Thursday, January 6, 2011

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I got this recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. I've made it dozens of times now, and it's one of the easier bread recipes I've found. It's nice and soft, and has a good texture- but is not too dense (like some whole wheat breads). This is my go-to bread recipe. :)

(If you want to see my pictures of this recipe step-by-step, that post is here. Or, tips on slicing bread are here.)


Just for fun, here is a picture of my 8 year old son, and the loaf of bread he made completely by himself!  I helped explain the directions to him, but he measured and did everything.  It turned out great!

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Flour
Printable version here

1 to 1 1/4 cups* warm water, about 110-120 degrees (I normally do 1 1/8 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3 1/4 cups (13 oz.) whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. wheat gluten**

* Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.
** Using wheat gluten helps the bread be less dense.  If you don't have this, you can substitute flour, but it won't be as light.

1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Knead it for 6-8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary. (I start the mixing with my paddle attachment, then once it has come together, switch to the dough hook. An optional step is to let it sit for about 10 minutes before kneading it- I'm still trying to figure out if that makes a difference. Supposedly that helps. I knead it for 8 minutes on speed 2 of my KitchenAid mixer.)

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise until puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk), about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. (I typically let mine rise for 1 1/4 hours in my slightly warmed oven)

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, shape into a rectangle (about the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper), then roll up into a log, starting at the shorter end.  Pinch the seam closed, then tuck the ends under and pinch them closed as well. (If desired, sprinkle some oat bran on the counter, then roll the dough in it; this just makes the bread look neater.) Place the log in a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1-2 hours, or until the center has crowned about 1" above the rim of the pan. (Mine take about 1 hour) Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350º.

4. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. (The finished loaf will register 190º on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.)  Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.  Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag (or other container) at room temperature.  Bread can also be frozen for later use.

Here's what my bread looks like just after shaping it, before the rise:

And all risen, ready to be baked:

Note- this is my favorite container for bread storage. I bought it at Albertson's, but they also have it on Amazon.

Why I love it? It's easy, for homemade bread. It tastes great, is healthy (because it's whole wheat, and because there's no preservatives or unknown ingredients in it), it's super-duper fresh, and it's inexpensive! :) My favorite tip for this bread is to make up the dry ingredients before-hand. What I did last time was get out quart size Ziploc bags (or large empty yogurt containers), and put all the dry ingredients in them. Then when I want to make bread- all I need to do is measure the water, honey, and oil, and dump in the bag. EASY!! :)


  1. Hi Michelle, I am also planning to bake this bread this weekend. I have a query - I read that 3-4 cups of flour uses 1 tsp instant yeast, but this recipe uses 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast. Is this correct? If yes, then why so? It would be really helpful if you can guide me here.

    1. In all my bread baking, I have never come across a recipe that uses that little yeast (1 tsp. to 3-4 cups). I don't believe the bread would rise sufficiently with that amount of yeast. I don't know why the makers of this recipe chose that amount, but I can guarantee you that it works. :)

    2. I have risen bread with as little as 1/2 a tsp of yeast. When baking yeast bread regularly yeast can become expensive if you do not have a cheap place to buy it in bulk. Just increase the rise time accordingly. My older recipe books actually call for 2 1/4 tsp of yeast for 6-8 cups of flour. The initial rise time was always a minimum of 2 hours.

  2. We do not do animal products (we do use raw local honey), so what do you think could be substituted for the dry milk?


    1. Erica, just called de baker's hotline at King Arthurs since I had the same question, JUST OMIT THE MILK is what they said to me.
      This is their phone # 1 (800) 827-6836