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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wheat Germ Sourdough - a flavourful plain sourdough

I wasn’t aware of wheat germ before until I was introduced to it through the fantastic SFBI miche by a TFL member, which I also jumped onto the band wagon and made the bread sometimes ago (the post is here).

Wheat germ was toasted and added to that recipe. Toasted wheat germs produced sensational aroma and lovely nutty and creamy taste. I liked it so much that I was planning to make more bread with it. Thing was, I got a long long list of things I wanted to try baking, but so little time.

Now, few months later, I finally got around making wheat germ sourdough. I used a simple sourdough recipe with mixed flour starter (wheat and whole wheat) and included 2% of toasted wheat germ (in Baker’s Percentage term, 2% of total flour) in the recipe. The recipe also contains 10% whole wheat flour and 68% hydration.

A note in Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book recommended 2% as maximum amount of wheat germs in a recipe. The book suggested too much wheat germs can have a negative effect on gluten development. Apparently, a wheat kernel also contains 2% if wheat germs naturally, before it is processed, where germ and bran are removed.

I toasted the wheat germs longer this time, until it was golden brown. The texture and colour resembled crushed Wheatbix. The aroma was even more wonderful heavily toasted. It stayed in the kitchen long after the toast. The dough was so aromatic from the wheat germ and made the hand kneading rather pleasant.

I have been quite slack with adhering to the desired dough temperature lately. When temperature was around 20 -22 C, DDT (desired dough temperature) doesn’t matter much. However, the weather is now getting cooler in Melbourne. The evening and morning temperature (when I mix starter and final dough) are around 10 – 14 C. I started to notice that the starter wasn’t ready when it should be, the dough didn’t get fermented within the expected timeframe. Now, I am back to measure the temperature of all ingredients before mixing and change the water temperature to make sure that the final temperature will match the DDT.

Note: To calculate the desired dough temperature (source: Bread: a Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes),

- Multiply DDT with the number of ingredients in the recipe and
- Add friction created by kneading (20F, for example),
- For example, a dough require DDT 76F that have 4 ingredients with friction from kneading of 20F = (76 x 4) + 20 = 324.

To start with, you have to measure the temperature of all ingredients except water, add them all up with the friction, then subtract that total from total DDT, to get the temperature of water. The goal is to manipulate the water temperature to get the DDT.

Actual Temperature
60 F +
60 F +
60 F +
Friction factor
20 F +
Total before water
200 F -
Total DDT
324 F =
Water temperature
124 F

This bread was a great every day kind of bread. It made great sandwiches. It had a pronounced acidity from mixed flour sourdough starter. The crumb was open, chewy and moist. It had a fantastic creamy sweet aroma from the wheat germ and whole wheat, plus great health benefit of wheat germ. The wheat germ doesn’t last long once it is opened (because of its high natural oil content, it will go rancid relatively quickly). I’ll have to try making more bread with it before it is off. So, there'll be more of baking with wheat germs on the way. I'm already eyeing for something.  

Wheat Germ Sourdough
make 2 large loaves


Overall Formula
Baker’s Percentage
Bread flour
817 g
Whole wheat flour
90 g
617 g
17 g
Wheat germ
18 g
1.56 kg

Sourdough built
Whole wheat flour 68 g
Bread flour 68 g
Water 170 g
Mature culture 28 g

Final Dough
Bread flour 749 g (I used flour with 12.5% protein)
Whole wheat flour 22 g
Water 433 g
Salt 17 g
Wheat germ, toasted 18 g
Sourdough starter 306 g (all less 28 g for future use)


Prepare sourdough built:  Mix all ingredient together until well-combined about 12 – 16 hours before mixing the final dough. Leave it in a covered container at room temperature. Desired temperature 21c (70F).

Mixing: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, except salt and wheat germs.  Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Leave it to autolyze in a bowl covered with plastic bag or wrap for 15 - 30 minutes. Desired dough temperature 24C (76F).

Meanwhile, toast wheat germ in a small heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until it is very aromatic and golden brown. Leave them to cool in a bowl.

Wheat germ: before and after toasting

Sprinkle salt and wheat germ over the dough surface and mix on the first speed for 3 minutes. Continue mixing on second speed for further 3 – 4 minutes, until a medium gluten development is achieved (the dough can be stretched gently, stay intact and doesn’t tear).

I kneaded the dough by hand and it took around 15 minutes to get medium gluten development.

Bulk fermentation: - Leave the dough in a lightly oiled container and cover the bowl with plastic bag or wrap for 2.5 hour until doubled in size. Do stretch-and-fold twice at 50 minutes interval (first fold at 50 minutes, second fold at 100 minutes).

Divide the doughs into two equal portions. Pre-shape the doughs into rounds and let them rest for 10 – 15 minutes under a tea towel.

Shape the doughs into oblong (batard) or boule (round) and place into proofing baskets/bowls. Slip the proofing basket into a large plastic bag. Retard the dough in the fridge overnight or proof at room temperature for 2 hours or until almost double in size.

Baking: If retarding, take the dough out of the fridge and leave them at room temperature for 60-90 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature and prepare the oven steaming.

Bake at 235C for 15 minutes with steam, reduce temperature to 220C and bake for further 25 – 30 minutes (total baking time is 40 45 minutes).

I usually leave the loaves to dry off in the off-oven with the door open for 5-10 minutes. This helps the crust to brown up a little more and stay crisp for longer.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. Wonderful post! I think I have some wheat germ in my pantry, if I do, I'll be making this bread on Sunday...

  2. Thanks Sally. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.


  3. I may be missing something, but the water seems off. You have 170g in the Levain, and 133 in the final = 303. But the final also calls for 697. So we're missing almost 400g? My 28g starter is 100%, so that's only 14g, still only

    1. Thanks for pointing it out. I really need a proof-reader or editor, don't I :P

      Formula is now corrected. It should be 617g of total water and 433g in the final dough. The starter is at 100% hydration.