The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Store bought 100% Whole Wheat Bread Really?

Alvaremj's picture

Store bought 100% Whole Wheat Bread Really?

I think everyone will agree that home baked bread isn't even in the same category as store bought. How is store bought 100% WW bread so soft and bland (i.e. does not taste like the WW bread I make)? I've come to 2 conclusions;

1. they are lying. maybe its ok to say 100% WW if they leave a small percentage of the germ and bran in.

2. The High Fructose Corn Syrup overwhelms the WW taste (and nutrition).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I am trying to compare the nutritional aspect of a home made loaf with say 30% WW 70% AP or Bread Flour vs "100% Whole Wheat" from the supermarket. Although I would put money that a 100% white flour home made loaf is better for you than all the HFCS in the store bought. 




varda's picture

I buy various Pepperidge Farm breads for my son's lunches.    I was reading the label on the 100% whole wheat one the other day, and asking myself the same question.   So soft and spongy, how do they do it?    Actually I hope no one gets upset, but I think they produce very tasty breads.   I just don't understand how.  -Varda

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

No, just kidding (although the hamburger patty placed on the whole wheat bread could be pink slime).

I just scoured Pepperidge Farms website for ingredients for the 100% whole wheat. None to be found, but my Google-fu turned up:

  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Water
  • Crushed Wheat
  • Sugar
  • Wheat Gluten
  • Honey
  • Unsulphured Molasses
  • Yeast
  • Nonfat milk

And here's where it gets good:

  • Soybean Oil
  • Soy Fiber: Used to bulk up the fiber content of baked good. Add fiber to whole wheat bread?! Also extends shelf life, improves microwave heating capability for more uniformly heated products with less hot spots and softer texture when cooled, and contributes to better water absorption and water retention in baking.
  • Salt
  • Whole Wheat Flakes
  • Datem (Dough Conditioner): Diacetyl tartaric esters of mono- and diglycerides used as emulsifiers to strengthen bread doughs and delay staling of the bread.
  • Distilled Monoglycerides (More sugar!)
  • Wheat Protein Isolate (All bread needs to build muscle, right? No, seriously: It's a byproduct of cheese. Used in industrial bread production to add protein, as it's easier to buy cheap low-protein flour in large quantity and dose it with protein isolate. Also used to strengthen gluten because high heat of industrial mixing denatures bread protein, and the "whey protein reacts the sulphydryl groups of the whey proteins, allowing them to form di-sulfide bonds, so they do not weaken the gluten structure." Low-carb diets pushed the sale of this stuff through the roof: remove some sugar and replace with "protein" and the "nutrition" label looks that much better to low-carb dieters.
  • Calcium Propionate (Retards spoilage, a clever way of saying we added chemicals to kill mold. It's slightly toxic.)
  • Soy Lecithin (Acts as an emulsifier, binding fats to liquids, in this case the soybean oil above to water. It's a natural product used as eggs are used in other enriched breads.)
  • Enzymes (What enzymes? Who knows!)
dabrownman's picture

but I suspect that Isand66 will soon be using pink slime in bread - and it will be just as delicious as the 100% beef product is and should be :-)  Now there are other slimes (in sausage let's say as just one example) that just wouldn't qualify as 100% anything but no one cares.  Selective outrage is at work with beef but not pork for some reason.

Without many of the additives, sweeteners, antibacterials and enzymes in food, the would would have millions dying from starvation because of  spoilage alone.  Genetically engineered plants face similar outrage and are even more responsible for keeping half the world from starvation.   Pesticides, fungicides and insecticides for commercially grow crops have made civilization as we know it - live long and prosper.  Thankfully, we are allowed food both ways for those who wish others to........

varda's picture

That's not a very scary list.   And interestingly, no HFCS.    Thanks for digging this up.   -Varda

mrfrost's picture

Vital wheat gluten is part of the equation. Almost all supermarket factory made breads with whole grains have vital wheat gluten added. That and usually other "dough conditioners" that may not be readily available to the general public.

suave's picture

So what? Members of TFL dump it in their breads by the cupfuls.

dabrownman's picture

15 g of VWG yesterday when I made a version of sweetbird's SD buckwheat, apple and apple jack with buckwheat groat bread.  The recipe called for it because buckwheat like WW may require some lifting help.  The recipe also called for instant yeast in addition to help in this regard too.  You can make your own VWG, some on TFL do.  It is 100% natural and used in all kinds of things besides bread.  I also use dough enhancer for some doughs that need it if they are too springy and need to be rolled out but spring back - many pizza doughs have it especially if they can't be retarded overnight.  Many machine made doughs have 'enhancers, conditioners and relaxers' to get through sheeters and the like.   I also have frozen soft white wheat berries, usually not used for bread because the gluten is too low, but, with some VWG it makes the most unbelievable breads that can't be made otherwise.

Enzymes in bread are natural parts of the  grain but can be enhance, increased adn improved by malting to white or red stage to improve breads dramatically.  You also wouldn't have beer with out malted barley where these enzymes creating by malting are needed to make maltose available for the yeast to eat.  All of these things and many more are available to home bakers at Bosch dealers or on line.

Thankfully, we can pick and choose what ingredients we want to personally use to create variety and new breads that are not subject to the approval of some bread police somewhere.  I'm also glad 'they', who ever they are,  relaxed the rules so some bakers can buy and use hemp seeds again :-)

suave's picture

1. No "they" are not lying, they just have equipment and ingredients we either can't have or won't use.
2. There's nothing wrong with HFCS as a food item. What does it even mean - "...syrup overwhelms WW nutrition..."?

subfuscpersona's picture

'nuff said

Floydm's picture

Disagree all you want, but be nice, eh?  No one likes getting snarked.


Alvaremj's picture

I agree that the "additives" are necessary to feed the masses with a standard of quality. There is a lot of mis-representation in advertising within the industrial food system. A lot of food labeled as "healthy" is just a ploy to get us to buy it. I also don't think there is anything wrong with HFCS I just don't think it needs to be in our bread. As for the comment about "...syrup overwhelms WW nutrition..." I think the harm (or unnecessary use of) sweeteners like HFCS negates a lot of the nutritional benefits of eating a 100% WW loaf.

My question may have been better phrased like this;

Are there "lighter" versions of WW flour like there is for Rye flour. i.e. light rye, medium rye, pumpernickel, all the way up to rye chops. I am just looking for healthier ways to feed my family.






spsq's picture

Just to complicate the discussion, remember that in North America, "whole grain" and "whole wheat" DO NOT mean the same thing.  Here is a canadian source:

Yes, the article states that (only) up to 5% of the grain may be removed (to inhibit rancidity) and still be called whole wheat, however that 5% is nearly all of the wheat germ - the healthiest part of the grain.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I look at just about everything in a supermarket with deep skepticism, most especially those foods that make health claims.

Food Rules, A Eater's Manual by Michael Pollen

Rule 8. Avoid food products that make health claims.

This sounds counterintuitive, but consider: For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it’s more likely to be a processed rather than a whole food. Then, only the big food manufacturers have the where-withal to secure FDA-approved health claims for their products and then trumpet them to the world. Generally, it is the products of modern food science that make the boldest health claims, and these are often founded on incomplete and often bad science. Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to contain transfats that give people heart attacks. The healthiest food in the supermarket—the fresh produce—doesn’t boast about its healthfulness, because the growers don’t have the budget or the packaging. Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign they have nothing valuable to say about your health.

Rule 3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

Ethoxylated diglycerides? Cellulose? Xanthan gum? Calcium propionate? Ammonium sulfate? If you wouldn’t cook with them yourself, why let others use these ingredients to cook for you? The food scientists’ chemistry set is designed to extend shelf life, make old food look fresher and more appetizing than it really is, and get you to eat more. Whether or not any of these additives pose a proven hazard to your health, many of them haven’t been eaten by humans for very long, so they are best avoided.

As to the claim that modern food science has made it possible to feed the world, it's important to distinguish between between better crop yields (More grain!) and what food science does with the bountry (Bread can't stale! Just add chemicals! Bread can't mold! Just add chemicals! Whole wheat bread needs to be light and fluffy! Just add chemicals! Low-carb dieters won't eat it if they see the high carb count! Remove some carbs, replace it with protein isolate, thereby gaming the "nutrition" label, etc.).

Alvaremj's picture

Thanks for all your comments and info. Interesting artical spsq I'll have to point my research to the US FDA to see what percentage is allowed.



G-man's picture

Molasses is a HUGE flavor boost, as is salt, honey, and all the rest of the various sugars.

Pollan makes a good case, and I really love his writing. It got me to take a closer look at what I was eating. The Omnivore's Dilemma was the catalyst that set off a series of life changes, one of which brought me here. Anyway...

He doesn't write the gospel truth. He's a journalist, and as a journalist he's very good at expressing an opinion in the way he presents the facts. It’s only human to have an opinion, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Everyone here has one, and the vast majority of us are obviously quite happy to share it. I just mention it to say that Pollan’s books should be taken with a grain of salt like any other story.

Not all industrial processing is bad. The pink slime fiasco highlights the main problem with our food supply: We don’t know what’s in our food. The part that turned my stomach was the fact that they treat the meat with ammonia. Feeding poison to folks isn’t really cool. Nobody should’ve been outraged at the mechanical separation part. Who cares? It’s meat. I’d utilize that meat by making stock or sausage, I have before and I will again. If you ate homemade soup from your parent or grandparent, chances are you’ve had that meat before. If you eat at a classy restaurant, chances are you’ll have that meat again.

 /meandering rant off