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Baking with Grains: Cracked Wheat Bread

Baking with Grains: Cracked Wheat Bread

Cracked Wheat loaf

Sometimes if you want something, you just got to make it yourself. For Laura Davis, this is one of those times.
By Laura Davis

Cracked Wheat loaf

Sometimes if you want something, you just got to do it yourself.  Cracked wheat bread is one of my favorite types of whole grain bread and only on a rare occasion can I find it in my area.  So I either have to be satisfied with the occasional find or learn to make it yourself.  Then so be it, I’ll make it myself.

Yeast breads can be time consuming and a bit intimidating, but not necessarily difficult.  I would recommend working with a well written recipe a couple of times to get the hang of the process.  I find it easy to fit into my schedule when I am spending a day at home..  Some people like to work breads totally by hand and some like to utilize their trusty stand mixer.  I do a combination.  I mix it and start the kneading process in a stand mixer and finish it by hand.  This works for well for me and I can clean a little while the kneading process gets started.

Cracked Wheat Bread from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger is a yeast bread recipe that I make frequently.  I love the nutty, slightly tangy flavor with a touch of sweetness from honey and molasses.  It makes an excellent loaf for slicing or shaped into rolls for dinner.  This bread  has a lovely crunch to it especially when toasted which is how I have it in the morning with jam.

See Also

Cracked Wheat Soaking
Cracked wheat soaking in water to soften. Bulger is a good substitute.

Bulghur can be substituted for the cracked wheat in this recipe.  What is the difference since they are both essentially cracked wheat? Whole wheat berries  cracked in their raw form is called cracked wheat.  Bulghur is partially hulled whole wheat kernels that have been soaked and steamed, dried and then cracked.  Bulghur has a longer shelf life because of the precooking than cracked wheat.  Even though they sound very similar they are not necessarily interchangeable in all recipes.  Both of these products can be found in your natural food section or in middle eastern markets.  Both grains are a very nutritious and high in fiber.

Personally, I would recommend that everyone try to make at least one yeast bread at home.  Odds are that it won’t come out perfect the first time but will be delicious anyway.  There is a certain satisfaction to making homemade bread and the aroma seems to summon everyone to the kitchen for that first warm slice with butter.  Once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you were ever intimidated by bread making.  It probably won’t be exactly like bakery breads (they have expensive equipment and experienced bakers) but the results can be delicious, healthier and easier on the wallet.  What is better than good honest homemade bread?

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Baking with Grains: Cracked Wheat Bread

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4.6 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Laura Davis
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large loaves 1x


This recipe was adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger. This is a delicious tangy, whole grain bread


  • 3/4 cup (120 g) cracked wheat or bulgur
  • 1 1/2 (355 ml) boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon (18 g) active dry yeast (see note)
  • pinch sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (3.7 ml) water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup (237 ml) warm buttermilk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) molasses
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) raw sesame seeds
  • 1 cups (130 g) whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 to 3 (248 to 298 g) cups all purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons (29 g) butter, melted (for brushing loaves)


  1. In a bowl, place cracked wheat or bulgur in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let sit for 1 hour to soften.
  2. In a small bowl, place water, yeast and a pinch of sugar. The water temperature is important. If it is too hot then the yeast will die and if it is too cold then the yeast will not activate well, if at all. I used a thermometer at first and now I can tell by feel. Allow to stand for 7 to 10 minutes. The yeast is alive if bubbles start to emerge which will build up to a foam covering the surface of the mixture. This process is called proofing the yeast.
  3. Combine the buttermilk, molasses, honey and butter in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl (I use my mixer with the paddle attachment) mix together the whole wheat flour, salt and sesame seeds. Stir in the milk mixture and stir until smooth, about 3 minutes. Strain the cracked wheat and add to the flour mixture until combined. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls from the side of the bowl and forms a ball. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook if using the electric mixer.
  5. My method is to knead the dough in the mixer for about 3 minutes and turn out the dough and finish kneading by hand but you can knead the dough in a stand mixer for 4 to 5 minutes until a springy soft ball is formed.
  6. Or if kneading completely by hand, place onto a floured board or work surface, adding a tablespoon of flour as needed to keep from sticking. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and springy, but still tacky. The dough should spring back when gently poked with your finger.
  7. Place in a bowl with a tablespoon of light olive oil or safflower oil and coat the dough ball with it. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a slightly damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk.
  8. Gently deflate the dough by just pressing down on it. Form into 3 round loaves or divide in half for two 9 X 5 greased loaf pans. If making rounds place on parchment paper or lightly greased sheet pans. Brush the tops with melted butter and loosely cover with plastic wrap. The second rising, also called proofing, should take about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place the loaves into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The loaves should be done when tapping them your finger sounds hollow. Remove bread from the oven and place on bakers wracks to cool. If making loaves, remove from the pans and cool on racks.


The original amount of yeast in this recipe was 1 1/2 tablespoons and the dough seem to rise too much and fall during the cooking time. I reduced the amount of yeast and saw no difference. I use bulk, jarred yeast but If you only had one packet of yeast containing 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, then that is what I would use and I am sure it would work out well. I have not reduced the yeast to that amount yet, but that is the standard in many double loaf recipes.

Also, beside using too much yeast in a recipe, allowing the dough to rise too long can cause a slight collapse during baking, such as the case with my loaves. Distractions are my undoing.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
Proofing Yeast for Cracked Wheat Bread
This is proofing the yeast. This is how you know the yeast is active and alive before you make your bread dough with it.
Cracked Wheat final proofing
This is also called proofing. It is the final rise of the dough before baking.
View Comments (31)
  • Ohh what a great idea, I wouldn’t have thought to make bread with cracked wheat… I recently tried making bread with baking soda to make it rise instead of yeast and was pleasantly surprised, and by the look of it, this will be another great bread surprise! Now to get my hands on some cracked wheat…

  • I agree with you there is nothing quite like homemade bread. The feeling you get from baking your first bread is so exhilarating. I love bulgur and baking bread with molasses, but never tried it together. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try. Thanks Laura!

    • At first glance, I thought the combination of the buttermilk and molasses was interesting, but it works well. In the summertime I hesitate to turn on the oven, but I think it rises so much better! Thank you, Nancy.

  • Please help me, I am a newbie. I did not see directions for adding the yeast mixture. I was in the process of putting it into my mixer when I did a second look. I added it with the milk & honey mixture. I will know in awhile if I did it right. I started January 8th changing my eating habits to vegetarian and I am going through a major learning process. As of last month I had never heard of Bulghur. I am having fun. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Dear Laura,
    We lived in africa for many years, and had the most delicious breads there. I know that the flour was different. We actually took wheat to the mill to have it ground. I am hoping to be able to come up with a similar loaf, but am living with a son who’s little boy is allergic to dairy. Do you have any suggestions for substitutions for buttermilk? Thanks.

  • I would love to try the breads from Africa. I love that you actually had your own wheat ground. Grains really can be different from different regions and even just within the US.

    I would try a non dairy milk like almond, rice or coconut milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice. You could also just use water. I would use less than a cup maybe starting with 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup. This will not have the exactly the same results because buttermilk adds tang, leavening and milk proteins but that is ok. Most bread are made without milk anyway. It might take a little experimentation before it is just the way you like it.

    I would love to know how it goes. Thank you for stopping by!

  • I found this recipe as I was searching for instructions for using bulgur and how to make cracked wheat bread. I’ve made bread for a long time, and this is a great recipe, but the step of where to combine the proofed yeast is missing. It should go in with the liquid ingredients. A novice might wonder!
    Thank you!

  • Please help! I wanted so badly for this bread to work but I had such troubles with it rising. My first rise took double (3 hours) the suggested time for it to double in size and the second rise barely even occurred. I used fresh jarred yeast and allowed the bread to rise in the oven with the oven light on. Any thoughts/suggestions? Thanks!

    • This is the most frustrating part of bread making is when the rise does not work out as expected so I know your frustrations. First I would consider the temperature of the water that I activated the yeast in, too hot and you usually kill all yeast or too cold and the yeast activates much more slowly (which may account for the very slow rise which actually develops more flavor). With this recipe, I usually have more trouble with it rising too much and have to be careful about the amount of time that it rises. Double check your yeast by just proofing 1/2 a teaspoon of it in 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115) with a pinch of sugar. After a minute or two bubbles should be appearing and after 10 minutes you should have a good surface foam (yes a little like beer but uneven and milky looking). If your flour was cold (I keep some of mine in the freezer or frig) that could have effected it. Salt can effect yeast which is why it is mixed into the flour before mixing with the yeast mixture but without it the bread will be very bland. Altitude can cause problems which I do not have experience with. Not all flour is the same but is usually not the problem, I used King Arthur unbleached AP flour. When the yeast for whatever reason doesn’t work out perfect and I usually go ahead and bake the bread even though it was not a text book rise but still rose to some degree. The bread may be denser if it doesn’t rise correctly but usually still has great flavor. I assume that you have already baked it or tossed it (I hope not) and am curious how it turned out. I wish I could be more help but yeast can be finicky at times and it is hard to pin point the reason why. I really do hope it turned out for you.

      The recipe is not clear when to add the yeast mixture and the best time is with the other liquids because it blends well even though anytime before the last couple of cups of flour is added. I am sorry that this is not more clear – add it with the other liquids.

    • You don’t need to keep the oven light on the whole time…just until the oven warms up. Many oven lights radiate a lot of heat and I suspect your dough got too hot…hence hardly any second rise.

      The first rise should not take 3 hours in a warm oven though…as suggested, maybe your liquids were too warm.

  • I came across this because I can’t find cracked wheat or the cereal which I use in a bread machine recipe. So I used bulgur from the health food store and the results look good. I am glad I searched. Thanks I will be back.

  • I’m going to try this recipe. I’m South African by birth and really miss the natural breads I took for granted there. Now I live in the States, and for the life of me, I cannot get used to the local bread. Even the so called home baked breads available in the grocery store departments are all so over processed and heavy. I hate it when biting into a sandwich, the bread instantly becomes pasty and your fingers leave indentation in the bread sometimes even going through the bread and you find youself gripping the meat etc. I guess thats why most immigrants refer to it as being pastety/paper bread. The Fiesta home bakeries in Houston, make a French Country bread that is closest to it, and I’ve run into many Europeans who specifically go to Fiesta to buy their bread there. I just want to make my own now. Excited to get started. Yummy!

  • There is a chef on tv that adds the flour, except for a couple of cups. Adds the dry yeast right on top of the flour. Being sure not to put salt on top of the yeast. You all ready have the water in bowl. That way you don’t kill the yeast with to cold or to hot of water.

  • Made this today. I questioned the amount of salt, but have found in baked goods the amount called for is usually spot on. Not in this case. Everyone thought the final product was a tad bit too salty. WI’ll try it with a lesser amount next time.

  • This recipe sounds exactly what I have been looking for. I think I just hit the jackpot!!! Making loaves today. Thank you.

  • Hi just letting you know this is my all time favorite bread recipe. I’ve love it and if i could make it firm enough I’d use it for sandwich bread, but the crumb comes out pretty lose as I’m not good a measuring honey. i tend to use the heavy handed MARK 1 eyeball, ha, ha. The one thing I’d really like is some nutritional info on the recipe. I know its good for you but then again i don’t really know how good. I’ve been making this particular recipe for several years know as it’s impossible to find cracked wheat bread in the store and I thought at one time i saw this recipe with nutritional info. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ll keep looking and of course it will not keep me making this wonderful bread

  • Do you have a preference or recommendation for the size of the cracked wheat to use. I’m trying to find cracked wheat online, can’t seem to find it in any grocery store in the area. Online, there is bulgur, coarse and fine. My inclination is to use coarse for a little more crunchy texture. Your thoughts?

  • I’m trying this recipe now but will point out that it needs an update. You say to combine the water and yeast with a pinch of sugar. However, once combining ingredients, you do not say at what point to add the yeast. If I didn’t know better, it would still be sitting in a little bowl with foam on top. :)

  • I thought your recipe looked good and so I then ordered the Bread Bible. It just came and I compared the recipe in the book with yours and there is one difference and I would like some clarification, please. The Bread Bible calls for 2 cups of whole wheat flour and you have called for one cup. Was this intentional?

  • I was going to make your cracked wheat bread but upon measuring the cracked wheat 3/4 of a cup is lighter than 120g about 1/4 or a bit less of cracked wheat! So which do I use the weight of the measuring cup???

  • I have baked this for the last month of quarantine! Amazing, have followed the recipe, I have doctored the recipe and it has always turned out, I adapted it for the Bread Machine just putting all the liquids in first, then dry ingredients then yeast, again always works out. Thank you.

  • If you really love cracked wheat bread, and don’t feel like making your own, Franz Bakery in Portland, Oregon, fills the bill nicely. It’s priced right (I’ve seen loaves of it at their outlet store for around $2), tastes great, and really gives you that home made flavor that’s missing in most commercial bakeries. This recipe above I’m going to try, as I have several bread machine recipes that make really nice smooth, and elastic dough, which I bake in my proper Pullman pan. I think I’d like to try this recipe with a halving of ingredients as I have but one pan, and my bread machine (a Pohl-Schmidt unit) can only handle up to a 2 lb loaf :-/

  • As a previous comment pointed out, adding the yeast mixture to the bread is missing. Also the amount of bread floor is inaccurate. I added at least an additional 2 cups of floor (I lost count) to get this dough to clean the bowl. It was still a sticky dough, which I could deal with, but at least not a sticky pool of batter.

  • Our favourite bread. Have not fed this to anyone who doesn’t swoon over it . I routinely make it as gifts. Thank you!

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