This Brown bread recipe or whole wheat bread recipe or whole meal bread recipe is one of the best homemade bread recipes that we can have.
This whole wheat bread is soft, delicious and packed with nutrition.
We love whole wheat bread as it is a more healthy bread; it has more nutritional value as it is made from whole grain of wheat.It contain fibers, vitamins,and minerals from the bran,endosperm and the germ of wheat berry.
How to make fluffy whole wheat bread
Though the process of making whole wheat bread and regular white bread are very similar, there are differences and challenges while working with whole wheat flour.
We can’t expect same result from both white flour and whole wheat flour.
We need to make sure If our whole wheat flour is fairly “strong” otherwise it is very difficult to get a soft and fluffy whole wheat bread.
When flour is moistened with water and kneaded, glutenin and gliadin combine and form gluten.
Gluten is responsible for the stringy strands that give dough its elastic and stretchy structure and bread products their characteristically chewy mouthfeel.
So if our dough is not elastic and stretchy after kneading for about 10 minutes, we need to knead for longer time and we may not be able to make a very soft and fluffy whole wheat bread.In such case,if you are okay, its better to add a small part of flour as bread flour or all purpose flour.(Here in this recipe we can modify as 257g whole wheat flour +100 g all purpose flour)
- Whole wheat flour:357 g [2 3/4 cup]
- Lukewarm water:236 ml [1 cup ](The amount of water to be added may slightly vary for different whole wheat flour)
- Honey or sugar: 2 tbsp(42g honey or 25 g sugar)
- Salt: 6 g or 1 tsp
- Butter:43 g (3 tbsp)
- Yeast:4.5 g (1 and half tsp)
Method of making fluffy whole wheat bread
Prepare the dough
Into a bowl, pour in the lukewarm water.Water which is not cold nor hot; but just slightly warm.
Add the honey,yeast,salt,and stir everything together until everything get dissolved in water.
If you are using active dry yeast, use 1 and 1/ 4tsp and make sure it dissolved in water completely before adding the flour.
Now add the softened butter and the whole wheat flour into this.
Combine everything together to form a shaggy mass of dough.
Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface.
Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes until we get a soft and elastic dough.
This kneading time will be different for different types of whole wheat flour.
I would suggest you to read the complete blog post, as I have shared my experience working with low gluten wheat flour towards the end of this article.
Take a clean bowl and pour in some oil and then place the dough inside it and lightly coat it with some oil.
Cover the bowl with a plastic film and let the dough sit and rise for 60-90 minutes.
This proofing time may vary according to the room temperature.If our place is warm then it will rise faster and if it is cold it will rise slowly.Wait for until it gets doubled in size.
Shape the dough
As our place is pretty warm (29 -30C),After 75 minutes of proofing, the dough has risen well.
Degas the dough and then flatten it into a rectangle with a width very similar to that of the width of bread tin.
Roll the dough into the shape of a log and place it onto a well greased baking tin.
Cover the top loosely with a greased plastic film.
We need to wrap the plastic film loosely as it will rise above the rim.
As we grease the plastic film, we can make sure it will not stick to the dough while we take it away.
Proof the dough for 45 minutes or until it rises well.
When the dough reaches 3/4 height of baking tin, start preheating your oven to 350F.
Bake the bread
After 45 minutes, the dough has risen and now it is ready to go into the oven.
Bake @ 350 F for 32-35 minutes.
At around 25 minutes of baking you may need to tent the top of bread with aluminum foil to prevent any chance of top of bread, getting over browned.
I have used this Pullman tin to bake this homemade whole wheat sandwich bread.This pan gives tall medium sized sandwich bread.
Size :7.5 length x 4 breadth x 4.2 height (inches);19.5 x 10 x 11 in cm
How to check the doneness of this whole wheat bread/whole meal bread
Different Ovens may perform slightly differently.And the baking duration vary according to the size of bread pan.But anyhow,we will get to the right conclusion of baking temperature about your oven in a few trials.
1. Visually :The Brown Bread loaf should be golden brown on all sides and not only on the top.If you see the sides are not golden brown in color ,most likely the inside will not be cooked enough.So bake for another five more minutes and check again.
2. Tap the Bottom – Take the loaf out of the oven and remove from the loaf tin,and turn it upside down. Tap the bottom of whole meal bread with your thumb, like striking a drum. The bread will sound hollow when it’s done.
3. Take the Internal Temperature – Insert an instant read thermometer into center of the brown bread loaf. This whole wheat bread is done, when the internal temperature is closer to 200°.
If you’re ever in doubt, it’s better to cook the loaf a little longer than to undercook it. An extra five minutes isn’t going to burn the crust, and the worst that will happen is that your bread will be a bit on the dry side. But better dry than un-baked!
Also, if you’re consistently having trouble with over- or under-baked loaves, check the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer.
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How to store this whole wheat sandwich bread ?
The bread can be stored at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 2-3 days.Wrap it with plastic film or keep it in paper bag.
Heat and humidity causes bread to mold. So if you want to store it for longer, wrap it well and keep it in refrigerator.The bread will stay good for up to seven days in refrigerator.But the chance of bread getting dry is more if we keep it in refrigerator.
Can I freeze this brown bread ?
Yes you can freeze this whole wheat bread.Simply wrap the bread in plastic or aluminum foil to protect it from freezer burn and keep frozen for up to one month.
Take it out whenever you need and just put it in a toaster or just spray with some water and place in the 350F preheated oven for 10 minutes, and you’ll get fresh bread ready to eat.
Why is my whole wheat bread dense and heavy?
- Your rise is too short or too long. If the rising time is too short, the yeast won’t have a chance to create bubbles and Carbon dioxide to make the bubbles expand. If too long, the dough will collapse onto itself.
- The temperature during rise is too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature for yeast growth is just overy about 100F, though room temperature is fine as long as you give the yeast more time to work.
- Probably the yeast is not active. Try different yeast.
- Your dough can’t hold its shape because the flour lacks gluten.This usually happens when we make bread using whole grains like whole wheat flour.In such cases,you can try adding little bread flour or add vital wheat gluten to your dough.
Why is my whole wheat bread/brown bread not cooked in the middle?
When the baking temperature is higher than the recipe suggests, the outer crust will get baked quickly and it may turn brown in a few minutes.But at the same time, the inside of the bread will remain uncooked.
- Oven too hot at beginning; If the crust browns too early, the loaf can’t expand to its maximum volume. This interferes with the inner texture of the bread.
- If it’s taken from the oven too soon; just because the outside looks done, and the baking is actually incomplete, the inner crumb will be gummy and lacking in flavor.
Solution:You should decrease the baking temperature and take more time to bake bread and you’ll get perfectly cooked and colored bread 🙂
Why my whole wheat sandwich bread collapse ?
Overproofing the bread dough can cause structural weakness, resulting in collapse.
When the second rise (or the rising of dough after it is been shaped) is longer than the recipe suggests, the gluten strands will expand much higher; and when baked in oven, the starch gelatinize and the proteins coagulate and thus the gluten strands curl up, tightening their links with each other, and solidifying the bread’s structure and it will loose its strength and will not be able to hold its structure or shape and it will collapse.
Why my whole wheat bread didn’t rise ?
If the Bread did not rise, the probable reasons are connected with yeast and its activity.
- So Its better to Proof the yeast before using.
- Check the proper water temperature before dissolving the yeast. (Ideal Temperature:110F)
- Some experts says ,Salt added directly to the yeast inhibits or kills it.
- Dough too stiff because too much flour during mixing or kneading; dough should be tacky after mixing, smooth after kneading
How to reheat the whole wheat bread ?
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177 °C). This is the best temperature for reheating bread. Any hotter and the bread could burn quickly. A lower temperature would require a longer cooking time, resulting in dry brown bread. If you want a soft interior with a chewy crust, 350℉ (175℃) is the way to go.
- Spray some water on the bread or cover the bread with an aluminum foil (so that the bread will not get dry when baked)
- Place you bread inside the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes.You will get bread as it is freshly baked.Larger bread loaf may require 5 more minutes of baking.
- If you want to make your bread moist, warm and chewy, then you can steam the bread.
- Toast your bread in a toaster.
Why my brown bread /whole wheat bread is having strong yeast smell?
- Over-risen bread dough. Stop the rising when the dough has almost doubled in size (use finger-top test).
- Incomplete baking. If the bread is not baked properly in the middle ,the bread will smell “yeasty”
- Not kneading enough.
- Too much yeast.
Why the crust of my whole wheat sandwich bread is too thick ?
- Kneading problems. When finished kneading, dough should be ‘tacky’, not dry.
- Oven temperature too low.Which leads to longer baking time which can result in thick crust.
- Bread overbaked.
What is whole wheat flour
There are some important considerations we must take into account to make things work. So let’s start by understanding the “whole wheat flour”.
Whole wheat flour is essentially made from the entire kernel of wheat ground up into flour form. It is packed with nutrition and flavor.
Whole wheat flour can come in a variety of consistencies from extra coarse to extra fine. The various levels of grinding will result in bread with different textures.
A whole wheat berry,consists of three parts: the germ, bran and the endosperm.
Whole wheat flour is made from grinding all of these three parts.
Endosperm is the white part of kernel, which is comprised of starch and proteins.This endosperm which contain “gluten” help us to create a dough with a lot of strength that is able to trap the gas produced by the yeast and this in turn gives the dough, volume.
White Flour or all purpose flour or plain flour is made up almost entirely of the endosperm.And as it contain a good amount of gluten, it can produce bread with good volume and structure.
Additionally, white flour is often bleached with a whitening agent, often chemical, to make it look clean and white. The absence of the germ also increases the flour’s self life which favors its wide acceptability.
One main drawback of this white flour is that we lose out on all the vitamins, minerals, fats and fibre that are contained in the germ and bran.
The term “Wheat” flour can be confusing though. Some companies label their flour as “wheat flour” even though it is really just white flour because technically all flour comes from wheat. It’s always good to check labels and nutrition facts too.
How to store whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour contains more fats and nutrients compared to white flour.The germ part of wheat is mostly fat and so there are more chances that the whole wheat flour will turn rancid, If it is left at room temperature for longer period of time.
It is best to store it in the fridge or freezer if you don’t plan on using it within a month or so.
Is all whole wheat flour the same?
The properties of Whole wheat flour may vary for different brands.
I tried making whole wheat bread using three different whole wheat flour (I mean ,from three different brands)
Surprisingly,these three different wholewheat flours performed in a variety of ways.
I noticed a wide difference in their water absorbing power.
There was a huge difference in the gluten development as well.
And hence the resulting bread structure and texture was also different.
One thing I learned is that, if our flour is not “strong”; not having enough gluten development, then our bread will be not very soft and fluffy.
Here is my experience ,making whole wheat bread using whole wheat flour which is not “strong”.There are some chances that you might also find this kind of flour as whole wheat flour in grocery stores.
Made Dough with whole wheat flour which is not strong.
Kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes and it didn’t show a strong gluten development.
Result :The bread made turned dense and heavy.
Just out of curiosity,I thought if, autolysing the wholewheat flour might work.So I hydrated the flour with 90% water and kept overnight in fridge.The next day morning, it showed a slight gluten development but not good enough to get a good rise.Made bread using the autolysed dough.
Result:The resulting loaf was very similar to the previous one though the crumb was a little more softer.
The next time,I thought of kneading the dough until it passes the window pane test. It took me almost 60 minutes of kneading to get into stage where the dough is showing a comparatively good gluten development .But not strong enough to pass the window pane test.
Result :The resulting loaf had a bit more rise and structure.It was softer in texture too.
I tried making bread by using 28% of flour as all purpose flour and it got very good gluten development when kneaded for around 15 minutes .[257g whole wheat flour +100 g all purpose flour]
Result: The resulting bread had a good rise, soft and fluffy texture too.
We have used mashed potatoes in making potato dinner rolls earlier and they turned out so soft and fluffy.So I thought of making wheat bread using mashed potatoes.[357 g whole wheat flour+100g mashed potatoes,I adjusted the amount of water accordingly]
Result :The resulting bread was not very satisfactory ,it did not had a good rise but the texture of crumb was soft and moist.Adding mashed potatoes will make the dough very sticky to handle.
So My last attempt was using 28% of flour as all purpose flour( 257g whole wheat flour +100g All purpose flour) and by using 100g of mashed potatoes.
Result :The resulting bread was super soft ,fluffy and delicious.
And so my inference from my kitchen experiments is that, if our whole wheat flour is not strong enough, it is difficult to get a loaf with good rise.
While dealing with such “hard” wheat dough, if you are okay, you can add a small part of flour as bread flour or all purpose flour ,if you want a soft and fluffy wheat bread.If your priority is a healthier loaf ,then you don’t need to add any all purpose flour.Though the resulting bread will be slightly denser in texture, it tastes great and is packed with vitamins and minerals.
Watch the video to see how to make fluffy whole wheat bread
Brown bread recipe/Fluffy whole wheat bread recipe
- 357 g Whole wheat flour [2 and 3/4 cup]
- 236 ml Lukewarm water 1 cup(The amount of water to be added may slightly vary for different whole wheat flour)
- 2 tbsp Honey or sugar (42g honey or 25 g sugar)
- 1 tsp Salt 6 g
- 43 g Butter (3 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast:4.5 g If using active dry yeast,1 and 3/4 tsp
Prepare the whole wheat bread dough
- Into a bowl, pour in the lukewarm water.Water which is not cold nor hot; but just slightly warm.Add the honey,yeast,salt,and stir everything together until everything get dissolved in water.If you are using active dry yeast, use 1 and 1/ 4tsp and make sure it dissolved in water completely before adding the flour.Now add the softened butter and the whole wheat flour into this.Combine everything together to form a shaggy mass of dough.Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface.Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes until we get a soft and elastic dough.
- Take a clean bowl and pour in some oil and then place the dough inside it and lightly coat it with some oil.Cover the bowl with a plastic film and let the dough sit and rise for 60-90 minutes.This proofing time may vary according to the room temperature.If our place is warm then it will rise faster and if it is cold it will rise slowly.Wait for until it gets doubled in size.
Shape the dough
- Degas the dough and then flatten it into a rectangle with a width very similar to that of the width of bread tin.Roll the dough into the shape of a log and place it onto a well greased baking tin.Cover the top loosely with a greased plastic film.We need to wrap the plastic film loosely as it will rise above the rim.As we grease the plastic film, we can make sure it will not stick to the dough while we take it away.
- Proof the dough for 45 minutes or until it rises well.When the dough reaches 3/4 height of baking tin, start preheating your oven to 350F.
Bake the bread
- After 45 minutes, the dough has risen and now it is ready to go into the oven.Bake @ 350 F for 32-35 minutes.At around 25 minutes of baking you may need to tent the top of bread with aluminum foil to prevent any chance of top of bread, getting over browned.I have used this Pullman tin to bake this homemade whole wheat sandwich bread.This pan gives tall medium sized sandwich bread.Size :7.5 length x 4 breadth x 4.2 height (inches);19.5 x 10 x 11 in cm