Light & Fluffy
Homemade Whole-Grain Bread Dough
for Mini Buns, Rolls and Loaves

The Recipe: My new go-to recipe for homemade whole-grain bread, formed into loaves for slicing and whole-grain buns for sandwiches or whole-grain mini dinner rolls. The recipe uses a high proportion of healthful whole-grain flour (or 100% whole-wheat pastry flour) and still achieves that light and fluffy texture so many people like. If you're looking for a whole-grain roll recipe, this one belongs on your to-try list, especially for tender and delicious whole-grain dinner rolls.

The Conversation: The State of American Bread. Yes, it's a sorry, sorry state.

Light 'n' Fluffy Whole-Grain Bread, whole grain yet soft and tender like so many people love. My go-to recipe for whole-grain mini rolls, sandwich buns and bread loaves. Colored with a touch of pumpkin, very forgiving and flexible. Recipe, tips, WW points at Kitchen Parade.

"...we're carboholics and LOVE this bread." ~ bugsboysandbooboos

May it please the Court of Bread Lovers, I submit that the state of American bread is one sorry, sorry, state and hereby submit into evidence:

Exhibit #1: At Christmas a few years ago, my dad ran to the grocery for bread and brought home sour dough Wonder bread. We made our sandwiches, the bread went into the bread drawer. Ten months later – I know, too long – there it was, still as ‘fresh’ as ever, no science experiment color, no sign of mold or aging. If it weren’t so creepy, I’d ‘wonder’ if bread might be a yeasty fountain of youth. (Photographic evidence? Scroll to the bottom of this recipe for another Whole Grain Bread from A Veggie Venture, my food blog.)

Exhibit #2: Last month, I bought a small loaf at the grocery, something quick for dinner. First, they fooled me. The label read ‘wheat mini loaf’ versus ‘whole wheat mini loaf’ so wasn’t even whole grain. How many of us make the same mistake? And then, the ingredient list was longer than the loaf. Bleached wheat flour (malted barley flour, niacin, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin), water, sugar, cracked wheat, yeast, wheat bran, salt, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed, and/or canola oils), wheat gluten, cornstarch, soy flour, molasses, calcium stearoyl lactylate (CSL), dextrose, malt, corn flour, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monodiglycerides (datem), carmel color, ammonium chloride, ascorbic acid, calcium carbonate, malt barley flour, soy oil, enzyme, calcium peroxide, azodicarbonamide (ADA), lcysteine, isolated soy protein, sodium phosohare, lecithin, soybean oil, carrageenan, mixed tocopherols added to protect flavor. Yikes, is all that necessary, just for bread? The price? $.12 an ounce.

Exhibit #3: So then I bought a loaf of ‘good’ bread, a so-called "Artisan Multi-Grain Flax & Honey Bread" at a brand-new high-end grocery but had to ask, special, for an ingredient label. Hmm, was it whole grain? I don’t think so, not from the label. But the ingredient list was shorter, just Water, enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, barley malt, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), whole wheat flour, rye flour, molasses, sugar, oats, sunflower seeds, millet, flax seed, contains 2% or less of: honey, salt, yeast, cracked wheat, lactic acid, sea salt, cultured wheat starch, ascorbic acid. For this bread, the price was 25 cents an ounce, more than twice the cost. The taste? Okay. And sure, I could go to a bakery with good bread, I’m lucky to have one up the road. But it’s an extra stop and is closed after six and Sundays. Plus the bread is expensive, $6 a loaf.

Exhibit #4: During a road trip into the American West this summer, we ate three meals a day out, no fast food, local places only, some times a little upscale, mostly not. Only once was the bread was worth eating, a splurge at a pricey place with all-around fabulous food. Otherwise? White bread, soft and smudgy, tasteless and forgettable.

Your Bread Honors? I rest my case.

ABOUT THIS RECIPE As a country, we like our bread white and soft. So I set out to find a whole-grain bread recipe that’s not white, sorry, but a lovely pumpkin-tinged brown but whose texture has a tender satisfying texture. Plus the flavor is so good! I must say, I’m hooked on this bread.

The first year, I made a half dozen times in a couple of months, playing with the basic recipe. Now it's my go-to recipe for whole-grain bread, especially since it's such a forgiving bread dough.

When family is arriving from out of town, I'll mix up a batch the morning of arrival, we'll have hot soup and small rolls hot out of the oven the first night, then use larger rolls for lunch sandwiches the rest of the week. Often there's time to make a loaf of Autumn Pumpkin Bread too, finishing the can of pumpkin!

I've also started to "jazz up" the appearance of the bread, especially the mini dinner rolls. Pumpkin seeds work, so does pressing a tiny bit of good salt into the tops. Have another idea? Please let me know!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 30 minutes to mix, 10 minutes to shape, occasional attention otherwise
Time to table: 3-1/2 – 6 hours
Makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf plus mini dinner rolls and sandwich buns (see TIPS)
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 312g
  • As needed, additional all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil, for greasing & brushing

PROOF In a medium-size bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar and water. Let rest until frothy.

MIX In a large mixing bowl (or a standing mixer with the mixing beater), combine the buttermilk, olive oil, molasses, pumpkin, water, egg and salt. Gently blend in the yeast mixture. Add the whole-wheat flour and combine well, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed, for about 3 minutes.

If using a standing mixer, switch to the bread hook. If you don't have a bread hook or are using a stand mixer, sorry, you'll need to continue by hand, first working in the remaining flour, then kneading for a good ten minutes. The dough is too heavy and will gum up your mixer. Think positive: it's "a good upper-arm workout". :-)

Add the all-purpose flour and combine well, scraping down the bowl as needed, for about 8 minutes. A large, firm dough ball should form. If it’s soft, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time; if it’s too firm, add water, a half tablespoon at a time.

FIRST RISE IN WARM PLACE Rub the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough ball to the bowl, rubbing it against the sides of the bowl to coat the entire ball. Cover loosely with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, 1 – 2 hours. With a fist, gently press into the dough two or three times to deflate.

FIRST RISE in the REFRIGERATOR, OPTIONAL A slower rise encourages flavor development so I some times mix the dough one evening, let it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, then bake in the morning. The second rise will take longer than usual, however, since the dough starts off quite cold.

SHAPE & SECOND RISE Rub baking dishes with olive oil. Form two loaves or one loaf and medium-size or small buns. (To form a bun, cut off a small piece of dough, wrap it around itself so that the top side is smooth, the bottom side is the crease; place crease-side down on the dish, leaving space between.) Cover the baking dishes with a clean towel and let rise again, 1 – 2 hours.

BAKE Preheat oven to 375F. Bake loaves for about 35 minutes, medium buns for about 20 minutes and small buns for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush tops lightly with olive oil. Let cool.

STORE Wrap bread tightly and keep in cool spot. Bread stays fresh for four or five days.

ALANNA’s TIPS Some times I cut the dough in half and make one loaf and 16 medium-size buns. Other times, I cut the dough in thirds and make one loaf (good for Fried Bread), 8 medium-size buns (good for sandwiches) and 16 three-bite mini buns (great for serving alongside a salad or a cup of soup). The choice is yours! I settled on pumpkin for the "plant life" that gives this bread a special moisture and "alive" taste. But the original recipe called for a carrot ground in a blender with a cup of water, it's great. So was a batch made with sauerkraut blended with water. If you keep baby food on hand, it would be especially convenient. Ask your local bakery about its whole-wheat flour. I buy ground-yesterday flour from Great Harvest, other franchise locations may sell it too. It keeps in the freezer for several months. NEW For 100% whole-grain bread, use all whole-wheat pastry flour, it makes especially light and tender rolls.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per slice, assumes 32 slices: 112 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 7mg Cholesterol; 235mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 2g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3
Adapted from New Frontiers in Western Cooking by Greg Patent

More Favorite Homemade Bread Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Homemade Yeast Rolls: Ice Cream Pail Buns Swedish Rye Bread No-Knead English Muffin Bread

With Good Homemade Bread on Hand, You Can Make

Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding Bacon & Egg Breakfast Bake Mom's Roast Chicken
~ more recipes calling for bread ~
from Kitchen Parade

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar
from A Veggie Venture

© Copyright 2009, 2014 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Wow yucko on the wonderbread, but the rolls look beautiful! I just made whole grain rolls the other day too; so rewarding!

  2. Oh, wow—those rolls look beautiful. I'm passing this along to my niece in Utah who's just getting into bread baking; thank you Alanna!

  3. I'm going to have to try this one. My husband is one of those prefers soft white bread so getting a whole grained bread that he likes is tough but this one looks wonderfully light and fluffy! Thanks!

  4. This looks wonderful and I have just the right amount of pumpkin puree in the fridge! Thanks, I'll be making this today.

  5. kirsten11/10/2009

    I know this is not your style of foodblogging, but next time you make it could you take a photo of the dough as it's ready for the first rise?

    I've been trying to compare my multigrain dough to the pictures in my red-checkered cookbook and all I can compare with is white bread.

    I love the idea of buttermilk and look forward to trying this once we eat the bread that's rising as I type! Next time I'll read my email *before* starting to make some bread!

  6. If I'm not using a stand mixer, can I still skip kneading? If so, WOW! Love that idea. There really is nothing like the smell and taste of fresh-baked bread.

  7. Dawn ~ Hmm, what makes you think that the bread dough isn't kneaded? It is, for a long while, 8 minutes with a standing mixer. It's a really important step, sorry, it can't be skipped, not to get the right texture.

    So, push up your sleeves and prepare for an upper arm workout!

  8. I am definitely going to try this recipe, it looks fantastic!

    I think that whole grains are a very important thing to have in your routine diet.

  9. Anonymous11/14/2009

    This isn't "whole grain". At best it is at best 60% whole wheat.

  10. Anonymous ~ You know, you're right. I was so taken away with the lightness even with a high 'proportion' of whole wheat flour that I lost sight of the fact that it wasn't 100% whole grain. I like the idea of using whole wheat pastry flour to substitute for the all-purpose flour, let me try that and get back to everyone. In the mean time, I do still think that this is the lightest 'most' whole-grain roll out there, at least in my experience.

  11. Hi, have you tried this in a bread machine? Do you think it would work?

  12. Hi Tessa ~ No I've not tried this in a bread machine, I gave my dad's back to him after he let me test with it for the winter a few years back, but can't think of why it wouldn't work.

  13. I jus tried to make this recipe by hand but when I combined the amount of flour that was stated it was basically a batter, no where close to dough. Granted I was using whole wheat pastry flour. I did pretty much have to keep pouring flour in by the half cup till it thickened, along with adding some starch and xantham gum. The dough is rising now, but its super heavy. Wasnt sure if the yeast alone was going to be enough, had to add some refined bread flour just in case along with vinegar.

    Im not sure if it makes a difference mixing and kneeding it by hand as opposed to a mixer but every ingredient aside from the yeast water was cold when I added it in. 2 and 2/3 cups of liquid seemed like quite a lot to add in.

  14. I don't own a mixer, so I used my bread machine to knead the dough. The machine wouldn't accomodate the full amount of dough, so I did the first rising in a bowl and not in the bread machine.
    I've made the rolls/bread a few times over the past couple of years...we're carboholics and LOVE this bread. I also use raw milk with some lemon juice or vinegar added since I never have buttermilk on hand.

  15. Shared this recipe in my clean eating holiday recipe roundup:


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna