Easy Whole Wheat Bread

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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!

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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

oil free easy whole wheat bread | spartanlifeblog.com

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!).

fast easy whole wheat bread | spartanlifeblog.com

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.

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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.

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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

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Finally, “score” the top of the dough, sprinkle it with some herbs, rolled oats (regular oats or gluten free oats work great), coarse sea salt (optional), and 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!

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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

oil free whole wheat bread | spartanlifeblog.com

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.

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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

easy whole wheat bread | spartanlifeblog.com

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??

4.9 from 16 reviews
Easy Whole Wheat Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy whole wheat bread recipe that is oil and sugar free. It only takes 2 hours to make from start to finish, 4 ingredients, and can be enjoyed as toast, dipped in soup, used for sandwiches, crostinis, and more.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt*
  • 2 cups warm water
Optional
  • 1 TBS whole rolled oats
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • Herbs of your choosing
Instructions
  1. 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)
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let it rest in a draft free spot for 1 hour
  3. After 1 hour preheat your oven to 400 F and line a round baking dish with parchment paper
  4. 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
  5. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes
  6. Score the dough with a knife (criss-cross shape in center) and sprinkle it with your toppings (rolled oats, salt, etc.)
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown
Notes
* You can use less salt if you want.

 
Easy Whole Wheat Bread | Healthy Recipes by spartanlifeblog.com

Comments

  1. I just made this today and it turned out awesome! I cooked it in a loaf pan and it turned out great. Thanks for this recipe!

  2. Hi Natalie,

    Sorry for the silly question, but is Active Dry Yeast vegan? I saw sorbitan monostearate on a few yeast packages, and I’m afraid to purchase it if the monostearate was derived from cows. I think it can also be made from coconuts, but I’m not an expert.

    Hope to make your vegan, healthy bread!

  3. I really like this bread. Any idea how long it lasts? So far the longest I’ve had it is 3 days but it’s all gone by then.

    1. This bread has fresh ingredients with no preservatives, so it should be eaten within a week. When I make it, I notice that it lasts about 5-6 days, but it’s hard not eating it all before then! I think refrigerating it would help it last a bit longer.

  4. Tried this receipe at the weekend. It was so nice making another one today. Even my husband liked it and he’s doesn’t eat whole meal bread. Delicious simple receipe thank you *****

  5. I wish I could post a photo! My first loaf turned out beautiful!! I’m a Canadian girl dating a Swiss guy. Simple, crusty, unsweetened, whole grain bread is what he loves. This recipe is perfect and it bakes perfect exactly as the recipe is written. Thank you so much!

  6. Hello,

    I made this recipe a couple of times already. I just stumbled on it and decided to try it, and because it was so good I keep making it. I usually make it into rolls, because it’s perfect for breakfast on the go.
    I just wonder why it always seems so dense, and if there is any ingredient that I could add to make it rise more. Any suggestions?

    1. Using all whole wheat flour will make it more dense. If you don’t want it that dense, you can always sub out part of the whole wheat flour, maybe a cup, with white. Whole wheat doesn’t have as much gluten as all purpose or bread flour. Another thing you can do if you want to keep it whole wheat only is to add some Vital Wheat Gluten, a natural protein found in wheat flour, to it. Follow the instructions on the back of the package and store it as recommended. It will add the gluten needed for good rise and structure. And knead it until it is smooth and elastic, and maybe increase the rise time to a little longer. You can find it in many grocery stores and natural foods stores.

    2. I’m glad to hear that it worked for you as rolls! I’ve never made it that way before, but it sounds good, I’ll have to try it myself sometime. 🙂

      As for the density, that is because the only flour used in the recipe is 100% whole wheat flour (which is pretty dense usually). As another poster mentioned, splitting the flour amount in half with a different flour type will help (use whole wheat flour for half the flour amount, and all-purpose flour for the other half). I’ve tried this before a few times, and it does make the bread come out softer.

  7. Have you ever tried making this in a baguette style of loaf? For some reason none of the stores seems to carry any oil/sugar free, vegan, whole grain bread other than Ezekiel and Dave’s.

    1. I have never personally tried it in a loaf pan, but a few of my readers have before, and they said it turned out great that way too!

  8. Great recipe. I was looking for a whole wheat bread recipe without sugar/honey and yours is so delicious. I reduced the amount of salt and added 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, and it turned out perfect. Thanks Natalie, regards from Libya.

  9. Looks great! Going to try it today! Have you ever tried it with sprouted wheat? Do you think it’ll work the same? Thanks!

    1. I’ve never tried it with sprouted wheat, but that sounds delicious! If you do try it with that, please come back here and let me know how it turned out! : )

  10. Hi I just attempted. Think I followed instructions to the letter. It looked pretty good coming out of the oven but unfortunately it is very dense and had to put a slice in the microwave before I could make a sandwich.
    Would really appreciate any advice. Please bear in mind I have very little knowledge or skill in baking. Thanks much

    1. Because only whole wheat flour is used, the bread will be fairly dense. If you wanted to make it a bit softer for next time, you could try using half-and-half whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. I actually did try this one time as an experiment, and it was a softer bread. If you wanted to give that a try, it might be more to your liking!

    1. I don’t think almond flour is the right type of flour for this recipe, the bread would be too crumbly. Whole wheat flour will be best.

  11. this bread looks great but i have a question, can i omit the salt? i know it already doesn’t have oil and sugar but i’m also trying to reduce my sodium intake. thanks 🙂

    1. Absolutely! I make it often with less salt than the recipe calls for (or no salt), depending on how I feel that day. 🙂 You can replace the salt with extra herbs if you like, such as Rosemary, garlic + onion powder, Italian seasoning, thyme, etc. I think all of those additions would give nice flavor as well.

  12. It turned out beautifully!
    My only changes were 1 tsp of salt, just in case, and I transferred the dough to a bowl with butter to rise (it ended up needing that and a generous sprinkling of extra flour since it was so sticky getting it out). I put the bowl in a sunny window and the dough rose well, even without the sugar to feed the yeast.
    It baked for an hour exactly and came out looking almost as pretty as the picture (except I forgot to top with oats). The loaf was quite flat, but good texture and taste and we just cut it kind of like pie slices, and then the slices in half lengthwise.
    This was so easy I’ll probably end up making it regularly! Thanks for the recipe, it’s a blessing to be able to make simple and good-for-you bread now whenever I want!

  13. If I was to use oil, how much would I put in? (I love that this recipe is so easy & especially no sugar, honey, etc. etc. but I’m okay with putting oil in so I figure I may as well)

    1. I don’t cook with oil (and generally don’t recommend it either) so I’m not sure what the answer would be, sorry! The banana bread recipe on my blog uses applesauce as an oil replacement though – so you could check out that post and see how much applesauce I used, to give you an idea of what amount of oil to use if you wanted. But I think this bread tastes great without oil. 🙂

      1. Okay, thank you! Well, I’ll try it and see how it turns out! (I’m new at homemade bread, so I don’t even know the conventions as far as what’s generally added.)

  14. Thanks so much, love this bread! I typically use a bread machine to avoid the kneading, but with this it wasn’t necessary! It turned out beautifully! I baked it in a ceramic parchment lined pie plate, with oats on top.

  15. Found this recipe, went out and bought what I needed & made it. Thank you so much! It was delicious. My husband had thirds!

    1. My circular pan is metal, but I don’t think it really matters. Just as long as the dish is oven-safe. Also I lined my pan with parchment paper to make clean-up easier and eliminate the need for oil.

  16. Great recipe, looks marvellous, just took from oven and can’t wait to try it. Easy way to score the top, is to use scissors,

  17. Made this recipe and just took it from the oven;can’t wait to try it, looks marvellous. Recipe right on the time to make it. Easy way to score the bread, is with a pair of scissors. In the ‘50s watched a Dutch baker do it this way when I was 6 yrs old and often helped him.

    1. I don’t see why not! I’ve never tried it myself, but I think it should work. I’ll try it sometime and let you know how it goes. I don’t think bake time would need to be adjusted.

  18. Hey! I’m just wondering how many calories are in this bread? I’m on a fitness meal plan and I live in China and they add extra sugar to everything. Thanks

    1. I’m not someone who counts calories, so unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you. Sorry! There is no sugar in this bread recipe though, and no oil! So it is low/no fat.

  19. Ya know what I haven’t found yet? A whole wheat oil free sugar free garlic breadsticks recipe! I assume I could make it like this but roll the bread into sticks? I do want to try this bread! Is it bitter at all since there’s no added sweetener? Do you think I could add a homemade date syrup (from Dr.Greger) to the bread to make it sweeter?

    1. When I made this recipe I intended for it to be more of a savory, herby-type bread, than sweet. I eat it with soup and various dinner often. I’ve never tried to add a sweetener, but it might be good! If you try it, I’d be interested in hearing how it went!

      I’m not sure if this recipe could be turned into bread sticks because it rises a lot – BUT, I do have a garlic bread stick recipe coming to the blog soon, so keep a lookout for it! 🙂

    2. I thought I should mention, if you are looking for a sweet bread recipe, I do have a sugar free, oil free banana bread recipe on the blog as well! You can search for it in the sidebar.

    1. I’ve never tried it any other way than using an oven, so I’m not sure. If you figure out a way though, I’d be interested in hearing what you did!

  20. Thank you! Very easy recipe to follow. I am definitely making this over the weekend. I use the same ingredients for pizza base.

    Any storage tips? If I may ask, what was its shelf life? Does it dry out sooner as it has no oil?

    1. I leave my bread out on the counter only semi-covered, and it eat it throughout the week (it usually lasts 1 week like this). Near the very end of the week it does start to dry out a tad, so I recommend eating it within a week if you leave it out like I do.

      I think it would last longer if it was fully covered and refrigerated, but I prefer to keep my bread at room temperature. I’ve never tried freezing it before. I hope this helps – if you do try a different storage method I’d be interested to know how it went for you!

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! Making sure this recipe was ‘easy’ was my #1 goal with it! I make it all the time now and just switch up what herbs and toppings I use.

  21. Great recipe. I made a couple minute changes: I did use oil, and didn’t do the second rise. My loaf was perfect, which is to be expected with this foolproof recipe.

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