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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

Country Bread Recipe

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.

Country Bread

Country Bread

A crusty whole wheat bread with a delicious nutty flavor

Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Yield 1 large loaf


  • 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


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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

2 slices

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 766 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 612mg Carbohydrates: 152g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 21g

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.

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