Plus My Best Bread Making Tips and Your FAQ About Bread Making
My recipe is for whole wheat sourdough bread in a bread machine but you can use all-purpose flour if you prefer. With this easy-to-follow sourdough bread recipe, you can have your loaf baking in no time! Fill your home with the aroma of homemade bread for feelings of happiness and well-being. Let’s get baking!
I don’t usually use a bread machine. Not that I’m against them, but I enjoy the whole process of making it, especially the kneading. I also like to bake my bread in my cast iron dutch oven because of the artisan look it gives the loaf.
One sultry summer day in the Deep South, I couldn’t face turning on my oven but it was bread making day. I found myself asking, “Can you make sourdough in a bread maker?” So I set out to learn how to make sourdough bread in the bread machine and developed my easy sourdough bread recipe for the bread machine.
After a couple of disappointing loaves of sourdough bread machine recipes, I figured out the problem. Before I share my recipe, I want to answer your FAQs and share my best bread-making tips with you.
FAQ About My Sourdough Bread Recipe
Do you use yeast in sourdough bread recipes?
It’s not necessary to add yeast because the sourdough starter contains yeast it traps from the air. When making our sourdough bread recipe for the bread machine I don’t add extra yeast because I prefer the true taste of the starter.
However, I do add 1 teaspoon of yeast when I make it in the machine. You would also add yeast if you wanted a faster rise than your sourdough starter gives you.
What’s the difference between sourdough starter and yeast?
The sourdough starter contains yeast naturally from the flour. When you mix the flour and water together, they attract the yeast because it can feed off it. They ferment and this is what makes your starter bubbly and tart.
Did you know the yeast in your home makes your sourdough flavor specific to you? I once captured a yeast that tasted yucky so I had to throw my starter out.
Yeast bought from the store is typically used for most baked goods. It reacts with the gluten in the flour and causes it to rise. It’s temperamental to temperatures so you can easily kill it if the liquid is too hot. If the water is not warm enough, it won’t activate at all.
What makes my sourdough bread so dense and heavy?
The likely culprit is a cold starter. If you have had your starter refrigerated, feed it and let it sit on the counter for 10-24 hours to get to room temperature and begin to thrive again.
If your room is below 75 degrees. Place the starter in a warmer area. It needs to be at least 75 degrees to be active. It prefers 80 or above.
I answered your sourdough questions in this audio conversation. I hope it’s helpful.
You can find more tips, a starter recipe, and a traditional sourdough bread recipe in our sister article on sourdough.
My Best Tips for Making Homemade Bread Recipes
The first thing I would tell you is to keep in mind that a sourdough “recipe” is really more of a guideline. Treat it as a starting point for your bread-making. Why?
- Your sourdough is alive. Sometimes more so than at others. It won’t act the same every time. It’s not like anyone else’s either.
- Because temperature is key in the making of a starter and bread. Your house may not be as cool as mine or vice versa. The warmer the temperature, the faster things go. So too, the cooler the temperature, the slower things go.
- The older your starter the stronger the flavor. This means if your ratio of starter to flour is high you’ll have a strongly flavored bread. If you prefer a lighter sourdough taste, you’ll need to lower the amount of your aged starter and replace the missing amount with warm water.
- You may not use the same kind of flour as me. Yes, flour type changes the texture, absorption, and even the proving time of bread.
- Add 1 Tbsp raw, organic apple cider vinegar to the dough while mixing. This will add vital enzymes and give you a lighter dough.
- Always start with the smallest amount of flour and work your way up. Your bread dough should be slightly sticky when you start the first rise. During the first rising, the flour will absorb some of the moisture.
- Resist the temptation to knead the dough until it’s “smooth and elastic” with the first kneading. I know many recipes say to do this but resist it. Trust me. Over-kneading is the reason for a “tough”, dense loaf. Knead just until it starts to be smooth and elastic, but is still a little sticky, then stop! The second kneading you do when shaping your loaf will finish it up.
- My best tip for kneading and handling tacky dough is to moisten your hands with water instead of dusting them with flour.
- Rewet them every time the dough begins to stick to you.
- This avoids the mess of flour dust getting everywhere and keeps it moist as well.
- Reserve about 1/3 of the flour your recipe calls for. You’ll add it after the first rising.
- A second kneading may seem like a time-consuming task, but it is well worth it.
- After your first rising, knead in the remaining flour a little at a time.
- As soon as the dough can be handled without sticking to you or your kneading surface, stop kneading.
- Remember humidity levels directly affect all breads. You may have to adjust the amount of flour you use on a very humid day.
- I bake bread in my dutch oven a great deal of the time. This is how I discovered the importance of steam in the oven when baking bread.
- I put a pot of boiling water on the bottom shelf of the oven just before I put the loaves in. Fantastic results.
- Don’t worry about being perfect. Like any other skill, the more you do it the better you’ll get. You’ll even develop your own way of doing things.
- Don’t rush the preheat. Let your oven get to the correct temperature and maintain it for 20 minutes before putting your bread in.
- This is easily done by starting the preheat 35-40 minutes before you’re ready to bake. Of course, your oven times and temps will vary so adjust for your situation.
- Different “toppings” develop different crust types. For a crustier top, brush with water just before putting it in the oven.
- For a soft top, brush with beaten egg just before baking.
- For a spongy, soft crust, brush with melted butter after baking.
- Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time. I set aside about 4 hours on bread-making morning. It only requires 30-40 minutes of work, the rest of the time is spent waiting for the rise and the baking.
- Use high-quality ingredients. Our goal is to buy whole grains and grind them ourselves to use as flour.
- I also use butter and coconut oil for better, lighter bread. Not to mention the nutritional value of the ingredients. I don’t recommend using oils, shortening, or margarine.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe For The Bread Machine
- This makes a 1 1/2-pound loaf
- Add the ingredients in the order listed
- I set my machine on Whole Wheat, Medium or Dark depending on how I want it
- Let your loaf sit for 15 minutes before slicing
- If you use all-purpose flour, cut the liquid back to 1 1/8 cup starter and 1/8 cup water. Choose the sourdough setting on your bread machine
- You can use any flour you like
- 1 3/4 cups sourdough starter (learn to make your own starter)
- 1/4 cup warm water (I rinse the cup I used to measure the sourdough starter with 1/4 cup warm water and use it)
- 2 Tbs molasses or honey
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or flour of your choosing
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp real salt
- 2/14 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast (OPTIONAL for a faster rise)
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and place in corners and sides of the pan
- Add the ingredients to the machine in the exact order listed above
- Set it and hit start
- When the bread is done, remove it from the machine and let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
- Remove from pan and place loaf on a cooling rack.
- Wait at least 15 minutes before slicing – if you can. Sometimes I don’t and the slice looks weird but if you have to have a slice with butter, you just have to, right?
It’s just that easy to make this sourdough bread recipe for the bread machine.
Sourdough Bread For The Bread Machine
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- 1 1/2 pound loaf
- 1 ¾ cups Sourdough starter
- ¼ cup warm water - I rinse my sourdough cup with 1/4 cup warm water and use that
- 2 TBS Molasses or Honey
- 3 cups whole wheat flour - If you use all-purpose flour, cut the liquid back to 1 1/8 cup starter and 1/8 cup water. Choose the sourdough setting on your bread machine
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp active dry yeast (OPTIONAL for faster rise)
- 2 TBS unsalted butter - cut into pieces and placed in corners and sides of pan
- Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the exact order listed
- Set your machine to the whole wheat setting. Choose your load color setting and hit start.
- When done, remove from machine and let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
- Remove from pan and place loaf on cooling rack. Wait at least 15 minutes before slicing – if you can.
- Add the ingredients in the order listed
- I set my machine on Whole Wheat, Medium or Dark (just depends on how I feel) since I use whole wheat flour.
- If you use all-purpose flour choose the sourdough setting on your bread machine.
- If you don’t use whole grain flour, cut the liquid back to 1 1/8 cup starter and 1/8 cup water and use the appropriate setting on your machine
- You can use any flour you like
I hope you enjoy this easy sourdough bread machine recipe with a starter recipe. Let me know how it turns out.
As always, we’re here to help.
You may also enjoy more of our bread recipes.
Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread Recipes
Kathy H says
My bread didn’t turn out; it was too dense. I bought a bread machine to try making bread that way as I was trying, for the last several years, to make a good sourdough Einkorn bread by hand and have no success. I’m think I might need to change my bread machines calculations instead of the preset times. If I did that, could you share what the exact times for each step should be? Thank you
Hi Kathy, I’m sorry your bread was dense. Let’s see if we can help. 1- Was your starter cold? This can be the cause of dense bread. 2-Did you go through the bread making tips in the post to see if they gave you some idea about what might have happened? 3- Since you’re using Einkorn flour, take a look at our Tips for Baking With Einkorn Flour 4- Every bread machine is different. If you have a customizable program on your machine, I would say, specifically to Einkorn flour, mix cycle just until combined – the amount of time would depend on your machine so the first time check it to see; knead for 10 mins not longer; take a longer rising time – at least an hour but not longer than 1 1/2 hours. Overproofing will cause it to collapse and be dense. Don’t wait for it to double in size because Einkorn sourdough bread doesn’t usually do that. I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can help further. Be sure to share with us how it turns out next time.
This worked out really well for me. But all these bread machine seem to be a little different in how they work and how well the loaf turns out. Do you have a bread machine you recommend?
Hello Lora, You are certainly right. All bread machines are a little different. I have one that I recommend above any other. The reason is that it has customizable settings. This is especially helpful if you use Einkorn flour because they need little to no kneading and almost every bread machine setting has long kneading times. This is the bread machine I recommend. This is the bread machine I have which works great, I just have to be home to bake bread to alter the kneading times at the right moment. If you need a compact machine to save space, this bread machine would be my choice.
I hope this helps. Feel free to let me know if you need anything else.
The link I’ve shared with you is an affiliate link which means we’ll make a small commission if you purchase it. Of course, it will mean NO extra charge to you.
Carla Dalfonso says
Very dense even with the addition of apple cider vinegar.
Oh my, I’m sorry to hear your loaf did not turn out well. I would have to wonder if the yeast was good? Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to help you find it.
with all the ads opening and popups on this page it is opening so slowly I cannot even view the recipe. And I have Verion FIOS high speed internet. Just thought you may want to know.
Thank you for informing me. I did receive a email from the ad provider that they were experiencing some changes, I was hoping for the better.
I will contact them asap as I have no control over the ads themselves and would hate for others to experience this.
why does the recipe include store-bought active dry yeast if also using the sourdough starter? I’m new at this and thought that the starter would replace the store-bought dry yeast.
Adding baker’s yeast to a sourdough bread can be for the purpose of speeding up fermentation, or to tone down the sour flavor and allow more of the grain flavor to come through. The purpose of having sourdough at all in these breads is to produce a more complex flavor, to increase dough strength, to enhance the keeping quality of the bread, to achieve health benefits that come with sourdough (e.g., increased absorption of minerals), or all of the above
very efficiently written article and your article contains very interesting and very useful facts that i can use for my works. thank you for the article and keep up the good work.
I don’t keep whole wheat flour very often. Could I substitute bread flour instead?
Yes, you can absolutely substitute any flour you like. Just be sure you use the appropriate setting on your bread machine. The whole wheat setting kneads and bakes for whole wheat flour. Let me know if I can help in any other way.
Birdie falk says
Question? Can this be made in the bread machine on the dough cycle?
Thank you for all the information on the sourdough starter and the bread recipe… My starter looks beautiful now.. It was a beautiful day and I sat it out on the deck . It must have found some of that wild yeast…..
Birdie, the dough cycle will not knead and thoroughly mix this dough. I don’t think it will bake it either, at least my dough cycle only mixes and raises dough. If you don’t have a whole wheat cycle on your machine, try a “Homemade” cycle, or “Sandwich” cycle. The homemade cycle will let you select your variables. If you don’t use whole wheat flour, the “Sandwich” cycle should work. I hope this is of some help to you. Let me know how your bread turns out on the different cycle. Your experiments will help others with the same question and teach me something as well! 🙂