Vegan Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread

The fermentation process reduces the amount of kneading required for this hearty bread.

Serves: 16Hands-on: 35 minutesTotal: 18 hoursDifficulty: Medium


Serves: 16

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 ¾ cups plus ⅓ cups pure water, warm (110°F–115°F), divided
  • 2 Tbsp. agave syrup
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. salt

Directions

  • Sterilize all equipment first by boiling in water for 5 minutes. This includes the container for the starter and all measuring cups and utensils. Combine the 2 cups flour and yeast in the sterile 2-quart glass or glazed ceramic bowl or container. Gradually stir in the 2 cups of warm water to form a thick, pasty mixture. Cover with a clean dish towel and set container on a baking sheet to catch any overflow that may occur. Place in a warm area, ideally 70°–80°F, and allow to sit for 3–4 days, stirring once each day.
  • When the starter is ready it will be bubbly and will have a sour but pleasant aroma. (If starter smells bad or develops a pink or orange tint, throw it out and start over.) The starter is ready to use and can be covered with a tight-fitting lid and stored in the refrigerator at this point.
  • The starter will need to be fed once every other week. To feed the refrigerated starter, bring starter to room temperature then add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Let sit at room temperature for 8 hours and return to the refrigerator. Sometimes a brown liquid byproduct of fermentation called “hooch” will appear on the starter. This is harmless and can be stirred back into the starter.
  • Refresh 1 cup of sourdough starter (reserve remaining starter for another use) by combining the starter with ¾ cup water and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Mix well and allow to sit for 4 hours.
  • Stir in the remaining 1⅓ cups water and the agave syrup. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining unbleached all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and salt. Gradually add the flour to the sourdough mixture, adding only a small amount of additional water if needed. Stir until flour is incorporated. Dough will be stiff. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place (70°–85°F) for 6–8 hours.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes, and then knead again for 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest for 10 more minutes. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a firm ball. Place dough balls on a nonstick baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for another 2–4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut five small ¼" deep slices on the top of loaf forming a star shape. Bake for 55–60 minutes, or until deep-golden brown. The loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to wire racks to cool.