1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast (if using), milk, starter, sugar, salt, seeds, and cardamom. Stir in the rye flour and beat until the batter is smooth.

  2. Add the whole wheat flour, then the all-purpose flour 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. When the dough has formed a shaggy mass, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.

  3. Knead the dough for 8 minutes or so, using only enough flour to keep it from sticking. The dough should be smooth, elastic, and a little tacky, but not so sticky that it coats your finger. You can also knead the dough for 6 to 7 minutes using a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.

  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  5. Deflate the dough and shape as desired: a freestanding round, a fat log with tapered ends (bâtard), or a log to fit in a 9" x 5" loaf pan. Cover the loaf with greased plastic and let it rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until puffy.

  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F.

  7. Bake the bread for about 25 minutes, or until nicely browned and hollow sounding when thumped on the bottom. Remove it from the oven and cool on a rack.

  8. Store bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for homemade sourdough starter. If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. Want a head start? Purchase our classic fresh sourdough starter – it’ll be ready for baking about 24 hours after it arrives at your door. Looking for tips, techniques, and all kinds of great information about sourdough baking? Find what you need in our sourdough baking guide.