The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sugar necessary in 100% whole wheat bread?

akat417's picture

Sugar necessary in 100% whole wheat bread?

Hi, I'm very new to bread baking. This is my 4th batch of bread.

I am making a whole wheat bread that I im going to cook on a baking sheet.

I am using king arthur flour.

Is it necessary to add some type of sugar to my whole wheat bread? I made a loaf using a little honey (2tsp) and it worked well. But I am somewhat confused because I have seen many sources saying it is not necessary at all and okay to put just flour/water/salt/yeast in a whole wheat bread and that the rising will just take longer. If it does, about how much longer without sugar.

Also, would spreading water on the top of the bread just before baking give a thicker crust?

Thanks, other tips would be helpful.

Happy New Year btw!

MangoChutney's picture

I don't add any sugar to my 100% whole wheat bread, but I do pre-soak all of my flour overnight.  This enables the enzymes in the wheat to convert part of the starch into sugar.  I make sourdough bread, so I can't comment on how this works with commercial yeast but I am guessing it works the same way.

I put some water on top of my dough and cover the pan with an inverted identical pan which I remove after 20 minutes of the 50-minute baking time.  I do get a thick crust but I don't know if the water causes that.  What it does do is facilitate better oven spring.

akat417's picture


I think I am going to try it and see how it works out.  The pan idea sounds great!  


suave's picture

I think the idea is to mask the bitter taste common to ww flours, to King Artur's traditional perhaps more so than to any other commonly available whole wheat.  Hence honey, not simply sugar.  Orange juice is another common addition AFAIK.

akat417's picture

The bread tasted fine, but it didn't rise as mch as I would have liked it to. Perhaps I put too much salt compared to the amount of yeast.

Thanks for the help.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

White whole wheat can be substituted for whole wheat without any loss in nutrition vale. It has what I consider to be a sweeter taste and can be used in either sourdough or yeast breads.

I used both the overnight soaking method and the "magic bowl" technique. They do work well. You can use either a large stainless steel bowl or the bottom of a Graniteware turkey roaster. Now that the holidays are coming to a close, you may find a used roaster in a local thrift store.