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Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread (Sourdough Bulgur Wheat Bread)

Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread is a hearty loaf full of wheat flavor and goodness. This rustic bread made with active starter and whole grain has a chewy, substantial bite.

a loaf of sourdough cracked wheat bread on a cutting board

Wheat berries are unprocessed kernels of wheat, which include the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat berries and cracked wheat have all the great nutrition and full flavor of a whole grain.

If you have a grain mill attachment for your stand mixer you can start with whole berries.

If you can’t find wheat berries, you can buy bulgur wheat at most grocery stores. Bulgur wheat is a little different than cracked wheat in that the grains are steamed/parboiled and then dried. I’ve made this bread with both cracked and bulgur wheat with good results.

If you don’t have one, you can learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then I can show you how to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter or How to Keep a Small Sourdough Starter.

In the meantime, you can make Cracked Wheat Bread with commercial yeast.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread:

two photos showing how to soak bulgur wheat for sourdough cracked wheat bread
Soak the bulgur or cracked wheat in boiling water. Add the cooled grains to the sponge, then mix the dough.
four photos showing cracked wheat sourdough over 3 hours of fermentation
Over the 3-5 hours of fermentation, the dough will become lighter and more supple. After a night in the refrigerator, the dough is ready to shape.
four photos showing how to shape, rise, score and bake a loaf of sourdough cracked wheat bread
Set the loaf aside to rise, then score and bake the loaf. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

A timeline for making Sourdough Bulgur Wheat 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 sponge. While waiting for the sponge, pour boiling water over the cracked or bulgur wheat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Mix the dough in the afternoon. Allow it to ferment at room temperature 3-5 hours and refrigerate in the evening before going to bed.
  • The dough can stay in the refrigerator for 2-3 days at this point.
  • Take the dough out first thing in the morning and shape the loaf. If you want the bread for dinner time, wait until the afternoon to take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Shape the loaf and leave it to rise at room temperature to rise for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
  • You should have fresh bread by lunch time.
  • If you want to start early in the morning to have bread for dinner, feed the starter the night before. Make the dough in the morning and leave it to ferment until the afternoon. Form the loaf and leave it to rise, skipping the refrigeration step. Bake the bread in time for dinner.

Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

a sliced loaf of sourdough cracked wheat bread on a cutting board

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a loaf of cracked wheat bread

Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Rising Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 55 minutes

Rustic and chewy with a substantial bite, Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread is a hearty loaf full of whole wheat flavor and goodness.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98g) cracked wheat (or bulgur)
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240 ml) boiling water
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz 60 ml) warm water
  • 1 cup (5 oz 140g) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup (5 oz 140g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
  • Cracked wheat and pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels) for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine the cracked wheat and boiling water and set aside until cooled to lukewarm.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine the starter, 1/4 cup of water and a 1/2 cup bread flour and mix to form a thick batter. Cover the bowl and let the batter rest for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Add the cracked wheat along with the soaking water, the salt, honey and whole wheat flour. Mix to combine.
  4. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining bread flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough gathers around the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. If working by hand mix in as much flour as you can then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and finish kneading in the flour by hand. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
  5. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat the dough. 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. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes turn 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. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or proceed with forming the loaf to bake the same day.
  1. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead for 5-10 seconds. Form the dough into a ball then roll the ends gently to form a football shape. If you will be using a baking stone, set the loaf on a wooden peel sprinkled heavily with cornmeal. If you don't have a baking stone put the loaf on a sheet pan sprinkled heavily with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper.
  2. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with baking spray to prevent it from sticking to the dough. Allow the loaf to rise about 1 - 2 hours until the loaf has doubled in sized. If the dough is cool from a night in the refrigerator the rising time may be longer.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a baking stone in the oven if you have one. Place a small pan (with rocks if you have them) onto the floor of the oven.
  4. When the bread is ready, use a sharp knife or razor to slash 5 diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf. Brush the surface of the bread with egg wash and sprinkle with cracked wheat and pepitas. Slide the loaf onto the preheated baking stone (or slide the sheet pan into the oven)
  5. Pour a cup of water into the preheated pan at the bottom of the oven (CAREFUL, that steam is hot) and immediately close the oven door
  6. Bake until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (or the center of the loaf reaches 190°F), about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Did you make this recipe?

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Dominique Kourie

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Hello, excited to try this. Can you make the bread with 100% whole wheat as opposed to using some bread flour? If so, how would I substitute?

Thanks!

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Honesty, I wouldn't advise it. With the cracked wheat in the dough, using all whole wheat flour would make it very difficult to get enough gluten. You'd likely end up with a very, very dense loaf.

Nancy

Sunday 7th of February 2021

I just started reading your sour dough info and came across this comment about using steel cut oats. We can no longer find cracked wheat anywhere near us so I tried bulghur and wasn't happy with the results so then I tried steel cut oats and it seems fine. I did simmer it on the stove for a few minutes in water. We love the cracked wheat recipe although I have not tried yours yet but I certainly will using steel cut oats. Thanks for a nice blog. I'm kind of new to sour dough and loving it. Made english muffins last night, delicious!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 7th of February 2021

Thanks for the tip!

Annie

Monday 11th of January 2021

Hi Eileen, I made this today using bulgur wheat, followed all the ingredients and method. However it end up really wet, I've been fermenting the dough for 7 hours since morning but still wet. Everytime I fold it, it cracked, is that normal? Please help.

Erin

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Would steel cut oats work as well? I don't normally have cracked wheat or bulgur in the pantry (but willing to find some for this bread, it looks fantastic!).

Eileen Gray

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Hmmm, I haven't tried it, but my instinct says it would work as long as you soak the oats the way the cracked what is soaked. Let me know how it works if you try it.