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Whole Wheat Country Bread

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A simple country bread with a hearty crust and marvelous crumb. A warm slice of this rustic whole wheat bread with a pat of cold butter was heavenly! This delicious loaf will have you in love. 

Overhead view of Whole Wheat Country bread with a hearty crust and marvelous crumb

Country Bread

Our first assignment for Tuesdays with Dorie this year was a hearty Country Bread. This large heavy loaf, with a thick crust, was from contributing baker, Joe Ortiz. I elected not to do any fancy schmancy decorating…an outer braid with wheat stalk motif or star or grape cluster…mainly because I couldn’t visualize the process without step by step photos. This simple crosshatch was more my speed.

Country bread  on a cutting board

How to Make a Sponge

I baked this up on one of our snow days last week. We were warned to stay indoors due to unbelievable sub-zero wind chills. I was happy to comply. The night before I made a sponge, which was basically a mixture of yeast, white, rye and whole wheat flours and water. This was parked in the fridge overnight to ferment…and the slow process provided an extra “kick” of sourdough flavor.

The next morning, my handy-dandy KitchenAid mixer did most of the work with a 10 minute kneading period. This dough was simple…yeast, water, flour, salt and the yeasted sponge. With plenty of time on my hands, the second and third rises were a  leisurely process.

And I learned a new term, banneton, which is a round proofing basket called for in this recipe. But never fear if you don’t own one of these specialized items. I used my colander lined with a floured linen towel…and it worked like a charm. A few razor slashes across the top of the loaf, some ice cubes tossed into the over for some steam and a hot baking stone awaiting in the oven helped create a picture perfect whole wheat Country Bread.

Country bread with a hearty crust sliced on a cutting board with butter and jelly

The Verdict

Bill and Nick were chomping at the bit for their first slices…the incomparable aroma of bread baking was definitely enticing while this loaf spent an hour in the oven, and then there was the additional hour cool down period. They both had a thick slab for dinner and made plans to add it to their breakfast menu the next morning.

To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite loaf. No sugar, no butter, no eggs…and I missed them. But as far as a country style loaf goes…simple ingredients, lovely crumb, crusty crust…this fit the bill.

This Country Bread recipe from Joe Ortiz can be viewed here or found in the cookbook, Baking with Julia.

I used Red Star Yeast in both the sponge and bread dough.

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Country Bread | That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Country Bread

A crusty whole wheat bread with a delicious nutty flavor

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 75 minurwa
  • Cook Time: 70 minutes
  • Total Time: -26151916.4 minute
  • Yield: 1 large loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Mixing, Kneading, Proofing, Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Sponge
1 ½ cups water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 full packet)
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour (used King Arthur all purpose)
1 cup rye flour

Dough
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup water (105 to 115 degrees F)

The above sponge

3 ½ to 4 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
1 tablespoon coarse Kosher salt

Instructions

Put additional warm water – into mixer’s bowl, and let it warm up the surfaces. Pour out.
Add approximately 1/2 cup of the warm water into the bowl.
Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir to mix
Allow the yeast to turn creamy, before add the rest of the water.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine the two flours. Mix them together.

Add the remaining water to the yeast/water.
Add the combined flours mixing together with a heavy spoon. Should be like pancake flour.

Cover the bowl. Let sponge set at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
One can put in refrigerator overnight. Pull it out of the refrigerator at least one hour before using.

Combine the 3 ½ cups of regular flour with whole wheat and salt together in a separate bowl.

Prepare the mixer with the dough hook. Placee the mixer bowl with the sponge on the machine.
Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water

Turn machine on low/medium speed. Pour the other ½ cup water into the sponge.
Gradually add 2 cups of the mixed flour to the sponge.
Mix for about 3 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture and beat to incorporate.
Work in the remaining flour. If need, add additional flour
Dough should clean sides of bowl.
Mix for about 10 minutes. Dough should be moist and satiny, but sticky.

Oil a large bowl. Turn the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let proof at room temperature for at least 2 to 3 hours, if not overnight.

Final Rise and Bake
Prepare a resting spot for the dough. Rub flour into the liner of a basket and set aside.
Turn dough on to floured work surface. Pat into a flat round with fingers and palms.
Fold the edge in and press down with heel of hand. Form dough into a tight ball.
Repeat this process up to four more times.
Turn the loaf over and lay in smooth side down into lined basket.
Let rise for 2 to 3 hours until double in size.

About 30 minutes before baking, put baking stone on bottom third of oven. Preheat to 425 F.
Put release foil, or corn meal on baking sheet.
Carefully invert loaf onto sheet – be careful not to compress it.
Slash 3 long slashes about ½ inch into loaf.

Mix one egg with 2 tablespoons water. Brush over bread.

Slide bread into oven. Reduce heat to 400 F.
If one large loaf, bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Instant thermometer should read 200 F.

Remove loaf from oven. Let sit on rack 10 to 20 minutes.
Serve and watch it be devoured.

You may need these supplies to make this country bread recipe:

Photo shared on Yeastspotting.

View all the other Country Bread posts via the Tuesdays with Dorie site.
bakingwithjulia

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49 comments on “Whole Wheat Country Bread”

  1. Freshly baked bread. Is there anything better? Thank you for sharing Liz!

  2. Nothing can beat up the smell of baking bread. Your loaf looks absolutely irresistible. I could eat it all with some feta cheese!

  3. Gorgeous bread! I picked up caraway seeds and am looking for rye flour, I’m only finding 5lb bags and don’t think I need that much… The search goes on:@)

  4. I would not have been able to keep my hands off of this loaf once it was out of the oven. I bet it smelled delicious. Having some bread, cheese and good wine – the perfect evening!

  5. This country loaf looks gorgeous just as it is – no fancy schmancy decorating needed 🙂 Love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and the first bite hot out of the oven. Hehe the hour needed to cool off would have been so hard for me especially since this bread looks so tasty:)

  6. Lizzy , that is one hearty and gorgeous bread 😀 You’ve baked it beautifully ! Bannetone is freakin’ expensive here , the one I’ve seen cost HK $ 415 , more than US $ 50 *sigh*

  7. I love making homemade bread not just for the flavor but how it makes my house smell. Unfortunately I don’t make it too often since we try to keep away from the carbs. I’ll have to add this recipe to my list though for next time when I decide to bring out the yeast!

    Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  8. There is seriously nothing better than freshly baked bread. My mouth is actually watering right now!
    The things I would do for some bread and butter with jam right now!

  9. Something about this one just didnt work for me and I ended up with a loaf of shame.

    Your bread is gorgeous and I sure would love to have a slice of it toasted 🙂

  10. Love the crosshatch on your loaf. I agree that there are very few things that match the smell of freshly baked bread. I toasted some slices and had them with strawberry jam.

  11. Wow Liz, it looks gorgeous. I love the pattern of your slashes.
    I really loved its taste and sorry to read that it was not one of your favourite.
    Maybe the next one?

  12. Your loaf looks beautiful.

    I too just went with a colander lined with a flour coated linen towel and it worked perfectly.
    Thanks for the great post!

  13. Dear Lizzy, Delicious!! I would love to try a piece warm with butter or olive oil; so good!
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  14. Your bread looks lovely!!
    I like this simple rustic bread, a fresh slice with my favorite marmalade!!!
    Maybe you would prefer served with a dish or soup?

  15. Beautiful, Liz! Nothing better in the cold weather than a loaf of bread baking in the oven!

  16. a nice project for a cold day! looks great–I also used a colander.

  17. Nothing like homemade bread, and your country bread is super gorgeous, and so delicious, Lizzy!
    As far as our weather here in S. Florida…cloudy and getting chilly for the rest of the week…going down to the forties tomorrow night; brrr! I can’t even begin to imagine how freezing cold you’re having there, getting more snow and freezing temps. At least by the time you get to Florida we’ll be having sunshine and pleasantly warm temps! Looking forward to see you soon! xoxo

  18. Wow I’m impressed! I’ve had difficulty using yeast but I sure as hell want to try. That way I never have to buy bread again. And your razor slashes are perfect!

  19. So pretty and delicious looking!!! I can almost smell it over here – Mmmmm.

  20. I’m sorry you didn’t love it as much as other loafs but it surely looks amazing!

  21. Looks like a hearty crusty country style bread, Liz…And even without sugar, just gazing at your “simple” cube cuts on the bread is sweetness for the eyes =)

  22. Nothing like baked bread! Yours look delicious and beautiful!! I love it!!

  23. Wow, what a PERFECT loaf!!

  24. I love breads like this. Especially slathered with soft sweet butter. Sometimes it is good to get rid of the sweet and have the hearty! My grandma always said give her a piece of bread over cake any day.

  25. Beautiful loaf of bread!! You did so much better with slashing it than I did. I really liked this loaf. And I would love a banneton one day to proof my bread in.
    I think I’d love to try this recipe with seeds.

  26. this is like…JUST the thing!! Gorgeous rustic-ness and I just knooow it tastes so comforting and delish!

  27. Lizzy,
    I love crusty bread. Your loaf looks fabulous. I could practically taste it from looking at the pictures.
    Annamaria

  28. This bread would not last long at my house – love the cross hatch pattern!

  29. This looks so easy to make and the loaf is delicious. I can use it in making sandwiches.

  30. it looks perfect. chewy and crusty just how it should be. seriously bread perfection

  31. Oh absolutely beautiful bread Liz! You did an amazing job! And what a great tip of using your colander for a banneton. Wish I could have a slice of this warm out of the oven and slathered with butter! : )

  32. Liz, your bread looks beautiful, so professionally baked. Well done.

  33. O mine! The bread looks amazing. I learned a new word “sponge” to describe that first yeast mix! Thanks Liz, beautiful bread again! 🙂 ela

  34. The crosshatch pattern looks perfect! Wish I had a slice of this gorgeous bread for tomorrow’s breakfast!

  35. What a beautiful bread! This would be sooo good with a traditional Greek salad, with organic real feta and some good extra virgin olive oil.
    Thank you for sharing Liz!

  36. Homemade breads taste the best! Your country bread looks awesome, Liz.

  37. Well I’m pretty sure what my next loaf of bread is going to be. I’m out of homemade bread too! I love loaves like this.

  38. BEAUTIFUL loaf. We really liked this one. The thick crunchy crust was the winning factor on this one. Your slashing looks great.

  39. I love bread with an extra little kick!

  40. Omg, this bread is gorgeous!!! My husband loves to make homemade bread and I can certainly appreciate the time, patience, and talent that goes into this production. I have to show him this and request this be his next challenge. 🙂 I’d make it myself but am sort of a weenie with yeast. 😉

  41. The slashes are just perfect! Snow day and bread baking go hand in hand 🙂 In the rare occasions we get snow, I always dream of getting snowed in…

  42. I don’t think I’ve ever made a bread that looked this good!

  43. Making fresh bread from scratch is on my list of things to do (that I’m afraid of). I’m putting this on the list. 🙂

  44. Lizzy I love to make bread, this look amazing! I have to make this!!! xx

  45. Mine is in the oven now and the loaf is HUGE, much bigger than the banneton! (I’m late for TWD. Way late). It crested it by 3 inches!

  46. I saw this bread come through on my Facebook page last Tuesday, Liz, and just had to re-read and comment as I am watching the Broncos who are winning at the end of the first half. I wish I had a slice of that bread right now. It looks so perfect and I commend you for going through the long process, snow or no snow. Nicely done.

  47. I’m sorry this wasn’t your favorite, but I’m glad your boys liked it. It certainly came out beautifully!

  48. That’s a gorgeous, perfect, rustic loaf of bread, Liz! I totally would’ve just slashed the top too. There’s no way I would’ve been able to draw something on the top, lol. Thanks for being honest about not loving this loaf. I also prefer bread with all the yummy stuff like butter and eggs! I certainly wouldn’t turn down a slice or three of this, however. I love all carbs!

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