Q. What’s our most popular recipe? A. You won’t believe it…

With all the recipes here at kingarthurflour.com for decadent chocolate goodies, crusty artisan breads, delicious pies, and tender-tasty cakes, it’s a recipe for humble whole wheat bread that gets the most clicks.

And it makes sense when you think about it. Many people want to eat healthy. There are a lot of bread bakers out there. And King Arthur whole wheat flour is the top-selling whole wheat flour in America.

So it stands to reason we’d have a recipe for the best 100% whole wheat sandwich bread you’ve ever tasted.

That’s right – 100% WHOLE WHEAT sandwich bread. No white flour at all.

Yet it’s moist, close-grained, slices like a dream… And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the taste: slightly nutty, rich, barely sweet.

This is the perfect whole-grain sandwich and toasting bread. And YOU can make it at home. Honest!

What’s the secret to great whole wheat bread? First, the flour. Yeah, as an employee-owner at King Arthur Flour, I’m patting myself on the back here; but we do buy and mill the BEST wheat in America. If you missed this video of the Kansas farms and farm families we work with from an earlier blog, take a look:

When you start with great flour, the rest falls into place easily. Yeast, water, salt, a sweetener; milk, for texture and nutrition; oil, to keep the bread fresh. And that’s all it takes to successfully make whole wheat sandwich (and toasting) bread.

Those ingredients, plus one more: this recipe for Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread, vetted and enthusiastically approved by your fellow bakers. (Don’t just take my word for it; check the 5-star reviews!)

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

1 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

Combine all of the ingredients and mix till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl.

Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. It should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

It was rainy and humid the day I made the bread for this blog; and the dough was kind of sticky.

So I stopped the mixer midway through the 7-minute knead I was giving it, and scraped the sticky dough into the center of the bowl.

Like this.

After kneading for a few more minutes, it was less sticky… though still quite soft.

That’s OK. You know why? Up to a certain point, the stickier/softer your dough, the higher it’ll rise. Resist the urge to keep adding flour to sticky dough; in the long run, you do yourself a favor by simply putting up with a certain amount of stickiness.

How sticky is TOO sticky? If you shape the dough into a log and it slowly starts to flatten into a pancake, that’s too sticky. It can relax a bit, like someone settling into a chair; but it shouldn’t flatten out.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, and cover the container.

Allow the dough to rise till very puffy – about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8” log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan, and cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap. Or a handy-dandy shower cap from the dollar store, as I’ve done here.

Allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1” above the rim of the pan. WOW – that’s quite a nice rise for whole wheat bread, isn’t it?

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 20 minutes…

…and check to see how brown it is. If it’s nearly as brown as you like…

…tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven.

The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Turn the loaf out of the pan, and rub a stick of butter over the crust, if desired.

The butter will soak in, yielding a soft, flavorful crust, and a beautiful, satiny finish.

Slice when completely cool. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Accept your family’s compliments on the best whole wheat sandwich bread you’ve ever made.

And what if your family doesn’t like even this soft, moist, close-grained whole wheat loaf?

wwbread

Try substituting 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour for 1 1/2 cups of the whole wheat. The bread will be just slightly lighter-colored; firmer/easier to slice; and less “wheaty” tasting.

DSC_5001

Perfect for a PB&J!

And here’s one more hint, for those of you who turn up your nose at whole wheat’s “wheaty” flavor: try substituting 1/4 cup orange juice for 1/4 cup of the water in this recipe. The OJ tempers the wheat’s assertive taste, without adding any orange flavor of its own.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Classic 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Frank

    Can you substitute liquid whole milk for the dry milk powder and if so how much? And assume you would remove the same amount of water?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Frank, if you’re looking to leave out the Baker’s Special Dry Milk, you can replace the water in the recipe with fresh milk. Omit the dry milk and be sure to warm up the fresh milk just slightly so that it’s lukewarm to the touch. The loaf may rise slightly less than it otherwise would, but it’ll still be delicious! Kye@KAF

  2. Dottie Caul

    Wonderful recipe. Followed closely each time. No fail and delicious. Lasted several days room temperature in foil and plastic bag. Stays fresh and tender!

    Reply
  3. Marvin Erickson

    For those with problems with the “wheaty” flavor, just substitute half of the water for fresh orange juice. Wheaty flavor gone.

    Reply
  4. Christine Nelson

    My neighbor who runs a day care recently asked me to make her 2 loaves of WW bread for the children she cares for. The state of Wisconsin just recently began requiring WW breads and WW noodles if you qualify for the food program for the children in your care. I had not made this recipe before, as we prefer a lighter WW bread. I used this wonderful recipe, because I trust recipes developed by KA.

    WOW is all I can say. I doubled the recipe to end up with the 2 loaves. The only thing I changed was to add 2 TBS. of gluten. I let it rise to 2 inches above the rim of the pan, and the oven spring was amazing. I ended up with 2 awesome, gorgeous loaves of bread. Heather (the day care provider) said the kids gobbled up the P&B sandwiches she made with the bread. She now has a standing order of 2 loaves per week.

    Thank you KA for another great recipe. And it was a cinch to make. KA is the first place I look for a recipe, and I always have great results.

    In reading some of the reviews, regarding people reporting the bread was dry, if you are still measuring ingredients by volume, please consider investing in a good scale. You will wonder how you ever got along without it. I have used a scale for many years now, and the results are amazing. You can easily convert your volume recipes to ounces or grams by using the weight conversion table on this site. I highly recommend it.

    Reply
  5. Bob

    Wondering if the top can be slashed? If so, would you do it just before baking, or just after shaping into the pan?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Bob, while slashing the top of this loaf isn’t necessary, you’re welcome to give it a try the next time you bake and see if you like the results. The key is making sure the loaf is properly proofed (left to rise for the right amount of time) in order to get good results. The loaf should look puffy and have crested the edge of the pan by 1″ in the very center. Slash the loaf using swift movements right before it goes into the preheated oven. It should open up nicely during baking. Good luck! Kye@KAF

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