Sourdough bread with atta (Indian whole wheat flour or chapathi flour) with step-by-step recipe.
What is atta
Atta or chakki atta is whole wheat flour used to make Indian flatbreads like roti, chapati, or paratha. It is popularly known as chapati flour outside of India. Atta is ground slightly coarse when compared to the western wholemeal flour. Atta is different when compared to all-purpose whole wheat flour and has high gluten content.
About this recipe
I have shared earlier how to create a sourdough starter with atta and how it is different from a regular flour starter. I have used the discard to make sourdough parathas and once my starter was ripe, I wanted to bake bread with it. I tried incorporating it in my regular no-knead sourdough bread by replacing the bread flour with 1:1 bread flour:atta. It worked really well but obviously, I wanted to bake a 100% atta sourdough bread.
When I tried this recipe here, it turned out really well. This wonderful nutritious bread is delicious with a lovely tang, good rise, and a very flavourful crumb. The increased nutrition of this bread is a great plus, along with the different flavour and tastes this bread has if you are regularly baking white sourdough bread.
Making sourdough atta bread is slightly different when compared to making white sourdough bread. Firstly, I autolyse the atta without the starter for a long time. When I start activating my starter, I also start autolysing the atta. This helps immensely with dough development and makes working with this dough relatively easy.
Secondly, this is a very high hydration dough - 95%. Hence the long autolyse is important as this helps in strengthening the dough and makes it easy to handle. I combine a small percentage of atta when making sourdough pizza as well as some bread, like sourdough pumpkin bread. The result is absolutely amazing. I will share the recipes for them soon.
If you have not created one, you can find the recipe to make a sourdough starter with atta here. All the troubleshooting while creating the sourdough starter can be found here.
My baking timeline is the same as my white sourdough bread, but I autolyse the flour along with activating the starter.
FRIDAY NIGHT: Take the starter from the fridge and feed it with atta and water. In a separate bowl, combine atta and water making sure there are no dry bits. Leave them both in a warm temperature overnight.
SATURDAY MORNING: Mix starter into the dough, stretch and fold, bulk fermentation.
SATURDAY NIGHT: Cold fermentation in the fridge.
SUNDAY/MONDAY MORNING: Bake day.
Step by step instructions
Combine the ingredients needed to activate the starter and keep it in a warm spot (step 1).
Combine atta and water to begin autolysis. Keep in a warm spot (step 2).
Next morning, combine the starter and salt with the autolysed dough (step 3).
Perform the first set of stretch and fold (steps 4,5,6).
Continue to stretch and fold until the dough develops strength (steps 7,8,9).
Let the dough sit for bulk fermentation. The dough rises and is almost double after bulk fermentation (steps 10,11).
Divide the dough into two. Shape them into two balls and let them rest on the bench for 15 minutes (step 12).
Pick one side of the dough and fold it to the center. Pick the other side and fold it to the center (step 13).
Now hold the dough gently and tuck it to form a log. Place in a well-dusted banneton (step 14).
Score the cold dough once the oven is preheated (step 15).
Place in the preheated dutch oven. Bake with the lid on for 25 minutes, then bake without the lid for another 15 minutes (steps 16,17,18).
Tips and tricks
Atta absorbs a lot of water, hence we need more water when compared to dough made with bread flour. This is a high hydration dough.
The crumbs are denser when compared to white sourdough bread, but they are definitely soft.
The recipe here makes two loaves. You can divide it into half to make one loaf.
If you are not comfortable making 100% atta bread, start by mixing 20% atta along with the bread flour. Slowly, increase the amount of atta.
We need to have a stiff starter for this bread, so the amount of starter, flour, and water is slightly different when compared to activating the bread flour starter. I have detailed the process below.
The activated starter is very stiff, almost like a chapati dough consistency. To combine it with the dough, pinch it into the dough using your fingers.
My dough had good strength by the time I did the fourth set of stretch and fold. You can either stop at the third stretch and fold or do one more.
Sourdough Atta Bread
For starter activation
- 40 grams atta starter
- 80 grams atta
- 55 grams filter water
For the dough
- 1000 grams atta
- 950 grams filter water
- 20 grams salt
- Rice flour to dust the banneton
DAY 1: 8 PM
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients to activate the starter. This is going to be of stiff dough consistency
- In a separate bowl, combine the atta for the dough with 900 grams of water. Mix well making sure there are no dry bits of the flour
- Cover and place both the bowls in a warm spot overnight
DAY 2: Morning
- Break the stiff activated starter onto the dough
- Combine the starter well into the dough. Add the remaining 50 grams of water and incorporate the starter into the dough. Pinch the starter and dough with your fingers and work into the dough to help the starter mix completely
- Once the starter is completely incorporated, add salt. Mix the salt well into the dough
- The whole process should take 8-10 minutes
- Perform three to four sets of stretch and fold at an interval of 30 minutes. Wet hands, grab a portion of the dough, and slowly stretch it taking care not to break it and fold it towards the center over the dough. Keep turning the bowl and repeat the process until all parts of the dough are covered. Carefully flip the dough and round it up. This completes one set of stretch and fold. Repeat this process six times at an interval of 30 minutes. See the pictures below or the video here to see the technique
- Let the dough sit for bulk fermentation until it is almost double and has bubbles on the top
DAY 2: Evening
- Take the dough from the bowl onto a benchtop dusted with flour
- Divide into two parts. Bring the dough together gently to form a round mass. Cover and let it rest on the bench for 30 minutes
- Dust the banneton/tea towel well with rice flour
- Shape the dough. Divide the dough into two. Shape them into two balls and let it rest on the bench for 15 minutes
- Pick one side of the dough and fold it to the center. Pick the other side and fold it to the center. Now hold the dough gently and tuck it to form a log. Carefully place the dough seam-side up on the banneton
- Cover the dough loosely and place it in the refrigerator overnight for cold fermentation
DAY 3: Morning
- Place the dutch oven in the oven and preheat at 230 C (450 F) for 45 minutes
- Take the dough out of the fridge once the oven is preheated
- Score the dough using a blade or sharp knife
- Place in the dutch oven and close the lid. Bake for 20 minutes
- Take the lid off the dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes
- Turn off the oven and let the bread sit in the oven for 15 minutes for curing
- Cool completely, slice, and serve
- Click here to see how to make atta starter
- Click here to see how to stretch and fold the dough
Click here to watch sourdough atta bread web story.