Lazy Whole Wheat Sourdough French Bread

This lazy sourdough loaf is perfect for those who love the rich, tangy flavor of sourdough but don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. With a simplified process that skips complicated traditional methods, this recipe combines the artisan charm of sourdough with the ease of a no-fuss approach. Get ready for the easiest sourdough loaf with a lightly crispy crust, soft and chewy inside, and plenty of sourdough flavor.

As a busy mom, this recipe was born out of necessity. I love the taste, the chewiness, and the health benefits of a good sourdough loaf. And while I can admire true artisan sourdough, the reality is I will forget to stretch and fold, and I have a toddler that won’t eat crispy crust. So after a few attempts at making a traditional sourdough boule of my family, I knew that things were going to have to change.

Is this the same as a traditional artisan sourdough loaf?

Full honesty, no! And I don’t want you to expect that, but it is sourdough. It still has a wonderful sourdough taste, all the health benefits, and it’s so easy that you can bake up a loaf any night of the week.

This recipe was adapted from an instant yeast French loaf that my family adores. It might not look exactly like what you see all over social media. But contrary to popular belief, there is not one right way to bake the perfect sourdough loaf. If you are baking bread that your family enjoys, then you’re doing it right! So get ready to break the sourdough mold and simplify your bread baking once and for all.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Light crust (that’s toddler friendly!)
  • Soft and fluffy inside
  • Tangy sourdough flavor
  • Promotes gut health and fiber intake with 50% whole wheat flour
  • Quick and easy method using a mixer or bread machine
  • No stretch and folds!
  • No special equipment for proofing or baking!
  • Only needs 3 basic ingredients in addition to your starter
  • Fits in the toaster ✔︎

Go pull that starter out of the back of your fridge and let’s get baking!

Tools You Might Need

  • Stand mixer with a dough hook or bread machine (for kneading only)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Lame (opt.)

Ingredients

  • 250 g (~1 C) active sourdough starter*
  • 2 C water
  • 6 C flour** (50/50 all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • ½ T salt

*To learn more about creating your own starter and how to feed it, check out this post from The Farm Chicken.

**You may use bread flour, all-purpose, or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat. I have done this recipe many times with 25% all-purpose and 75% whole wheat! However, keep in mind the more whole wheat you add, the less fluffy the loaf will be. So find a balance that works for your family.

Directions

overview

  • Feed starter
  • Mix dough
  • Bulk fermentation
  • Shaping/proofing
  • Baking

Step 1:
Feed your starter and make sure it is active. It should be nice and bubbly and risen to double its size in the jar. This may take anywhere from 4-12 hours after you feed it, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If you want to speed up the process a bit, put the starter in the warmest place of your home, like next to the stove when you’re cooking or nearby a heating vent.

sourdough starter

Step 2:
Add the sourdough starter and water to a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pulse a few times to incorporate. Add in 3 cups of flour, then ½ T salt. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball and pulls aways from the sides of the bowl. This should take about five minutes.

Step 3:
Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Allow to ferment for 4-8 hours at room temperature. (My dough ferments on the upper end of that range in a 68-70° kitchen.) If you are worried about going past the 8 hour mark, you can always let your dough do a cold ferment in the fridge. Let the dough bulk ferment in a warm place for a few hours, pop it in the fridge, and come back to proofing it later.

Step 4:
Punch down the dough and divide into two equal parts. Place on a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about ½” thick. Then starting at one of the long ends, roll it up tightly into a log, tucking under and pinching the ends.

Step 5:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Transfer the loaves to a baking sheet, placing seam-side down. Cover with a dry towel and let rise until doubled. This process typically takes about two hours, but may take longer depending on how cool the area is.

sourdough french bread

Step 6:
Preheat oven to 400°. Score the loaf several times with a lame, or an extra sharp knife. Bake for 25 minutes.
Tip: If you prefer an extra crispy crust, like what you might get with a dutch oven, toss a few ice cubes in the bottom of your oven when you put the loaves in.

Step 7:
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Sample Baking Schedule #1 (Bake in morning)

DAY 1 – 8:00-10:00 AM Feed starter
DAY 1 – 7:00 PM Mix dough, bulk ferment
DAY 1 – 10:00 PM Place in fridge or cool place
DAY 2 – 6:00 AM Allow loaf to return to room temp
DAY 2 – 7:00 AM Shape dough for proofing
DAY 2 – 9:00 AM Bake loaf

Sample Baking Schedule #2 (Bake in evening)

DAY 1 – 8:00-10:00 PM Feed starter
DAY 2 – 7:00 AM Mix dough, bulk ferment
DAY 2 – 12:00 PM Shape dough for proofing, place in fridge
DAY 2 – 5:00 PM Allow loaf return to room temp and bake

Lazy Sourdough French Bread

Create the easiest sourdough loaf with a lightly crispy crust, soft and chewy inside, and plenty of sourdough flavor. With a simplified process that skips complicated traditional methods, this recipe combines the artisan charm of sourdough with the ease of a no-fuss approach.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Stand mixer or bread machine
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Lame opt.

Ingredients

  • 250 g active sourdough starter (~1 C)
  • 2 C water
  • 6 C flour (50/50 all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • ½ T salt

Instructions

  • Feed your starter and make sure it is active. It should be nice and bubbly and risen to double its size in the jar. 
  • Add the sourdough starter and water to a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pulse a few times to incorporate. Add in 3 cups of flour, then ½ T salt. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball and pulls aways from the sides of the bowl. This should take about five minutes.
  • Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Allow to ferment for 4-8 hours at room temperature.
  • Punch down the dough and divide into two equal parts. Place on a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about ½” thick. Then starting at one of the long ends, roll it up tightly into a log, tucking under and pinching the ends.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Transfer the loaves to a baking sheet, placing seam-side down. Cover with a dry towel and let rise until doubled. This process typically takes about two hours, but may take longer depending on how cool the area is.
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Score the loaf several times with a lame, or an extra sharp knife. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Notes

Tips:
If you prefer an extra crispy crust, like what you might get with a dutch oven, toss a few ice cubes in the bottom of your oven when you put the loaves in.

I hope this post inspires you to give sourdough a try, even if you may have found the experience daunting or too complicated before. Let us know how it went in the comments below! If you enjoyed it, be sure to share it with your family and friends.

And remember, the perfect sourdough loaf is simply bread that your family enjoys. ❤️

2 Comments

  1. Hi Jocelyn, I don’t have a stand mixer! Have you tried this recipe without one? I’ve got a toddler and a 3 month old and I’m finding it very tricky to find the time to make my sourdough the traditional way!
    Many thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I haven’t tried it without a stand mixer, but it could be kneaded by hand. It would probably take 10-15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and pass the “window pane” test when you are finished. Alternatively, you could do more traditional stretch and folds, which are designed around hand-kneading the bread vs mixing. But, I think that does take away from some of the lazy aspect, especially when you have a toddler and baby! If you don’t have a mixer and would like that convenience, but don’t want to shell out money on a new one, I would look for a used bread machine (for mixing only), which you can get for as little as $25-50.

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