The Fresh Loaf

A Community of 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:

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,


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!