Vegan recipes Veganuary 2022

Wholemeal sourdough loaf

Wholemeal sourdough loaf on a chopping board,  sliced so the crumb is visible

Prep Time
12-36 hours (mostly inactive)

Cooking time

One 600g loaf

Making sourdough – I missed it. I particularly missed turning out a really good wholemeal sourdough loaf. After years of bashing out a wholemeal sourdough loaf most weeks, I gave it a rest for months whilst pregnant. It sounds feeble, but I just didn’t have the energy between morning sickness, dizziness, and a whole host of extra scans and appointments.

I kept my wholemeal rye sourdough starter at the back of the fridge even though I wasn’t using it. Revived with the smallest amount of rye flour, it bubbled straight back up, and got to work churning out some fabulous loaves.

Wholemeal rye sourdough starter

The first loaf I made after having our daughter was the wholemeal sourdough loaf in this recipe, when she was about two months old. Needless to say, the fist loaf was a beauty. I’m really enjoying getting back into the rhythm of making a few loaves most weeks.

Baking loaves has been easier to fit into a life with a baby than I thought it would be: sourdough is even better when everything done slowly, and pretty much all the stages can be slowed right down. This is handy when life can be unpredictable from one minute to the next. The sourdough process is much more forgiving than using standard yeast, which acts much more quickly.

This is the baby-friendly method I’ve been using for baking a wholemeal sourdough loaf. I’ve included instructions for making your starter if you don’t already have one. I’ve also added asterisks to the recipe at points that you can pause the whole thing, to attend to essential interruptions (e.g., feeding a hungry baby, the doorbell going, or taking a nap!). I do this by covering the bowl and putting it in the fridge.

A wholemeal sourdough loaf tastes much better to me than white bread, and I love that it’s relatively unprocessed and full of the good stuff, including iron, calcium, and fibre. I’ve included approximate basic nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. If this isn’t your thing, please ignore!

Ingredients for the starter

Wholemeal  rye sourdough starter, and a bag of rye flour
  • 300g organic wholemeal rye flour
  • 300ml water

Ingredients for the wholemeal sourdough loaf

Wholemeal sourdough loaf ingredients - the starter, some wholemeal bread flour, sea salt, and some rapeseed oil
  • 25g active starter
  • 250g water
  • 2g salt
  • 40g of rapeseed oil
  • 350g strong wholemeal bread flour

Method for the starter

If you already have a starter, skip this section.

  • Mix 50g water and 50g organic rye flour in a clean and scent-free glass jar
  • Leave 24hrs in a warm draft-free spot in the house, covered with a clean tea towel or muslin
  • After 24 hours, remove half the mixture, throw it away, and add 25g flour and 25g water to the jar
  • Stir the mixture thoroughly
  • Leave the jar for 24hrs in a warm draft free spot again
  • Repeat this process for 7-10 days. The starter is ready when you notice that it bubbles up and down reliably, and smells fresh and yeasty

Method for the wholemeal sourdough loaf

*Asterisks are used throughout this recipe to indicate where the process can be paused or slowed down by putting the bowl in the fridge

  1. The day before you want to make the bread, feed your starter so it is bouncy and bubbly*
  2. Mix the sourdough starter and water in a large mixing bowl until the water turns cloudy*
  3. Add the salt and oil to the bowl*
  4. Add the flour and stir vigorously so all the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy dough*
  5. Leave the dough covered in the bowl for at least half an hour at room temperature*
  6. Complete a series of stretch and folds with the dough: from the edge of the bowl, pinch a section of the the dough, pull it over to the other side of the bowl, and push the dough in so the dough sticks to itself. Turn the bowl whilst completing this action 20 times*
  7. Repeat the previous step 3-4 times with the dough, over the course of at least an hour, leaving it to rest in the middle*. Over this time, the gluten will build up in the dough and the flour will absorb the water. This should mean that as you you notice the dough come together more, and stick less to your fingers
  8. Grease a 1.5lb loaf tin*
  9. Roughly shape the dough into a long even sausage shape, and put it in the tin
  10. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel, oiled cling film, or silicone lid
  11. Leave the dough to prove, so it is approximately double in size. I do this by putting the dough in the fridge, and then taking it out and leaving it on the kitchen counter over night (approx 11 hours at 17-20°C )*. The longer the dough proves for, the more sour the flavour will be
  12. Heat a fan oven to 200°C fan / 220°C non-fan and bake the dough for 15m. Turn the oven down to 170°C fan / 190°C non-fan and bake for another 15m
  13. Remove the bread from the oven
  14. Turn the loaf out of the tin and knock on the bottom of it. It should sound hollow if it is baked
  15. Leave the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack
  16. Eat the loaf within ~3 days or freeze. I freeze in slices, as these can be defrosted as appropriate
Slices of the wholemeal sourdough loaf on a plate


Information given per 600g loaf / per 27g slice

  • Energy: 1241 kcal / 104kcal
  • Protein: 51.1g / 3.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 241.4g / 16.1g
  • Fat: 47.9g / 3.2g

I’d love hear how you go and/or see your creations if you do make this recipe – let me know in the comments or tag me @wholemealmum or #wholemealmum, so I can see!


Mother of a baby girl, born in July 2021. Finding my way with it all. Recipes, parenting, and walking.

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