A foolproof recipe for the softest, most tender and delicious Whole Wheat Bread that’s easy to make with my step-by-step photos and secret (but super simple!) ingredient. I am sure you will love this homemade Wholemeal Bread (or Atta Bread) made with the usual bread baking staples.
Table of Contents
About Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
This soft and tender whole wheat bread has a similar fluffy consistency as your favorite White Bread,, but with the yummy flavor and health benefits of whole wheat.
How is it possible to make such a magical loaf? After much trial and error I finally stumbled across the secret ingredient that’s key for the softest crumb.
Similar to Naan and Bhatura, my wholemeal bread recipe includes yogurt (or curd). The creamy, slightly acidic consistency of the yogurt creates a delightful texture every time! Plus, yogurt is rather mild in flavor, so you get that full earthy taste of wheat you love.
And YES, this recipe can be made vegan-friendly! The acidity of yogurt is what creates the great rise for a super soft crumb, but this can be easily replicated. Simply swap with vegan almond yogurt or cashew yogurt, or even just lemon juice or vinegar.
I have tried making the bread with cashew yogurt, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar and they all work well.
Below are my step-by-step photos and instructions for making the best whole wheat bread from scratch. I use my hands to knead the bread, but feel free to use a standing mixer with a dough hook instead.
This Wholemeal Bread recipe works wonderfully with any kind of baker’s yeast. Be it instant yeast (or rapid rising yeast), dry active yeast or fresh yeast.
Remember to proof dry active yeast or fresh yeast in lukewarm water. And also note that the leavening time or the time taken for the dough to rise will be more when using these two types of yeast.
Note: To make this wholemeal bread, I have used instant yeast (rapid rising yeast). In the recipe card below I have mentioned proportions if using dry active yeast or fresh yeast.
How to make Whole Wheat Bread
1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer, add ½ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of raw sugar. The water can be room temperature or lukewarm.
However, if using active dry yeast or fresh yeast, then be sure to use lukewarm water.
Wondering which yeast to choose? The leavening and rising time of instant yeast is faster compared to dry active yeast. You also don’t need to proof the instant yeast like the dry active yeast, but I still show you the full proofing method to help if you are using dry active yeast.
2. To the bowl add 1 teaspoon of instant yeast (rapid rise yeast).
If using dry active yeast, add 1.5 teaspoons. Swirl the bowl around or stir with a spoon to help the yeast dissolve in the water.
3. Mix well and let the yeast proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make Wholemeal Bread Dough
4. Now to the frothy yeast water mixture, add 3 cups of whole wheat flour (360 grams), 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of your favorite neutral flavored oil (or butter or ghee) and 2 tablespoons of yogurt (curd).
For a vegan-friendly loaf: Use either 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, or 2 tablespoons of almond or cashew yogurt in place of dairy yogurt.
5. Mix well with a spoon.
6. Add ½ cup of water in parts as you mix.
7. Now begin to knead the mixture into a soft dough, adding water at intervals as needed.
8. The dough will be slightly sticky at first, but it will be fine after the initial rise. If the dough looks dry, however, you can add some more water.
Work in 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough looks too sticky (is actively sticking to your hands), then sprinkle in a bit of flour.
Knead very well for a total of 8 to 10 minutes to get a supple, pliable and soft dough. A slightly sticky dough is fine.
Proof Dough (First Rise)
9. Flatten the dough to fill the bottom of the bowl. Lightly brush the top of the dough with water.
10. Place a towel over the bowl, and proof the dough for 30 to 35 minutes if you have used instant yeast.
For dry active yeast, give a time of about 1.5 to 2 hours for the dough to double in size.
11. After the initial rise, the dough should be nearly double in size like in the photo below.
12. Use your fist to punch the dough lightly into the bowl, and knead again lightly.
Shape to a Loaf and Proof Loaf (Second Rise)
13. Work the wholemeal bread dough out of the bowl and onto a clean work surface. Roll into a ball.
14. Now form the dough into a log, and gently pinch the edges into a seam.
15. Place the dough log into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover again with a kitchen towel and let rise.
- If you have used instant yeast – leaven for 20 to 30 minutes.
- For dry active yeast or fresh yeast – set aside for 45 minutes to 1 hour or more depending on the temperature conditions.
16. While the dough leavens, preheat the oven for 20 minutes at 220 degrees celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit).
If using a convection oven or oven with a fan, then preheat at 200 or 205 degrees celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes.
Score and Bake Whole Wheat Bread
17. Make a ¼ inch cross or slits on the bread. This helps the steam escape as the bread bakes, and creates a tender and soft loaf.
18. Lightly brush the top of the loaf with milk (dairy or vegan). You can even brush with some oil or butter or ghee.
This is an optional step but it definitely gives a lovely golden color and also a perfectly chewy crust and moistest crumb.
19. Bake in the preheated oven for 22 to 25 mins. If using a convection oven, shorten bake time by a few minutes.
20. Bake the whole wheat bread dough until the top crust is golden.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes to cool. Then gently tap on top of the loaf: if baked properly, the bread should should hollow.
If the bread does not sound hollow, put it back in the oven to bake for a few more minutes.
21. While the wheat bread is still hot, carefully remove it from the pan (using oven mittens/gloves) and place it on a wire rack to cool.
The bottom of your loaf will get soggy if you leave it in the pan for too long!
Let the Atta Bread cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.
Enjoy homemade whole wheat bread sliced with butter, ghee, jams, peanut butter, or any of your favorite spreads.
Once cooled, wrap in a cling film or keep in a bread box at room temperature for up to one week. If you live in a warm or hot place, refrigerate the wheat loaf.
To freeze, place the whole wheat loaf in an airtight bag after wrapping in cling film, and keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Whole Wheat Bread | Wholemeal Bread (Atta Bread)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat flour or chapati atta) – 360 grams
- 1 cup water divided, depending on quality of flour, can add upto 1.25 cups water
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast or 1.5 teaspoons dry active yeast or 1 tablespoon fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt or edible rock salt or pink salt
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar or white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil or softened butter or ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 tablespoons yogurt (dairy or vegan) or 1 to 1.5 tablespoon vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 to 3 teaspoons milk (dairy or vegan), for brushing the top of the bread, optional
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer, add ½ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of raw sugar. The water can be room temperature or lukewarm.But, if using active dry yeast or fresh yeast, then make sure to use lukewarm water.
- To the bowl add 1 teaspoon of instant yeast (rapid rising yeast).If using dry active yeast – add 1.5 teaspoons of it. Swirl the bowl around or stir with a spoon to help the yeast dissolve in the water.
- Let this mixture sit for 10 to 12 minutes until the yeast activates.
Forming Whole Wheat Dough
- Next to the frothy yeast water mixture, add the whole wheat flour, salt, preferred neutral flavored oil (or butter or ghee) and yogurt.
- Mix with a spoon.
- Next add ½ cup of water bit by bit and begin to knead for 8 to 10 minutes or as needed.
- Knead to a soft, supple and smooth dough. A well kneaded dough which when stretched should not tear.
- Add more water if required while kneading. The dough can be slightly sticky.
- Brush some water all over the dough and keep in a deep wide bowl covered with a lid or kitchen towel for 30 to 35 minutes if you have used instant yeast.If dry active yeast or fresh yeast has been used – keep in the covered bowl to leaven for 1.5 to 2 hours or more until the dough doubles.
- After the initial rise, the dough will be double in size. Remove and then lightly punch and knead the dough again.
- On a clean work surface roll the dough into a neat ball.
- Make a log of the dough and gently pinch the edges into a seam – meaning tuck in the edges at the corners.
- Place the prepared dough log in a greased 9×5 inches loaf pan with tucked edges facing downwards. Cover with kitchen towel again.
- Cover and let it rise the second time for 20 to 30 minutes if you have used instant yeast.For dry active yeast or fresh yeast – set aside for 45 minutes to 1 hour or more depending on the temperature conditions in your city or town.
Baking wheat bread
- Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C/425 degrees F for at-least 20 minutes.
- Once the bread has risen in the loaf pan, make a ¼ inch cross or slits on the bread. This helps the steam escape as the bread bakes, and creates a tender and soft loaf.
- Keep the loaf pan in the oven and bake at 220 degrees C/425 degrees F for 22 to 25 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- While baking, if the wheat bread begins to brown too much from the top, then cover with parchment paper or aluminium foil.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes to cool. Then gently tap on top of the loaf: if baked properly, the bread should should hollow.If the bread does not sound hollow, put it back in the oven to bake for a few more minutes.
- When the bread is still hot, remove it from the loaf pan using oven mittens/gloves and keep it on a wired tray to cool.
- Let the Wholemeal Bread loaf cool completely before slicing it with a serrated knife.
- Enjoy homemade Whole Wheat Bread sliced with butter, ghee, jams, peanut butter, or any of your favorite spreads. Or use the Atta Bread to make your favorite sandwiches or snacks from bread.
- Store bread in the fridge for about a week or the freezer for about a month.
- You can also directly mix the instant yeast granules with flour and other ingredients. But do note that sometimes instant yeast granules do not dissolve completely in the dough and so you can opt to dissolve them separately in water first.
- If you prefer, sift the whole wheat flour with salt once or twice.
- Make sure to use curd or yogurt that is not tasting very sour.
- This recipe has been tested successfully with both the whole wheat flour (available in US and Europe) and the finely ground whole wheat flour which we call Atta in India. Both these types of flours work beautifully to make a healthier and soft loaf.
- Do remember to add water as needed as the amount of water varies with the kind and quality of flour being used.
- The recipe can be doubled or tripled to make many loaves of bread.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Whole Wheat Bread recipe from the archives first published in December 2013 has been updated and republished on December 2022.