How to Bake with Whole Wheat Flour | Wholemeal Bun Recipe

A kernel of wheat consists of three parts: the germ, bran and the endosperm. A white flour is made up almost entirely of the endosperm which is comprised of starches and proteins. These proteins and starches allow a baker to create a dough with a lot of strength that is able to trap the gas produced by the yeast and this in turn gives the dough volume. Without the endosperm your dough wouldn’t be able to rise or retain a shape. This is why baking with a white flour is so forgiving. It is made up entirely of the stuff that gets your dough to do the things you want.

The drawback of baking with only the endosperm is that you lose out on all the vitamins, minerals, fats and fibre that are contained in the germ and bran. These areas are where all the health benefits of wheat reside. This is where whole wheat flour comes in. It is essentially the entire kernel of wheat ground up into flour form. It is packed with nutrition and flavor.

Because whole wheat contains more fats and nutrients compared to white flour it is best to store it in the fridge or freezer

Tips to working with whole wheat flour

Whole wheat flour cannot be swapped interchangeably with white; however, with the right care, it yields a much more flavorful -and healthy- result.

Here are some tips for successful baking with whole wheat flour:

  • Add more liquid to the dough. White flour can be swapped with whole wheat if at least 1/4 cup of extra liquid is added per cup of liquid that the recipe calls for.

When using whole wheat flour it is necessary to use more water in your dough compared to using only white flour. This is because the germ and bran that are present in whole wheat flour can absorb more liquid than the endosperm.

  • Don’t rush the process. Allow dough to rest for at least ten minutes immediately after the flour is incorporated, and give it a double rising if possible.

  • Allow dough to be sticky and resist the temptation to add more flour. It will all work out in the end.

Because of the weakened state of dough made with whole wheat flour it is important to handle the dough gently. When shaping, the dough will have a tendency to tear much easier than when using only white flour and you will not be able to get the dough as tight. Adjust by shaping a little more loosely than you would with white bread.

The same principles apply when doing your initial folds. You will not be able to stretch the dough quite as much without tearing it and as a result the folds should be a little looser.

  • If you must add a sprinkling of flour for rolling or shaping dough, use a bit of white flour.

  • A dough made with whole wheat flour will ferment faster than one made of white flour. The reason for this is simple: whole wheat flour contains more nutrients for the yeast to feed on than white flour.


Recipe 1: Wholemeal Hot dog Bun Recipe


  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

  • 1 Tablespoon whole cane sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons warm water

  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat bread flour

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for shaping

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 1 Tablespoon, melted


  1. In a small bowl, stir together yeast, cane sugar, and warm water; let mixture stand in a warm place until yeast begins to foam, about five minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, combine whole wheat flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk and stir in egg.

  3. Whisk yeast mixture with a fork until dissolved and pour into the flour well.

  4. With the mixer on low, combine flour and liquid until just combined. Turn off mixer and allow to sit for 10 minutes for the wheat to absorb the liquid.

  5. Scrape down the sides of the mixer. With the mixer on low, add butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all absorbed.

  6. Knead dough on low for 5 minutes, scraping down the mixer as needed. Dough will come together to be a smooth, elastic mass. It will be sticky, but do not add more flour.

  7. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

To shape

  1. Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan. Generously flour dough and turn onto a floured work surface. Divide into 12 pieces and roll into 3-inch logs.

  2. Place shaped dough in two rows of six in the pan. Don’t worry if they are touching each other. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes; meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Brush the melted butter over the tops of the risen rolls and place in the middle rack of the oven.

  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops bottoms are golden. Cool on a wire rack.


Recipe 2: Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns (Makes about 18 buns)

  • 5 cups whole wheat flour

  • 1 ½ cups warm water

  • 4 ½ tsp regular or active dry yeast

  • 2 Tbsp honey

  • ¼ cup water

  • ½ cup milk

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 2 tsp sea salt



  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 ½ cups warm water.  Set aside to let rest for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, mix together ¼ cup water, yeast and honey.  Allow this to sit for at least 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

  2. Melt butter, milk and salt in a small saucepan on the stove.  Do not allow the mixture to get above 120 degrees.

  3. Pour yeast mixture and milk mixture into flour mixture.  Add remaining two cups of flour (more if needed).

  4. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough begins to look smooth.  Put dough back into the bowl, cover and let rise for at least an hour or until it has doubled.

  5. Pull dough onto a clean countertop and knead for a couple of minutes to get any air bubbles out.  Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until about ½ inch thick.

  6. Cut circles from the dough with a large drinking glass or wide mouth jar.  Place circles on in a well buttered baking dish about an inch apart.

  7. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes.  Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


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