This is probably the easiest whole wheat bread recipe you’ll ever make, and the only recipe you’ll ever need. I promise. And a bonus of this recipe is that you’ll end up with two beautiful loaves since lots of stores are sold out of bread. You’ll have one to eat now and one to freeze for later.
If you find yourself home (and I certainly hope you can because staying home is crucial in this time), it’s a perfect time to venture into baking that takes more time. Making bread isn’t hard but it IS time intensive and just needs you to be around the house for a few hours. And all of us are around the house a lot more than we used to be with the coronavirus social distancing and physical distancing!
I am a big fan of homemade bread, and have never been intimidated by it, likely because my mom made a loaf of bread for us every Saturday since before I was born. She still makes several loaves every Saturday and to this day, even though all six kids are out of the home, she makes multiple loaves so she can take one loaf to her church for their sacrament. (Well, not now since church is cancelled, but you get the point.) And, of course, she needs extra loaves around for all the grandkids and neighbors who stop by for her bread!
Ok so you want to hear more about the recipe, right? I’ve got you.
I love this bread recipe because it’s really, truly simple and easy to make. And I love simplicity. Like any bread recipe, it’s not the quickest recipe to make in the world. But it’s worth the extra time it takes to make it, let me tell you.
The best part of this Whole Wheat Bread Recipe is that it doesn’t require any kneading and makes an amazing, chewy loaf.
Are you ready for some insider tips, and fun alternatives to making this super fibrous and delicious bread? Let’s get to it!
Whole Wheat Bread Recipe With Flax
If you don’t already know by now, I love to highlight the nutritional elements of each recipe I make and present to my readers. But as a reminder, these are estimates and it may vary based on the exact ingredients and brands you use — and based on the slice sizes you cut!! These stats are based on using 7 cups of flour and cutting 12 slices from each loaf.
Alright, here is what you’ll need for this recipe!
Very warm water is needed for the bread mixture. The water temperature can range anywhere from 105 to 115 degrees F or it should lukewarm enough that you can comfortably wash your hands in it. Now, without going too scientific on this, warm water ‘activates’ the dry active yeast which helps your dough rise to the puffy and bubbly state we need for a beautiful loaf of bread.
Olive oil is a great option to use in this recipe. I personally love the taste of olive oil but if you have another oil that makes you happy, please feel free to use it. The type of oil doesn’t completely matter for this recipe, but remember that olive oil is rich in antioxidants, healthy monounsaturated fats, and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. So why not get the yummy taste of olive oil and its nutritional benefits into your loaf of bread? Canola oil is another oil I’ve used in this recipe but it’s not quite as healthy.
Honey is used to help protect the bread’s moisture.and it gives it just enough sweetneess that is lovely with a whole wheat bread. Now, I have never tried this recipe with Maple Syrup instead of honey, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. This is a great option if you prefer to make your bread completely vegan-friendly.
Molasses – like honey – helps with the moistness of the bread, and it also gives a chewier texture to the bread and a sweeter taste. Because it’s a dark substance, your bread will come out looking a little darker as well – but just as delicious (if not more).
Salt not only boosts the flavor of your bread, but it also helps to add strength and tightness to the dough and gluten structure. Salt also helps to slow down fermentation in the dough. While it’s totally up to you, I always use sea salt in my recipes but kosher salt works just as well.
Dry active yeast is specifically used for making bread from scratch. You might already know this, but yeast is what makes the dough rise. What you might not know is that dry active yeast contains small amounts of potassium, carbs, fiber, and protein. I do not recommend using dry active yeast when making bread in a bread machine – there is a special yeast for that. And I have never used a bread machine so I can’t help you on converting the recipe – sorry!
Whole wheat flour is rich in B Vitamins, folate and contains more nutrients than white flour. Wheat is packed with protein, dietary fiber, manganese, iron, and calcium too. Whole wheat flour is always my top choice for healthy bread making because it’s nutritious and tastes delicious. (But, you know I love an amazing white bread loaf occasionally too!) I prefer local wheat flour if I can find it, but other good brands are Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur.
Milled flaxseed is a great addition to bread recipes, breakfast bowls, smoothies or anything else you can sneak it into – which is actually really easy to do because it doesn’t have a strong taste unless you have a LOT in there. Flax seeds are high in Omega-3 Fats Lignans (which reduce cancer risks) and fiber.
Pro tip: flax seeds need to be milled (or blended) to be able to unlock and digest the nutrients. Whole seeds of flax don’t digest properly in our bodies. A quick blend in your coffee grinder or blender is enough to break up the seeds and release the nutritional goodies.
So we are all set with the ingredients, why they are used – so let’s get cracking on the instructions so we can get the best part: eating the bread.
Combine the oil, honey, and molasses together in your mixing bowl. And if you’re smart like me, you’ll measure the oil first then the honey so it will slide out more easily from your measuring cup.
Add the salt, water, and active dry yeast into the mixing bowl. Give it a quick spin in the mixer and let it sit for a few minutes to make sure your yeast is alive. You’ll know it’s alive when it gets poofy or bubbly. Once you’ve confirmed the yeast is alive (yay!), you can move onto your Step 3.
Next, you’ll start by adding just 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal into your mixing bowl. Set your stand mixer on “blend/whisk”. Continue to add the rest of the flour and milled flaxseed until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. This may take a minute or two for the dough to fully mix. Remember, you want it to be “tacky” or sticking to your finger once it’s thoroughly mixed.
If you have a Bosch mixer, put your cute little lid on. If you’re using something else – like a KitchenAid – cover the bowl with the method of your choice. I recommend a sturdy kitchen towel. You’re going to let this dough rise, right in the bowl, with the bread blade and everything, for about 30-60 minutes. The rising time is highly dependent on your temperature kitchen and the moistness of your dough. For example, if your kitchen is warmer and your dough is moister, then your rise time might be 40 minutes. If your kitchen is cooler or your dough is a little less moist, it will likely take longer.
While the bread is rising, go for a walk, clean your house, read a book or whatever makes you happy.
Check in on the dough after about 30 minutes to see if you have warm and fluffy dough ready for baking. If not, go do something else for a bit until it’s puffed up in the bowl! You can poke a finger in there to see if it stays indented or puffs back up. If it stays indented, it’s ready!
I highly recommend turning on your stand mixer just for a few seconds, at a low setting, to beat the dough back. I like to mix (or knock) my dough back down close to its original size pre-rising. Knocking back the dough helps to burst the air bubbles that have already formed and forces them to reform. Sounds weird, right? This actually helps you get a smoother, more even texture in the bread loaf.
Once you’ve finished knocking your dough, place the dough on a floured surface. If you’re OCD or just want an excuse to use your food scale [I won’t tell you which applies to me], divide the dough in half. Exactly in half. Or just eyeball it. Whatever. I won’t judge.
Do NOT roll the dough out with a rolling pin – use your hands to make a ball and then turn the dough under itself over and over until you have a nice loaf shape – smooth top, smooth sides.
Once you’ve formed the dough into two loaves, stick them into greased pans. I prefer using olive oil or non-stick spray to grease my pans. I use two 9×5 pans for my bread loaves and they are my original go-tos for bread making.
You’ll notice a lot of my metal pans in my bread recipes look like they haven’t been washed in a very long time. You’re right. Here’s a little trick: never wash your bread pans. Why? Because they’ll get more seasoned with each bake. Unwashed pans also produce a better crust and help your bread pop out more easily. I used pretty glass ones for photogenic purposes here, but the ones I use day in and day out are metal and very well loved.
I learned that from my mom, who we already know has baked bread every weekend for at least as long as I’ve graced her presence.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Pretty simple step, right?
Once you’ve put your two dough loaves into pans, cover with a damp dishtowel. If you don’t have a clean towel handy, cover your dough loosely with plastic wrap. (I far prefer to avoid plastic wrap whenever possible, but didn’t have a clean towel when making and it’s essential to make sure it’s a clean towel! Just save the plastic wrap to use when you freeze the extra loaf so it gets a little more use in its life.)
Let the dough rise until the loaves are close to doubling their size. At this point, they may start to come above the edge of the pan. This process could take up to 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on it as you use this time to clean up your kitchen. Trust me, it makes the consumption of the bread that much more savory when you do it in a clean kitchen. Don’t let it over rise before baking – it could cause your loaves to collapse. Once it’s doubled in size and peeking over the edge, it’s ready to go. Don’t let it go much longer. You’ll start to figure out what’s “too long” or “too short” with practice over time. Baking bread is a science and an art!
When your oven is finished preheating, stick the loaves in and let the magic commence. I suggest pulling them out in about 35-40 minutes. They should be golden brown at this point. I also recommend rotating your loaves halfway through since most ovens are hotter in the back.
To check if they are baked through, pop them out of the pans and tap them on the bottom. If they sound hollow, you should be good to go and ready to serve (or devour) these delicious loaves.
In theory, you should let them cool down on a rack. You also shouldn’t cut the bread until they are fully cooled because they still do a little cooking while cooling and if you cut it while cooling, it releases the heat. Yeah, right – go ahead and cut into that baby, slap some butter on and enjoy it hot.
There is nothing more hunger quenching than hot, freshly baked bread, am I right?
I’m a huge sucker for the end piece with so much crispiness. My mom will tell you that she has often seen me cut both ends off a loaf of bread. Oops.
Notes for your loaf of bread
Not every bread turns out perfect. If you happened to let your dough rise too much, your results will probably be collapsed loaves instead of lovely rounded tops. But that’s totally okay. These loaves will taste just as great even if the bread only looks half as beautiful. Next time, you’ll nail it.
Types of Flour
I prefer local flour when I can find it. If not, I usually make this recipe with King Arthur whole wheat flour. I recently bought the Whole Foods 365 brand of whole wheat flour to save money and used that instead. It was still good, but I could really tell a difference in taste. I think it’s much better with the King. But use what you have on hand if you are on a tighter budget. I’ve also used sprouted whole wheat flour and that worked well.
Note: I have yet to try this recipe with gluten-free flour, so I do not know how the end results will turn out. Likely not well. If you do try it, let me know how it goes. I am always on the hunt for a decent GF bread recipe. But, knowing what I do know about gluten-free baking (since I try to avoid gluten unless it’s REALLY good homemade bread), this would very likely not work with a simple swap to gluten-free flours.
I really do not recommend placing your loaves in a bag or airtight container until completely cooled. They’ll get sweaty. Ick. No one likes sweaty bread.
I also don’t recommend storing your bread in the fridge unless it’s VERY humid where you live. It changes the texture, but we also don’t want mold growing on it. In a normal or climate, this bread will keep for about a week at room temperature just fine before it starts to get stale. Just plan out a few meals that incorporate bread slices and you should be able to finish a loaf before well before it starts going stale. That is if you didn’t eat the whole loaf right out of the oven.
Now, if you want to store the second loaf for a later date, let it completely cool. Once cooled, wrap it tightly in foil and freeze.
I have never owned or used a bread maker or machine, and I probably never will. I personally think it takes the joy and art out of bread making which is part of what I love about making bread! That’s my personal take, but each to their own bread-making devices. If it saves you hassle and time, go for it. Remember that you need to use a different type of yeast – not dry active yeast.
Bread Stand Mixer
I should probably also mention that I am a Bosch mixer girl, through and through. Mainly because my mom had a Bosch and made all of her bread in it. I don’t think I could ever switch to KitchenAid, just because of that. Loyalty is definitely a thing – even for kitchen items. These photos don’t show my Bosch since we shot this at my photographer’s house, so rest assured any mixing machine will do!
I like this Bosch mixer because it lasts FOREVER. They are extremely high quality and they work very well for making large batches of dough. Some of my bread recipes make four loaves so I need the larger capacity. I also like that it has a lid to go on top for rising phases or to just help prevent flour from flying all over the kitchen, which we’ve all had happen!
The upside of a KitchenAid stand mixer is that they are certainly cuter! If you plan to leave your stand mixer on your counter, it may be worth going for a KitchenAid for looks alone. Plus, they come in so many fun colors.
Cutting the Recipe in Half or Doubling the Recipe
This recipe works beautifully if you want to cut it in half for just one loaf or if you want to double it for four loaves. The rise time when it’s in the bowl will likely take longer if you double it and it will likely be shorter if you half it, so just keep an eye on things. I also recommend rotating your pans in the oven halfway through baking for even baking since some ovens tend to be hotter in the back.
Ok, enough of the small talk. Are you ready for this loaf of bread deliciousness? It’s such a great recipe that any bread-lover will enjoy it and write home about it. So enough waffling, and let’s start making bread.
As always, let me know how this recipe turns out for you! I love hearing about your experiences with my recipes.
The Easiest Whole Wheat Bread Recipe You’ll Ever Make
1/3 cup olive oil [or whatever oil makes you happy]
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon salt [I used sea salt]
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
6–7 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. milled flaxseed
Place the oil, honey, and molasses in the bowl of your mixer. Admire how pretty it looks.
Add the salt, water and the yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes, until puffy and bubbly.
Add two cups of the flour and the milled flaxseed and mix until well combined.
With your mixer turned on to the lowest setting, gradually add more flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Don’t add too much – you want it to be fairly sticky [see Step 3 in the pictures]. I usually add around 6 1/2 cups total [including the 2 cups added above]. The trick is to have your dough stand up with the least amount of flour so the bread will be fluffy. Don’t overmix it.
When your dough is holding together, leave it in the mixer, cover the bowl and let it rise for 30-60 minutes depending on the warmth of your kitchen. It doesn’t have to double, but you want it puffy.
Spray two bread pans with non-stick spray. [My pans are 9×5.]
Mix the dough again just enough to knock it down close to the original size. Just a few seconds on the lowest setting is all you need.
Drop the dough on a floured surface. Divide the dough in half and form each one into a loaf shape. Do not roll the dough out with a rolling pin – use your hands to make a ball and then turn the dough under itself over and over until you have a nice loaf shape – smooth top, smooth sides.
Place the loaves in your bread pans and let them rise until almost doubled. [Remember, do not fall asleep at this point.]
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 35 minutes, until the tops are golden and if you tap the bottom of the loaves, they sound hollow.
Remove from the pans and cool the loaves on a rack. In theory, you shouldn’t cut the bread until they are fully cooled because they still do a little cooking while cooling and if you cut it while cooling, it releases the heat. Yeah, right – go ahead and cut into that baby, slap some butter on and enjoy it hot.
Note on flour: I usually make this with King Arthur whole wheat flour. I recently bought the Whole Foods 365 brand of whole wheat flour to save money and used that instead. It was still good, but I really could tell a difference in taste. I think it’s much better with the King.
Don’t place your loaves in a bag until completely cooled. They’ll get sweaty. Ick.
Do not store the bread in the fridge – it will get hard and the texture will suck. It will keep for about a week at room temperature just fine before it starts to get stale.
If you want to store the second loaf, once completely cooled, wrap it in saran wrap and then wrap foil over that and freeze.
Serving Size:1 Slice
I first published this recipe in 2010, one of the first recipes I shared on this blog! The photos have gotten a major upgrade since then!