How to Make Whole Wheat Bread Tutorial

 

Homemade Bread

This is my favorite, simple 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe.  This recipe makes two loaves.   (I always double it for my family, so if the pictures in this tutorial look like twice the amount, that’s because it is.)

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups (give or take) whole wheat flour, divided
1 ¾ cups warm water, divided
1/3 cup honey
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons melted butter

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Mix 3 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 ½ cups of warm water in a large glass bowl.  Allow this to sit for about 30 minutes.  This will break down the gluten and help the bread to rise better.

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In a small bowl mix together ¼ cup water, 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast and 1/3 cup honey.  Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and mixture becomes bubbly.

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In the meantime, melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a small sauce pan.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  You don’t want the hot butter to kill the yeast.

Add 1 teaspoon salt, melted butter and yeast mixture to the flour and water mixture.  Gradually add the remaining three cups of flour and stir well.  As the dough becomes harder to stir, pour it out onto a clean counter and begin to knead the dough.  If you create a nice dough before adding all three cups of flour…you don’t need to continue to add it in.  Just add enough to make a nice, non-sticky dough.

Here’s a video to show you how to knead the dough.  Two things:  1) I was having a freaked out hair day.  So glad I could share it with you.  2) I’m pretty sure “wetter” is not a real word, yet I use that word toward the end of the video.   I are sorry.

Don’t you love how I “spank” the dough at the end of the clip?  There’s something very gratifying about giving the dough a nice “spank”.  You should try it sometime.

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Once you’ve kneaded your dough, place it into a bowl to rise.

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Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rise for at least one hour or until it has risen to twice  it’s starting size.

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While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, get your bread pans buttered.  You can also do some laundry, wash some dishes, or clean the bread dough out from under your fingernails.

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There it is…doubled up.

 

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Give the raised dough a nice punch.
(Punching?  Spanking?  Who knew making bread was so violent in nature?)

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Using a floured hand, pull the dough out of the bowl onto the counter.

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Knead for three or four minutes until the air bubbles are all gone.

Now you can watch how I shape my dough into loaves before baking.  Again…more spanking…

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Cover and allow 30 minutes to one hour to rise again.  They should double in size, but the rising should happen more quickly this time because the yeast knows what to do by now.

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See here how the loaves have doubled in size?

Bake the bread uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you thump the top of it.  (Great.  Spanking, punching and thumping.  I am really a bad influence.)

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Allow the bread to cool in the pans for 10 minutes,
then remove it to finish cooling on a wire rack.

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The bread slices more easily after it’s cooled.  However…it’s awfully hard to wait…and bread fresh out of the oven slathered in butter is really, really good.  I say go for it.

A few notes:

  • Making bread from start to finish takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Most of that time is waiting and baking time…but if you plan to make bread, you should block out an entire morning or afternoon.
  • If your water or butter is too cold or too hot, it will kill the yeast.  If you can put your (clean) finger in the water or butter and it doesn’t burn you, but just feels warm… you’ve got the right temperature.
  • If the dough in your bowl has risen to double and suddenly you need to nurse the baby or wash cottage cheese out from between your toddler’s toes…just go punch down your dough and let it rise again before you shape it.  It won’t hurt anything.
  • If you want to shape your dough into loaves, but bake them later:  Shape your loaves then put them directly into the freezer before they have a chance to rise.  Allow them to sit in buttered loaf pans for several hours (or overnight) so that they can thaw and rise before baking.
  • Many of you have asked if I have a bread machine.  I don’t, so I’m sorry I am not able to answer your questions about them.  I’m assuming this recipe would work in a machine, but I don’t know.  Maybe some of you with bread machines can chime in on this?

Click here to read through posts describing and explaining grains, grain mills and grinding flour!
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Comments

  1. Anju says

    Thanks a lot for this recipe. I tried this today and this is the first time I am satisfied with a whole wheat bread made at home.

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  2. BUSY MOM IN AL says

    I have been making this for a year now. I have tried MANY recipes and the first time I made this, my husband said, “STOP! This one is it!”

    We also make mini-loaves to sell at the local farmer’s market and they go quick!! Everyone who tastes it, wants the recipe.

    Thank you for sharing the recipe, Laura!!

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  3. Jessica says

    This recipe is wonderful! I’ve tried a couple others and they don’t compare! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  4. Lisa says

    Hello,

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I just put my first try in the oven and it smells amazing!

    For anyone who is interested, I have dry instant yeast, so I put in 1.5 tsp instead of 2.25 tsp and everything seems to be going smoothly. The honey mix didn’t bubble, but I threw it in anyways and my dough seems to have come out fine.

    I do not have a second baking pan, so I cut half the dough into pieces and made dinner rolls in a pie plate. They rose well too, but I’m curious if I should adjust the baking time or temperature. I’m just going to check on them every 10 min or so tonight, but I’d like to know if you have actually done this with success.

    Thanks again,
    Lisa

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  5. Rebecca says

    I followed the instructions to a “t” and my dough is not rising at all! Do I through it out and start over?

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    Laura Reply:

    Sorry I’m just now getting to this! How did it go? Did it ever rise? Such a bummer!! :(

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    Tina Reply:

    I’m not sure if you’ll see this Rebecca, but you might try “proofing” your yeast. Do it in a separate cup. Use water, about a Tbs of sugar and your yeast. Let it sit and if you have no froth after about 5 minutes or even after 10. Your yeast is bad. This happened to me before. If you have a thermometer check your water. Between 105-115 degrees F is the range.

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  6. Rebecca says

    Thanks, Laura…I started over…I added a tsp of sugar without the honey to the water and yeast. Once it proofed then I added everything together. I sorta cheated. :) Worked much better. I absolutely love your blog! Your recipes and approach to eating healthier is so easy for “real” families. Oftentimes bloggers offer recipes or recommendations that are just not practical for most families. I sincerely appreciate having “you” as a resource. I am making your pancake and sausage muffins for breakfast tomorrow. ;) can’t wait!! Rebecca

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  7. says

    Thank you for this recipe. I’m excited to try it, but I have a question. All of the recipes I try produce yummy bread, but it is terribly crumbly. For that reason, my family asks for the nice grocery store bread that isn’t so messy. I would really like to make our own, but am hoping that the texture is better with this one. Any suggestions?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    It is naturally going to be a little bit more crumbly than store bought but you can try adding less flour or baking it for slightly less time. The more it dries out the more crumbly it will be. :)

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  8. Teresa says

    I just made this bread today and it was so good! I did make a few changes though. I used spelt flour instead since that was the only bread flour I had on hand and I used Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s method for making rolls instead of loaves. Definitely will make it again!

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  9. jerrie says

    Made this bread today. It was so good. The best whole wheat bread I’ve ever made. I’ve tried making other whole wheat breads without as much success. They were kind of heavy or dry, but this one was not. You made it look so easy. Thanks

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  10. Dawn says

    I’ve been making this bread for over a year. Like many others, I tried several recipes before I found one my family liked. This year, I had to go back to teaching, which means I don’t have time to make bread from scratch. However, my spoiled family all but refuses to eat store bought bread. In desperation, I’m getting a bread machine. Do you know if this recipe will still work? The machine will make up to a 2 lb loaf.

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    Laura Reply:

    I’ve never used a bread machine so I can’t say for sure. I think others have used this recipe in a machine – maybe scroll through the comments to see if anyone has experience with it?

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  11. Pam says

    I know I’m late but for Rebecca, maybe next time try warming up the microwave and putting dough inside. My dough didn’t rise either after one hour but after putting it inside a warm microwave it doubled in size. Didn’t know dough may not rise if its too cold. My flour was cold due to keeping it in the fridge and it was a cold night in Chicago. I hope this will help anyone else who may have this problem. I’m putting my loaves in the oven now, hope they come out as good as everyone else’s. Thank you for this website, it has changed , my life!

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    Penny Reply:

    My flour was in freezer, Im thinking thats why its not rising! :(

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  12. Jennifer says

    Can we swap the honey out for sugar? Would it be a straight 1/3c to 1/3c?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    You could do an equal swap or you could add more sugar if you prefer.

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  13. Paulina says

    Do you have any bread recipes for the bread machine???

    Thank you :)

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    No, Laura doesn’t have any bread machine recipes. :)

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  14. Dawn says

    Whole wheat lacks the gluten to “hold” things together. Try proportionally replacing some of the whole wheat with all-purpose flour. A little experimenting will get you a less crumbly bread without sacrificing the goodness of whole wheat. It’s a personal thing. Our family likes 75% whole wheat and 25% all-purpose.

    Another suggestion: Have some fun and experiment with anything you can think of to throw in. A few caraway seeds. Amaretto. Banana extract. Orange extract. Ground horseradish. A little fresh pumpkin flesh. Raisins. Cranberries. ???

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  15. Penny says

    On my way to the kitchen to try this! Wish me luck! :) I will let you know how it turns out.

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    Penny Reply:

    Its been 40 minutes and it hasn’t even began to rise! :(

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Try to put your oven on at 200degrees for a few minutes. Then turn the oven off and put your bowl of dough in that. Sometimes mine needs a warmer place to rise than the countertop.

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  16. Juli says

    My dough is always so hard I can barely kneed it, why is that?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I would use less flour. It should be soft and easy to work with.

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  17. Jodie says

    This is the best whole wheat bread recipe ever! I have been baking one loaf, and then refrigerating the other loaf to bake the next day! I like it so much, that I am making it all in advance and letting both loaves refrigerate for at least 24 hours before baking. I am wondering if I do it this was, do I still need to soak the 3 cups of flour in the beginning? Thanks so much for all that you share with us!

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    Laura Reply:

    I would – simply because it is that first soaking process that releases the gluten in the flour so that the dough is easier to work with and will rise better.

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  18. Onlyinajeep45mb says

    I have been making bread for several years now and my family (my greatest supporters even in my disasters) just love homemade bread. My Achilles heal has always been wheat bread!! NOT NOW!! Thank you so much for publishing your recipes and video tutorials. Every one now loves my wheat bread not just my father (who can eat a brick of bread, what i use to make). Thank you again, and anyone wanting to make great homemade wheat bread stop looking and use this guide and recipe!!

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  19. Lovegreenbeans says

    I know this is an old post, but I just came across it and wondered …what kind of bread is that in the bottom picture, all sliced up? It looks like pumpernickel or something darker. Can you share the recipe?

    Thank you!!!!!

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    Laura Reply:

    That is just the Honey Whole Wheat Bread sliced up. :)

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  20. Karen Ferreira says

    Hi, Laura, does one recipe make four loaves or did you double it in the picture?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    It is doubled in the picture. One recipe makes two loaves.

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  21. Helena says

    I currently don’t have any whole wheat flour. Can I substitute All-Purpose?

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, although the measurements may be different.:)

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  22. Jen says

    Does the bowl need to be glass or would plastic or metal work as well?

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Plastic and metal bowls work just fine.

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  23. John Clulow says

    I think there is problem with to things in this recipe. The first is the ratio of flour to water; way to little liqids for six cups of flour.

    Secondly, the recipe says to use 1/4 cup water, 2.25 tsp yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. I tried this five times monitoring the temperatureand going back to the store to get new yeast and going though a whole bottle of honey and half a bottle of molasses before I figured out that the concentration of sugar is way too high.

    I went to 1/2 cup water and 1Tbsp of sugar and no problem with any yeast.

    Somebody ought to check out these recipes before posting them. Go gack and follow your own instructions. Otherwise folks waste time and money.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve used this exact recipe hundreds of times with success. Sorry it didn’t work for you, but glad you figured out a different way to make it work!

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  24. Megan says

    Laura, I’m currently trying to make this bread. I used to make bread with my grandmother in her bread machine when I was a kid. That was always the best bread so I figured I’d try your recipe. I’m having a few problems. I’m not sure if it has to do with the cold temperatures in northern Mass, or low humidity. I’m a south Louisiana girl so these two things are new to me.
    Problem 1) when I mixed the warm water with 3 cups of flour, it was not enough water to combine all of the flour and water. I let it sit like you instructed then my dough was already starting to dry out. I was hard and “crunchy” to the touch. I was able to get rid of that when I added the other ingredients, but I was only able to add about 1 1/2 more cups of flower and that was after I had to add more water to the mixture because it refused to form a dough. I just kept getting flowery chunks due to lack of moisture.
    Problem 2) I suck at activating my yeast apparently. I tried TWICE! All I got was a very thin foam layer after 20 minutes of waiting and rechecking! I used water from a filter pitcher the second time and just used that yeast, honey, and water mixture to my dough.

    My dough is currently rising right now, if it does anything at all. Did I do anything wrong? I followed the directions to the letter. I’m so confused as to why I am having so many problems this early in the recipe.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m sure you didn’t do anything wrong. If you are using store-bought whole wheat flour, sometimes that is harder to work with than the freshly ground flour I use in this recipe. You can use a little more water if that helps – or a little less flour at the beginning so that it’s not so dry to start with. Maybe add 2 cups of water instead of 1 3/4. As far as the yeast goes – it’s likely that it is just fine. Or it could be that the water was too hot and killed the yeast? Sometimes mine foams up a ton, sometimes it just makes little bubbles. Either way, it works. :)

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  25. lwilks says

    My husband takes a sandwich to work everyday so I started making this recipe for him to use. I’m having a lot of trouble with my bread not being soft and staying fresh for longer than a few days. I’ve got a bread box and I’m saving the end piece to keep it pressed against the sliced end. I’ve tried wrapping it in a cloth and putting it in the bread box. I’ve tried putting it in plastic Someone told me about lecithin. Have you ever used it in your recipes? Any ideas?

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    lwilks Reply:

    Figured it out. 45-50 minutes was way too long to bake the bread in my oven. Cut it to 30 and it is as soft as ever. Sad that my husband actually ate four bricks before getting soft bread. Gotta love him.

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Haha! I am so glad you figured it out. Since Laura hasn’t tried lecithin I was going to recommend cutting down the baking time. I am glad it all worked out for you! :)

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  26. Jenny says

    Do you know how I would find out the sodium content? I’m assuming that homemade bread would be less sodium than the store bought, but trying to calculate exactly how much sodium for my husband is a little tricky cooking from scratch. I can’t exactly eliminate the salt from bread either! Store bought breads can be very high in sodium, even tortillas. He has a medical condition that requires low sodium.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yikes, I have no idea, sorry!

    [Reply]

    Charlotte Moore Reply:

    Could you not look and see how much sodium a teaspoon has and then whatever amount you use calculate that?

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    Danielle B Reply:

    1,872 mg of sodium (googled). That is for sea salt, table salt is higher at over 2,300 mg of sodium

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    Danielle B Reply:

    That is 1 tsp.

    Danielle B Reply:

    I will roughly say 117 mg of sodium per slice. Depends on how many slices you get out of one loaf.

  27. Sandra A Reeves says

    This recipe works great. I am letting the dough sit for 1/2 hour before adding the yeast. I am mixing the dough for about 5 minutes in my Bosch. I am letting the dough rise for about 1 hour and then I form into bread loaves. I let them rise about 35 min. Now when I get ready to bake the loaves of bread, the top of the bread has split open. How do I stop the bread loaf from splitting?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Sounds like the second rising was a little too long, which is usually what causes a spit. :)

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  28. Kathleen says

    For the one saying family didn’t like texture. I found a post on natural dough conditioners at tammysrecipes.com and it made it “less crumbly”. Made this and it was fabulous, but didn’t print or write down recipe. Grrrr…Made another batch with different recipe and it didn’t come close to this one! This is definitely a keeper!!! Thank you for sharing your life and lessons! Blessings.

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  29. Katherine B says

    I just baked this recipe today and I was so impressed! It’s my second time baking bread and I was nervous to make it 100% whole wheat, but this worked perfectly! I am vegan and used Earth Balance instead of butter (but I do eat honey, and I kept that in the recipe) and it worked wonderfully. Delicious!

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  30. Jessica says

    Just in case anyone is curious, 1 loaf of this bread has about 1560 calories. So just divide that by the number of slices (varies depending on how thick or thin you slice it) and you have your calories/slice! :)

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  31. Danielle says

    I was wondering if I could substitute coconut oil in the place of the butter? If so, exact amount? We can not have dairy or soy along with a long list of other things. Thanks in advance !

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yep, just sub it one for one. :)

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    Danielle Reply:

    I did and it was awesome! I love this recipe thank you!

    [Reply]

  32. Christine says

    If your recipe does not specifically state “freshly ground wheat” are we to assume that you created a recipe using fresh ground wheat? I am asking so I know if I need to adapt a recipe of yours for fresh ground wheat. Thanks.

    [Reply]

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