May 8, 2017

Multigrain Honey Sourdough Bread Recipe

I confess, I have become a sourdough baking fanatic.  All sourdough (wild yeast).  No active yeast!  With a vigorous sourdough starter, including active yeast in a recipe is not ... repeat, not ... necessary.  I will post about making a sourdough starter soon.  In the meantime, here is yesterday's bake:  2 delectable loaves of Multigrain Honey Sourdough Bread.

Easy to make with a vigorous sourdough starter, and beyond delicious.  Your home will smell wonderful, too!   Happy Baking!

Multigrain Honey Sourdough Bread
Recipe by Mary Rae Fouts

A tender loaf bread with a texture between traditional sourdough bread and a tender dinner roll.  The crust bakes to a nice golden brown, but it is not hard.  Easy to make, you can play with the recipe to make it your own.  All sourdough, no active yeast.  Mix up dough and bake in the same day.  Nice oven spring for a sourdough sandwich loaf, too.

Note:  as of 05/18/2017, I have retired my whole wheat sourdough starter, and will use my unbleached white bread flour starter for all sourdough cooking and baking from now on.  It was just too much to maintain 2 starters, with all of the baking and cooking that I do on top of everything else, and my bread flour starter is my favorite.  Plus, multi grain recipes work out great with the bread flour starter, and I am not one to be brainwashed into thinking that a baked good must be 100% whole grain to be nutritious.  I will continue to post recipes, so keep checking back.  Happy Baking!  Mary Fouts

Recipe below makes 1 loaf in a  9” X 5” or 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan.  I usually make 2 or more loaves at time.
Oven temperature:  375* F convection oven (400* F regular oven).


501 grams whole wheat sourdough starter (100% hydration), fed and vigorous/bubbly
(Variation:  for White Honey Sourdough Bread, substitute white sourdough starter made with unbleached bread flour for the whole wheat starter.)
127 grams lukewarm bottled spring water
330 grams white unbleached bread flour
10 grams kosher salt
22 grams raw honey
Optional:  nuts or seeds such as sliced almonds, raw sunflower chips, or pistachios to mix in with bread dough when kneading.
Optional:  topping of your choice to sprinkle on unbaked loaf, such as a dried herb blend, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or poppy seeds.


Combine ingredients.  Knead until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth and soft.  If using nuts or seeds, work  them into dough when kneading.  Dough will be a bit sticky at first, but will firm up with gluten development during kneading.  If kneading by hand as I do, use a lightly oiled work surface and lightly oiled hands.  I use either olive oil or avocado oil.  Hand kneading will take 10 to 12 minutes.

If you hand knead, oil will be incorporated into the dough when kneading; that is why there is no oil in the recipe.  However, if you use a bread mixer or bread machine to knead, add a bit of oil to the dough when kneading.

1st Dough Rise:  Place dough in lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 90 minutes at warm room temperature; dough will be puffy.  Or, place dough in refrigerator and let rise overnight, or for 10 hours or so.  See Baking Note #9 below if doing 1st Dough Rise in the refrigerator.

2nd Dough Rise:  Using a lightly oiled work surface, deflate dough, smooth dough flat to release air bubbles, and form into a loaf.  Use enough tension in loaf forming so that loaf is firm.  Place loaf in lightly oiled loaf pan.  If using topping, sprinkle topping on loaf.  Let rise at warm room temp (uncovered) until dough crests about 1 inch above pan.  This will likely take 90 to 110 minutes (longer if you did 1st Dough Rise in the refrigerator).  Time will vary depending on room temp, so monitor dough.

Bake in a preheated 375* F  convection oven (400* F regular oven) until internal temp in center of loaf (taken with an instant-read digital thermometer) reaches 205⁰ F.  The actual baking time will vary, depending on the amount of seeds or nuts worked into the dough, and the pan size.  Start checking the bread internal temp at about 40 minutes, then keep your own note of how long your loaves take to bake.  Let cool for a few minutes in pan on wire rack, then remove from pan.  When completely cool, store loaf in the refrigerator in a tightly closed plastic bag, or double bag loaf and freeze. 

Who wants a slice?
Baking Notes - Multigrain Honey Sourdough Bread

(1)  The warm room temp referred to in the recipe is about 76* F - 78* F.  To obtain this temperature, I use my oven (no heat) with the oven light turned on.

(2)  Whole wheat starters do not pass the float test.  Your starter is ready to go if it increases in volume by 100% or more (doubles in size) after feeding.  For my whole wheat starter, it reaches this volume 3 hours after feeding, when left at warm room temp.  You can also feed the starter before going to bed, and leave at regular room temperature overnight for use the next day.  My starters typically increase in volume by about 200% (triple in size) with overnight feeding, so be certain your starter jar is large enough to handle the volume, otherwise you may have a spill-over starter mess!

Due to the greater density of whole wheat, whole wheat starters do not have as many bubbles on top of the starter as white flour starters, but they have many bubbles within the starter, which creates its rising power.  

Also, don't worry if your fed starter falls from peak rise before mixing the dough.  The starter will still be ready to go.

(3)  100% hydration sourdough starter means that the starter was made and fed with equal portions, by weight, of flour and bottled spring water.  Always measure your starter, flour, and water by weight to be consistent with proportions.

(4)  When preparing your sourdough starter, make about 20% more than needed for the recipe to be certain you will have enough starter.  The starter can get very sticky, and you typically cannot get everything scraped from the starter container.  Prepare the whole wheat starter by feeding it, using equal parts (by weight, not volume) of starter, whole wheat flour, and bottled spring water.

(5)  Use a digital cooking scale to measure your ingredients.  If the amount of sourdough starter is a bit over, that is fine.

(6)  I use a 14-quart Pyrex bowl to mix up my bread.  One 14-qt bowl is large enough to mix up 2 loaves of bread.

(7)  Water ... very important:  You must use bottled spring water for recipe (and sourdough starter) success.  Many water districts disinfect tap water with chloramine, which cannot be filtered out by a Britta or similar tap water filter.  The chloramine will kill the wild sourdough yeast.   I use Crystal Geyser spring water.

(8)  Dough is a sticky at first when kneading, but it will form into a smooth ball with kneading.  Do not add more flour!  If hand kneading, keep hands and work surface lightly coated with oil to help handle the dough.

(9)  If doing 1st Dough Rise in refrigerator:  If you want to mix up the dough the day before baking, you can place the dough in the refrigerator, and allow it to rise overnight for the 1st Dough Rise.  The dough will rise higher during the cold overnight rise than the shorter warm room temp rise, generally rising to the top of the bowl with a 10 hour refrigerator rise.  If you do a refrigerator rise, the 2nd Dough Rise will take longer, as the dough-formed-loaves will need to come up to room temp before they start to rise.  This will add an extra hour or more onto the loaf rising time.

(10)  Do not over proof (over rise) the dough on the rise in the pans (2nd Dough Rise).  The loaf will continue to rise in the oven's heat; this is the "oven spring" I refer to in the recipe's description.  And yes, I confess to peeking through the oven window to keep track of the oven spring!

(11)  I have found that using the convection bake setting on my oven results in improved overall baking.  The convection fan's circulation of air results in an even temperature throughout the oven, as well as improved heat efficiency.  If you do not have a convection oven, a rule of thumb is to use a regular oven temperature that is 25⁰ F higher than the convection oven temperature.

Mary Rae Fouts


  1. Is that a San Francisco sourdough bread?

    1. No, it is one I baked in my own kitchen, with my own sourdough starter. No active yeast. It was not baked by a San Francisco bakery.

  2. I will take a slice! I could never bake bread.

    1. Sure you could bake bread! Just takes some practice. But once you start, it becomes an addiction. A good addition ... most of the time, anyway. Except when you are baking bread at 2:00 AM :(

  3. Where can I buy sourdough starter?

    1. You can purchase dried sourdough starter from many vendors on the Internet, including King Arthur Flour. However, I would recommend not purchasing it, but making your own with flour and spring water. I will post a starter recipe soon.

  4. Gorgeous loaf! I have never baked with sourdough.

    1. You should try it! Once you get your starter going, sourdough baking becomes addictive.

  5. What is the Float Test? I find this confusing.

    1. It is a method to test if your sourdough starter is vigorous and bubbly enough to raise a loaf of bread. Some sourdough bakers say that if a small piece of starter dropped into a bowl of water floats, the starter is vigorous enough to bake with.

      I've found that to be true with some starter, not true with others. With white flour, it sometimes is true, sometimes not. It never is true with a whole grain starters such as whole wheat or rye starters, as the whole grains are too dense to float.

      I will write about establishing a vigorous and bubbly sourdough starter in a future post.

  6. Do you have the recipe in cups and spoons?

    1. Unfortunately, no. I have found that sourdough bread consistently turns out better when items are measured by weight, rather than volume. Important for the correct ration of ingredients to sourdough starter. (Remember, the weight of 1 cup of flour differs from flour to flour.)

      Buy a digital cooking scale. Inexpensive on Amazon and easy to use. Here is my scale:

  7. How sour is the bread? Honey and sour does not sound good together.

    1. Actually, it is not sour at all. The word "sourdough" certainly implies sour, but my starters are not. They have a natural "bready" smell. To my taste, when baked in breads and rolls, they allow the natural flavors of the recipe ingredients to really shine through, without a "yeasty" taste that is sometimes apparent in breads and rolls made with active yeast.

      Some sourdough bakers (and commercial bakers) add citric acid, aka "sour salt" to their sourdough to give it a sour taste. I would never do that. (Citric acid is a preservative used in canning, particularly canning of acidic foods such as tomatoes.)