Pioneer Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

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When I married my husband Cameron 12 years ago, my Mother in law gave us a wedding gift. It was a bread machine. Up until this point I had probably made bread only a few times in my entire life.

I was very daunted at the prospect of making homemade bread. Cameron’ s Mom had been making homemade bread for years and I felt like that was the expectation for me too. I cried over it and told Cameron that I didn’t feel like I could measure up to her, not just in bread making but on so many other levels.

Cameron assured me that I didn’t have to make homemade bread all the time or ever… if I didn’t want to do that. Suddenly, I didn’t feel obligated to do it anymore and I didn’t feel like I needed to be perfect at bread making. With the burden lifted off my shoulders, I thought I would give bread making a shot and just see how it went.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought and I found I actually preferred the taste of homemade bread. From the time we’ve been married until now, I can literally count on my hands the number of times we have bought bread it has been so few. It saves so much money to make it yourself, not to mention the taste! Mmm! If you have the courage to try and try again you will succeed.

Fast forward several years and I began to have a bunch of health problems. My bread making stopped because of different diets I was trying. I finally eased back in to bread and health because of the fermentation involved in sourdough bread. The long ferment times make the wheat grain much more digestible. This is the way the pioneers did it! And so many people before them. Concentrated industrial yeast only came on the the scene in the late 19th century and became widely available in the early 20th century.


Sourdough bread begins with a sourdough starter. To read about How to Feed and Refresh a Sourdough Starter click HERE. I attempted to make my own whole wheat starter many years ago but it was always too sour.

The starter I have now was shared with me from a friend. If you don’t have someone who can share a sourdough starter with you and don’t want to make one yourself Cultures For Health has starters.

Recipe Step by Step with Photos: Over the years of making bread a few times a week, my recipe has simplified. The ingredients for pioneer whole wheat sourdough bread are flour, water, and salt.


I use to be a purist and do 100% whole wheat but I find that a little bit of all purpose flour acts like a glue so the bread doesn’t crumble. At the end of this post, I will give options for both 100% whole wheat and 80% whole wheat in the printable recipe.

Step 1: Measure out 130 grams of fresh sourdough starter. Pour in a large mixing bowl. Then add 650 grams of hard white wheat flour (I use organic but regular works too). Next, 200 grams of all purpose flour.


Next, 600 grams of lukewarm water (filtered or spring- you don’t want chlorinated water in there!) and finally 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap. You don’t need to knead it at all yet. Just get the ingredients mixed together. It will be a shaggy mess (see above).


About 2 hours in I give it a little knead in the bowl. All you need to do grab some dough and pull to the center. Work your way around the bowl, stretching and folding in until each edge of the circle has been stretched to the middle. This method is called stretch and fold. It should take about 1-2 minutes.


This is what it should look like after stretching and folding and then flipping it over. I let 2 more hours pass and then do another quick knead in the same manner as the first. I am not scientific or exact about the timing of kneading… you have to remember I do this at least twice a week so the easy method wins.


It’s time to form it into loaves when the dough has doubled in size. Usually this takes six hours. In summer, it’s down to four because my house it warmer!


I split the bread into two loaves. I use a traditional loaf pan to make bread for sandwiches. The other I make an artisan bread. You can make 2 loaves of just artisan or 2 loaves of just sandwich bread, I like to have one of each.

In bread baking it’s common to use rice flour to keep loaves from sticking. I use a fine cornmeal instead because it’s more available where I live and it’s in my kitchen already. It gets sprinkled on the bottom of each pan. Let them rise for 2 hours. You don’t want them to over proof, especially if you are doing artisan bread. I just do 1.5x the original size.

Meanwhile turn on oven to 450º fahrenheit or 230º celsius. If you are making artisan bread place your clay or cast iron baking pan in the oven to preheat.


Artisan Bread: If you've proofed your bread in a proofing basket, flip it over into a preheated clay baker. Use a lame to score your bread. Put the lid on and bake at 450º F (230ºc) for 30 minutes. Take of the lid. Bake at 350º F (177ºc) for another 10-20 minutes.

Sandwich Bread: Keep bread in pan and stick straight in the oven. Bake at 350ºF (177ºc) for 40-50 minutes.

And then the hardest part of all… waiting for those babies to cool while the aroma of bread is in the air.

Pioneer Sourdough Bread- Better Crumb.jpg

This bread isn’t super fluffy and light, it’s about as far from WonderBread as you could get! Instead, it is healthy, filling, hearty, and most importantly delicious. I imagine this bread would be very similar to what pioneers ate.


Whole wheat sourdough bread will last 3-5 days on the counter. It will dry out more with each day that passes just like any other bread would. Use up extras in meatloaf or on top of a zucchini boat or make them into bread crumbs to save for later.



Recipe by: BECKY PORTER | The Seasonal Homestead

A healthy and hearty whole wheat bread using sourdough starter

|Makes 2 loaves|

ingredients for 80%whole wheat 20% white bread

  • 130 grams sourdough starter (100% hydration)

  • 650 grams hard white wheat flour

  • 200 grams all purpose flour

  • 600 grams filtered warm water

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Ingredients for a 100% whole wheat loaf

  • 130 grams sourdough starter (100% hydration)

  • 850 grams hard white wheat flour

  • 620 grams filtered warm water

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


  1. Measure out 130 grams of fresh sourdough starter into a large mixing bowl.

  2. Add  650 grams of hard white wheat flour.

  3. Add  200 grams of all purpose flour.

  4. Add 600 grams luke warm filtered water.

  5. Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt

  6. Stir all together in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

  7. Let sit for 2 hours.

  8. Stretch and fold the edges of the dough to the center of the ball. This should only take a minute or 2.

  9. Let sit for another 2 hours

  10. Stretch and fold the dough again.  

  11. Let the dough sit for another 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

  12. Take dough out of the bowl and roll into two loaves

*Alternative Method- Skip steps 7-11. After stirring ingredients together let sit for six hours. Do a 5- 10 minute knead before forming into loaves.

13.  Option #1 Artisan Bread: Put cornmeal or rice flour down in a lined bread basket. Put in the dough with the pinched underside facing up and cover with towel. Let sit until 1.5x original size or about 2 hours. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºc) and put in your clay or cast iron pot with the lid. After the dough is ready and pot is hot, flip your dough into the pan. Cornmeal or rice flour side should be facing up now. Put the lid on your pan and bake at 450ºF  for 30 minutes. Take the lid off, turn down heat to 350ºF (177ºC) and bake for another 10-20 minutes until golden brown.

Option #2  Sandwich Bread: Put cornmeal or rice flour down in a 9x4 inch loaf pan. Place loaf in the pan and cover with a towel. Let rise until almost double the original size or about 2 hours. Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

Whole Wheat Pioneer Sourdough Bread.jpg

Kitchen Tools and Accessories I use and love.

Click on photos to take you directly to the source!

I couldn’t find the exact kitchen scale I bought on Amazon a few years ago but this is the same brand, different color. I really like it! —->

I also found my same scale at Walmart for only $19 ($10 cheaper than the Amazon one! Not sure how much shipping would be though) you can find it HERE.

I couldn’t find my stoneware loaf pan online any more. Mine is RADA brand. The one above is similar.