Transmission Zero

Wholemeal Bread Recipe


We know that bread made from the whole wheat grain is a lot healthier than bread made with just the endosperm (i.e. white flour). It contains a little more protein due to the inclusion of the wheat germ, and a heck of a lot more fibre due to the inclusion of the wheat bran. A lot of recipes I’ve seen on the internet for homemade wholemeal bread are accompanied by photos of dense brown bricks which don’t look at all appetising, and what’s the point of putting effort into making a loaf which you don’t enjoy eating? Other “wholemeal” bread recipes show photos of nicely shaped loaves which look like they’ll make a decent sandwich, but on closer inspection of the ingredients list it shows that it’s made of 50% or more white flour. I would consider that to be brown bread, not wholemeal. The few decent looking 100% wholemeal loaves I have seen feature extra ingredients such as sugars, milk, extra gluten, or large amounts of vegetable oil or butter.

The recipe on this page will give you a healthy 100% wholemeal loaf at 62% hydration, using only the most basic of ingredients. The loaf will be soft, airy, and perfect for making sandwiches or toast. You can either mix it in a bread maker or by hand, but it will be finished off in the oven.

[Image showing the finished loaf of wholemeal bread]
The finished loaf, whole and sliced

Required Equipment

The following equipment is required in order to make the loaf.

As long as you don’t get your teaspoons and tablespoons muddled up, then bread making is generally forgiving in the measurements of most ingredients. However, even a tiny mistake in measuring the water and flour will make the difference between a nice soft loaf, a chewy loaf, or a crater loaf. Therefore I would strongly recommend using electronic kitchen scales unless you have high precision mechanical scales.


The following ingredients are required in order to make the loaf.

Ingredients for the wholemeal loaf.
Ingredient Baker’s Percentage Amount
Waitrose Canadian & very strong stoneground wholemeal bread flour 100% 447 g
Lukewarm water 62% 277 g (277 ml)
Salt 1% ¾ tsp (approx. 4.5 g)
Fast action yeast (e.g. Allinson Easy Bake Yeast) 1.6% One 7 g sachet or 2 tsp
Fine cornmeal (optional) n/a Small palm full

I would strongly recommend using the Waitrose Canadian flour, at least for your first loaf, because it is a very good flour with a very high protein content. I suspect the good results are partly down to the quality of the flour. Other flours will likely require different amounts of water in order to get a soft and light loaf, and getting that correct can involve a fair bit of trial and improvement.

Be aware that wholemeal flour has a much shorter shelf life than white flour. The bran contains fat which will eventually go rancid, so the flour should be stored in a sealed container and be used before its “best before” date. If in doubt, chew a small piece of the flour and you’ll soon notice a horrible bitter taste if it has gone off!

Preparing the Dough

The dough can either be made in a bread maker set to “dough only” mode, or you can mix and knead it by hand. Either way, it shouldn’t affect the finished loaf.

The following are the instructions to prepare the dough in the bread maker, and I am adding the liquid ingredients first and the yeast last. Check your bread maker instructions and if they tell you to add the dry ingredients first, follow the adding of ingredients steps from bottom to top!

  1. Measure 277 g lukewarm water and pour it into the pan. It should be just warm enough to not be cold to touch, and should certainly not be warm or hot. It’s best to measure liquids by weight rather than volume, using electronic scales rather than a measuring jug. Small errors in precision can drastically affect the final loaf.
  2. Measure 447 g wholemeal bread flour and gently spoon it into the pan so it covers the water, being careful not to spill any flour.
  3. Place ¾ tsp salt (approx. 4.5 g) in one corner of the pan.
  4. Empty one 7 g sachet of fast action yeast into the corner diagonally opposite the salt. If you’re not using sachets you can use 2 tsp instead. The difference is negligible
  5. Start the bread machine in “dough only” mode. If your machine doesn’t have a dough only mode, you can put it in the most appropriate mode (i.e. a mode which has at least one rise) and stop it before it starts to cook—just be careful not to let it start cooking!

To prepare the dough by hand, use the following steps:

  1. Measure 447 g wholemeal bread flour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add ¾ tsp salt (approx. 4.5 g).
  3. Add either one 7g sachet or 2 tsp of fast action yeast, and mix into the flour and salt.
  4. Add 277 g lukewarm water and mix in with a blunt knife.
  5. Knead the dough on a flat surface. Do not put flour on the kneading surface as this will reduce the hydration of the loaf. If you find it’s really too difficult to work (it shouldn’t be if you measured the ingredients accurately), you can put a small amount of oil on a piece of kitchen towel and wipe the surface until it has a very thin film of oil.
  6. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film and leave the dough to rise until it has approximately doubled in size.

Shaping the Dough

Once the dough has risen, it’s time to knock all of the air out of it and shape it.

  1. Put the dough onto a clean and smooth surface, and pat it out into a rectangle. Do not flour the surface. If the dough is sticking to the surface too much (it shouldn’t do if you measured the ingredients accurately), you can put a small amount of oil on a piece of kitchen towel and wipe the surface until it has a very thin film of oil.
  2. With the dough lengthways, fold one third into the middle, and then the other third over the top of that. Push it into a rectangle.
  3. Turn the dough 90° and repeat the folding. Push it into a rectangle again.
  4. Turn the dough 90° and repeat the folding once more. Pinch the ends and the seam to seal it.
  5. Optionally, put some fine cornmeal onto your surface and roll the dough over it. This will give the crust a little bit more texture.
  6. Put a small amount of oil on a piece of kitchen towel and wipe the inside of your loaf tin. Use only enough to give it a slight shine, and not so much that it becomes oily.
  7. Put the shaped dough into the loaf tin, cover it with a clean tea towel, and put it somewhere where it won’t get disturbed so it can rise.

The amount of time taken for a loaf to rise really depends on the environment it’s in. If you put it in a warm airing cupboard it will probably take about an hour to rise, whereas if you leave it in a cold room it will take more like an hour and a half to two hours. I judge whether my loaf has risen enough by looking at it. The four corners should be at least a centimetre above the top of the tin, and the middle of the loaf should be almost twice the height of the tin. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure whether it has risen enough, then it probably hasn’t!

Baking the Loaf

When your loaf looks like it has nearly risen enough, preheat the oven to 200°C. Once the oven has heated up and your loaf has risen sufficiently, you can optionally score down the length of the loaf with a sharp knife so that it opens up nicely in the oven. I don’t have a sharp enough knife, so I use a serrated bread knife extremely carefully to cut around 1 cm into the loaf. Be very gentle when scoring the loaf as there is plenty of potential to cause the loaf to collapse!

Immediately after scoring the loaf, place it in the oven and bake for 35 minutes at 200°C. Once it is cooked, the loaf should just fall out of the tin and it should sound hollow when tapped underneath. If it doesn’t sound hollow, put it back in the oven without the tin for another five or ten minutes.

Put the loaf on a cooling rack until it has completely cooled. Don’t cut it before it has cooled, as this will cause steam to escape from the loaf and it can lose moisture and collapse.

Nutritional Information

This is the nutritional information for the loaf. The calculation is based on the ingredients, and may differ slightly for the finished loaf due to the breakdown of starch into sugars and fermentation with the yeast. It will also differ if you are using different flour. The value per slice is based on the assumption that you cut the loaf into 15 equal slices.

Nutritional information for the wholemeal loaf.
Typical Values Per Loaf Per Slice
Energy 1497 calories 100 calories
Protein 70.6 g 4.71 g
Carbohydrates 255 g 17 g
of which sugars 12.5 g 0.83 g
Fat 10.3 g 0.69 g
of which saturates 2.2 g 0.15 g
Fibre 52.3 g 3.5 g
Salt 4.6 g 0.3 g
WeightWatchers® ProPoints® 38 3 (or 5 for two slices)

I have compared this to mass produced loaves available in the supermarket, and it compares favourably.

Wholemeal Bread Rolls

The recipe can be adapted to make wholemeal bread rolls instead of a loaf. The following ingredients will make four large rolls.

Ingredients for the wholemeal rolls.
Ingredient Amount
Lukewarm water 148 g (148 ml)
Waitrose Canadian & very strong stoneground wholemeal bread flour 238 g
Salt ½ tsp
Fast action yeast (e.g. Allinson Easy Bake Yeast) 1 tsp
Fine cornmeal (optional) Small palm full

Once you have prepared the dough, divide it into four equal amounts, fold and pinch the bottoms until they are round and tight, and roll them in fine cornmeal until they are nicely dusted.

Leave the dough balls for about 10 minutes to allow the gluten to become relaxed. Once they have relaxed, flatten them out until circular. If they keep springing back and won’t keep their shape, leave them a little longer and try again.

Allow the rolls to rise until they are suitably sized (they will be pretty large), and bake them for 15 minutes at 200°C.

The nutritional value for each roll is about the same as two slices of wholemeal bread. They have a little more salt (0.75 g per roll) due to rounding the salt to the nearest ¼ tsp, and will earn you 5 WeightWatchers® ProPoints®.


Now you have the basic wholemeal bread recipe working, you can try modifying it. There are lots of things you can add to the recipe, for example butter, oil, sugar, syrup, honey, egg, oats, seeds, or anything else you can think of. Just remember that for ingredients which contain liquid, you should reduce the amount of water in the recipe to compensate. Likewise dry ingredients tend to soak up water, and you must increase the amount of water in the recipe. There are no hard and fast rules to determine how to modify the recipe. If the bread has a very coarse crumb (i.e. the air bubbles are large), is too chewy, or rises too much and collapses, you have probably added too much water. If the bread has a very fine crumb or doesn’t rise very much, you probably didn’t add enough water. It’s best to change only one thing at a time with the recipe, and remember that even if a loaf doesn’t turn out how you wanted it, it’s probably still perfectly edible!