Whole Wheat Flax Bread

It took me a few years, but I finally figured out the perfect ingredient ratios to make a loaf of 100% whole-wheat bread. Now, I don’t think that there’s anything evil about white flour, but I think that it should be reserved mostly for cookies, and let everyday foods take advantage of the healthy properties of whole grains. Often times, whole wheat breads can be incredibly dense and bitter, but I’ve figured out a few tricks of the trade to make delicious loaves over and over again.

First off, I like to use white whole wheat flour. This does not mean that it is any less whole wheat than any other flours, it simply means describes the variety of wheat. White whole wheat flour is ground from albino wheat, which is less bitter than traditional wheat, but the entire bran and germ is incorporated into the flour. Most grocery stores carry this type of wheat; at Trader Joe’s in particular, this is the only variety of whole wheat flour they carry.

Secondly, you must make sure that your yeast is fresh and that it does not come in direct contact with salt. Fresh yeast ensures that the dough will rise properly, which is essential when baking with dense whole grain flours. However, if you combine the salt with the yeast too early, that will negate any effects of the fresh yeast. Salt creates a hypertonic solution with respect to the yeast, which means that all of the water will be drawn out of the yeast cells, causing premature yeast death and a leaden loaf. To avoid that, mix in the salt when you add the flour after proofing the yeast.

I also like to add some vital wheat gluten to the dough because whole wheat flour has less gluten than white flour. Gluten adds structure an elasticity to the finished product, which allows the loaf to be much lighter than it would be otherwise. Finally, I bake the loaf with a pan of hot water beneath it. This encourages a softer crust and a lighter, moister texture.

This bread can be enjoyed in many ways: with butter and jam for breakfast or with avocado and feta cheese for lunch. My favorite way to eat this bread is fresh out of the oven with ricotta, black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s hearty and dense without being bitter or dry, and is packed full of healthy ingredients.

Whole Wheat Flax Bread

Makes 1, 2 lb. loaf

1 5/8 cup water, warmed to 100F

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups white whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

2 teaspoons table salt

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water, yeast, maple syrup, and olive oil and let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast begins to foam. Add in the flour, flaxseed, wheat gluten, and table salt, mixing on low at first to combine the ingredients, then increasing the speed to medium for 8-10 minutes to knead until the dough becomes soft and shiny. Remove the dough from the dough hook, cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 80-90 minutes at room temperature, until doubled in size.
  2. Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with oil. Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a countertop and turn the dough out onto the counter. Press the dough into a 9″ x 16″ rectangle, then with the short end facing you, tightly roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seam to seal tightly. Place the dough log, seam side down, into the prepared pan, cover with a dish towel, and let rise until about 1 inch over the edge of the pan, 60-80 minutes.
  3. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place an empty loaf pan on the bottom rack. When the dough has fully risen, uncover the dough and place it on the middle rack in the oven. Pour about 2 cups of water into the empty loaf pan, shut the oven door, and bake the bread for 50-60 minutes, until deep golden brown and well-risen. The internal temperature of the loaf should be around 210F. Remove bread from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and let cool for at least another hour before slicing and serving.

Note: If you do not have a standing mixer, you can mix together all the ingredients by hand in the order directed, then knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured countertop for 10-12 minutes until smooth and shiny, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!


4 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Flax Bread

  1. Pingback: Holiday Gifts for the Food Enthusiast | Kinsey Cooks

  2. Your recipe sounds good. It is similar to mine but I use butter, honey and brown sugar and instant yeast. Double your recipe and add a beaten egg as part of liquid. I have a local bread bakery that will mill me fresh red or white wheat for a dollar a pound. The bitter taste comes from rancid oils in the germ after sitting even a couple weeks after milling. Preheat your oven to 400° then turn it down to regular temp. immediately after you put your loaves in – this gives them the maximum “spring” as they start baking. And yes, thank-you for stating the loaf temp of 210°. That is right and gives best results. I enjoy your posts and will be making a galette with frozen cherries to take to Memorial day family picnic here in Michigan.

    • Hi Steve,

      Thank you so much for the comment. That is amazing that you can get flour freshly milled for you! Thank you for the suggestion to maximize spring on the loaf, I often do that for more “rustic” breads but I can’t wait to try it on the softer loaf breads. I hope you enjoy your cherry galette, there is no better summer dessert that a homemade fruit pastry. Happy cooking!



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