This Sourdough Discard Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread is irresistibly soft, tender, and has a delightful nutty flavor. It's hard to believe that it's made entirely from 100 percent whole wheat flour. The combination of sourdough discard and commercial yeast enables you to whip up a loaf in just a few hours instead of days. This homemade sandwich loaf will make you fall in love with whole-wheat, and ditch white bread in your turkey sandwiches and PB&J.
This Sourdough Discard Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf recipe is another collaboration with Mimi at Mimi’s Organic Eats. Each month we collaborate on a sourdough recipe we think our readers will love! Check out the other recipes from our collaboration, like Sourdough Wheat Crackers, Sourdough Rosemary Lemon Bread and Sourdough Discard Hot Dog Buns.
Why I love this recipe
- Great way to use up a lot of sourdough discard.
- Soft and fluffy texture with a deep and nutty whole wheat flavor.
- Healthy 100 percent whole wheat recipe.
- Delicious sourdough flavor without the long rise times.
- Mixed by hand, no stand mixer required!
Making a fluffy whole wheat loaf
I've steered clear of 100% whole wheat flour recipes because they usually turn out dense and heavy with a a little bit of a bitter flavor. I didn't want to compromise on flavor and texture in the pursuit of a "healthy recipe."
Imagine my delight when I sliced into this loaf and discovered it was wonderfully pillowy and soft, reminiscent of the fluffiest white bread! To achieve this delightful texture, I increased the water content and added olive oil for a softer crust and interior. The inclusion of maple syrup provides a touch of sweetness that complements the nutty flavor of the whole wheat.
While I used hard red wheat flour in this recipe, you can substitute white wheat flour. However, it's important to note that different types of wheat have distinct molecular structures and varied protein content, so it's best not to substitute flours like einkorn, spelt, rye, etc.
What you need
Whole wheat flour: This recipe uses whole wheat flour made with hard red wheat, which contains more protein than flour made with white wheat. This allows the loaf to retain its structure, do not substitute whole wheat pastry flour.
Sourdough discard: Both a whole wheat starter and white starter will work for this recipe. If you don’t keep discard, active sourdough starter or simply adding 56 grams water and 56 grams flour will work.
Active-dry yeast: You can use instant yeast for this recipe, feel free to skip the blooming step.
Maple syrup: Helps activate the yeast, using maple syrup makes this recipe vegan. Substitute cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses or honey (if you do not follow a vegan diet).
Commercial yeast has a shelf life, make sure yours is not expired before starting this recipe or it will not be able to make your dough rise.
Sourdough Bread vs. Sourdough Discard Bread
Sourdough discard bread combines discarded starter with either active-dry or instant yeast, dramatically reducing proofing time. In contrast, traditional sourdough bread relies solely on an active sourdough starter, leading to a longer fermentation time of about 2 days due to the reliance on wild yeast.
Love quick and easy sourdough recipes that use commercial yeast? Check out my recipes for Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread, Vegan Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread and Sourdough Discard Rosemary Olive Oil Bread.
Baking with sourdough discard
The addition of sourdough discard contributes a rich and nuanced flavor to this bread. As the sourdough starter is used solely for flavor enhancement, there's no need to feed it; you can use it directly from the refrigerator.
Using long-refrigerated sourdough discard intensifies the flavor, providing distinct results compared to a freshly fed starter, though both work well in this recipe.
Opting for a white starter means your loaf won't be entirely 100% whole wheat. Don't worry, the addition of a small amount (11%) of white flour from your starter to your dough won't significantly alter its flavor or texture.
STEP 1 Make the dough: Bloom the yeast in water and maple syrup (image 1). Fold in the sourdough discard and dry ingredients until a cohesive dough forms (image 2). Knead the oil into the dough (image 3). Continue kneading until the dough no longer feels greasy (image 4).
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes before kneading. This will make the dough less sticky and much easier to work with.
STEP 2 Knead the dough: Place the dough on a clean surface, then fold it in half and use the heels of your hands to push and stretch it away. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat (image 5). Continue for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Round the dough into a tight ball (image 6).
If the dough feels too sticky, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for another 10 minutes before continuing.
STEP 3 First proof: Return the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (image 7). Let the dough rise, untouched until doubled in size (image 8).
Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot, ensuring it doubles in size. A properly proofed dough will result in light and airy whole wheat loaf, while inadequate proofing can lead to a dense and gummy texture.
STEP 4 Shape the dough: Divide the dough into 5 portions. Round flatten each portion into a rectangle, and fold the corners into the center (image 9). Turn the dough over and round it into a tight ball (image 10). Brush the top of the dough with water (image 11). Roll the dough in a mixture of seeds, optional (image 12).
Feel free to use a different type of seed such as flax seeds, poppy seeds or pumpkin seeds. If you don't like seeds, then simply leave them out.
STEP 5 Final rise: Arrange the dough in a zigzag pattern in a 9 by 4-inch Pullman pan (image 13). Let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy and the dough fills the pan (image 14).
You can shape this dough however you like, I find that this method helps prevent dough from bursting as it bakes.
STEP 6 Bake: Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, turn down the heat to 350F fir another 30 to 40 minutes (image 15). Let the loaf cool for at least 2 hours before slicing (image 16).
- Weigh your ingredients: Measuring by weight is much more accurate than by volume (with tablespoons and cups).
- Watch the dough not the clock: I’ll be giving time cues throughout the recipe, but since fermentation is highly dependent on temperature, this may differ based on the conditions of your kitchen.
- Be patient: Be patient and wait until your dough is bubbly and well-risen. Otherwise, your bread will be dense and gummy
- Use an instant-read thermometer: The best way to determine whether your loaf is fully baked is to probe the center of the cinnamon loaf with an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature of your loaf should be between 180F to 190F.
The best way to enjoy this bread is by serving it the day after its baked. This allows the crumb of the bread to fully set and prevents the loaf from drying out.
The dough can be made 1 day in advance.
- Shape the dough according to the instructions.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the unbaked dough overnight.
- The next day, take the pan out of the refrigerator. Allow the dough to come to room temperature or rise until the dough is puffy and fills the pan.
- Bake as instructed.
Sourdough discard is any portion of your starter removed during the feeding process or any part not used to leaven sourdough bread. You can use it in other bakes and dishes or store it in the refrigerator.
Allow the dough to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding with kneading. Knead gently, avoiding rough handling that could break down the dough's surface, making it stickier.
If the dough remains excessively sticky, add flour gradually, don’t be tempted to add too much or your loaf may end up too tough and dry.
There are a few reasons why your dough isn’t rising:
Your yeast is expired and can no longer make dough rise. If your yeast has been in your pantry for quite some time, activate it by mixing it with water and sugar first before mixing it in your dough. The mixture will look bubbly and smell yeasty if it’s still viable.
Your kitchen is too cold, cool temperatures will drastically slow down fermentation or the rate at which your dough rises. If your kitchen is too cold your dough will eventually rise, it may just take longer than the times cued in this recipe.
You used hot water and you may have killed your yeast. Water hotter than 115 F will kill yeast, if you accidentally add hot water to your yeast, start over.
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Whole Wheat Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread Recipe
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- 282 grams water plus more for brushing
- 56 grams maple syrup
- 7 grams active-dry yeast or instant yeast
- 113 grams sourdough discard white or whole wheat
- 450 grams whole wheat flour
- 9 grams salt
- 56 grams olive oil
- 40 grams sunflower seeds toasted (see note)
- 10 grams sesame seeds or poppy seeds
Click US Customary to view volume measurements
- Bloom the yeast: Whisk the water, maple syrup and yeast together in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let the yeast bloom until foamy, about 15 minutes.282 grams water, 56 grams maple syrup, 7 grams active-dry yeast
- Make the dough: Stir the sourdough discard, whole wheat flour and salt into the yeast mixture until no dry bits of flour remain. Switch to your hands and knead until a cohesive dough forms.113 grams sourdough discard, 450 grams whole wheat flour, 9 grams salt
- Knead the dough into the oil until completely absorbed. The dough should start greasy and gradually become smoother and less sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. * If using a stand mixer, mix the dough ingredients except for the oil. Once a cohesive dough forms, knead the dough with a dough hook and slowly stream the oil into the bowl until completely incorporated about 5 minutes.56 grams olive oil
- Strengthen the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough by folding it in half, then pressing and pushing with the heel of your hand. Continue this process until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- First rise: Round the dough into a tight ball, and transfer it to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Spread oil on top of the dough to prevent it from drying out.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a 9 by 4-inch Pullman pan (see note) with parchment paper or brush liberally with oil.
- Toss the toasted sunflower seeds and sesame seeds on a plate. Set aside.40 grams sunflower seeds, 10 grams sesame seeds
- Shape the dough: Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 5 even portions.
- Working with 1 portion of dough at a time. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, and fold the corners towards the center. Turn the dough over, cup the dough and drag it on your work surface in a rounding motion to create a smooth, taut surface.
- Brush the top of the dough with water and coat the top of each ball in the seed mixture. Nestle the dough in the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, arranging them in a zigzag pattern.
- Final Proof: Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise untouched in a warm place. The dough should fill your pan and rise about ½ an inch above the rim, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Bake: Bake the dough for 10 minutes at 400 F. Without taking the loaf out of the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 F and continue baking for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the loaf registers at 200 F when probed with an instant-read thermometer.
- Move the bread to a wire rack and let it cool completely, about 2 hours (ideally overnight) before slicing.
These recipes were developed and tested using grams for precise measurements. To increase your chances of success, I recommend investing in a kitchen scale. I've included rough volume estimates (in tablespoons and cups), but they might not be totally accurate.
Remember all ovens are unique, these recipes were tested in my oven which runs cooler than others. You might need to lower the temperature if your bake appears to be browning too quickly. Monitor your bake closely and make adjustments if needed.
- Make sure your yeast is not expired before baking these loaf or your dough may not rise.
- Both a white starter or a whole wheat starter for this recipe.
- Give your dough enough time to rise, waiting until it has doubled in volume before shaping or baking. Otherwise, your bread may be dense and gummy.
- Feel free to use active sourdough starter or sourdough discard to make this recipe.
- Both instant yeast and active dry yeast will work to make this recipe.
- This loaf in an 8 by 5-inch loaf pan or make them into rolls.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your loaf is fully baked. The center of the loaf should measure between 180 F to 190 F when done.