Whole Wheat French Bread

Making a sponge with flour, yeast, and water and letting it ferment before adding the rest of the ingredients will enhance this bread’s flavor, giving it a sourdough-like quality.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 4 hours 15 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1⁄4 tsp.)
  • 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
  • 1⁄4 cup orange juice
  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. butter


  • For the sponge: in large bowl, combine yeast with warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. Add orange juice, sour cream, salt, and brown sugar along with the whole wheat flour and 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour and beat well. Cover with a towel and let rise in warm place for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, grease a large bowl with butter. After the sponge has rested for 2 hours, add enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a firm dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, punch down dough and roll or pat into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Using your fingers and starting with the 12-inch side, roll dough into a tight cylinder. Using a rolling pin, roll the cylinder to a 14-inch rectangle. Place on lightly floured baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. With a sharp knife, cut two diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped with fingers. Cool completely on a wire rack.