Recently I was chatting with Ben about ideas for this whole grain baking series and he asked, “Why eat whole grains?  What makes them better?”  An excellent question to be sure, for anyone learning to eat more clean, whole foods.  There are many sources to explain this in much greater depth than I will here but essentially, a whole grain includes all three parts of a grain’s kernel.  As a result, whole grains have more protein, fiber and vitamins than refined grains such as white flour.  These characteristics mean that whole grains provide numerous health benefits.  For more information on whole grains and their benefits, the Whole Grains Council is a fantastic online resource.  (Side note – I’m totally pumped that my beloved popcorn is a whole grain.  Just be sure to use butter and salt sparingly to keep it a smart snack.)

When I started this series, I asked what recipes you would like to see and a great many of you enthusiastically requested a good whole wheat sandwich bread.  There are countless variations out there, and many I plan to try, but this is the first that you need to know about.  This, my friends, is a fantastic quick and easy 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.

Now, if you are relatively new to bread making you may be thinking I’m nuts for calling this recipe quick.  However, as bread recipes go, this really is about as quick and easy as it gets.  Throw all the ingredients into the bowl at the same time, mix up the dough, and let it rise.  No sponge, nothing fancy – you don’t even have to proof the yeast.  So yes, this may take about three to four hours from start to finish but only about 15 minutes of that is active.  The free time while the dough rises is glorious, and one of my most favorite things about bread making…rivaled only by the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.  Play with the kids, read, knit, or all of the above – that’s what I do :)

King Arthur Flour has provided several great giveaways over the course of this series, and today we are giving away an awesome bread pan plus a flour coupon.  Head on over to the giveaway page to enter!  Also, be sure to check out King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking book and their website for tons more well developed and well tested whole grain recipes.

  • Yield 1 8½-inch loaf


2 tbsp. (1 oz.) orange juice
1 cup (8 oz.) lukewarm water
4 tbsp. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 6 pieces
3 cups (12 oz.) whole wheat flour**
3 tbsp. (1¼ oz.) sugar
Heaping ½ cup (1¼ oz.) dried potato flakes or 3 tbsp. (1¼ oz.) potato flour
¼ cup (1 oz.) nonfat dry milk
1¼ tsp. salt
2½ tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast


  • 01

    Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together.  Knead the dough (by hand or with an electric mixer) until a soft, smooth dough is formed.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.  Let the dough rise until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

  • 02

    Lightly grease an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan.  Gently deflate the dough on a lightly floured work surface and pat into an 8-inch square.  Roll up tightly into a log and pinch the seam shut.*  Transfer the dough to the loaf pan seam side down, press down gently so the dough reaches all the edges, and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let rise until the dough has risen about 1½ inches above the top of the loaf pan, about 1½-2 hours.

  • 03

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 15 minutes, then tent loosely with foil and bake 25 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 190˚ F.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes, then turn out of the loaf pan and continue to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.

  • 04

    *To make a loaf with a braided top, divide the dough into two portions, about two thirds and one third (I use a kitchen scale to make sure I divide the dough correctly.)

    Shape the larger portion of dough into a tight loaf and press into the pan, seam side down.  Divide the remaining portion of dough into three equal parts.  Shape each portion into a rope about 11 inches long.

  • 05

    Pinch the three ropes together and braid.

  • 06

    Place the braided portion of dough on top of the loaf in the pan and press down on top.

  • 07

    Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough has risen about 1½ inches above the top of the loaf pan, about 1½-2 hours.  Bake as directed above.

  • 08

    **Whole grain baking tip:  As soon as whole wheat flour is milled, the oil inside begins to oxidize and over time, will turn rancid giving the flour a bitter taste.  To avoid this bitter flavor, store whole wheat flour in the freezer (immediately, even before you open the bag).  Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes before using in a recipe.