’ve been making for years. I’ve made it with entirely whole wheat flour which of course produces a heavier but still delicious loaf. I’ve used buttermilk instead of regular, just to use up the buttermilk, and the result was fantastic. There is no going back to store bought bread for us.
Friday 27th of January 2023
A wonderful bread; been making it for 2-3 years, and I can't believe I didn't give a shout out until now-so sorry! I double the recipe, and get 3 loaves; and sprinkle it with rolled oats instead of the sesame seeds.
Sunday 7th of August 2022
If I have a starter and recipe/method that I like and use to make 100% whole wheat sourdough with water, will it work "the same" with milk instead of water? Would you expect the starter, mixing, proportions, proofing, timing would work or should I expect different results. Thank You, RIchard
Monday 8th of August 2022
I would expect different results since milk adds fat, milk sugar and milk proteins in the dough.
Monday 2nd of May 2022
Beginner here, both with sourdough and bread making, but Thank You for this lovely recipe, this turned out wonderful, best loaf of bread I have ever tasted and my husband agrees 100%. Will be making this again and again & here's to hoping that my skills improve :)
Sunday 17th of April 2022
Could I mix the dough ingredients in the evening and let it bulk ferment overnight on the counter, then shape, proof and bake next morning? Would any of the ingredients change? Also, does a higher amount of starter means a faster rise time?
Sunday 17th of April 2022
Yes, I've actually done this by mistake when I forgot to put the bowl in the fridge before bed. As long as your kitchen is fairly cool it shouldn't be a problem. I don't find that the amount of starter makes the rise time faster. Of course all the timing is dependent on the activity of your individual starter as well as room temp, etc.