Whole Grain Master Recipe from “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!


(The picture above is by Mark Luinenburg; Mark did the photography on Healthy Bread in Five).  Speaking of our new book…

… this has been a long and wonderful road; tomorrow (Tuesday October 27) is the publication date for:

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day:  100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

We are thrilled with the early reviews, and already have already been on TV to talk about the book.  On Amazon, the order window has changed from “Pre-Order” to “Order on Amazon”, and bookstores should have it (if they don’t please ask them to order it).  It’s a book we wrote because people posted to us in this website and asked us for it (as in, “can you do something similar with more whole grains?”).

The answer:  Yes, you can, but you have to make some changes. We’ll be talking more about this on our book tour, which starts tomorrow, and teaching classes about the changes you need to make to succeed with stored whole grain doughs (check our Events tab for details on cities, bookstores, and cooking schools).  If you can’t wait, I’m walking through our whole grain Master Recipe here in this post today.  I’ll cut to the chase:  you need more water, and one extra ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten (sometimes labeled “vital wheat gluten flour”), which is available in most supermarkets, or mail-order/on-line from anywhere…Whole grains can make for a drier results; all that bran soaks up water.  So we increased the water for all the new recipes.  But that was only part of it.  If you want to be able to store whole grain dough, you need to boost the gluten content or the loaves tend to become dense over the life of the batch.  Storing the dough is why our recipes are different (that’s what makes our method different).  Vital wheat gluten makes whole grain dough springy enough to be stored in the refrigerator as a large batch.  We found we weren’t crazy about the result until we started testing our approach with vital wheat gluten.

What is vital wheat gluten?  It’s the protein-rich part of wheat that creates the strands that trap gas bubbles and allow yeasted bread to rise (and stay risen).  It doesn’t take much vital wheat gluten to make a difference in a 4 to 5 pound batch of whole grain dough.  Just 2 to 4 tablespoons are all you need, so while the whole bag or box may seem expensive, it doesn’t add much to the cost of baking (yeast is a more important expense, which is why we recommend that you buy it in bulk from a food co-op or from Costco).

So where do you get vital wheat gluten? Most supermarkets in larger towns and cities carry it.  The two brands in U.S. supermarkets are Bob’s Red Mill and Hodgson Mill, and we tested those extensively.  If your local store doesn’t carry vital wheat gluten, you can mail-order it from Amazon; click for either the Bob’s Red Mill product, or the Hodgson Mill product (you can also order directly from those companys’ websites).  Amazon carries other vital wheat gluten brands but we’ve never tried them.

We are going to publish the basic whole grain recipe here on our website.  Many, many more details are in the book, and we won’t be able to provide all that here on the web.  The book also has plenty of recipes that are 100% whole grain; today’s recipe is about 73% whole grain:


5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (can decrease). You can use any kind of yeast including: instant, “quick,” rapid rise, bread machine, or a ctive dry. We’ve always tested with Red Star Yeast and they have a new premium product called PLATINUM, which has worked beautifully in our recipes. You can also decrease the amount of yeast in the recipe by following the directions here. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.)

1 tablespoon Kosher salt (can adjust to taste or health concerns)

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) vital wheat gluten (or vital wheat gluten flour)

4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)

1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top crust:  sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and or anise

First, measure the dry ingredients into a 5-quart bucket or bowl, and whisk them together (you can also use a fork, or if it’s lidded, just shake them well).  Mixing the dry ingredients first prevents the vital wheat gluten from forming clumps once liquids are added:


Now add the water to form a very wet dough.  Don’t add additional flour to dry this out:


Cover loosely (leave lid open a crack) and allow to rise for two hours at room temperature (if you decreased the yeast, you’ll need more time).  NEVER PUNCH DOWN or intentionally deflate.  The dough will rise and then begin to collapse.  Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days, tearing off one-pound loaves as you need them.

On baking day, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough (about a pound), using a serrated knife or a kitchen shears:


Now, quickly shape a loaf as you’ve seen in our videos on this website, or on our new Amazon site (but note that the Amazon video leaves out the crucial 90 minute resting time that I’ll talk about in a minute).  Should take less than a minute— still pictures don’t do it justice, but basically, you pull the top around to the bottom, rotating quarter-turns as you go.  DON’T KNEAD or otherwise knock all the gas out of the loaf:


Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or parchment for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough.  This is longer than our 1st book because whole grains take a longer rest than white doughs.  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise; our loaves depend more on “oven spring.”

Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), with a baking stone placed on a middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won’t interfere with rising bread.

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water (we’ve dropped the cornstarch wash) and sprinkle with seed mixture.  Slash the loaf with 1/4-inch deep parallel cuts across the top (or a singe lengthwise cut as in the first picture).  Use a serrated bread knife held perpendicularly to the loaf:


Slide onto the hot stone…


…and carefully pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray (in the book, we give alternatives for creating that steam environment, which is essential for creating a great crust):


After a 30-minute bake, cool on a cooling rack, and serve however you’d like.  You have the basis for a complete, nutritious meal, bursting with healthy vegetable oils (from wheat germ), fiber (from wheat bran), and vitamins.  We look forward to hearing more from you as people have questions about the book.

Zoe and I will be on Fox-9 News in Minneapolis-St. Paul tomorrow morning, at around 8:30am— Click here to view

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490 thoughts on “Whole Grain Master Recipe from “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!

  1. We’re going to be cruising on our sailboat and would like the capability of continuing to make bread. The boat has very limited refrigerator space so I was thinking of placing the dry ingredients for single loafs in gallon freezer bags. I could then mix them with water in the freezer bags and make individual loafs. Would appreciate your opinion.

  2. Hi,

    I went with Jeff’s suggestion to me in the Ask a Question thread and picked up a Kindle copy of “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” I’ve made it as far as the Master Recipe, and I have question…

    I’ve been baking the Master Recipe above, which I converted to weights using a spreadsheet of cooking conversions that I found some years ago. For water the sheet listed 1 cup = 236.588 ml, which matched my calculator’s constants and an internet search.

    So when I got to, “4 cups of water,” I went with: 946 ml = 946g. I’ve been getting tasty bread, but with less rise and a somewhat more dense loaf than I was hoping for.

    The table of ingredients for the Master Recipe matched all my conversions closely until I got to: lukewarm water 4 cups, 2 pounds, 900g.

    So perhaps I’m using 5% more water then when you bake the Master Recipe, if you bake by the weights? Would this be enough to reduce my rise and oven spring? When I shape my boule and let it rest on the peel, I get a lot of sideways spread. Even before I slash it, there is less height at the end of the rest then when I first finished shaping.

    Should I cut water back to 900g?


    • Yes, definitely– those don’t foot across perfectly, in an effort to get rounder numbers into the final recipe. Maybe 910 grams, but no more.

      • Thanks Jeff, I’ll cut back on the next batch and see how it goes.

        I’ve got to restock on flour, so perhaps you can also help me with a tangential question. I can buy Gold Medal locally for about $2 less per bag than King Arthur. I want to use unbleached, unbromated flours, but neither the Gold Medal nor the General Mills web sites provide full information.

        There is a GM all-purpose labelled unbleached, but it doesn’t call out unbromated. The GM white whole wheat doesn’t call out either unbleached or unbromated. The only flour labelled as both is Better for Bread, but I don’t need bread flour for the Master Recipe.

        Since you and Zoe have been to the mill, test kitchens, etc., I’m hoping you’ll have more information. Has Gold Medal stopped bromating their consumer flours (if they ever did)?

        Thanks again,

      • When we visited, GM said that they are also unbromated. I don’t know why they don’t tout it. This was an informal conversation, you may want to check directly with the company as well, at

        Whole wheat flours are never bleached…

  3. Here in the Czech Republic, we are used to wheat-rye bread. Can I that whole grain flour for rye flour? Will it need any other adjustment of ingredients?

    Thanks for your answer.

    • Rye has less gluten and it’s whole-grain version absorbs a lot of water. In this particular recipe, substituting rye flour for wheat flour is going to result in a very, very dense bread, and you’d need to increase the water (?? how much). We have a rye version in the book this comes from, it’s on Amazon at We have some basics about rye here on the website, which you can see if you type “rye” into our Search Bar above.

  4. Just made this for the first time. My dough sat in the fridge for a few days before baking and when I went to form the loaves the top of the loaf was very holey. What am I doing wrong?

    • Hi. Do you mean it looked like there were bubbles in the dough that popped on the surface or is it something else?

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. is it possible to decrease or maybe completely remove the amount of white flour in the recipe? my ideal situation would be 100% whole grain.


  6. Thank you for this recipe! I own your first book, which I love. Made up several bags of this healthier version by milling our own flour, adding the rest of the ingredients, and putting each bag in the freezer. When we are ready for some bread, we just pull out a freezer bag, add water, mix it up, let it sit for 2 hours, and bake. So simple!!

  7. Hi, I just got your healthy bread book and I love it! I am planning on making the caramel sticky rolls using this dough. Can I do the second rise in the fridge overnight? Would like to have the rolls first thin in the morning if possible!

  8. Have a question about whole wheat bread. I have tried them now 3 Times but bread doesn’t get as fluffy as the white bread. White bread turns out always great but not so with whole wheat and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Bread is a lot denser than white but I’m following your recipe to the T. Please help.

    • Hi Maggie,

      Whole grain bread is denser than the white bread, just the nature of the beast. But, it shouldn’t be overly dense. Tell me a bit about the flours you are using.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. Hi Jeff,

    I love your master whole grain recipe! I’ve tried also making it with einkorn flour but the dough seemed too wet. The final boule went flat in the oven. The bread seemed fluffy, not dense, just spread on me like a flat bread (1.5″ high). Should I use less water?

    • Hi Justyna,

      You’ll want to use the spelt recipes in the book when using einkorn. It doesn’t have as much gluten developing protein, so it requires less water than all-purpose flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Hi Justyna,

        Yes, that is exactly right. If you want to play with other recipes, you’ll need to decrease the amount of water and I’d start with a small batch, until you get the bread you like.

        Thanks, Zoë

  10. Since there’s a 90 minute resting time for this bread, would you recommend a 30 minute or so resting time if putting it in the crock pot to bake? Or do you think it would come out fine straight out of the refrigerator after shaping/gluten cloaking?

    (I actually have a loaf in the crock pot now, and it’s been in for… close to 2 hours now, I think, and I didn’t do a rise beforehand, and it’s a little hard to tell when it’s done without being tempted to cut into it.)

    • It took a little over 2 hours (with peeking about every 15-20 minutes after the first 60). Not what I was expecting, but good. I was surprised how much my kids loved it, and it was great for a salamo sandwich with mayo.

    • Well, our idea here was to minimize the waiting times and just be done with it. It won’t hurt to do it as you suggest.

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