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Partial loaf of sandwich bread and cut slices on long light colored wooden board, white background

100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

At last a loaf recipe, for everyday toast and sandwiches, that is made only with whole wheat flour! The process is quite traditional and the hands-on work is not much. The crumb is soft and delicious, and it's the perfect bread to have sliced and frozen at all times.

  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 medium loaves

Ingredients

Units

For the sponge:

  • 1/2 cup water, warm
  • 3 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup fine whole wheat flour

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk, warm
  • 1 cup water, warm
  • 1/4 cup runny honey
  • 4 tablespoons oil, or melted butter
  • 4-5 cups whole wheat superfine flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

For the sponge:

  1. By hand: in a bowl put the warm water, flour, honey, yeast, and mix a little. 
  2. Leave 10 minutes. It will bubble and become spongy. If it doesn’t don’t go any further because it means the yeast is not working. 
  3. Stand mixer: mix the sponge in the mixer bowl directly. 

For the dough:

  1. Stir the sponge and add the milk, honey, oil, 2 cups of the flour, and mix a little.
  2. Add the salt and half of the warm water. 
  3. Mix well and add flour until it becomes a heavy mixture, adding the rest of the water as needed. You might not use all the liquid, maybe a tablespoon or two less. The batter will be thick but soft, it will not be floury. 
  4. By hand: turn onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 8-10 minutes. It will be a little sticky but add flour only if necessary.
  5. Stand mixer: attach the dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes at medium speed, adding extra flour only if needed, if the dough is not pulling out from the sides after 5-6 minutes. 
  6. Put in an oiled or greased bowl, turn so that the entire surface is greased, cover, and let rise until it doubles in volume in a draft-free, tempered place.
  7. Transfer the dough to a clean countertop and punch down lightly to let out the gas.
  8. Divide the dough into two parts and sprinkle two loaf pans with oats or polenta.
  9. Form into logs, rolling the dough (as for cinnamon rolls) but making sure to press the edges with each roll to ensure there are no (or very few) air holes when the bread is baked. There is a video with the step-by-step in the post above, showing how-to from the loaves. 
  10. Put the formed logs in the prepared pans, cover, and leave to rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Being all whole wheat, this bread will rise very, very little in the oven so allow it to rise well this last time.
  11. Turn the oven to 350°F/180°C about 15 minutes before baking. 
  12. Bake loaves for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown, dry and bottoms sound hollow when lightly tapped. 
  13. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Notes

Yeast: if the sponge doesn't bubble and/or puff up in some way, that means that it's not working, so don't go ahead with the rest of the recipe because the bread will not rise. Buy new yeast and start again.

Resting time: it's important to let the yeast do its job and double the size of the bread dough. The place where you put the bowl has to be tempered, that is mild temperature. If it's too hot it will rise too quickly and if it's too cold will not rise as much as it should. Both situations are not good. I sometimes put it inside the turned-off microwave or wrap the bowl in a blanket or sweater (yes I do) when the kitchen is too cold.

Kneading: make sure the dough is kneaded until soft and smooth, yet slightly sticky. This is fine because after the first rise it will lose most of its stickiness. Make sure you knead 10 minutes by hand or about 8 minutes in the stand mixer because the gluten needs to develop for the bread to rise as it should.

Storing: this bread keeps well for a week in the refrigerator and for a month in the freezer. In both cases make sure it's well wrapped so that it doesn't dry out quickly. If freezing, I highly recommend slicing it first. That way you can make fresh toast whenever you want. Otherwise, you will have to defrost the whole bread.

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: International

Keywords: whole wheat bread