Are you looking for a healthy recipe for beautiful homemade loaf? This whole wheat molasses bread is the answer! It contains 25% whole wheat flour, which gives it extra fiber and protein. The slightly sweet, nutty flavor and delicious aroma of this easy-to-make loaf will have your whole house hungry in no time!
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What is dark brown bread?
Brown bread, as its name depicts, refers to any made at least partially with whole wheat flour. Most brown breads contain molasses, cocoa powder, or even coffee to further darken the color and enrich the flavor.
Which is better: whole wheat, or whole grain?
Whole wheat flour contains the complete wheat kernel. Whole grain means the loaf contains the whole kernel of any grain (rye, spelt, oat, etc.). This article has a good explanation of the two names.
Can I freeze this bread?
Yes, you absolutely can! Pre-slice it for ease, seal in a zip-top freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature or in the toaster.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients: flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, molasses, butter, and milk.
Pour the flours, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure to keep the salt and yeast separate, because the salt can kill the yeast if it touches it directly.
Mix in the butter and molasses until blended.
Gradually add the milk until a sticky dough forms. You might not need all the milk.
Knead for about 3-5 minutes on medium low speed, until the dough is smooth, not as sticky, and passes the windowpane test. (See the recipe card below to learn this easy technique.)
Form the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Punch down the dough, then shape it into a tight ball and place in a generously floured banneton (proving basket made from canes). If you don't have a banneton, use a greased and floured bowl instead.
Cover the dough with a linen cloth or tea towel and let it rise until about doubled in size. The dough should spring back when you poke it with your fingertip.
Carefully turn out the loaf onto a baking stone or cookie sheet, then score it with a baker's lame or sharp serrated knife. Don't worry if the loaf deflates a little when you flip it out; it should rise back up in the oven. Immediately put the loaf in the oven and bake at 425 F for 25 minutes, then bake it at 400 F for another 15 minutes. It is done when it has an internal temperature of 190-200 F.
Be sure to let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving to prevent a gummy texture.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients by weight. It's actually easier than using measuring cups, and measures out the ingredients much more accurately.
- Don't skimp on the kneading. Knead for 3-5 minutes on medium low speed in a stand mixer, or 10-15 minutes by hand. Test the dough with the windowpane test to check if it's kneaded enough. (See the recipe card below to learn this technique.)
- Shape the loaf in a very tight ball. This will ensure a beautiful loaf when you turn it out of the banneton.
- Bake the loaf at a high temperature for a good rise. Intense heat will help the loaf rise better and brown more beautifully.
- Let it cool completely before you cut into it. If the bread is warm when you cut it, it will make it gummy. Hot loaf is full of steam, and the loaf needs time to allow the crumb structure to firm up.
- Whole Wheat Flour: this healthy, fiber-rich flour is good for this recipe.
- Molasses: this adds a touch of sweetness and a rich color.
- Banneton: this special cane basket is specifically made for proving bread.
- Cooling Racks: keep the crust crisp as it cools with these racks.
- Serrated Knife: this is the best kind of knife to cut easily through thick crusts.
Other Homemade Breads You'll Love
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Homemade Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
Making the Dough (25 minutes + 1 ½ hours rising)
- Warm the milk to 115 F in a small saucepan or in the microwave. If you warm the milk in the microwave, put a small wooden spoon or chopstick in the milk to break the surface tension and prevent it from exploding.
- Pour the two flours into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl and stir each one in with your finger or a spoon.
- Add the molasses and butter and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until blended.
- Gradually trickle in the milk as the mixer runs, forming a sticky dough. You may not need all the milk, depending upon the humidity and the brands of flour you're using.
- Switch the attachment to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth, less sticky, and somewhat elastic. Test the dough with the windowpane test. Break off a lump of dough and stretch it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. If the dough stretches until it's translucent without breaking, it's kneaded enough; if not, knead for a minute longer and check again.
- Shape the dough into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Shaping & Proving the Loaf (8 minutes + 1 ½ hours rising)
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the gas pockets.
- Roll the loaf into a tight ball and place it seam side up in a floured, 10-inch round banneton. (If you don't own a banneton, use a greased and generously floured bowl instead.)
- Cover the loaf with the banneton's linen cover or a tea towel and let it rise at room temperature until about doubled in size, roughly 1 ½ hours. The dough should spring back when gently poked with a fingertip.
- About 10 minutes before the dough is done proving, preheat the oven to 425 F.
Scoring & Baking the Loaf (40 minutes + cooling)
- Gently turn the risen loaf onto a baking stone or ungreased cookie sheet. Don't worry if the loaf deflates a little; it will rise back in the oven.
- Use a piece of thread to gently mark the loaf in quarters, then carefully score the loaf in the desired pattern with a baker's lame or very sharp serrated knife.
- Immediately put the bread in the oven and bake at 425 F for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 F and bake for another 15 minutes. The loaf should be deeply browned and have an internal temperature of 190-200 F.
- Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients by weight. It's actually faster than using measuring cups, and is much more accurate.
- Don't skimp on the kneading, or the bread won't have a good rise or the best texture. Use the windowpane test in the instructions above to see if it's kneaded enough.
- Shape the loaf in a very tight ball. This will help the bread rise up, not flatten out.
- Bake at 400 F for the best color, rise, and crust.
- Let it cool completely before slicing. This allows it to finish cooking in the middle.