100% Whole Wheat Bread
This simple, hearty and delicious wheat bread is made with 100% whole wheat flour.
This 5-ingredient 100% whole wheat bread is made with only whole wheat flour. It’s nutty, chewy, and slightly sweet— and anything but dense or dry. I love it with butter or jam, but it’s also great for sandwiches too.
If baking bread intimidates you, I can assure you that this loaf is an easy recipe that any level of baker can make!
What does “100% whole wheat” mean?
“100% whole wheat” means that no all-purpose or bread flour is included in this recipe. Some whole wheat bread recipes also include these other flours, often to help the bread stay light in both flavor and texture.
And while it’s sometimes true that whole wheat flour can weigh down baked goods, that’s not the case for this loaf! This 100% whole wheat bread is soft, fluffy and rich in flavor. And since it’s made with only whole grains, it might be a bit more healthy too.
If you follow my recipe and instructions, adding only enough flour as needed, and kneading it long enough to develop the gluten in the flour, you’ll have a soft and tender (and tasty!) loaf of bread.
Ingredients you’ll need to make this whole wheat bread?
There are only 5 ingredients needed to make this recipe! (Full recipe at the bottom of this article)
- Whole wheat flour
- Butter— Vegetable oil will also work.
- Molasses— I love the dark smoky flavor the molasses gives this whole wheat bread. You can also use honey or maple syrup, though the bread will be milder and lighter in color.
- Active-dry or instant yeast
How to make 100% Whole Wheat Bread
You can of course prepare this whole wheat bread by hand, but I recommend using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook if you have one. A stand mixer will prevent you from accidentally adding too much flour, and it will help you knead the dough long and well enough to give the bread a light and fluffy texture.
- Warm water, butter and molasses. Combine them in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is just melted. Cool to 120-130°F, about 5 minutes.
- Combine with whole wheat flour and salt. Add liquids, some whole wheat flour and salt to mixer bowl and combine to make a wet bowl.
- Knead while adding remaining flour. While kneading with dough hook, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough is firm but still tacky to the touch (you may not need all 4 cups of flour).
- Let rise in warm place. Shape dough into ball and cover with plastic wrap or towel and rise (or “proof”) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Shape. Gently punch down the dough and roll out into a rough rectangle about 10 inches wide and 12 inches long. Roll up dough into a log and into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- Let rise again. Cover and rise for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake. Bake until loaf is golden brown, 30-40 minutes. If you want a shiny golden crust, brush lightly with melted butter.
- Cool & enjoy! The loaf should cool before slicing to finish setting up. Don’t slice for at least 15 minutes if you want warm bread, or let it cool completely.
How to help your dough rise faster
If your kitchen tends to be a bit cooler, particularly in the fall and winter, it will slow down the rise. To help your dough rise faster, here’s a few warmer suggestions:
- Oven: Heat your oven to its lowest setting for a few minutes, then turn it off. Place the covered dough on the center rack and close the door.
- Microwave: Heat 1 cup of water in your microwave for 2 minutes. Remove water and place the covered dough in the microwave and close the door.
- Other: I’ve also risen bread on top of a warm oven, running dryer machine, and even on a chair set over a heater vent.
Bread baking FAQs
Any brand of whole wheat flour will work well in this recipe. However, different brands will vary on intensity of flavor and coarseness of the grains. King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour are varieties I’ve used and love.
It’s more hands-on than using a stand mixer (obviously), but isn’t difficult! I like this tutorial on how to knead bread by hand.
1) It could be that your yeast has expired. Check the expiration date on that packaging. If you don’t know, you can test the yeast. Add 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) of yeast to a cup with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. If the mixture foams and increases in size, then your yeast is still good. If not, it has expired.
2) It’s possible you killed the yeast by adding the liquids before they cooled down properly. Temperatures over 140°F will kill yeast, and it’s helpful to use a thermometer to make sure your liquids are between 120-130°F.
1) See solutions above in case it is an issue with your yeast.
2) Be sure to add only enough flour to achieve a firm but tacky dough. It should clear most of the sides of the bowl during kneading, and will feel tacky to the touch without actually coming off and sticking to your fingers. Adding too much flour will make a dense and dry loaf?
3) Give your dough enough time to rise before baking. It should almost double in size each time. See my tips above for creating a warm place for proofing dough.
I prefer homemade bread within 1-2 days of baking for the freshest flavor and texture, however it will last 5-7 days if stored correctly (see below).
Bread should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Do not store bread in the fridge, as it actually makes it stale more quickly. A plastic bag, plastic wrap and even a bread box are all fine options.
More whole wheat bread recipes
You might enjoy these other great bread recipes made with whole wheat flour:
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100% Whole Wheat Bread
- 1 ½ cups water (355 ml)
- 2 tablespoons butter (28 grams)
- ¼ cup molasses (60 ml)
- About 4 cups whole wheat flour (450 grams)
- 2 teaspoons salt (8 grams)
- 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast or instant/quick rise yeast (1 envelope, 7 grams)
- In a small saucepan, heat the water, butter, and molasses over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool for about few minutes (to 120-130°F).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 2 cups of the flour, the salt, and yeast. Add the liquids and mix on low until moistened.
- Continue to mix on low and add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until dough is firm and almost clears the sides of the bowl, but still feels tacky to the touch. You may not need all 4 cups of flour.
- Continue to knead the dough for 2-4 minutes more until dough is smooth and elastic (doesn't immediately break when you pull a pinch of it off.)
- Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 hour (if using instant/quick rise yeast rise time will be about 30 minutes). Punch down the dough, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a rough rectangle about 10 inches wide and 12 inches long. Roll up dough and into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled again, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until loaf is golden brown. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely. Brush with a bit of melted butter to make the loaf shine, if desired.