100% Whole Wheat Bread That’s Just as Soft as White!

I didn't divide my dough very evenly!
I didn’t divide my dough very evenly!

I’ve made homemade bread for a long time but until recently have shied away from 100% whole-wheat recipes. All the loaves I tried turned out very dense and dry–enticing only to health-food nuts and people in need of doorstops. Then, just a few weeks ago, I discovered a recipe on An Oregon Cottage that had the word ‘soft’ right in the name: “Soft 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.” Since I had a little free time in the week after Christmas, I decided to try it, even if I had my doubts–the rising time seemed awfully short compared to that of other breads I’ve made.

To have the best chance of success, I used a variety of whole wheat flour that I’d heard a lot of good things about: white whole wheat. White whole wheat flour is made from white wheat, also known as “albino” wheat, which has less color and bitterness than the red wheat normally ground to make whole wheat flour. It is still, however, made from the whole grain–bran, germ, and endosperm–and thus supposed to have similar nutritional value.

The first step: making the "sponge."
The first step: making the “sponge.”

Well, the combination of Oregon Cottage’s recipe and King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour produced results that were surprisingly light and airy! The recipe appears to make up for the short rising time with a hefty amount of yeast (which you can save money on by buying in jars, not packets). And frankly, if a little extra yeast can take the process of bread baking from three and a half hours to two and a half, I’m all for it. Especially when it produces a loaf so supple and tasty that even my picky husband happily eats it.

One other advantage of this recipe is that it stays fresh much longer than other breads I’ve made at home. Other breads will be dry in just a couple of days, but I made a sandwich with this one six days after baking, and it was still excellent. Not sure how that works, but again, I’m all for it!

After kneading, pressing out, and rolling up, but before rising in the pan.
After kneading, pressing out, and rolling up, but before rising in the pan.

For the recipe, I’m going to direct you to Jami Boys’ post on An Oregon Cottage, as she has beautiful step-by-step instructions and a printable recipe. The only things I would add to her recipe are the suggestion to use white whole wheat flour and the note that the rising may take longer than 60 minutes depending on the temperature of your room. In our 68°F house in winter, it took more like 90 minutes. I should also note that I made this recipe without a mixer, so it can be done. It just takes some arm strength to do all that kneading. But it can be nice to burn a few calories in the kitchen–then you can eat an extra slice of bread! And with this recipe, you’ll want to.

Note: This bread also makes excellent garlic toast. See my recipe here. And for information on the nutritional value of whole grains, see my post Whole Wheat and Cavities.

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