From the time I have started baking my own bread I have been trying hard to perfect a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf. I know I am not alone in this. Every time I meet a fellow bread baker, we always end up having a discussion on how we are trying to come up with a 100% whole wheat bread recipe with satisfactory results.
Initially when I was new to bread baking I was under the impression that it’s easy to bake a 100% whole wheat bread. I thought now that I was going to make my own bread I will only eat whole grain breads and stay away from white flour completely. That changed very soon after a few whole wheat bread loaves which ended up brick like, crumbly or chewy. My husband and daughter were’t happy about eating something only because it’s healthy.
I decided to take the middle path and started baking bread with mostly a combination of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. I started off with no knead recipes like the one I blogged a few months ago but slowly I moved on to making bread which involved a lot of kneading. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with bread baking. While I continued to bake various kinds of breads and experiment with different flours, I still keep re-visiting the idea of a perfect 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf. I keep thinking that the general knowledge I have gained about baking bread will help me perfect a wheat loaf.
A website/portal which has helped me though my bread baking journey tremendously is ‘The Fresh Loaf’. Every time I have a question I head over to my favorite website which never lets me down. Once when I was generally browsing around through this website (yeah… I do that often!) I came across a bread recipe which used vinegar in it. The guy who baked that loaf was talking about how the vinegar in the dough made it rise beyond control! I thought why not try the vinegar trick with a whole wheat bread? One of the most common complaints with whole wheat bread is that it is dense and doen’t rise enough, may be the vinegar can help in that?
So yesterday… on a relaxed sunday afternoon I experimented with a new 100% whole wheat flour recipe! I used vinegar in the recipe which definitely made a big difference in the final texture of the bread. Vinegar helps the dough rise better which results in a softer bread. I also used flax seed powder in the recipe which I thought will also help in bread rising better. This definitely is the best whole wheat bread I have ever baked. The texture was near perfect! Bread rose beautifully and the crumb was soft and airy with the crust being not too hard. I was a bit worried about tasting the vinegar in the bread but when I tasted it really didn’t bother me much. It does taste slightly sour but not too much. I tried it with some peanut butter, guava jelly & spicy tomato chutney and you definitely can’t taste the vinegar unless you are eating it plain.
On the whole I was very happy with the final outcome. I will continue to work on the recipe but right now this is the best 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe for me
Some tips on baking whole wheat breads:
The wheat flour you use makes all the difference. In India we don’t really get bread flour (refined or unrefined) so we have to experiment with different flours to find out what works best.
I have used all brands of wheat flours. I have noticed that coarser flour results in a better rise and a more airier crumblier bread. Navadarshanam organic stone ground wheat flour was one of my favorite.
I have used Organic Chakki Atta from ‘Town Essentials’ for this particular loaf, I quite liked it too.
While kneading the dough, make sure it’s not too hard or dry. Whole wheat flour will require a little more moisture than the regular white flour. A harder dough will rise slower.
Be a little generous with olive oil in the dough. The fat makes the bread more moist and soft.
I have read in several blogs that adding a little bit of Vital Wheat Gluten makes the loaf a lot less dense. Haven’t tried this yet.
More tips on baking a good whole wheat bread here.
I highly recommend watching this video on how to shape a sandwich loaf. Watch it before you bake this bread.
Add 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds/melon seeds/cucumber seeds or various nuts of your choice for more flavor.
I used Apple cider vinegar because that’s what I had, You can use regular white vinegar too.
You could also replace olive oil with butter/ghee or any other oil of your choice, unrefined sugar with jaggery or regular sugar.
Please store the bread in the refrigerator if it does not get consumed within 2 days. It should last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp unrefined cane sugar
- 1 tbsp active dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp flaxseed powder
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup whole whet flour for kneading & dusting
Heat 1 cup water with 1 tsp sugar till the sugar dissolves. Pour it into a big bowl and let it cool for a few minutes. When the water is luke warm add the yeast to it and let it sit for 5 minutes till it’s frothy and bubbly.
Now add the salt, 3 tbsp olive oil, flax seed powder and vinegar to the yeast mixture and still everything. Add 3 cups of whole wheat flour into it and mix well for everything to combine. Knead the dough well for a few minutes. You should get soft dough which is not sticky. Now add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and knead once again. Place this soft dough in a erased bowl, cover it with a wet towel and place it in a warm dry place. Let the dough double in size. This depends on the temperature around so it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours.
When the dough has doubled, take out the wet towel and punch the dough down to deflate it completely. Now put the dough on a flat surface which is dusted generously with flour. Knead it for a couple of minutes. Now shape the dough according to this video and place the loaf in the loaf tin. Cover it with a wet towel and let it rise once again for about an hour.
Pre-heat the oven at 170 degree celsius.
When the loaf as doubled in size, remove the wet towel and place the loaf in the hot oven. Let it bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. When the bread is fully baked it’ll be golden on top and will sound hollow when tapped.
Remove the tin it from the oven. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then get the bread loaf out of the tin. Le the loaf cool down completely for at least an hour before you slice into it.