I am excited to share with you the multigrain sourdough bread recipe that I have been perfecting for a couple of years now. This is my go-to recipe for our “weekday” bread. It works wonderfully well for sandwiches and toast. And *bonus* – it is equally delicious with savory or sweet toppings. Two of my favorites are (1) avocado toast topped with chiles, radishes, cilantro, arugula, or other flavorful veggies; and (2) peanut butter + honey + banana slices + cinnamon.
This bread also freezes really well. We usually bake a couple loaves, slice them, and then freeze the slices wrapped in pairs in saran wrap and sealed in a ziploc bag. It will keep for up to 3 months like this, and is best at least lightly toasted if using from the freezer.
Before we get into this sourdough bread recipe, let’s pause and see if you have a sourdough starter on hand! If not, no worries. Put a hold on this recipe, and head on over to my post on how to get one started. It’s easy! All you need is bread flour, water, and a little time.
So now let’s jump into this multigrain sourdough bread recipe!
This recipe is derived from one of my bread baker inspirations – Peter Reinhart. He has a couple of books that I use often – some sourdough recipes, and some traditional yeast based recipes. If you are looking for some bread baking inspiration, here are the two books of his that I have and refer to often:
To create my multigrain sourdough bread recipe I’ve used a couple of Peter’s multigrain bread recipes as a base. One was a sourdough bread, the other was traditional yeast based. I’ve tweaked and tuned for a few years now, until I have a combination that we really enjoy, and that I can get to turn out consistent nearly every time. I’m excited to share this recipe with you, and I hope it helps you in your own bread baking journey!
Keep in mind that you, too, can tweak and tune to make this YOUR perfect sourdough bread recipe. Maybe you prefer different grains, a different flour combo, added nuts or seeds, alternative sweeteners. Play around and see what you like!
Core Recipe Elements
The core elements that make this recipe what it is are the “multigrain soaker,” the flour combination, and the sweetener used.
I share my favorite combinations and a few alternatives I’ve tried in the recipe that follows. These are also the main elements I would recommend experimenting with. Keep the proportions relatively similar, but play around with specific ingredients to get new flavor profiles and textures.
Tips for this Sourdough Bread Recipe
Lastly before we jump to the recipe itself, I will highlight some of the key tips and tricks that I find are critical to this recipe, and are worth discussing in just a touch more detail.
- Make sure your starter is fresh and bubbly before you use it in this bread recipe. For the activity of my starter, I like to feed it at least 3 times, 12 hours apart, prior to starting my bread. However, I also keep my starter dormant in the fridge for a few weeks at a time, so if yours is always out on the counter being fed twice a day, it might not need much to get it ready for baking.
- The amount of flour is variable, and should be added to “touch”. I usually mix together all the wet ingredients, and then slowly add the flour, up to ~384g. Then I let the dough knead for a couple minutes, and check the texture by pushing in with a finger. If it is still sticky, I add some more flour and keep kneading, checking every minute or so, until it is soft and pliable, a little tacky, but not sticky.
- For the brown rice, I buy a bag of quick-cooking microwave rice, cook it, and then portion it out into ~58g spoonfuls. Whatever I am not using in the current batch of dough, I wrap individually in saran wrap and freeze them in a ziploc. This way I always have a little pouch of brown rice ready anytime I plan to make bread!
- Mixer with kneading attachment
- 174 g multigrain mix (Combine up to four different grains in equal weights. I like: quinoa, polenta, oatmeal, and either buckwheat or wheat bran.)
- 310 g cold filtered water (Use enough water to cover the grains, mix to ensure it is well combined. If you use more/less than 310g, subtract/add from the water used in the dough ingredients so your total water remains the same.)
- 387 g 100% hydration sourdough barm (Active, use no more than 12 hours from last feeding.)
- 484 g bread flour
- 290 g whole wheat flour (You can use classic whole wheat or a combination of whole wheat and other whole grain flours. I like splitting this 290g 50/50 with spelt flour and whole wheat flour.)
- 58 g cooked brown rice (Quick microwave varieties work well for this.)
- 29 g brown sugar
- 29 g honey (Or substitute molasses – the flavor will come subtely through in the bread!)
- 19 g salt
- 29 g powdered buttermilk (Or substitute powdered milk.)
- 174 g cold filtered water (Adjust this amount as necessary depending on how much was used in the sponge.)
Prep the Multigrain Soaker
- 12 hours before you start your bread dough, combine the grains and water for your multigrain soaker in a medium mixing bowl or 2 quart food prep container.
- Ensure that the grains are just submerged in the water. I like to add most of the water, mix to ensure the grains are all moistened, and then top off to just submerge the mixture.
- Cover with saran wrap (or prep in a lidded bowl), and let sit out at room temperature.
- You want the grains to soak for about 12 hours, or overnight, before starting your dough.
Mix the Dough
- Put the kneading attachment on your mixer – you can use this for all the steps that follow.
- Transfer all of the ingredients EXCEPT the flour to the bowl of your mixer and mix a few times to combine.
- Add the 290g of whole wheat flour, or whole wheat flour blend, and mix to combine.
- Leave the mixer on, kneading, and add the bread flour 50-100g at a time. You may not need all the bread flour, or you may need a little extra. As the dough comes together, stop and feel it to assess consistency. Push into the dough gently with your finger: You want it to be slightly tacky, but not sticking to your finger. It should give as you push, and not feel overly firm.
- Once satisfied with the dough consistency, knead for 5-10 minutes more in the mixer.
- The dough is ready when it springs back slightly to the touch, and passes the window pane test (see below).
Window Pane Test
- The window pane test assesses the gluten formation in your dough. If it passes this test, then you have sufficient gluten formation for the bread to rise into a good form. To test: pull a small amount of dough off. Pull it between your fingers sloooowwwwwwly. It should stretch very thin without breaking, so that if you hold it up to a window, you can see the light coming through. If it breaks before pulling thin, the gluten is not yet formed and you need to knead for another couple minutes before testing again. One other thing to note, the dough will be stickier when doing this test than just pushing in to test for "tackiness" earlier on, and that's OK.
Form the Bulk Dough
- Once the dough has passed the window pane test, it's ready to form for it's first rise.
- Prep the 4 quart bowl or food storage container by misting lightly with a non-stick cooking spray. *I also recommend weighing this conainer before adding the dough to it, and noting that down for later.*
- Using a small bowl scraper or stiff spatula, transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to a clean surface.
- Form into a tight ball by running your hands around opposite sides of the dough to pull it into a tight ball. Tuck it in towards the bottom, meeting under the dough ball with your hands on opposite sides. Repeat at different angles until you have a ball formed, with a tight surface tension.
- Lift the ball with the large scraper, and transfer to the 4 quart bowl or food storage container. Make sure the tension remains across the top of the ball, tucking down the edges again after transfer if necessary to remove excess air under the dough.
- Cover with saran or a lid that is not tightly sealed (you want the dough to be able to "breath").
- Let rise until 1.5 – 2x the size. The time needed for this will vary depending on the activity of your starter, and the ambient temperature where you are rising. For me, this can take anywhere from 3-5 hours. Longer in the winter when our home is cooler, shorter in the summer when it is warmer.
Form Dough into Loaves
- First, prep your two loaf pans by lightly misting with a non-stick cooking spray. You can also dust them with cornmeal if you are concerned about sticking, or want the extra texture on the bottom and sides of your finished loaves.
- Weigh the container with the risen dough, and subtract the initial weight you noted down when it was empty to calculate the total weight of your dough. Divide this in half – this is the amount of dough you'll want to use for each loaf.
- Turn the container with your dough upside down on a clean counter, and gently ease the dough onto the counter.
- Using your large bench scraper, cut the dough approximately in half and transfer one half back into the container – adjust amount of dough as necessary to get close to the amount you want for a single loaf.
- With the dough left on the counter, gently stretch it out into a rectangle.
- Then, starting at one of the short ends, roll the dough into a log shape, tucking at each roll to get a tight seam, and periodically tucking the ends in as well to get tension across the entire loaf you are forming.
- Once shaped, pinch the final seam to ensure it is sealed, perform one final tuck by running your hands down opposite sides to meet underneath, and then transfer the loaf to a prepared loaf pan.
- Cover loosely with saran wrap – ensure there is plenty of room for the loaf to rise underneath the saran. I typically mist the underside of the saran with a non-stick cooking spray to ensure it will not stick to the dough during rising.
- Let rise until the loaf is just cresting the edge of the loaf pan. It should still give when pressed and form an indent where your finger is, but then slightly spring back. If it does not spring back at all, the loaves have over-risen and you should bake immediately. You will also not want to score loaves that have risen too long or they will fall when scored. The time needed for this second rise will also vary depending on the activity of your starter, and the ambient temperature where you are rising. For me, this step usually takes anywhere from 2-4 hours.
- You can also perform this second rise partially in the fridge. This will increase flavor development, as well as gives you a stopping point if you don't want to bake the same day. You can leave loaves in the fridge for 24-48 hours before baking. To rise in the fridge you have two options: (1) Rise your dough most of the way, but transfer to the fridge before it is quite finished. Rising will slow down in the fridge. Pull it out ~2 hours before baking to ensure it warms to room temperature first. (2) Transfer the loaves to the fridge immediately after forming. In this case, leave plenty of time before baking to warm up to room temperature and finish rising if needed. This may take more than 2 hours depending on how much more they need to rise.
Bake the Loaves
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove saran wrap from loaves.
- If desired, score the top of each loaf with a bread lame (we have this one). Don't do this if the loaves have over-risen and don't have a little spring left when you press in with a finger, as scoring will deflate the loaf.
- Transfer the loaves to the oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 20 minutes – 40 minutes total.
- Check for doneness – a thermometer pressed into the center of the loaf should read at least 190°F when complete.
Cool and Slice
- Let cool for about 20 minutes in the loaf pans.
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Don't cut into the loaves until COMPLETELY cooled! If you do, moisture will escape leaving your loaves more dry.