The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% whole wheat low sodium bread machine recipe

Breaddie's picture

100% whole wheat low sodium bread machine recipe


My question crosses topics, and I did search the forum best I could.  I want a 100% whole wheat bread machine recipe that is low sodium.  I was just given a bread machine(used), so I've never made bread in it.  I have baked bread once or twice manually in my life so have little experience.  These are my questions

Salt/Sodium -

The 2% salt content I've read about in this forum is too high for low sodium.   I read that salt is a yeast inhibitor so if you halve the salt, halve the yeast.  The King Arthur folks told me no, do not reduce the yeast and use at least 1/2 tsp salt per tblsp yeast.  I read that in a bread machine that will likely overproof(a technical bread term!).  Many folks on this forum comment about the taste with less salt.  I am used to low sodium so a less salty taste will not bother me.  I don't want to use a salt substitute unless that is what it takes to improve the gluten, inhibit the yeast, make the texture better, prevent overproofing or whatever else can go wrong that I don't know about.

Flour -

I bought King Arthur White Whole Wheat(i like brown but thought my family might like a change).  I couldn't find whole wheat bread flour, white or brown in Atlanta.  The bread machine mavens emphasized using bread flour, so I looked up the difference and found, so far, that it is higher protein content, and maybe some barley and ascorbic acid.  Called the King Arthur folks and they said their White Whole Wheat is the same as bread flour because it has high protein, but no barley and no ascorbic acid.  Do I need to add some dough enhancers(another tech term, I'm learning!) to get this flour to act like bread flour in the bread machine?

Sugar -

All the whole wheat recipes I read use a fair amount of honey, mollasses and/or brown sugar.  Is all this sugar needed for the yeast?  I don't restrict sugar like I do sodium, but I certainly don't want to add more than needed.  I don't have a particular sweet tooth so the minimum amount of sugar needed is fine, I don't want sweet tasting bread for everyday.

Wheat Gluten -

I bought Hodson Mill Vital Wheat gluten with vitamin c(there's the ascorbic acid!) to add to the flour at their suggested rate of 4 tsp per loaf.  Is this needed?  If it will make a better loaf I am happy to add it. Is 4 tsp for 1 lb or 1.5 lb loaf?

My Nirvana would be a recipe that covers my bases of 100% whole wheat, low sodium, less sugar and good texture, shape for everyday sandwich/toast bread.

Thanks for all your help from a newbie baker!




Bread Engineer's picture
Bread Engineer

Did you get a manual/instruction book with your bread machine? If so, I would start with a recipe in that book, use the yeast amount as-is, and reduce the salt and sugar both by 1/2 (note - I personally like the flavor of blackstrap molasses in red wheat bread, and it has less simple sugar than light molasses or sugar). If you're using a bread machine, definitely add the gluten. Also, an extra tablespoon or two of water may be helpful. You might make one loaf as written for reference. While its possible that you'll end up with something completely inedible, its more likely that it will be OK, but not company-worthy. Based on my bread machine experience, a whole wheat loaf is much more likely to be under-risen than over-risen. Keep an eye on it during your first bakes - if it is almost time for it to start baking and it hasn't risen at all, then stop the machine and give it more time (either by restarting at the bake point in the cycle or by pulling it out and putting it in a loaf pan in the oven).

With respect to sodium levels (and I fully understand your stating that you have learned to not mind/prefer a less salty taste - my parents went low salt years before I was born, so I never learned any other way), I have adjusted salt in recipes and never had a catastrophe. Bread made without salt at all does taste weird, but I typically use 1/4 t/1 lb loaf of yeast-risen or 3/16 t/1 lb loaf for sourdough (the sourdough seems to intensify the saltiness to me, so that 1/4 t is overly salty).

I didn't know about bigas/soakers/autolyze when I was using a bread machine, but based on my experience with 100% whole wheat breads made without, I would try to incorporate some of these ideas (see Peter Reinhart's whole grain book for add'l information) into a breadmachine scheme. For instance, mix everything but the yeast (or add only 1/4 t yeast) in the machine or with a spoon - don't knead, just get it mixed together, let it sit with the lid closed overnight or all day, then add the yeast and start the cycle from the beginning.

jcking's picture

Look up Harry's Whole Food in the Atlanta area. There are 3 that I know of, and have visited, they have the KA White wheat and other varities. My local Publix has it.

Be careful with the vital wheat gluten, it can make the loaf gummy.


clazar123's picture

But first I would try to find the handbook for the machine you have for a recipe and use that as a basis.  As to the sugar and salt:Good advice from Bread Engineer on the salt and sugar so use the recipe in the handbook as a start and reduce the salt and sugar or even cut it out entirely. It may make little/no difference except flavor.

There are several techniques you can use to get a loaf that will be good for sandwich use:

1.Excellent advice about incorporating an autolyse (fancy term for "let all the flour and water be mixed and sit for a period of time so the water gets soaked into the bran and it doesn't crumble later"Do this before mixing the yeast in) or

2. Retard the dough (that means let it sit in the refrigerator overnight)for the same reason. OR

3.Use a water roux recipe which involves making a cooked paste of some of the flour and water and then incorporating it into the final dough. OR

4.Use a pre-ferment,sponge or poolish to allow some of the flour and water to soak before being mixed in the final recipe. OR

5.Use a recipe with oil,egg or milk to help soften and flavor the loaf.

As Bread Engineer said- the challenge may be incorporating any of these techniques into a bread machine cycle.Another reason to get hold of the handbook/manual.Google is your friend!


Chuck's picture

I find most bread machine recipes way too heavy on both the salt and the sweeteners. They're that way because customers like the taste, not because anything about bread making requires it.

Salt can easily be as little as 1/200 the amount of flour (by weight":-), or perhaps even less. If you manage to get too little salt, you'll find yourself complaining loudly that the bread "is flat" or "has no taste". Bump up the salt just a little bit at a time until it satisfies your taste buds, then stop. There's no need at all to put in anywhere near as much as bread machine recipes typically call for.

(One way to eat and enjoy really-low-salt breads it with saltier condements such as butter, cheese, and olive paste.)

Bread machines also typically use way more yeast than you'd use, because they have to do so in order to work. Typical non-bread-machine recipes only call for an amount of yeast somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/100 the amount of flour (by weight). Bread machine operation walks a tightrope between "loaf doesn't rise acceptably" (too little yeast) and "finished loaf tastes yucky" (too much yeast).

Yeast is perfectly happy with the flour as a food source. Although it's possible sweeteners cause some of the yeast to switch their metabolic methods and grow a little faster, sweeteners are certainly not necessary for making good bread. The main reason they're there is to satisfy your taste.

What makes "bread flour" "bread flour" is almost exclusively the high gluten content. Maybe a teensy bit of ascorbic acid will make a difference  ...and maybe it won't. If you want to try it, and have a mortar and pestle, grind up a Vitamin C tablet real fine and mix the powder with the flour before you add the wet ingredients.

For making really good loaves of bread, you'll probably quickly find the bread machine overly constraining. I've heard of three possible reactions:

  • Use only the "dough" cycle of the bread machine, then shape your loaves and bake them in your oven. (In other words treat the bread machine sort of like a "poor man's mixer".)
  • Get the "Zojirushi" brand of bread machine, as it's the only one that offers a flexible enough "custom" cycle to make bread the way you want it.
  • Seriously and aggressively "adapt" recipes to make what you want (if it's even possible).
Breaddie's picture

Thank you so much for all the excellent advice.  I'm going to try a loaf today.  I'll make some of the changes suggested and figure out how to monitor the rising.

Wish me luck!