Baking Whole Wheat Bread


I have been baking white bread for about 12 years. My husband asked if I would bake wheat bread. We really didn't like red wheat bread but we did like the white wheat. Can anyone give me good white wheat bread recipes (I mean all white wheat) no white flour added. I have KING ARTHUR'S WHOLE GRAIN BAKING book and its WONDERFUL. I use a lot of recipes from it but it hardly has any white wheat bread recipes. Is it a "must" to weigh ingredients?? I tried it and the dough is just to soft, doesn't hold its shape. I do add a bit of vital wheat gluten but not dough enhancer (not to crazy about the smell of it). We like the soft not crumbly bread and mine is crumbly. I'm just a beginner in this "wheat baking:)" can anybody give me some pointers:)??? My last question is, why does the top of the bread deflate?? after having a nice rise!!! oh and i do grind my own wheat flour.

badge posted by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 11:37 am in Baking, yeast
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reply by: PaddyL on December 07, 2010 at 11:51 am

I've been baking bread for years and I don't weigh my ingredients, though I think most of the people here do. I also prefer to add some white flour along with the whole wheat, as it gives a better lift and height to the baked breads. The only reason I don't use white whole wheat flour is that I can't buy it up here in Canada, and I've never had to use vital wheat gluten or gluten flour. The top of your bread deflates after rising because it's over-risen, so next time, don't let it rise too high in the pans before baking. And I'm sure someone from KA will leap in here to give you all the help you need, as they're far more experienced than I.

reply by: pjh on December 07, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Lya, grinding your own wheat flour puts an entirely different spin on whole wheat bread; it's difficult to get the same results as you would with bagged wheat flour, both because the flour you grind isn't aged; and it's also a coarser consistency. That said, try the recipe at the end of this blog - the blog examines grinding your own wheat berries, and may give you some helpful hints.

As for the King Arthur Whole Wheat Baking book, any recipe calling for whole wheat is a good candidate for using white whole wheat - the two are interchangeable in functionality, differing mostly in taste.

I'd say your bread is probably deflating due to rising too long before baking. Try putting it in the oven when it seems about 3/4 risen; that should help.

And if you're willing to use bagged whole wheat flour rather than fresh-ground, check out our 100% whole wheat bread recipes, all of which make the soft, moist, sliceable (non-crumbly) sandwich bread you're seeking. You might be able to use these recipes successfully with your own fresh-ground wheat, but they'll probably take some adjusting. Good luck!

reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Wow!! over-risen, I have never thought of that one. I read a lot of books on wheat and none of them had anything on over-risen dough but I will try it like you said. The reason for adding vital gluten is because the bread was to hard after it baked, the rise was good and the dough texture was good too but just flopped while baking. Thank you for your responds :)

reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Thank you, and I will try the whole wheat bread recipes.

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 07, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Mike Nolan

My older son gave me a Nutrimill grain mill for Christmas last year, so I've been making my own whole wheat flour since then.

It's been challenging because while there are several types of home grain mills sold, there isn't a lot of really useful information on what to do with the flour produced. I could only find one book on the market for home grain millers, and little or no information about how to sift the grain after grinding it. Some of the historical pages on 'boulting' flour that I cited earlier today in the thread on what kind of flour they had in the 1800's are among the more informative pages I've found.

As PJ notes, using freshly ground flour changes things. Because the flour is fresh, the moisture content is a bit higher, which has to be taken into account. What seems to work best for me is to let the dough rise a LONG time in the first rise, often three or more hours, then deflate it completely before shaping it.

I have been making a more moist dough of late, too, if it is too soft after first rise I do a few stretch and folds on it to firm it up before final shaping.

Peter Reinhart also mentioned that freshly ground flour should either be used right away (within 24 hours) or set aside to age for several weeks. He ran into consistency problems with unaged or 'green' flour and one of the breads he was making back when he was a commercial baker.

The honey wheat bread I have in my recipes here is an adaptation of a recipe my wife's mother used to make, it has been our 'daily bread' here for several years. However, it isn't a 100% whole wheat bread, it use both whole wheat flour and AP or bread flour. For a 100% whole wheat bread recipe, I recommend Peter Reinhart's Broom Bread recipe in his Whole Grains Bread book.

reply by: M&Dar on December 07, 2010 at 12:59 pm


I too am from Canada. When I started baking breads at home, I bought KAF AP (by mail order) because I read that this is a superior flour. I never realized that the comments and comparisons were geared toward US flours. Further readings and researches gave me the impression that our Canadian AP flour is very good and has a high protein content to begin with. I want to stop ordering my flour from the US and having it shipped here. Is there another flour I can buy in canada that would be comparable to the KAF AP? What kind of flour do you use to make bread? Where do you buy the SAF instant yeast if that is the yeast that you use for baking? I will sometimes use Five Roses but I don't know how it is compared to KAF. Thanks for the feedback and information.


reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Thank you for your info, I do use the freshly ground flour right away or I store it in the freezer, but I will pay more attention if it makes a difference out of the freezer or freshly ground. I guess my other problem was I let both rises be about the same time but it looks like I need to reduce the second rise and prolong the first one:) Thank you.

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 07, 2010 at 1:42 pm
Mike Nolan

I think storing it in the freezer is not going to allow the green flour to age the same way as storing it at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 1:54 pm

What do you mean by "green flour"??

reply by: biobaker on December 07, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Lya, as someone new to whole-wheat baking, I suggest that you take a step or two back and make things a little easier for yourself at the beginning of this learning curve. Specifically, buy some commercially ground flour at least to start for your yeast breads.

I love grinding my own flour -- the flavor is unparalleled -- but the results are always coarser than commercial flour. Those big pieces of wheat bran have sharp edges that will slice and tear the gluten strands in your dough, making a high rise and a soft-not-crumbly loaf very, very unlikely. Adding vital wheat gluten will help increase the protein content of the flour, but those little bran knives are still there to slice through your extra gluten structure.

I do use home-ground flour for 100% whole wheat loaves, but I know that these will be heavier and are usually for "household" consumption; I like moist, solidly whole-wheat flavor and don't mind a heavier bread. With these loaves, I almost always make a "sponge," allowing the flour to soften and hydrate in the presence of some water before kneading and effectively giving the bread three raises. When I have time, the second rise happens overnight in the refrigerator. Both these steps give the bran flakes an extra chance to soften.

Congratulations on moving to whole wheat, and good luck!

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 07, 2010 at 4:49 pm
Mike Nolan

Freshly milled flour is referred to as green flour.

As I said upthread, Peter Reinhart recommends that freshly milled flour either be used RIGHT AWAY (within 24 hours) or be allowed to sit for 2-3 weeks to age. (I keep it in a covered container but I shake it every day or two.)

reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 5:26 pm

That is what I figured green flour meant. Just wanted to make sure, I have never heard of it being called that:). thanks. Oh and i just made whole wheat bread (white wheat) and let the first rise take a long time and the second one about 20 min. I can proudly say it did the trick (I think it did) the top of my bread did not deflate (at all) and it is very soft.

reply by: lya on December 07, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Thank you biobaker, I think I just found the perfect recipe for us. I used King Arthur's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe but of course I changed it around a bit then used some of Mike Nolan's advice and it turned out great with a lot less of my usual fuss. As to using already ground wheat flour, I heard and read that fresh ground is the best and I just plunged into it (that is one of my many, many faults that I'm working on:) not to plunge head first but take things easy) got a whole bunch of wheat berries and started learning:) Haven't thrown anything away yet so I guess I'm not that bad but still want to improve. When my bread turned out to be to hard or to crumbly I made lots of soups to use it up faster:).