Whole-Wheat Bread

The process of making bread in this recipe, called the sponge process, was more popular about fifty years ago, when foodstuffs were less processed and the quality of yeast was less consistently reliable. The yeast works in a batter and the dough rises only once. The sponge process results in a loaf that is lighter but coarser grained.

Serves: 24Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 4 hours 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 24


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1⁄2 cup hot water
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour


  • Add yeast to 2 cups warm water. Stir in the all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt. Beat the mixture by hand or with an electric mixer until smooth. Set the mixture in a warm place until it becomes foamy and bubbly, up to 1 hour.
  • Add the brown sugar and shortening to 1⁄2 cup hot water and stir. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Add to the bubbly flour mixture, which is called a sponge. Stir in the whole-wheat flour and mix by hand until smooth, but do not knead.
  • Divide the dough into 2 lightly greased bread pans (9 by 5 inches), cover, and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Bake 50 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.