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One of the best smells of a home is the delicious smell of fresh-baked whole wheat bread! This is a fragrance that I have known my entire life. As a little girl, I remember my mom making whole wheat bread on Friday afternoons which then became part of our traditional winter Friday night supper of freshly baked bread and homemade soup. There is just something wonderful about the warm, yeasty smell of fresh from the oven loaf of whole wheat bread!
Whole Wheat Bread
One of my summer jobs as a high school student was working in the kitchen at a youth camp. My daily job was to make 24-48 loaves of whole wheat bread each day. I soon had the recipe memorized and could weigh a pound and a half of bread dough in my hands just by the feel of it.
I have carried on the tradition of making homemade bread for my own family for 25 years now and still love the smell of fresh-baked whole wheat bread! This recipe includes years of trials and tests with the end result in a fluffly, non-crumbly loaf of delicious whole wheat bread!
Tools to make Homemade Bread
If you are going to make homemade bread, you need the right tools!
My absolute favorite kitchen appliance is my Bosch mixer! It was one of the first kitchen items we purchased after we got married and were still in college and I can say that it has been worth it’s weight in gold for the amount that I use it! It sits on the counter rather than in a cupboard because it is used at least twice a week and often more than that. I love the ease of making bread with my Bosch.
The only other thing you need for making bread is a set of good bread pans. Bread pans come in many sizes and quality. You can purchase cheap pans at the Dollar Store, but you will probably spend a lot of time trying to get your bread out of the pan after baking it. My favorite pans have been the non-stick pans or glass bread pans. Glass pans are so easy to wash but they do take up more space in the cupboard than the non-stick pans. My experience is that either pan bakes about the same.
If you purchase good quality bread pans, they will last a very long time through lots of loaves of bread and many washings!
Secret Ingredients for making the best Whole Wheat Bread
Vital wheat gluten flour is used in this recipe and here’s the reason why. Adding just a cup of vital wheat gluten flour to the whole wheat bread dough makes the end result light and fluffy with a fantastic elastic texture.
It also helps whole wheat bread raise more so you will end up with a fat loaf of bread rather than a flat, heavy loaf. Without vital wheat gluten flour, you will still have a delicious loaf of bread but it will be very crumbly when you slice it.
I have also found that the type of whole wheat flour you use makes a huge difference. I have been using Wheat Montana Prairie Gold Whole Wheat flour and my bread has had a much lighter texture as well. You can order this flour online or purchase it locally so that your bread turns out beautiful and fat every time!
Wheat Montana Prairie Gold Whole Wheat flour has a higher gluten content which is what helps to make the bread lighter in texture. It is also lighter in color so if your family is hesitant to eat whole wheat bread, this almost looks like white bread!
Fresh yeast is also critical in any bread recipe. Testing your yeast is the reason why you add the yeast and the hot water first and then let them sit until bubbly (usually about 10 minutes). If the yeast doesn’t get bubbly in that time, your yeast may not still be active. There is nothing more disappointing than making a batch of bread and having it turn out flat and heavy!
Keep your yeast in the fridge or freezer between uses to help it stay fresh for a longer amount of time. If you make bread often, it is much more economical to buy yeast in a bag rather than individual envelopes or packets.
My Favorite Bread-Making Supplies!
You may also enjoy these recipes…
Whole Wheat Bread
- 4 Tbsp yeast
- 5 1/2 cups warm water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 3/4 cup oil canola, vegetable, or olive
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
- 1 cup flax meal
- 8 cups whole wheat flour
- 6 cups white flour
Combine the yeast, warm water (110 degrees), brown sugar and salt and let it sit until the yeast gets bubbly. Usually about 10 minutes.
Once the yeast is bubbly, add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Mix and knead until the flour is all mixed in. The dough should be soft to the touch but not stick to your finger. If it's still sticky, you may need to add a little more flour. Add flour, if needed, by 1/2 cup and then mix and check. You don't want your dough to get too dry and tough!
When the bread is all mixed and the right consistency, cover it lightly with a towel or loose lid and let it rise until double in size. This usually takes about an hour depending on how warm your kitchen is.
Once the bread has doubled in size, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Knead each piece of dough to get all the air bubbles out of the dough and then shape into a loaf and place into a greased bread pan.
Allow the loaves to rise until doubled in size again and cover them with a towel while they are rising!
When the loaves have doubled in size, carefully place the bread in the preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20-24 minutes. Any sudden movement or bumping of the bread at this point can cause the bread to fall.
Bread should sound hollow when you tap the crust when it's done. Remove from the oven and remove the bread from the pans and allow to cool on a rack. Once the bread is cool, bag it up to keep it fresh. You can freeze bread for 1-2 months.
Slice your fresh bread and slather it with butter and enjoy!