Recipes

How to Make My Favorite Soft and Light Whole Wheat Bread

I know what you’re thinking. Homemade whole wheat bread is heavy, and better used as a doorstop than served at dinner. I used to think that too, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

This bread is by far my most requested recipe.* It’s light and fluffy for whole wheat bread, and tastes amazing hot from the oven. Or toasted the next morning. Or in French Toast. And made into sandwiches.

While the recipe is quite simple, I do have a few tips and tricks that I’ll share at the end to ensure your loaf is perfect.

Light and Delicious Whole Wheat Bread

Makes two 4 x 8.5″ loaves

Ingredients

  • 6-7 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer hard white wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon quick acting yeast
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons dough conditioner
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water (about 120 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Add 3 cups flour, yeast, wheat gluten, and dough conditioner to your mixer bowl and mix until combined.
  2. Add warm water and mix until combined. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. The mixture should rise a bit as it rests.
  3. Add the oil, honey, and salt and then turn on the mixer and begin to add the remaining flour one cup at a time until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The amount of flour you’ll need depends on how dry the flour is.
  4. Knead the dough for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Follow your mixer’s instructions for kneading time – for instance, my Kitchen Aid recommends not kneading for more than 2 minutes which is the equivalent of 10 minutes by other methods)
  5. Allow the dough to rest while you heat the oven to 150 degrees and coat the inside of the loaf pans with oil or non-stick spray.
  6. Divide the dough evenly and shape into loaves, placing them into the prepared loaf pans. Mist the tops of the loaves with water to keep the dough from forming a crust as it rises.
  7. Turn off the oven, and then place the loaves inside and allow them to rise for 20 minutes or until double.
  8. Mist the loaves again, and leave them in the oven while you turn the heat to 350 degrees. and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
  9. Allow the bread to cool on wire racks. I like to lightly coat the top of each loaf with a bit of butter for a soft crust, but you can mist it with water once more if you prefer not to use butter.

Tips for Better Whole Wheat Bread

One of the best ways to perfect this recipe is to make it a few times, adjusting anything that isn’t working for you. Differences in climate, elevation, and ingredients can all affect the dough, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit until it turns out just right for you.

The kind of wheat flour you use makes a difference. I grind my own flour for each batch of bread, and that does make a big difference. You can definitely buy whole wheat flour if that’s not an option for you, though. If you want a lighter flavor wheat bread it’s important to use flour made from hard winter white wheat rather than red wheat.

Vital wheat gluten and dough conditioner are technically optional, but they really do improve the texture of the bread immensely. I like to use both whenever possible, but you can use either one or the other and still get good results. If you can’t find them in your local grocery store they’re available on Amazon.

Misting the tops of your loaves with water is a great alternative to greasing each loaf. If you don’t have a spray bottle of water for cooking you can definitely do that instead.

Serve warm with honey butter. We like to mix honey into softened butter (about equal parts) and then spread it on warm slices of bread.

Freeze any loaves that you won’t be able to eat within a few days. Freezing does change the texture of the bread, but it’s still great, especially for French toast or grilled cheese sandwiches.


* I adapted this recipe over the years as I’ve made it again and again. The original recipe is “Simply Perfect Setpoint Bread” in Set for Life, a book that’s now out of print. The book has some fantastic recipes if you can find a copy!

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