This Whole Wheat Bread is made with 100% whole wheat flour and your favorite natural sweetener. A soft and fluffy sandwich bread that stays fresh for days!

A loaf of whole wheat bread with a slice of bread next to it

After many readers asked me for a whole wheat version of my White Bread recipe I did some testing and I’m happy to share with you my recipe for a homemade bread made with 100% whole wheat flour!

Why this recipe is the best

  • My recipe uses basic ingredients that you have in your pantry and most of the ingredients can be substituted depending on what you have at home
  • It is done within a few hours! I tried to make this recipe as fast and easy as possible even if you are new to baking or have never made bread before
  • Adding my secret ingredients cuts through the bitterness of the whole wheat flour, no need to add all-purpose flour or to soak the whole wheat flour in order to get a great tasting bread
A loaf of bread in a baking pan

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Orange Juice: This is my secret ingredient! Adding orange juice tones down the bitterness of the whole wheat flour.
  • Water: The water should be lukewarm. That means about 100 degrees F, slightly warmer than your body temperature. Depending on the season, humidity, and altitude you’ll need more or less water. In the summer when it’s humid you need less, in the winter when it is dry you need more. It also depends on how you measure flour. I always recommend scooping the flour with a spoon into the measuring cup and leveling it off or measuring flour by weight. But if you’re measuring flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then you will need more water.
  • Milk: Adding milk makes the bread taste richer but you can also use more water instead.
  • Vegetable oil: From my experience, salted butter, unsalted butter, cultured butter, margarine, or even avocado oil, will work in this recipe.
  • Natural Sweetener: You can use honey, molasses, or maple syrup in this recipe. Molasses makes the bread darker and gives it an old-fashioned flavor. You can also use a mixture!
  • Whole Wheat Flour: This recipe uses 100% whole wheat flour. Depending on what brand of flour you use, it might
  • Instant Yeast: This recipe uses instant yeast, which is also known as rapid rise yeast. It is finer than active dry yeast and can be mixed into the other ingredients. If you want to use active dry yeast, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients.

How to make Whole Wheat Bread

  • Make the dough: The dough should be smooth and elastic, it will be slightly sticky (Image 1). If kneading by hand oil your hands and working surface slightly.
  • First Rise: Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until it is puffy and nearly doubled in size.
  • Shaping: Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Use your fingers to gently pat it into an 8×12 inch rectangle while pressing it all over to remove any air pockets (Image 2). Starting at the short end, roll up the rectangle into a tight roll and pinch the seams to seal (Image 3). Tuck the ends of the roll slightly under the roll to create some tension on the surface and place loaf into a greased 8×4 inch loaf pan tucked ends and seam side down (Image 4).
  • Second Rise in the pan
  • Baking
How to make Whole Wheat Bread step by step

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What if I don’t have a loaf pan? You could make rolls from this recipe. Divide dough into eight portions after the first rise and shape them into balls. Put in a greased 8×8-inch baking pan and let rise. Baking time will be shorter, they will be done after about 20 minutes.
  • I’m not sure my yeast is still good, what should I do? If you’re not sure if your Instant yeast is still active, start with dissolving the yeast in lukewarm water before adding the other ingredients. It should smell yeasty and be foamy after about 10-15 minutes.
  • What to do if the dough is too sticky? The dough will be slightly sticky after kneading but if it is too sticky you can add a little bit more flour.
  • Why did my bread collapse after the second rise? This can happen because of over-proving or because the dough was not kneaded long enough. If the dough was not kneaded long enough there is insufficient gluten and the dough develops larger air bubbles which can burst when the dough is disturbed. As a general rule, kneading for at least 9 minutes with a stand mixer or about 15 minutes by hand is a good idea, but the longer the better.
  • I don’t have a stand mixer, what else can I use? You can use a hand-held mixer if it comes with dough hooks, or knead the dough by hand.
  • Can I freeze the dough before baking it? I haven’t tried freezing this dough but I recommend letting the dough go through its first rise, then shape it and put it in a baking pan that has been lined with greased plastic wrap. Put the pan in the freezer, let it freeze for about 10 hours then transfer to a ziplock bag. To thaw, remove the loaf from the freezer the night before you want to bake it and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Remove plastic wrap, place thawed dough in a greased baking pan, cover, and let it rise. Then bake according to the recipe.
  • What alterations should be made when taking high altitudes into consideration? I don’t have any experience with high altitude baking but this post from King Arthur Flour is a great resource.
A close up of a sliced loaf of bread

How to store it

Store the bread in a plastic bag or in a bread box at room temperature. It will keep fresh for about 3 days. After that, it will be a bit drier but will taste great toasted.

Looking for more bread recipes?

A loaf of whole wheat bread with a slice of bread next to it
Servings: 1 loaf

Whole Wheat Bread

This Whole Wheat Bread is made with 100% whole wheat flour and your favorite natural sweetener. A soft and fluffy sandwich bread that stays fresh for days!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Whole Wheat Bread
Calories: 2253kcal
4 from 1 vote

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup milk, or more water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, or molasses or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast, see notes if using active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients, mix until a dough forms (see notes, if using active dry yeast or if you are a yeast newbie). Let sit for 20 minutes, this makes kneading more effective. Then knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, it will be slightly sticky. If kneading by hand oil your hands and working surface slightly.
  • Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until it is puffy and nearly doubled in size.
  • Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Use your fingers to gently pat it into an 8×12 inch rectangle while pressing it all over to remove any air pockets. Starting at the short end, roll up the rectangle into a tight roll and pinch the seams to seal. Tuck the ends of the roll slightly under the roll to create some tension on the surface and place loaf into a greased 8×4 inch loaf pan tucked ends and seam side down. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes in a warm and draft-free place till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
  • Bake bread for 35-40 minutes until golden brown (and the loaf registers 180 degrees F inside).
  • Invert bread onto a cooling rack. Reinvert loaf and rub with butter if desired for a soft, flavorful crust. Let cool completely before slicing.

Notes

Important: If you’re not sure if your Instant yeast is still active or if you are using active dry yeast, start with dissolving the yeast in the lukewarm water combined with 1 tsp sugar before adding the other ingredients. It should smell yeasty and be bubbly after about 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 2253kcal | Carbohydrates: 386g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 47g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 2375mg | Potassium: 1869mg | Fiber: 48g | Sugar: 80g | Vitamin A: 223IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 212mg | Iron: 16mg
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