Homemade Brown Bread – it’s almost wholemeal!

brown bread

Brown bread

Having decided to make a wholemeal loaf, I took the flour out of the cupboard and discovered I had bought “brown” bread flour. I had a feeling that “brown” flour was just dyed white flour pretending to be wholemeal but it turns out that brown flour uses 90% of the grain rather than wholemeal’s 100%: it is just lacking the bran. I followed a wholemeal bread recipe and was amazed at how light it is (which is probably because it contains less wholemeal than it should!). And while it might not be the real thing, it’s still has to be better for you than straight white. The kids love it and the addition of a bit of butter in the recipe makes a nice change from my normal everyday loaf of flour, yeast and salt. It’s quite amazing how a relatively small amount of fat can change the texture of bread.

This is a Paul Hollywood recipe from “How to Bake“. I am slowly working my way through the book and haven’t made anything I don’t like yet. This one sounds more complicated than it is because he has you rolling the dough into a sausage and then tying it in a knot. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t just put this in a loaf tin, or shape it anyway you like, but I thought I would have a go at tying a knot having never tried before. It turns out it is a lot easier than you would think and the loaf ends up nice and round with a bit of a dent in the middle. Which is not too far off how it looks in the book, I’m pleased to say!

wholemeal bread

There is a knot in there somewhere…



400g wholemeal (or brown) bread flour

100g strong white flour

10g salt

15g fresh or 10g instant dried yeast

40g unsalted butter, softened

320ml water


Put the flours into a large bowl and either rub in the fresh yeast or sprinkle in the dried. Add the butter in little pieces and the salt and mix.

Add the water and mix to a dough.

Tip out onto a surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and silky.

Put it into an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or oiled clingfilm. Leave for at least an hour or until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knock the air out by folding it inwards repeatedly.

Roll it up into a sausage and then roll it with your hands until it is about 30cm long:

Wholemeal bread

Roll the bread dough into a 30cm long sausage shape

Tie the dough into a knot:

wholemeal bread

Tied in a knot…

Put the bread onto an oiled baking sheet, cover and leave again for around an hour, or until doubled in size.

brown bread

Ready to bake

Set the oven to 210ºC. For a lighter crust you can put a roasting tray into the bottom of the oven and fill it with water when you put the loaf in but I didn’t do this.

Rub flour gently over the loaf and bake for around 30 minutes. Check it is done by tapping the base: it should sound hollow.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Paul Hollywood bread

Great as bread or toast!

Categories: Baking, Bread, Recipes

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. This looks so yummy!

  2. i totally agree with you on ignoring much of the hollywood “method’. all my adaptations from this book have worked without the “silver fox’ fuss!

  3. I made the same mistake too! I’ve checked the ingredients, I saw that you put butter, that’s interesting…

  4. Looks good! I have not tried a recipe that includes tying a knot on a bread dough.
    Glad to hear that it is lighter than a typical wholemeal bread loaf ’cause I find that wholemeal bread tends to be very dense.

  5. Sometimes you can buy dark dark brown bread, what gives the color brown

  6. Hi. I’m very interested in you knot tying. Do you have any technique to do this, or is it a simple knot and tuck the ends in. Thank you.

  7. I added more water eg maybe 30 mg more. I was able to roll it and tie in knot but there were a lot of creases in it…..looks drier than in photo above. I was nervous it wouldn’t slice nicely so ended up making rolls with it instead. any idea why so many creases in it

    • It may have been too dry – did you add any extra flour before kneading it the second time? Some flours may be more absorbent than others and need more water, that could be it? Or possibly it was a bit under- or over-proved? I hope it works better for you next time – bread never quite turns out exactly the same, which is one of the great things about it, and one of the frustrating things about it too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: