Whole Wheat Quick Bread--No Yeast

Two slices of Whole Wheat Quick Bread spread with butter.

Here's a quick Whole Wheat bread that uses baking soda instead of yeast.  Delicious with a smear of butter, cream cheese or your favourite spread. 

I haven't made this bread in a while but when talking with my niece Katherine over the weekend it was brought to mind. I was telling her about it and how it would make a nice sandwich with cream cheese and chopped dried fruit. I was about to tell her she could get the recipe on the blog but of course it wasn't there (but it is now if you're reading this, ha, ha.)

This Whole Wheat Quick Bread is in the tradition of a banana bread or lemon loaf in that it does not use yeast to raise the bread while baking. This particular recipe uses just baking soda as a leavener and relies on buttermilk/sour milk to activate the magic that happens in the oven. The brown sugar and molasses also lend in the process as well. 

This bread has a lovely flavour, reminiscent of graham crackers. It's dense cakey texture is not overly sweet and because it is plain without any fruity flavours it pairs well with lots of spreads besides butter. I tried it with jam, peanut butter, cream cheese and Cheeze Whiz and enjoyed them all. It also makes marvelous toast spread with butter. While toasting the brown sugar in the bread caramelizes and gives it another layer of flavour.

This recipe came from a Mrs. Wm. Bowerman published in The Heritage Collection of Home Tested Recipes compiled and tested by Chatelaine magazine way back in 1968. This is another little cookbook that my mother used to own. The recipe was called "Quick Graham Bread" but as I've never seen graham flour in a grocery store I use whole wheat flour. I actually have a small bag of graham flour purchased from a bulk food store and if laid side by side with whole wheat flour I'd be hard pressed to tell them apart. So save your money people and use the whole wheat flour.

In the original recipe you bake the loaf in one pan. Years ago kitchens must have had really large pans because there was too much batter for my 9x5-inch pan. I opted instead for my 8½ x 4½ -inch loaf pans. I would have preferred to use the smaller 8x4-inch pans for a higher loaf but I don't own any of that size. The whole batter actually fit in my 14½x4½-inch loaf pan but that size pan is hard to find. 

You can see the difference in the two loaf pans. The top is a 9x5-inch and the bottom is the 14½x4½-inch loaf pan. 
Printable recipe at end of post.
Whole Wheat Quick Bread
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter or oil
  • 2 cups sour milk* or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or pan spray two 8x4-inch (preferred size) or 8½ x 4½ -inch loaf pans. You will get a higher loaf with the smaller pan. Line with parchment paper for easy removal if you wish. 

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl beat egg, brown sugar and melted butter/oil together.  Add sour milk and molasses and mix well.  Combine the wet ingredients with the flour just enough to mix in the flour so no streaks show. Do not overbeat. Scrape into the prepared loaf pans.

Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven when baked and let cool 15 minutes before turning out on cooling rack. When thoroughly cooled place in plastic bag or tightly covered container. When ready to serve cut in slices and eat with butter and/or your favourite spread.

Nuts or dates or both may be added to the batter for a fruit and nut loaf.

Makes 2 loaves.

*For every cup of sour milk you need add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to a measuring cup and fill with milk to the 1 cup mark. Let sit 10 minutes to curdle before using. 

Such a simple recipe with just a few ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat the brown sugar, egg and oil together and then add the milk and molasses. 

Combine the wet ingredients with the flour just enough to mix in the flour so no streaks show. Do not overbeat. Scrape into the prepared loaf pans.

Bake 45-50 minutes until done. You can test with a tooth pick or cake tester. If the tester comes out clean you know the bread is done.

Let cool and then slice. Actually, this bread sliced quite nicely even when it was warm. I used a serrated bread knife and it sliced beautifully. Store bread in a plastic bread bag or in a tightly sealed container.

As this bread is rather plain and not overly sweet it can pair with several spreads you probably have in your fridge or cupboard. I pulled out four common spreads and tried them out. From the bottom clockwise: butter & jam, peanut butter, whipped cream cheese with chives and the last one, to add some personality, is Cheeze Whiz. I wasn't sure how the bread would taste with the cream cheese with chives but it was surprisingly good. 

Finally, I tried the bread toasted and spread with some real butter. 

I thought I might put a smear of jam on the toast but when I tasted it I decided I liked it plain with the butter. While toasting the sugar in the bread caramelized and lent another layer of flavour that I really enjoyed.

One bite of toast left. It was very good and I'd have another slice but I'm rather full from dinner and the three pieces of bread I've already eaten. The toasted bread will make an excellent breakfast or maybe afternoon snack or a light supper with some fruit or . . . . I'll stop now but I think you get the idea that the toast was delicious!
Two slices of Whole Wheat Quick Bread spread with butter. 
Whole Wheat Quick Bread with a spread of butter makes a delicious addition to any meal.

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          


  1. Looks interesting, I might try that soon. Too bad the boys in the house hate whole wheat .


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