Step-wise picture recipe to make 100% whole wheat bread aka homemade brown bread easily at home. No additives, no preservatives, no special equipment. Simple ingredients and a very simple approach to making whole wheat bread at home.
It may seem like I have given a break to my bread baking recipe series but in reality, it is not true. Over the last few weeks, I have made more whole wheat breads than we could consume (happily!) and I had to be absolutely sure of the recipe before actually putting it out here. Would you believe if I said I tried as many as 6 different approaches/methods to perfect this 100% whole wheat bread? In the end, I have learnt quite a lot (and of course that involved getting over the heart break of not having a perfect loaf too!) and this post is going to be all about that!
As I had been having a lot of success with breads/loaves made from all-purpose flour or a combination that involved both all-purpose flour and wheat flour, I thought it was time to do a 100% whole wheat bread at home. This homemade brown bread in my mind was so perfect, with earthy flavor of wheat, soft with a nice crumb – almost as good as something we find in a bakery rack. But in reality, it is not that simple at all. And there are many reasons for it.
The first one being – the whole wheat bread or brown bread from a store has added gluten (read the contents next time!) and that just makes it nothing but a bread made with white flour/all-purpose flour. The whole idea of making/buying a brown bread/100% whole wheat bread is to avoid the extra gluten. But get this – it is traditionally not possible to get a good raise or nice crumb without gluten. So wholesale manufacturers take the easy route. The next hurdle in getting this right without added gluten is finding the right kind of wheat flour. In my initial attempts, I used regular Atta that we Indians use to make rotis and it was mostly disastrous. The texture of the wheat flour should be little grainy so that it can hold moisture and bake into a soft, nice loaf. I finally settled in for 100% organic atta that worked out just fine. I am still in search of the perfect flour, or a flour mill that understands my needs.
The last part being – a 100% whole wheat bread is supposed to taste earthy or a slightly dense and will surely not raise as well as a loaf made with all-purpose flour, especially if there is no added gluten. The best approach would be choose a baking pan that is compact enough (choose a size smaller than what you would use for an APF loaf) and ensuring that it is a proper rectangle without slanted walls – this is essential to get the loaf double up properly. Apart from that, the climate does play a bigger role in activating the yeast too! The base recipe is adapted from here and it uses an approach called as Autolyse that is so popular for whole grain breads and it helps develop such an intense flavor in the bread. I would surely prefer this anyday than the fake brown bread from store!
How to make Homemade Brown Bread | 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Homemade Brown Bread | 100% Whole Wheat Bread
1 cup = 250ml, 1 tablespoon = 15ml, 1 teaspoon = 5ml
For Sponge –
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 cup Warm Water
- 2 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Active Instant Dry Yeast
For the Bread –
- 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoon Oil + extra for greasing
- 2 tablespoon Warm Water if needed
- Sponge is made to activate the yeast and breakdown the sugar in whole wheat flour. Inorder to make the sponge, mix all the ingredients mentioned under the sponge and mix well for 2-3 mins. The gluten will begin to form and the mixture will be stringy. Set this aside for 30-60 mins until it has doubled (or tripled) up in size.
- To this sponge mixture, add 2 cups of whole wheat flour along with salt and oil. If required, add 1 or 2 tablespoon of warm water and mix it well. The dough should come together.
- Now knead this dough until it is smooth and bouncy. When a piece of dough is stretched, it should not break for 2-3cms.
- Place this dough in a well-greased bowl and cover it cling film.
- Leave this in a warm place for 60-90 mins until it has doubled up in bulk. Gently punch it down and knead again for a min or two.
- Now roll this dough into a rectangle (depending on the baking tin’s size) and fold the ends inside.
- Begin rolling tightly from one side and seal it at the center.
- Place it sealed side down in a greased (and lined) baking tin.
- Leave it again for 30mins or more until the bread has doubled up.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° C for 30mins until the bread is golden brown.
- Let it cool down completely before slicing. Stays good for 3-4 days outside or a week in fridge.
Detailed step by step picture recipe of making Homemade Brown Bread | 100% Whole Wheat Bread
1. Sponge is made to activate the yeast and breakdown the sugar in whole wheat flour. In order to make the sponge, mix all the ingredients mentioned under the sponge and mix well for 2-3 mins. The gluten will begin to form and the mixture will be stringy. Set this aside for 30-60 mins until it has doubled (or tripled) up in size.
2. To this sponge mixture, add 2 cups of whole wheat flour along with salt and oil. If required, add 1 or 2 tablespoon of warm water and mix it well. The dough should come together.
3. Now knead this dough until it is smooth and bouncy. When a piece of dough is stretched, it should not break for 2-3cms.
4. Place this dough in a well-greased bowl and cover it cling film.
5. Leave this in a warm place for 60-90 mins until it has doubled up in bulk. Gently punch it down and knead again for a min or two.
6. Now roll this dough into a rectangle (depending on the baking tin’s size) and fold the ends inside.
7. Begin rolling tightly from one side and seal it at the center.
8. Place it sealed side down in a greased (and lined) baking tin. Mine is 8x4 inches in size, although 9x4 or 9x4.5 inched bread tins should also work (although the bread might not be as tall)
9. Leave it again for 30mins or more until the bread has doubled up.
10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° C for 30 mins or more until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-7 mins. Remove the bread from the tin (to avoid moisture and in turn bread turning soggy) and keep it covered it a kitchen towel until cooled down.
11. Let it cool down completely before slicing. Stays good for 3-4 days outside or a week in fridge.
- I used 24 Mantra's organic whole wheat flour which is not very fine and slightly coarse.
- The amount of water required while making the dough may vary depending on the flour used. Adjust accordingly.
- Make sure the dough is doubled up every time it is proofed. I have proofed it three times.
- If the top of the bread is not colored as much as you would like, apply a coat of butter or oil and keep it on toast mode for 3-5 mins for even browning on top.
- Oven timings vary for different makes of ovens. Keep a close eye on the bread while baking.
I would be delighted to know if you have tried this recipe, don’t forget to share your feedback and comments below. If you have any questions, you can e-mail me! I am also available on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter 🙂
Lovely. 24 organic mantra is a good choice Ramya. I am using that since some months. It's not very fine like ashirwad.
Thanks Pradeepa! 🙂 Yes, I have been using 24 Mantra too - forgot to update the recipe and just did now. Thanks for the comment 🙂
You are always welcome 🙂
Loved the recipe and the way you have used one cup of flour to make the sponge. Usually people complain about a dense wheat loaf as it takes time for the autolyse process to happen that ensures the gluten is released properly and the crumb is good.
Absolutely! Thanks Vidya 🙂
So beautifully baked 🙂
Thanks much dear 🙂
Hi, ur bread looks awesome. I want to try this out this weekend. What is the size of the loaf tin that is used? I have to buy one hence need to know.
Hi Archana, thanks a lot. I used a 8x4 inched bread tin but a 9x4 or 9x4.5 should also work (although might not give a high raised bread). Updated this info in the recipe, thanks for the reminder.
Wow!! Bread looks so gorgeous and inviting and your explanation makes it sound so easy and fun!! Will try this soon 🙂
Sure! thanks so much 🙂
Hi Ramya.. That’s an awesome bake.. loved the crumb colour..waiting to gv a try??
Thanks Vidhya 🙂
Same pinch. I posted something with wheat too. But not bread. 🙂 The bread has come out really well. Kudos for trying it with WWF. I completely agree about the quality of wheat flour. I have tried half and half bread with APF and WWF. I followed the easy peasy no knead bread technique and even for that I had to go with WWF.
Can you grind your own wheat flour? My MIL does that for kanchi. She roasts whole wheat and gets it grinded from the nearby rice mill.
I know the store bought breads does't say the gluten source exactly. Many say vital wheat gluten derived from wheat but who knows. This year got a chance to work with vital wheat gluten through an ingredient exchange program. But didn't try baking bread. Just used in Pav buns. 🙂
Once again, great bake. 🙂
Thanks much Sri 🙂 I hardly find flour mills in our area - I have to find one nearby. Yes I have seen your vital wheat gluten recipes - I have never found that in stores here but you had interested recipes with it 🙂
What a perfect looking bread!! I haven’t made sandwich bread and now I am feeling inspired!
You should totally try it! Thanks Jhuls 🙂
Life Diet Health
This looks absolutely gorgeous... and I've no idea how you got such perfectly equal slices! Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday 🙂
Thanks a lot 🙂 🙂
this bread looks really good,,Can i know if instant dry yeast is the same as what u have mentioned above and also, what brand of wheat flour did u use ?
Thanks Sowmya 🙂 If you are using instant dry yeast, add an extra tsp to be on the safer side. I used 24 Organic Mantra's wheat flour. Hope this helps.
Hi, tried making today.. While the dough rose so well the first 2 times.. it dint rise so well after putting it in the bread pan.. Baking is still under process.. Why do you think this happened ?
Hello, this bread doesn't rise a lot while baking. It might rise 10%, not more than that based on my experience. I think you are on the right path 🙂
oh yeah.. done with baking.. the bread was so hard 🙁 did not rise at all.. what would have gone wrong ?
Opps. Did it fall down while baking? You said you rose well before baking. Could be the case where yeast has been overworked. Sorry it didnt work for you 🙁 I have made this atleast 4 times now without any issues.
Hi where do u get active instant dry yeast.
Hi Aparna, I got it from Indian Baking Institute Bangalore.. they have online delivery too.
hi.. I dont have an oven.. can I bake this bread in a microwave(in oven mode) ?
Yes you can bake it in convection mode in microwave.
Is your yeast granular or slightly powdered. Because there are two types of yeast known to me. Active dry yeast which is granular and has to be proofed. Instant yeast which is slightly powdered and can be added directly to the flour.
Please let me know. Your recipe is indeed gr8.
Hi Sugandha, my yeast is very fine and looks kind of powdered.. that is called as active Instant dry yeast. The granular variety is called active yeast 🙂
Hi Ramya, nicely explained step by step and beautiful Bake. I have baked several whole wheat breads but, first time want to try your recipe. Let me try yours with the sponge.
I have US pullman loaf tin 9"x4"x4" with the lid. How much flour I have to use?
Awaiting for your reply.
Just now as I was browsing for a good while wheat bread, I saw your post. Thanks for sharing
Hi Vimala, I think your pan should work just fine for the measurements given in the recipe.
Ok. Thanks. Let me try
Saritha Vineet - Nair
Hi Pradeepa, Just wanted to check is the measure of yeast 3 tbsp or 3 tsp. I use Gloripan Instant Yeast.