The Holy Grail of 100% Whole Wheat Breads?

All too often, a discussion of home made 100% whole wheat bread also includes some reference to a door stop, a shot put or an anvil. It’s challenging to make an all whole grain bread that is palatable.

This recipe from King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking not only produces amazingly light, tender and moist bread, but is fairly simple and quick to make and has a unique flavor all its own. King Arthur calls it “the Holy Grail of 100% whole wheat breads”. I’m not sure I would go quite that far, but then this is the lightest one of its kind I’ve yet to bake, so who am I to criticize?

This recipe yields one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf.

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) orange juice
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
4 tablespoons (½ stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter; cut into 6 pieces
3 cups (12 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons (1 ¼ ounces) sugar
Heaping ½ cup (1 ¼ ounces) dried potato flakes or 3 tablespoons (1 ¼ ounces) potato flour
¼ cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast

Note: I neglected to mention in the video that the bread pan should be lightly greased before placing the dough in it. Also, you’ll probably want to mix and knead it more than I did. For this loaf, I didn’t knead at all; I just mixed with my dough whisk. The bread was a little crumbly and should have been kneaded some to develop the elasticity of the gluten. This happens automatically during the long wet fermentation of the no-knead method, but this bread recipe needs more human intervention in the form of good old fashioned kneading. A few therapeutic minutes aught to do it.

Note: Lorne Korman from Vancouver, Canada kindly typed out the main instructions for this recipe here, so you can cut/paste/print them for easier following. Thanks Lorne!

For another 100% whole grain bread recipe, see Rick’s Whole Wheat & Rolled Oats No Knead.

Here’s a particularly nice result from Breadtopia reader, Allan Castine:
Allan Castine's Whole Wheat Bread

250 thoughts on “100% Whole Wheat Bread

  1. Stuart The Baker

    Orange juice is used here, but you really only need to use half/or a whole vitamin C tablet.
    Vitamin C, counteracts the glutathione which is responsible for wholemeal bread’s heavier texture. The soil foundation and the french bread makers guild only allow this chemical in their recommended bread recipes.

    The butter is also important as you need fat in wholemeal bread to counteract the dry properties of wholewheat.

  2. maxine lesline

    This site seems warm and cozy with the sharing of bread baking experiences… good, not so good, the asking for help, and the generous responses. If only politicians would take up bread baking!

  3. Lorne Korman

    Hi Eric,
    Found your website today, and I really appreciated your instructions and recipes, and i liked your easy and friendly manner.

    For my own purposes, I needed to type out the instructions for the whole wheat bread recipe, so i thought i’d share it with you in case you’d also like to share with your readers on your site. Here it is:

    Add water and orange juice to whole wheat flour. Add the half stick of butter cut into pieces, the sugar, the potato flour or flakes, the non-fat dry milk, the salt, and the yeast. Mix and knead until you have a soft dough. Cover and let rise 1 ½ to 2 hours until doubled in bulk.
    Gently roll into a loaf, and place into greased baking pan. (For a decorative loaf, if you like, you can take 1/3 of the dough, and roll into 3 pieces and braid, then place braid on top of loaf.).
    Lightly cover with a greased piece of plastic, and let rise for 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours, until dough has risen 1 ½ inches above top of baking pan.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then tent the loaf with aluminum foil. Bake for another 20 minutes or until middle of loaf reaches 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

    Thanks and best wishes,
    Lorne Korman
    Vancouver, Canada

    • Hi Lorne,

      Thanks very much. I’ve added a link to your post from above so people can easily find this long after it gets buried under future posts.

      Eric

  4. John

    Is there a way to break up the process if one doesn t have 5-6 hours in a row to make the bread? For example, is it possible to put the bread in the refrigerator or sitting overnight after the 1st or 2nd rising before the next step?
    By the way, I make my bread with nothing but ww flour, yeast, (sugar) and water and I love it!

    • Christopher Dobney

      John;
      You can retard the rise of virtually any yeasted bread recipe by refrigeration. As a matter of fact, some recipes call for this as it allows time for additional fermentation and gives the bread an even better flavor.

      • John

        Thnks Christopher.
        For the record, to anyone who knows: if I want to refrigerate after the 1st rising, is it better to do the second knead and forming into a loaf before putting in the fridge or wait till the next day to knead and/or form into a loaf?

        • Christopher Dobney

          I’d wait. Refrigeration slows down the rise, but doesn’t stop it. If you form it into a loaf beforehand you may find that the loaf has nearly doubled in size and you’ll have to punch it down again anyway to prevent over-rise while it’s coming back to room temp (if your bread rises too much you get the dreaded and unattractive “muffin top.”) It won’t hurt the bread especially, but it results in more work.

        • Annie

          Maybe I”M confused but I think Christopher means “don’t wait”. I think he means to go ahead and refrigerate after first knead and BEFORE shaping…I think he means this. I think he’s also pointing out that the dough should come back to room temp and rise a bit before punching and shaping into a loaf. Correct me Christopher if I’m wrong.

          • Christopher Dobney

            You are correct, Annie. I meant that he should wait before shaping into a loaf. I apologize for my lack of clarity. :)

  5. melissa

    Eric,

    Thanks so much for sharing these tips!! I have been searching for your bread slicer and the mixer you used to stir the ingredients. I found the bread slicer on a left handed website, but you don’t appear to be left handed.

    • They do make a left handed model of it.

  6. Steve

    Thanks Karen, but dont’ laugh I still have a problem. She’s also allergic to coconuts. I’ll try a light olive oil.

  7. Steve

    “The holy grail of 100% whole wheat bread” sounds good, but what can I substitute for the butter and dry milk. My girlfriend is lactose intolerant. And I am intolerant when she eats lactose!

    • Karen

      you can substitute coconut oil for the butter and powdered soy milk for the dry milk.
      The cocomut oil can withstand higher heat than the butter and it’s better for your body. you won’t notice the subtle coconut flavor in the bread (darn it, I love it) and it’s better for your body (health wise).

      • Annie

        Rice milk powder would be better for those of us who understand the health issues related to soy. Just a thought.

  8. Annie

    I made the bread somewhat as per Sonja’s version. I meant to follow her instructions exactly but being the sort of cook I am I made some changes both intentionally and accidentally.
    I mixed water/milk/sugar/yeast together and let it sit until it was good and bubbly.
    I assumed you meant corn starch when you wrote corn flour and not corn meal. So corn starch is what I used.

    Then I mixed flour/corn starch/salt in a bowl

    Here’s the accident:
    I mixed the melted butter and acid (I used whey from making yogurt cheese) into the yeast mixture forgetting what you said about adding fat too early…oh well, my yeast had had a head start already so I wasn’t too worried.

    Then I mixed that wet stuff into the dry stuff.

    I let the dough rest for 10 minutes or so and then I kneaded it for about 10 minutes. Covered it with a big plastic bag and let it rise in an upstairs room that stays about 80 degrees F these hot summer days. It rose very well in 1 1/2 hours.

    I then formed it into a loaf and put it in a greased bread pan to rise for 1 hour which it did to nearly double.

    I put it in a 350 degrees F. oven for 40 minutes. It didn’t rise hardly anymore at all.

    Outcome: very nice flavor, nice crumb, not as much rise as I had hoped but maybe this is better because I am going to use it for making sandwiches so it needs to hold together.

    I think at this point in my whole grain bread baking I am going to go back to the beginning of my bread career and follow the instructions in my old, faded, written all over Tassajara Bread Book that I’ve had since the late 70s. That is the book my husband and I used to bake the bread we sold from a health food store nearly 30 years ago. I just dug it out, dusted it off and I’m ready to reassess my skills (start over!)

    • Krusatyr

      Tassajara has had a convenient spot among my cookbooks since about 1978; my wife and I still reference it for old standards and our notes in the margins.

      One solution that has helped me to get a better rise from densely grained dough is to use extra gluten, extra honey and extra yeast. Typically, I would not be ashamed to use white bread flour, perhaps 33%, because I add oat bran and wheat germ to make up for the sin.

      • Annie

        Thanks, Krusatyr for the very helpful reminders. I often get going too excitedly on the road to try new things that I forget some of these basic tips. I do have some gluten flour in my pantry. I will use a bit in my next loaf.

  9. Annie

    Sonja, I’m going to go try your variation right now. I’ll let you know how it turned out for me. If Tina is right about why orange juice is added then probably other things could be used; like whey or vinegar, or lemon juice. I had been thinking it was for flavor but now that I think about it…

  10. Mark Koenig, Jr.

    Curious if one could subsitute equal amounts of honey rather than orange juice in this recipe?

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Mark

  11. Has anyone found success with Ezekiel sprouts, ground wet for dough for bread? I’ve tried a couple times and the loaf is too wet inside and is also a ‘brick’ that is heavy enough for a door stop.

    I made the no knead bread today and it was very tasty using 1c fresh milled white wheat and 2 c white flour. It makes me want to bake bread everyday (I’ll need larger clothes if I do).

    • Annie

      Hi Karen
      Do you mean the type of bread that has only ground up sprouted grains in it–no other ingredients at all? If this is what you mean then the finished loaf will be very, very dense to be sliced no more than 3/16″ thick (very thin). I haven’t ever baked this type of bread but I have eaten it many times and love it. It is a staple in places like Denmark where they daily use it for their fabulous open-face sandwiches.
      I do have a recipe for it if you want.

      • Karen

        I’d love your recipe.

        I’m also hoping to make it with yeast and maybe a little ww flour.

        Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated, Thanks.

        • Annie

          Well now I feel stupid. I have spent a lot of time today searching for that sprouted grain bread but I couldn’t find it. It’s like anything else you don’t use…you lose it!!
          But searching around the internet I did find some pretty interesting recipes for sprouted grain breads. Here’s one for you to try. You can use rye or wheat or a combination. And adding spelt flour (or any other flour you like) will make it easier to work with.
          http://www.rejoiceinlife.com/recipes/essene.php

            • Karen

              Those are two great sites and I’ll try both recipes. I was under the impression that Ezekiel bread was made with sprouted and ground grains/seeds/legumes without flour but that’s not what I’m finding.
              Thanks Annie for your time, If you do find that other recipe or site, I’ll still be interested. I’m going to keep trying till I get it mastered (or die trying, lol).

        • Annie

          Karen, don’t know if you have a dehydrator or not; but you can make “flour” by sprouting stuff (grains, legumes, seeds), drying them completely in the dehydrator and then grinding them into a meal or flour as fine as you like. this is supposed to be a much more nutritious way to have your flour and eat it too! My guess is this is what the makers of Ezekiel Bread do. Perhaps they just don’t grind it very fine so they can claim “flourless”. I don’t know; haven’t had Ezekiel Bread for a long time. I’ll have to get some and see what I think of the texture.

          What do you think, Eric? Can you educate us on this topic?

          • Karen

            That’s one route I’m giving a try too, thanks.
            (all things come to he who waits (if he works like hell while he waits, lol)
            I’m committed to having myEzekiel bread (and eat it too).
            Thanks, Annie for your help.

        • Annie

          Here’s the sites I was thinking of:
          http://wearenotfoodies.com/rugbrod-danish-sourdough-rye-bread.html
          and
          this one has a video
          http://denmark.dk/en/lifestyle/food-drink/recipes-baking-that-dark-sour-bread/
          This is what I got from the video:
          (A bit confusing)
          The ingredient list at the end looked like this:
          400 gr cracked rye
          30 gr salt
          30 gr malt extract
          200 gr pumpkin seeds
          600ml water
          400 ml sourdough (very liquidy) made from rye and coarse wheat flour
          10 gr yeast
          400 gr rye flour

          Soak rye and pumpkin seeds overnight in water
          Add sourdough starter
          Mix it up real good

          Add fresh yeast; stir it into the dough
          Add malt extract (it’s made of sprouted, burnt barley)
          Add rye flour mix very well adding more water when necessary
          Grease the molds (bread pans)
          But dough in pans and leave them to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours
          Bake at 180 degrees (I assume he means centigrade which would be about 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about an hour and 10 or 15 minutes

  12. Annie

    I love watching you make bread. I especially appreciate your humble attitude in this video as you don’t mind leaving in your own little mistakes. It makes it seem so real and do-able for anyone.

    Two things:
    1) I have made your wonderful sourdough rye several times using whole spelt as a substitute for the unbleached white and it comes out perfect every time – not a doorstop at all! I leave out the fennel and anise because too many strong flavors just don’t work for me. I get lots of flavor from the bread itself and from the mustard, ham and sauerkraut that goes on it. Sooo good; thanks for your teaching skills!

    2) What brand of grinder do you use? Do you like it?

    • Hi Annie,

      Thanks for the nice comments :)

      I use the Komo (Wolfgang) grain mill now. I mill every time I bake so I use it a lot. For years before this one I used the WonderMill electric mill. I like both very much, but switched to the Komo mostly because it looks nice sitting on our counter and has a smallish footprint so I don’t have to take it out and put it away every time I bake.

      • Annie

        Thanks for that info. That Wolfgang mill sure looks nice but a bit too spendy for now. I put the WonderMill on my Amazon wish list–someday…sigh…

  13. Ginny Drews

    This sounds great, but is there anything I could do to leave the orange juice out & add something else? I can’t have any citrus at all :( so I would like a idea to replace the 2 tbs with something else?

    Thanks

    • the recipe I use is fairly similar to this one without the orange juice. The orange juice I am guessing is to help the acidic factor as a dough enhancer. Instead of OJ , I use white vinegr. Use the same amount of white vinegar as the yeast.

  14. Sonja from Ireland

    100% wholewheat bread WITH MINOR ALTERATIONS:

    12 oz wholewheat flour
    3 level Tbs sugar
    1.3 oz cornflour
    1 heaped Tsp salt
    2.5 level Tsp dried yeast

    230ml lukewarm water
    25ml milk (3.5g fat/100ml)

    2 Tbs orange juice
    2 oz margarine

    I mixed all the dry ingredients first, and then added the water and milk. Following a short stir, I covered it with plastic and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then I incorporated the orange juice and margarine and mixed it with the electric hand mixer for a few minutes. I covered it with plastic and let it rest and rise for 1.5 hours in a warm environment. For this, I place a hot water bottle into a plastic base and cover it with a blanket, making sure the bowl with the dough is not in direct contact with the water bottle! The technique creates an ideal environment for the dough in my otherwise not so warm kitchen. The second rise took about 80 minutes. I brushed the dough with lukewarm water and sprinkled it with some seeds. I then baked it in the lower third of the electric oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and took it out of the tin for the remaining 5 minutes. A cover with foil was not necessary.
    The bread turned out just perfect. – Nice and soft. There was no shrinkage to be observed either!

    My sincere thanks go out to Eric for sharing this recipe!

    I used cornflour instead of potato flour, and ordinary milk instead of non-fat dry milk. As mentioned above, the bread turned out really well, but I would appreciate comments on the effect these ingredients might have.

    I incorporated the margarine (and orange juice) at a later stage, simply because I heard through central European sources that yeast dough should be given some time to become fully ‘active’ before it gets in contact with fat. Again, I would love to read about other people’s experiences with this.

    Thanks again to Eric! Your videos are a very valuable source!

  15. Christy

    Loved your video, and look forward to trying this recipe, but was very intrigued by the device you used to cut the bread. Where did you purchase it? Or did you make it? Would love the information on the tool. Thanks.

    • That’s a fiddle bow bread knife. We don’t carry them anymore but a Google search on them should give you lots of options.

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