Easy whole wheat bread is something I’ve been searching for, for a long time now. I loooove bread, especially fresh baked bread, hot out of the oven, warm and soft on the inside, with a nice hard crust on the outside. It’s the best!
I’ve been discouraged from trying to bake my own though, because it seems all the recipes that exist out there have oil, sugar, or other ingredients I don’t cook with. Or, they’re incredibly complex recipes with lots of steps, wait times, complicated rising instructions, etc. I wanted something simple, healthy, and easy to make, but wasn’t having any luck in my search.
That is, until now! It took a lot of research, but I think I’ve finally found a way to bake a homemade bread loaf that is easy AND healthy! No oil, no sugar, no complicated steps, no long wait times. This will forever be my new go-to easy whole wheat bread recipe!
You can enjoy this bread with nut butters or fruit jams on top. You could also go the savory route and spread avocado or hummus on it. You can dip it in soup, make sandwiches out of it, toast crostinis or bruschetta with it – you name it. But anyways, let’s get on with the recipe!
Easy Whole Wheat Bread In Under 2 Hours
First, combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Then, slowly add warm water and knead with your hands until a dough ball forms. I use these quick “fast acting” dry yeast packets. They’re really cheap at Kroger or Walmart, and one packet (or square) is the perfect amount for what you’ll need. 2018 Update: You can also buy yeast in bulk for cheap online (which is what I started to do, since I’m doing a lot more baking these days!).
The above picture is what your dough ball should look like just after you’re done kneading it into a ball. Now comes the waiting part. Most bread recipes you see online will ask you to let the dough “rest” or “rise” for 10+ hours, or even overnight. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Just step away from this bread for one hour and one hour only. Trust me, the loaf will still rise and be delicious in the end.
After one hour your dough should look like the picture above. As you can see, it definitely expanded and grew bigger while it rested.
Next, preheat your oven to 400 F and line a round baking dish with parchment paper. Sprinkle some extra flour over the dough so you can get it out of the bowl easily, and transfer it to the round baking pan. Shake it a few times, and gently pat the dough with your hands so that it fills the space of the round dish evenly.
Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes, to rise once more. This should be happening while your oven is preheating, so no time is lost here really. As you can see in the picture above, the dough will rise again in these 30 minutes.
And now you’re pretty much ready to bake! All of our prep happened in under 2 hours. Not 24, or 8, or 10, but less than 2! That’s why I love this recipe.
Score & Bake
Scoring is slashing the dough with a knife (or scissors, as a crafty commenter informed me below!) to allow it to expand during baking. The purpose is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during baking. You’ll see in fancy bakeries that they sometimes score their bread with fun patterns of leaves, flowers, or other intricate designs. I decided to go with a simple criss-cross slash – and I kinda messed it up a bit!
To be fair, this was my first time ever scoring bread. I wasn’t expecting the dough to be as “sticky” as it was, and my knife didn’t really scrape through it very easily. I’ll know for next time though! Maybe if I get better I can try scoring my dough with fun patterns too one day. 🙂 For more info on scoring, with videos on how to do it, check out this page here.
Easy Whole Wheat Bread
And that’s it! I have to say, for this being my first time ever making homemade bread, I was so so pleased with how it turned out. I was nervous that it wouldn’t rise properly, that it would be hard as a rock, or not cook at all. Knowing my luck it would “collapse” or sink, or burn to a crisp. But to my very pleasant surprise, I thought it turned out perfectly.
The outside crust was perfect. It was crisp without being too brittle. It gave the bread the perfect amount of texture. This time around I only topped it with rolled oats and sea salt, but next time I think I’ll get creative with rosemary, maybe olives, sun dried tomatoes, herbs, or other fun combinations!
The inside was nice and soft too. Not overdone, dried out or hard. That was probably my biggest worry with making homemade bread. Could I get it just right so that the outside is crunchy, but the inside is soft? Believe me when I say if I did it, you can too! Just follow the instructions below exactly and it should turn it just like this.
Get Creative With It
I mentioned before you could get really creative with the different toppings you put on it before baking. But I think you can be just as creative with how you eat it too. By that I mean using it for toast, dunking it in soups, using it with a homemade dip, sandwiches, etc. I made a banging homemade broccoli “cheese” soup this same week and used this bread to dip in my soup every time I ate some of it. It was sooo good.
I’m glad that I’ve finally come across an easy whole wheat bread recipe that is simple, healthy, and quick to make. It’s everything I hoped homemade bread-making would be.
P.S. The final final perk of this recipe is that your home will smell amazing like a bakery after making this. And who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked bread??
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
- 1½ teaspoons salt (optional, see note)*
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 TBS whole rolled oats
- Pinch of coarse salt
- Herbs of your choosing
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Then pour in the warm water and knead with your hands until a dough forms (the dough will be sticky, which is ok)
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest in a draft free spot for 1 hour
- After 1 hour preheat your oven to 400 F and line a round baking dish* with parchment paper
- Rub some flour between your hands and transfer your dough to the round baking dish. Shake the dish so the dough settles into the space of the dish evenly, or pat it gently with your hands to fill it
- Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes
- Score the dough with a knife (criss-cross shape in center) and sprinkle it with your toppings (rolled oats, salt, etc.)
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown
* Readers have commented that baking this recipe in a traditional loaf pan also works great as opposed to a round-shaped dish.