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Authentic Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread (In A Bread Machine!!!)

December 15, 2015

Authentic sourdough bread… start to finish… in a bread machine!  Yes, you really can!

And you can LOVE LOVE your results.

I grew up making homemade bread with my mother.  There is nothing like homemade bread coming out of the oven.  Then I became a teenager, young adult and then a young mother and discovered if I didn’t eat bread, it was much easier to maintain my slim figure.  After my family continued to grow… I started to realize how much easier it would make my life if I simply had bread to offer my growing and ravenous family (4 boys!).

I have done a gluten free diet in the past.   And we have done paleo.  Now we do THM (trim healthy mama).  We love it and it loves us 🙂  It’s the best of all worlds.  They mention how you can use bread in your diet IF it is genuine sourdough bread.  Hard to find and expensive it is to buy from the store.  Check the ingredients, you have to make sure there is ZERO yeast and only sourdough starter in the ingredients to insure that it’s sourdough and not a “tastes like sourdough” bread.

I had 3 hurdles that I really hoped were possible:

  • I wanted a real sourdough recipe that I could make in my kitchen – that actually tasted good
  • I wanted to use 100% whole wheat (to gain full nutritional benefit)
    (*you are welcome to use all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat)
  • I wanted to make it start-to-finish in a bread machine

I was stumped at hurdle #1.  It was frustrating.  I couldn’t get my sourdough starter to work for me….THEN, I got my starter from Sourdo, (click on the link and check them out).
Now, I was starting to get somewhere.
I got the San Fran starter.  They have many to choose from, pick any of them.

Then I found this whole wheat sourdough site, explaining that you can do 100% whole wheat sourdough.  I was in disbelief.  I had searched and searched and it was really hard to find anyone saying that was possible.  At best, most “experts” say you can do 50% blend of all purpose with whole wheat.  And this guy offered a sandwich loaf style vs the artisan style.
(I love artisan sourdough, but it’s not as useful for a daily bread for a large, growing, hungry family.)

Third hurdle… can this be done in a bread machine? ? ?
Even though I have many children, homeschool, a husband I feed/cook 3 meals a day for, laundry, and all the other myriad of things a mom of littles must do every day… I was tempted to do homemade bread in my kitchen aid or bosch mixer  – oven style.

WHY?  because I would no longer run out of bread. I would always have something to feed my hungry people.
And it is less expensive than any other food and completely wholesome!

BUT – HOW VERY nice it would be to throw all the ingredients into a bread machine and not worry about burning it in the oven because I decided to take a nap with the kids or run to the park last minute…

Then I discover the Zojirushi Bread Machine.  I bought it with my fingers crossed.

Could this be too good to be true???

It was the only bread machine that had a “homemade” setting.  This setting let you customize how long you wanted to knead your bread and how long you wanted your bread to rise before baking.  Or you could turn off the bake option and let it rise for a long time in a cooler temp and then decide to bake when you were ready.  The description online, from every source I could find didn’t tell me it could do all those things listed above.  It did say it had a “sourdough” setting, but it was for the “fake sourdough bread” with yeast. 😦

The Zojirushi arrived and I was in heaven.  It makes a traditional looking loaf vs the tall cylinder loaf most of us have seen from the traditional bread machine.

I went to work.  My first loaf turned out, I was amazed!…. but I tweaked and tweaked and pondered and pondered as to why some loaves were better than other.  Some were absolutely PERFECT.  Others were edible.
It took me about 4 months of making bread 3 times a week, before I settled on exactly how to make a predictable loaf.

Finally, here is the recipe – if you want to make Pizza Dough – simply don’t let the bread bake and use the dough for pizza.  It makes wonderful pizza!

(yes, I did up-my-game and get a scale to weigh the ingredients… makes it precise and NO utensils to clean)

  • Put the bread machine pan on the scale, zero out, set to grams
  • Pour in 315 grams of sourdough starter (I like mine like pancake batter consistency – see below)
  • Zero out scale, pour in 270 grams of warm water
  • Zero out, pour in 450 grams of ground whole wheat (I grind my own)
  • Zero out, pour in
    10 grams of salt
    45 grams of honey
    45 grams of oil

Stick in bread machine.  Set to homemade setting #1. Let knead for 15 minutes.  (when the “add ingredient” beeping starts – I lift the lid and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then I add more flour if needed and shut the lid.  It almost always needs more flour.  Read this guy’s post about making whole wheat sourdough and learn about the “window pane test“.  He also shows pictures of how the dough will look when you are done kneading it.

I turn off the machine.  Turn it back on to setting #1.  Let it knead again for 15 minutes.  So now it will have kneaded for a total of 30 minutes.  If I have a busy day ahead, I leave it alone and it’s done whenever I return.

IF I have the presence of mind and the time and I’m around the kitchen/house…. (*grin*)…  I turn off the machine after it’s done kneading for 30 minutes and check on it in 4-5 hrs.  The machine is a room temp when turned off vs a warming/rising temp when in rise mode.  I think some say it’s best to let it rise 7 hrs to convert all the sugar out of the wheat.  I’ve been happy with my 4-6 hrs rise time.  You could set a kitchen timer for 7 hrs while your machine is off and then hit setting 3 (the just bake option) and let it bake when you tell it too.

This is how I have my custom setting:

Setting 1 (everything is off except the following)

  • knead 15 min
  • rise 1 hr
  • rise 3 hrs
  • bake 55 minutes

Setting 2

  • rise 4 hrs
  • bake 55 minutes

Setting 3

  • bake 55 minutes

**You can play around with these settings.  The first rise is the only one you can do for more than 3 hrs.  The second rise is maxed at 3 hrs.


As for keeping your sourdough starter happy from day to day… I have found it’s easier than I have read on most online articles.

Literally, this is all I do:
– I keep the starter in a wide mouth quart jar with a lid barely screwed on (so it can breathe).
It needs to eat a minimum of once a day.  It has optimum growth if fed twice a day.   And if you need bulk up your supply because you are going to be making bread every day or you want to make bread today and pizza tomorrow, then you can feed it as often as every 3 hrs.
– I feed it a couple heaping spoonfuls (of ground wheat per feeding and add some water.  I don’t measure the quantity of either, I just make sure it’s the consistency of pancake batter.  STIR WELL.
– If you are going to be away or are not going to make bread every couple days, simply stick the starter in the fridge.  Pull it out the day before you want to bake bread.  Feed it a minimum of twice before making bread.  This allows for the starter to be at full power.




I did the math… I can make a loaf of bread for somewhere between $1.00 – $1.5o a loaf… depending on how expensive your wheat is.  If grind your own, it’s cheaper.  Organic costs more than non-organic. But even with the highest quality of ingredients, all organic… this bread will be the freshest you can get and probably a 1/4 of the price of anything in the store.   #win

If you use the amazon link, I make a small affiliate commision off your purchase.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. Erica permalink
    September 21, 2018 11:21 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe & process. I am a fellow Mama, who also homeschools & does all the things! I just got my Zojirushi today, yay!! What is your favorite oil to use?

    • theCmom permalink
      November 6, 2018 9:34 pm

      I use olive oil. If you have access to good lard or tallow, this makes wonderful bread. Just made Rejuvalac (fermented drink from wheat berries). Yum!

  2. June 19, 2017 8:44 pm

    You are my hero! I was looking for the exact same recipe, with the exact same criteria! I even just had purchased the same bread machine last week! Thanks!

    • theCmom permalink
      November 7, 2018 10:40 am

      Yay! I make loaf about every other day. It’s been a huge blessing to our family to have quality bread available all the time and for such a great price. I buy wheat in bulk and I figure I get a huge loaf for about $1.50. The bread machine allows me to make bread at night or before I’m headed to the park.

  3. Ron permalink
    December 29, 2016 10:37 pm

    Thanks so much this is exactly what I was looking for! I just have one question: What kind of whole wheat flour do you use? Hard red, Soft red, etc.? There are so many different kinds it is very confusing.

    • theCmom permalink
      November 7, 2018 10:54 am

      I prefer Hard Winter White. (Red is fine, but White makes a “nicer” loaf). Soft (vs hard) is more for pastries.

  4. jon doer permalink
    November 22, 2016 12:06 pm

    This sounds great, but I can’t deal with tending a starter. I don’t like the waste, don’t have enough friends to pass it along to, and eventually it will die.
    I use vinegar and some dark beer, for a third or quarter of the recipe. Simple, and close enough for me. You won’t feel like you are at Fisherman’s Wharf, but it’s better than most sourdough breads on the market. This was once recommended by Cooks Ill.

    • theCmom permalink
      November 7, 2018 10:58 am

      If you only make bread once a week, you can keep it in your fridge and then you don’t have to feed it. Pull it out the night before, feed it and it’ll be ready the next day to use for baking. And then back in the fridge it goes.

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