I was in graduate school the first time I made bread. Years before I became vegetarian, I was trying on vegetarianism as a weight-loss diet and cooking vegetarian dishes out of a popular cookbook of that era. For some reason, the book’s authors recommended cooking whole wheat bread in 2-quart cans, the kind juice comes in, and I followed that advice. (With what we know today about BPA, I shudder to think what leached into that bread.)
In those early days of my bread making, there was no white whole wheat flour, no vital wheat gluten, no bread machine, just me and my muscles and the most basic whole wheat flour, and the tube-shaped loaves I created were better suited for weight lifting that eating. My bread made even avowed bread-lovers like my parents run the other way when they’d see me stagger up their driveway with a basketful of heavy, brown cylinders.
But that was a long, LONG time ago, and I’ve learned a few things since then.
First of all, I let my new bread machine do all the kneading, shaping, and even baking (in a rectangular pan, thank you very much). And I’ve learned that white whole wheat flour makes a much lighter loaf than traditional whole wheat flour and that vital wheat gluten helps trap more air bubbles so the bread rises higher. Finally, thanks to a tip by Philippa Sonnichsen, a reader of this blog, I found that one small substitution makes an even better loaf of whole wheat bread. And that secret ingredient is…
…bean broth. Or aquafaba, as people have started to call it. It’s simply the liquid in a can of beans or the broth that’s created when dried beans, usually chickpeas, are cooked. As it turns out, the liquid that most of us have been pouring down the sink can be whipped into meringues and used to replace eggs in lots of recipes. If you want to see some amazing uses of aquafaba, check out the Facebook group where I first learned about it.
We’ve been told for years to rinse the liquid off our canned beans (because it tastes bad, because it contains too much salt, because…), and though I do use the liquid from a can of chickpeas in my Hummus in the Blender, I was really reluctant to go much farther with aquafaba. The meringues and other desserts made with it depend on sugar to hold their shape once they’re whipped, so I couldn’t see any healthy uses for bean water. But when Philippa wrote to tell me that chickpea broth was improving the quality of her homemade bread, I just had to give it a try.
First I substituted it for the water in the bread I’d been making with a blend of whole wheat flour and bread flour, and it was a definite improvement. Then I decided to put it to the test in 100% whole wheat bread, and I was amazed. The whole wheat bread was almost identical in height to the bread made with a blend of flours, and though its texture was a little denser, the difference was hardly noticeable.
I used the liquid from two cans of chickpeas in the following recipe, which gave me about 1 2/3 cups of aquafaba. I topped it off with water to get the full amount of liquid needed for the recipe. (I used the chickpeas to make 3-Minute Chickpea Salad.) The chickpeas I had were salted, so I reduced the amount of salt in the recipe to account for that.
Fat-Free Whole Wheat Bread for Bread Machines
- 1 7/8 cups water or chickpea broth (aquafaba)
- 4 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
- 4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (1 tsp. if salted aquafaba is used)
- 2 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast (2 tsp. active dry yeast if quick cycle is not used)
- Place the water or chickpea broth in the bread machine’s pan. Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed (or as recommended by your bread machine’s manufacturer.) Make sure the yeast doesn’t come into contact with the liquid by placing it in a shallow well at the top of the ingredients.
- Choose either a quick-bake whole wheat cycle (use 2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast) or a regular whole wheat cycle (use 2 tsp. active dry yeast). Press start. Remove bread when baking is complete. Bread will slice best if allowed to cool first.
2 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (1 tsp. if using aquafaba)
2 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (2 tsp. active dry yeast if using regular cycle) Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 2 hour(s) 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12 Nutrition (per serving): 134 calories, 6 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 221.5mg sodium, 154.6mg potassium, 27.6g carbohydrates, 4.4g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 6.5g protein. Makes approximately 12 slices. Nutrition data is for one slice.
Nutritional info is approximate.
If you’d rather not use chickpea broth, I understand, and the recipe will still make a great loaf of bread. But if you give aquafaba a try–in this recipe or any bread recipe–leave a comment to let me know what you think.
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IvySeptember 18, 2015 at 3:15 pm
Hi, Susan. Looks great! How do you slice it so thin? Just a steady hand and a good knife? Any way to translate this recipe for someone without a bread machine? Sounds like something I’d like to occasionally make, but not worth the commitment of another appliance.
Susan VoisinSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm
Ivy, I use a good knife and a slicing guide to get thin, even slices. Here’s the link to the slicer I have: http://amzn.to/1P9wrE5
I think you could easily do this by hand or using a mixer or food processor with a dough hook. The steps the bread maker goes through are
-kneading for 27 minutes
-rising for 13 minutes
-rise for 25 minutes
-bake for 60 minutes
MariaSeptember 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm
So very COOL, Susan!! The bread looks delicious! I have noticed chickpea cooking water is quite useful as a thickener in stews, etc., and now I’m really excited to try it in some spelt bread baking. Spelt is wonderful but can get crumbly and I think a little aquafaba would really help that out. (And the nice thing about spelt is that the gluten in it is delicate enough to benefit from stretching and pulling rather than full on kneading. So even though I don’t have a bread machine I don’t have to work all that hard. 🙂 ) Plus I love the name “aquafaba”–this is what my Italian ancestors would call it (or maybe they would call it aquaceci!!) . Thank you so much!!xoxo
PSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm
Is there anything to substitute for wheat gluten if I don’t have it?
Susan VoisinSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm
Not really. The recipe will probably still work, but the bread won’t be as light.
Kerstin DeckerSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm
Susan, I love your recipies , but would like to let you know, that I love to bake bread and do so very often, because I am not fond of american soft breads, so I use my mixer, not bread mashine ( those breads are too soft for me) , I have used the water from my can of beans for a very long time, because that way no salt is added and I have a wonderful taste. I usually make rye breads, but they are so good, thank you for your recipe I will try it as well and see how it does, but have to make it with my mixer. Thank you , kd
BarbaraSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Do you have a bread machine recommendation, Susan?
Susan VoisinSeptember 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm
Barbara, there’s a link in the post to my new Zojirushi bread maker. I absolutely love it! I’m posting from my phone right now and can’t get the link, but if you look in the second paragraph, you’ll see it there.
BarbaraSeptember 23, 2015 at 9:44 pm
Many thanks for your reply, Susan – and also for all of your wonderful recipes and tips.
KathyDSeptember 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm
I have not tried aquafaba in bread, but I have found that plant milk has an effect similar to what you describe. I recently started making my own bread again, usually with my bread machine, and it is fun to try out different ingredients. I regularly use vital gluten abd applesauce as ingredients. I recently made a no-knead whole wheat bread with potato flakes in the dough (recipe adapted from stuffedveggies.blogspot.com) and it makes a really nice texture. I plan to try a bread machine version very soon.
KateSeptember 18, 2015 at 11:19 pm
That’s definitely something I want to try adding. I have done a lot of experimentation with bread as I bake it every few days and my husband doesn’t like white flour. Now I use one quarter of white and three quarters wholemeal flour or sometimes completely wholemeal. I add more water or any type of milk to soften the dough. It becomes quite sticky but the result is great. Second is that I let the wholemeal flour soak up the water for longer before I knead it, eg 15 mins. One more thing is that Indian “atta” flour, used for chapattis, is more finely ground than regular wholemeal flour so it’s quite good to use. This is all for normal bread making, I don’t know how it would go with a machine.
JanetSeptember 19, 2015 at 2:30 am
Susan, why do you use sugar? What happens when I leave it out?
Susan VoisinSeptember 19, 2015 at 7:58 am
Sugar feeds the yeast. Without it the bread won’t rise.
ErikaSeptember 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm
I frequently omit sugar in my bread recipes and the bread still rises fine.
BonnieSeptember 19, 2015 at 6:08 am
Thanks for the aquafaba idea. I make all our bread in my Panasonic bread maker. The white whole wheat flour is great. I sub in a half cup of ground flax and can’t resist adding rosemary and crushed garlic. I’m going to try the aquafaba for water. I love your recipes and your ideas.
Susan VoisinSeptember 19, 2015 at 7:59 am
Thanks, Bonnie! Let me know what you think when you try it.
ChanaSeptember 19, 2015 at 8:52 pm
When are we going to get a cookbook from you? 😉
karen lylesSeptember 19, 2015 at 9:09 pm
Do you think the liquid from home cooked garbanzos would work? I like to cook them in the slow cooker and put them in the freezer, instead of using canned beans. I use a zojirushi small bread maker and make 100% whole wheat, using applesauce or prune puree as a base..no added fat, water, salt and sometimes a little extra sweeter. I particularly like added raisins and cinnamon.
Susan VoisinSeptember 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm
I’m sure the home-cooked chickpea broth would be great. Let me know how it works for you.
HoneyOctober 6, 2015 at 12:29 am
I always use aquafaba from homemade chickpeas – I haven’t bought canned in years. Often after I drain the chickpeas I return the aquafaba to the pot and boil it to reduce it a bit, since it seems thinner than the stuff from a can. Though with a slow cooker maybe you aren’t using all that much water to begin with.
AlexandraSeptember 20, 2015 at 7:17 am
Time to get the zojirushi out from the cupboard; adding acquafaba may be the springboard for lightening up other breads.
diane oconnorSeptember 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Have a question about Vit B12. Do the foods you eat give you enough or do you take a supplement? I did notice that tofu was one of the foods with B12. I keep reading articles about tofu and breast cancer. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Olwyn IrvingSeptember 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm
Hi Susan – I amy be your oldest blog recipient but I am determined to get all the oil and fat out of my food as best I can – I too just recently discovered aquafaba and am freezing it in ice cube trays for use in anything I think might hold together better or be enriched by its presence. What an amazing discovery – very exciting actually. I am pleased to see your bread recipe as this is my next venture – learning to make bread and flat breads. I already have a breakfast muffin with applesauce and banana replacing the sugar and oil. So far so good. Salad dressings are still a issue to find a great vinaigrette for salads and veggies but I am looking at your blog and will test your chipotle out. One thing I wonder about is how long these things will last in the fridge and how long is a batch of “cheese” – cashews with nutritional yeast last in the fridge? Love your site – it is my premier ‘go to’ site. Can’t thank you enough for being there!
Mimi BabaokaSeptember 25, 2015 at 11:47 am
I love your helpful, tasty, healthy recipes. There are so many to try out! Will you publish a cookbook? I’ll be first in line to purchase.
AgaSeptember 26, 2015 at 4:56 am
I love this blog and recepies, they are amazing. I discovered fat free veganism(starch solution) 2 months ago. I have hard time with finding easy and delicious recepies though. Your food looks and tastes great. Thank You!!! 🙂
K8September 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm
Ok! Looks like I’ll be getting the bread machine out of storage! I got so discouraged failing with the few vegan, fat-free bread machine recipes I could find that I finally gave up and put the machine in the garage. With this recipe, I will try, try again! Thank you!
SigSeptember 28, 2015 at 10:41 am
I have been looking for a whole wheat recipe without oil for a while. I haven’t made bread in a while because all the recipes I found ended up leaving me with a brick for bread. My Zojirushi sat lonesome until this morning. I told the kids I was making bread today because your recipes(the ones I have tried) have yet to fail. They were so happy and I have to say I made the one that was a combo of whole white wheat and regular flour. I used maple syrup instead of sugar. I also measured the flour with my scale. 4.5 oz. = 1 measuring scoop cup. It was the highest loaf I have made. I did take the dough out of the machine and had the second rise in a regular loaf pan and baked for 30 minutes at 350. I don’t like the paddle indents the zojirushi leaves. Thank you so very much. Next time I will make it all whole wheat.
HoneyOctober 6, 2015 at 12:26 am
I also have been following along the aquafaba facebook group, but have not made any of the awesome looking sugary treats. No way could we eat all those. Maybe half of one? Anyway, I have also been putting aquafaba into my homemade bread for the last month, I love it! The other healthy use for it that I have been doing is to dip things in for baking. For example, I thickly slice sweet potatoes, dip into aquafaba, then coat with a brown rice flour/nutritional yeast/garlic powder/pepper/salt mixture and bake. No oil needed! Comes out crispy and perfect. My 8 year old requested them every night after I tried the first time. Oh, and I have been using it in baked goods to replace oil – like in cakes. I don’t bake too often, but when I bake for a potluck I’ve been subbing aquafaba for up to 2/3 of the oil called for in the recipe and you can’t tell. I haven’t tried for 100% yet…
jan johnsonOctober 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm
the best most consistent recipe for bread I have ever used. ive used this recipe for rolls ,buns, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls and of course bread. perfect every time
Susan VoisinOctober 12, 2015 at 9:34 pm
I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for testing it out and sharing your results.
Rami AbramovOctober 15, 2015 at 12:42 am
Cool bread recipe! I’ve never made any bread so would love to try this
MarkOctober 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm
I just tried the Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce that has chickpeas. While I remember liking chickpeas in my late teens and early twenties I found that I no longer liked the taste. Will the water from the chickpeas alter the taste of the bread? I see that you can just use water but I wanted to get a lighter loaf. Thanks.
Susan VoisinOctober 23, 2015 at 1:23 pm
I didn’t notice any chickpea flavor.
MarkOctober 25, 2015 at 11:59 pm
The bread came out great! My two roommates loved it. The loaf is all gone now. 🙂 No funny taste at all. The loaf was a little large. Do you know how I would cut the recipe down for a 1 or 1.5 pound loaf? My bread machine says it can handle a 2 pound loaf but I’m not so sure. Thanks again.
Claudia MartindaleOctober 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm
Great recipe! I don’t have a bread machine any more, so just mixed it up and kneaded with my kitchen aid mixer, let it rise, shaped into loaves and baked. Incredible results for whole wheat. Cut off a slice right from the oven: yum. Thanks so much. (Much better use for aquafaba than sugar filled meringue treats!)
Robin PlettNovember 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm
I love my bread machine. A big old white Sunbeam that makes a more or less square loaf. I’ve had it for years. The lettering is wearing off from love.
I love your blog/site/recipes. I use them all the time. I’ve been lurking since 2009. I’ve never had a failure until today. I made this recipe exactly as written and my bread blew up! I think 4T of wheat gluten is too much maybe? I rose completely up and over the pan, I tucked it back in, it fell, rose again and baked up with a huge hole under the top crust and a very open crumb. We, of course, ate it anyway. Slicing and tearing into chunks and dunking it into Leek and Mushroom Soup.
MissAnnThropeNovember 23, 2015 at 9:26 pm
So what are the two things all women over 40 should know? That is the click bait that led me here and it led right to this post. Which is a single bread recipe. Or are you that disingenuous about getting clicks?
Susan VoisinNovember 23, 2015 at 11:06 pm
Huh? I’m sorry if you were directed her through some spammy link, but I assure you that I had nothing to do with it. This bread recipe stands on its own and doesn’t need clickbait to get attention. I’ll see if I can track down the source of the problem.
KatieJanuary 23, 2016 at 12:01 am
This is a great recipe! It took me a few trials to get it right, but it is as good as any whole grain sandwich bread that I can get at local bakeries. I made the recipe as written with aquafaba, and sucanat for the sugar. I also found that sifting my flour seems to helps too. I did pre-blend the wheat gluten with the flour, but not sure how much difference that makes. I used the Zojirushi bread machine. The recipe makes a flavorful light loaf with a nice, crisp crust.
M-J AndersonFebruary 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm
Hi, I read your recipe looking for breadmaker recipes that don’t include vegetable oil. You’ve said that you were aware of the dangers of BPA; please note that all tin cans (except baby-food ones) are lined with BPA; this is why they don’t rust these days. The water surrounding canned beans has been exposed to BPA; I don’t know how much it absorbs, but it might be worth avoiding. Maybe this is the reason for the recommendations to throw it away… (I myself avoided plastic-packed food and favoured tetra-paks and tins for some time, before I found that these are BPA lined.) If only everything was sold in glass jars: reusable ones! 🙂
SarahMarch 6, 2016 at 1:58 pm
You mentioned that the yeast needs sugar to rise, but can I substitute a date puree or brown rice syrup? Does it just need the calories? If those wouldn’t work, is there anything else that I could use? I am trying to avoid anything processed, so sugar is something that I am trying to avoid.
Thanks for the help.
Susan VoisinMarch 6, 2016 at 2:16 pm
It feeds on sugar, so either of those should work. I would try the brown rice syrup.
JoyceMarch 25, 2016 at 7:57 pm
I just made this recipe (with water as don’t have aquafaba on hand) and it turned out beautifully! Soo tasty and simple. Thank you!
dianneMay 11, 2016 at 9:09 am
I made a loaf last night, following the recipe exactly, except I didn’t stir my flour before measuring, and my machine’s quick-bake wheat bread cycle takes 3 hours. The bread came out tasting great, and mostly with a really good dense-but-light texture, but the center of the loaf sunk down about half way at some point during baking. I’ve never had that happen. Any thoughts on what caused it, a what, if anything, I should do differently? Other than the big hole in the middle of half the slices, I love the recipe!
KateJuly 31, 2016 at 2:27 am
I must admit that I had never heard of aquafaba but will look into it now as your results speak for them selves. Thanks.
SusanAugust 16, 2016 at 10:59 pm
I made this without a bread machine and it turned out great! I didn’t need all the flour. I used four cups of white whole wheat flour and needed a little over two cups of aquafaba. I made it into a dozen rolls and one loaf of bread and baked it at 350º for about 15 minutes for the rolls and about 25 minutes for the loaf of bread. Very easy to make and quite tasty! Thanks for another great recipe!
MocharunsAugust 16, 2018 at 9:51 pm
How would I make this without a bread machine? I would have no idea how long I would need to knead the bread etc
SandyAugust 21, 2016 at 11:43 am
I love this bread! I add some Herbs de Provence to add a touch of flavor, but I’ve made it the original way and it’s just as yummy! Thanks for your site, I love it!
Ann VancilSeptember 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm
Hello Susan, I have stumbled on to your website after searching for fat free vegan recipes. I have recently been introduced to Dr McDouggal’s way of life, Unfortunately, I also have celiac, and cannot consume Wheat, barley, and rye. I am desperately looking for a recipe for bread, that is vegan, gluten free, and fat free. Do you think that the recipe you have for your bread would work at all with a gluten free flour and Xanthan gum? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
elenaOctober 7, 2016 at 4:41 am
Lovely recipes however I have to stop this web in order to calm my bad temper as a result of those idiot ads.
Susan VoisinOctober 7, 2016 at 10:22 am
I’m sorry the ads bother you. I’m afraid seeing them is the small price you have to pay for getting my life’s work for free. 🙂
Brenda ExlineAugust 28, 2017 at 11:46 am
Worth every ad too Susan!!! Making this bread. Thanks so much!
Susan VoisinAugust 28, 2017 at 11:55 am
Thank you, Brenda! I really wish I didn’t have to have ads at all.
JenniferNovember 1, 2016 at 3:29 pm
Has anyone been able to successfully downsize this recipe? My bread machine makes 2lb loaves, but warns not to add more than 4 cups of flour in any recipe. And I’m not in a hurry to overflow my new machine 🙂 Thanks!
ReneaMarch 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm
Dear Susan, your charming write up sent me off in search of a used copy of the original Laurel’s Kitchen (just for the writing, not neccessarily the recipes). I have the new edition, but it referenced the older edition and baking bread in cans! I’m all nostalgic and weepy now but wanted to thank you. Will be making this bread machine recipe tonight. How far we all have come.
KatieMay 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm
I used freshly ground spelt flour and this recipe turned out fantastic! I wonder if the aquafaba is what made the difference? I’ve been using my Bosch and the dough sticks horribly to the sides because I don’t use oil. Then there’s been a few times that it didn’t stick to the sides. The bread rises with air pockets at the top no matter what I do. So it was refreshing to have a loaf turn out beautiful finally!! I will try the aquafaba in the Bosch another day.
Deborah NardiAugust 6, 2017 at 11:19 am
You must have used “Laurel’s Kitchen”! That was my first vegetarian cookbook and my bible for years!
Susan VoisinAugust 6, 2017 at 11:41 am
Yes! I still have my 2nd copy on the shelf.
Stephanie DSeptember 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm
Yay! I was afraid I’d never again be able to make bread in my machine, and we really love it in cooler weather with soups, stews, and chili.