The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Supermarket whole wheat bread

enchant's picture

Supermarket whole wheat bread

Whenever I've made whole wheat bread, the dense whole wheat flour makes for a very dense loaf of bread, so I've got to mix it with something like bread or AP flour.

My wife is big on 100% whole wheat bread.  When she buys it, it's got to say specifically "100% whole wheat".  But I'm trying to figure out what that means.  When we buy the cheap store brand of 100% whole wheat bread, it's light and spongey like Wonder white bread. Is it really made with no flour other than whole wheat flour? 

Floydm's picture

I was wondered about something similar this morning while eating the tail end of the raisin cardamom bread I baked this weekend. It was rather tough, despite being kept in a sealed plastic bag for a couple of days. This got me wondering how commercial bread stays so soft for so long. I know adding fats, like milk and butter or oil, help keep a loaf soft, but perhaps the AP flour I am using is too high in protein to produce a soft loaf? Or are there other tricks that commercial bakers use that a home baker could try? Or is it just a matter of using preservatives that aren't readily available for home use?

enchant's picture

Perhaps that's it. We're limited to ingredients with only two or three sylables. If you talk to the customer service woman at your local supermarket and ask where they keep the sodium stearoyle lactylate, she'll just look at you funny. :-/

JMonkey's picture

I've actually had really good luck making soft, fluffy 100% whole wheat bread, thanks to the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Great reference.

A couple of things I'd recommend:


1) Add about 1 Tbs butter or 2 Tbs oil per loaf: Helps with the rise. Dunno why, but it does.

2) Buttermilk: Replacing about 1/3 to 1/2 the water with buttermilk makes a very light, tender loaf.

3) Knead the bejeezus out of the loaf: Laurel recommends 600 strokes by hand, which takes about 20 minutes. It's worth it.

4) Use fresh whole wheat flour: The stuff goes rancid pretty quick, thanks to the germ. Ask your grocer to help you find the freshest there is. Also, use high-protein whole wheat flour. Hard spring wheat is the best for a light loaf.

Here's the buttermilk bread I make:

These days, though, I take all the water in the recipe and mix it with an equal weight of flour to make a poolish instead of a biga. Just easier to measure.

Good luck!

Breadwhiner's picture

100% just means that the amount of bran and germ proportional to the total amount of flour is equivalent to what would be present in whole wheat flour.  If it doesn't say 100%, whole wheat bread could contain very small amounts of  bran and germ-- it could essentially look like 100% whole wheat but be white bread instead.


As others have noted, 100% whole wheat supermarket bread can have all sorts of additives, some of which are not so lovely. 

enchant's picture

Thanks everyone!  I'm brand new to all this, and I'm planning on baking the Honey Whole Wheat bread tomorrow morning.  I took a stab at it this morning but totally screwed it up.  The recipe said:

1 5 oz can evaporated milk

I thought it said:

15 oz can evaporated milk

So instead of a nice dough ball, I had something that looked like a bowl of oatmeal. 

qahtan's picture


 What if any thing does evaporated milk do to bread.. I also read some where that honey wasn't friendly to bread dought, but I can't remember where I saw it. qahtan

Lindsay13's picture

I've had good luck using honey with my whole wheat bread *shrug*

Darkstar's picture



I thought I saw it here however after searching the site I think I made it up in my mind.


Honey is one of the ingredients in Floyd's Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal bread which I recently made. I remember reading the following in the comments under the recipe:


According to the AIB (American Institute of Baking) cinnamon can have
an affect on the yeast. In some of their literature that I have
cinnamon can degrade up to 20% of the yeast cells in a bread dough. It
is suggested that the cinnamon not be added until the last few minutes
of mixing.


Additonally a Google search using yeast, kills, and honey turned up lots of Mead recipes. You can't ferment mead without yeast.


Great minds think alike and so do ours. :)


enchant's picture

You're not asking me are you? I'm just a neophyte. I was just following this recipe:

helend's picture

I now use Floydm's honey wholewheat as my "standard" loaf, altjough I admit to not using evap milk - I use two tbs dried milk powder in 5 fl oz warm water.  It is easily the best rising, lightest wholewheat loaf - great for sandwiches.

I agree with the general comments -oil helps keep bread moist and you really should work that wholewheat dough!  I think soaking the flour helps.  Trys wholemeal spelt for a change - it is lighter, nuttier and needs less kneading than regular wheat!

Qahtan - I haven't ever had adverse effects using honey in any recipe and use it quite a lot instead of sugar. 

My "English entry" picture is of  a honey wholewheat loaf.

cognitivefun's picture

One thing that really helps keep a loaf fresh is the food processor method. Avoiding the mixer and the air that the mixer introduces into the loaf extends the shelf life. I am constantly amazed at how long the bread lasts without staling, when I use the food processor (which is the only way I make breat these days.) 

andrew_l's picture

Hi. I'd asked about methods of making spelt bread on another site
and was given some excellent information. Perhaps the same method could be used with your wholemeal? (I bought the food processor and the spelt flour - but so far, I have kept playing with my sourdough 60% wholemeal - using a virtually no knead but using an autolize and folding. Very well rising and flavoured loaves.)

Best of luck,


helend's picture

I have used spelt flour for several years as I am intolerant of "ordinary" wheat.  I make all our bread, cake and pastry and cater for parties and buffets for work.

Spelt flour is great - the wholemeal makes a lighter texture loaf than ordinary wheat flour with a mildly tangy nutty flavour.  I also use white spelt flour - hard to get in the UK but well worthwhile.

It works exactly like "ordinary" flour in all pastry and cake recipes.   I use it in poolish, sourdough (although definitely a sourdough novice!) and sweet breads, danish, croissant etc.

The only things to bear in mind:

  • Spelt gluten is a little more fragile than "ordinary" wheat so needs less kneading when making bread.  (Good if you MUST make a fast loaf with only one rise).
  • Be a little mean with the liquid content as spelt flour often requires a little less hydration - you can always add it later.  As usual practice will help you judge when it feels right.

Any of my pictures on this site use spelt - I will always share recipes - I think some pictures are below! 


Walnut bread, chocolate babka, cornmeal raisin, wholemeal pita, hot cross buns, wholemeal muffins.

Helend : ) 


titus's picture


Your baked things look scrumptious! Please post recipes!

helend's picture

Yes I will post but it might take a little while! Have a look back through the diary entries as I sometimes put recipes there - I know I did for the hot cross buns around Easter - (March 21 I looked it up) Also the chocolate babka came form the News column (minus the nuts) and the Sweet Corn Raisin is form Floydm. - see Favourite Recipes list :)


Floydm's picture

Sweet Corn Raisin Bread recipe is here.

 Your baking does look great.


Lindsay13's picture

I struggled with this issue for some time. I finally perfected the recipe, adapted from the whole wheat recipe that came with my breadmaker. I added a tbl of butter (or margerine), 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and a tbl of honey. I also like to add 2 tbl of flaxseed meal, but that's really optional. This works best for breadmakers (my recpipe is in the breadmaker recipe section), you may need to adjust the ingredient amounts a touch, but it *should* work even if you're doing it by hand. It doesn't last quite as long as supermarket bread but it is nice and fluffy. However, I did use some regular flour in it, but there is more whole wheat than regular flour.

titus's picture

Thanks, Don!

helend's picture

I heartily recommend the spelt focaccia recipe in the News link!

Floydm's picture

Link is here:

Yeah, I saw that link in the feed and thought it might be of interest to the folks on this thread. Glad you noticed it!