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Cracked Wheat Bread: A Terrific Way to Eat More Whole Grains

Preview: This Cracked Wheat Berry Bread is a bread machine recipe for a crunchy and earthy-tasting white bread with cracked whole wheat berries adding healthy fiber.

On the subject of wheat berries: I can picture my dad (an Indiana farmer) reaching his grubby hand behind him into the bin of the combine during a wheat harvest. He would pop a handful of freshly-picked wheat berries into his mouth and chew them like they were a fresh stick of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit.

Mind you, that wheat might have a few weed seeds and little bugs in it. But it was FRESH! Of all the times my dad and grandad tried to get me to follow their example, I just couldn’t do it.

Take those same wheat berries and bake them up in this bread. Now I’m spitting out my Wrigley’s and chowing down.

Note: No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See the recipe notes for instructions on how to make this bread with a stand mixer or by hand.

whole loaf -Cracked Wheat Berry Bread

Cracked Wheat Berry Bread is a nubby, crunchy, and earthy-tasting white bread starring cracked whole wheat berries. Make it with a bread maker.

The addition of whole grains significantly increases the fiber and protein content. It also contributes to the taste and texture.

Wheat berries are inexpensive and well worth the trouble. They contribute extraordinary texture, flavor, and nutrition. You’ll enjoy eating this loaf out of hand with butter or slice and toast it for sandwiches.

sliced Cracked Wheat Berry Bread

THE LOW-DOWN ON CRACKED WHEAT

#1

What is cracked wheat?

Cracked wheat describes an unprocessed wheat berry that has been chopped to make smaller pieces.

#2

What is a wheat berry?

A wheat berry is the original unprocessed whole grain form of wheat. A single wheat berry includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

unprocessed wheat berries
Unprocessed wheat berries

#3

Are cracked wheat and bulgur interchangeable?

Cracked wheat is technically uncooked. According to the NY Times, bulgur is steamed and cooked before packaging. It requires less cooking time. This recipe specifies raw wheat berries.

wheat berry kernels and bulgur wheat in bulk bin.

#4

How do I store wheat berries?

Wheat berries can be stored in a cool and dry pantry for up to 6 months. Bob’s Red Mill claims you can keep wheat berries up to 2 years if you refrigerate or keep them frozen.

#5

Are wheat berries good for you?

Whole wheat grains provide not only fiber, but more B vitamins, antioxidants, and protein than refined grains.

#6

Where can I obtain wheat berries?

Look for a supermarket with a bulk bin aisle. I get mine at our local Sprouts for .89/lb. Maybe try the organic food aisle or Amazon? Finally, if you know a wheat farmer, ask him for a bag. Of course, you will need to clean the berries. You may have to pick out a bug or a few husks, but that’s a small price to pay for fresh wheat.

Purchase the hard red wheat berries as opposed to the soft wheat berries. They are better for making bread.

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    FAQ

    #1

    Is this bread-machine recipe considered a whole grain bread?

    Yes, it is a whole grain bread because it contains some whole grains. However, it is not 100% whole grain. The flour specified in the recipe is white bread flour. The result is a loaf with a softer but firm texture with less bitter-tasting undertones than whole wheat flour.

    When it comes to bread, I’m generally a white-bread-lovin’ baby boomer. I know. We’re supposed to be eating whole grains. Consequently, this bread is the perfect compromise in my book.

    #2

    Why use a bread machine?

    If you are new to my website, I’ve written a lot about my non-traditional bread-machine technique. In a nutshell, using a bread machine to mix and knead the dough is the way for me to get the best quality bread every single time.

    adding ingredients to a bread machine pan

    #3

    Do I have to use a bread machine?

    No. You can make Cracked Wheat Berry Bread using a stand mixer or make it by hand. See the recipe notes for specific instructions.

    #4

    How do I prepare wheat berries to use in this bread machine recipe?

    You have several choices, but I favor the last one because it’s the fastest.

    • Soak wheat berries overnight to soften them.
    • Cook wheat berries on top of the stove for 20 minutes using a 2 to 1 ratio of water to grain.
    • Cook wheat berries in the microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes using the same ratio of 2 to 1 for water to grain.

    The goal is to soften the berries not cook them to the consistency of your breakfast dish of oatmeal. You want them to have some chew (and tooth-friendly crunch in the crust.)

    Wheat berry bread in a basket

    #5

    What does this bread taste like?

    The taste is heartier and more interesting than white bread but still mild without the bitter undertones of a 100% whole wheat loaf. The wheat berries inside this loaf are soft and slightly chewy. However, the exterior is somewhat crunchy due to the cracked wheat berries that bake up crispy in the crust.


    How To Make the Dough Using a Bread Machine

    adding wheat berries to water to soften them
    Combine 1/2 cup of wheat berries with 1 cup of water. Cook in a microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.
    Cooling wheat berries with ice after cooking
    Allow wheat to cool. Add ice cubes if you want to expedite the process. Drain off water.
    draining cooked grain
    Drain berries well and add to a food processor along with 1 cup of bread flour.
    "cracking" wheat berries in a food processor
    Pulse flour and seeds to “crack” them into small pieces. This can also be done in a blender, but it’s a lot more trouble, and you have to keep scraping the sides.
    adding ingredients to a bread machine
    Add all ingredients to bread machine pan in the order listed.
    selecting the dough cycle on the machine
    Select the dough cycle and press start.
    checking dough after machine has started
    After 10 or 15 minutes, open the lid and check the dough. If too wet, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. (If you’re not sure, watch the video with this recipe.)
    dough after rising
    At the end of the dough cycle, the dough should be doubled in size. If not, allow the dough to continue rising in the pan until it is double the original size.

    How To Shape and Bake Loaves

    dough in bread machine
    After the dough cycle on your bread machine completes, prepare a floured surface. I like to use a silicone baking sheet (paid link) because you can run it through the dishwasher.
    dumping bread dough out of bread machine pan
    Dump the dough out of the pan.
    Dividing dough into 2 portions
    Divide the dough into two equal portions.
    shaping loaves
    Pull the edges together and pinch. (This will make the underside smooth.) Turn over and shape to make an oblong loaf.
    shaping loaves
    Place small loaves on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat sprinkled with flour or fine cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise until almost double in size.

    Preheat your conventional oven to 425 degrees F.
    glazing loaves
    Brush loaves with egg-white glaze if you like a shiny crust.
    how to make slits in loaves with a razor blade
    Use a new single edge razor blade or a serrated knife to cut slits across the top of the loaves. Be careful so as not to deflate the loaf. Place in a preheated oven.
    baked loaves on parchment-covered baking sheet
    Pull loaves out of the oven when evenly browned and cooked through. If necessary, use a quick-read thermometer to check. The interior temperature should be 190 degrees F.
    sliced bread next to butter

    Cracked Wheat Berry Bread is well worth the calories and effort, although calling any bread made in the bread machine an “effort” is arguable.


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      Are you interested in other whole wheat loaves you can make with a bread machine?


      Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. No comment required.

      If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or email me: paula at saladinajar.com.

      Thank you for visiting!
      Paula


      Yield: 16 slices (2 loaves)

      Cracked Wheat Berry Bread -- A Bread Machine Recipe

      slices of Wheat Berry Bread

      A nubby, crunchy loaf starring cracked wheat berries that you can easily make in your bread machine

      Prep Time 4 hours
      Cook Time 30 minutes
      Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes

      Ingredients

      • 1/2 cup (160 gr) whole-grain wheat berries
      • 2-1/2 cups bread flour, divided (300 grams)
      • 1 cup (240 gr) warm milk (or whey drained from yogurt)
      • 1-1/2 (6 gr) teaspoon table salt
      • 1 teaspoon (4 gr)sugar
      • 2 tablespoons (28 gr) unsalted butter, softened
      • 2 teaspoons (6 gr) bread machine or instant yeast

      Instructions

      1. Boil wheat berries in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (quicker if you add ice cubes) and drain. Alternatively, soak wheat berries in water for 12 hours or overnight. (Softened and drained wheat berries will keep in the fridge up to a week.)
      2. Add prepared wheat berries to a blender or food processor along with 1 cup of bread flour (120 grams). Process until wheat berries are finely chopped. You will likely need to stop several times to push the flour and wheat berries from the sides of the chopping container back to the middle.
      3. Combine milk or whey, salt, sugar, butter, remaining flour (180 grams), the ground-wheat-berries-and-flour mixture, and the yeast.
      4. Select the dough cycle and start. Check dough after 10 minutes to make sure dough sticks to the side of the pan and then pulls away cleanly. If too wet, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
      5. When dough cycle completes, check to make sure the dough has doubled in size. If not, leave in pan until it does.
      6. When doubled, remove dough from pan to floured surface and divide into two equal portions. Shape each portion into an oblong shape by pulling dough from the top to the bottom until dough is smooth; then pinch closed. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat that has been sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal.
      7. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 425 degrees about 20 minutes before you expect the loaf to be ready to bake.
      8. Brush risen loaves with glaze of 1 egg white whipped together with 1 tablespoon water. (This is optional.)
      9. Make 2-3 diagonal slashes in each loaf with very sharp serrated knife or razor blade, being careful not to deflate dough.
      10. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until interior temperature reaches 190 degrees F, or until bottom is brown and sounds hollow.
      11. Allow loaves to cool on rack for an hour before slicing.

      Notes

      • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix all ingredients until moistened. Using the dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic--about 5-10 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
      • If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until it becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
      • Please note: If you substitute regular active-dry yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, add 1/4 teaspoon more yeast because it is slower. If you want to dissolve it, stir it into about 1/4 cup of the warm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape the dough.
      • Originally, this recipe called for 1 cup water and 1/4 cup dry milk solids. I have changed it to reflect my current recipe since I don't buy dry milk. I can detect no discernible difference in the final product.

      Nutrition Information:

      Yield:

      16

      Serving Size:

      1

      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 217mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

      Did you make this recipe?

      Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


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        Lizzy

        Wednesday 25th of November 2020

        Hi Paula, This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering if there would be any harm in baking the bread in the bread machine rather than taking it out and forming it into loaves? I'm afraid I can be quite lazy on occasion... Thank you!

        Lizzy

        Wednesday 25th of November 2020

        Hi @Paula, I think I will give it a try - Machine bread never looks as lovely as hand-shaped loaves, but I do like a nice thick crust! Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to me. I hope you have a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving!

        Paula

        Wednesday 25th of November 2020

        Hi Lizzy,

        You can try it, of course. The crust will probably be thicker. Of course, the shape will depend on your machine but will look nothing like the one you shape yourself. The best way to find out is to try it. You may like it just fine.

        Carol

        Friday 14th of August 2020

        Wow, this recipe makes some good bread - my loaves were perfect! I have 2 questions. I checked my dough after 10 minutes of kneading and it was pulling away from the sides just like in your pictures. But by the time the kneading cycle ended, it was much drier. Should the dough still pull away from the sides at that point? Loved the bread, so maybe that is a moot point for me but I’m curious.

        And I really like splitting the dough in half for 2 loaves, 1 of which I can freeze. Can I do that with all of your recipes and figure on 20-25 minutes for baking? Thanks Paula.

        Paula

        Friday 14th of August 2020

        Hi Carol,

        Congrats on your successful bread. I suspect the dough was sticking a little, but not much compared to earlier in the cycle. Bread machines do a really great job of kneading the dough.

        As far as splitting the loaves, as long as you are baking them in the same pan as one loaf, I can't think of a reason why you couldn't do that with any loaf recipe. If the recipe doesn't use a pan (freeform), then making two loaves would be different as far as the baking time and even the rising time. And you would have a lot more crust, but still, doable.

        Debbie Cunningham

        Tuesday 26th of May 2020

        Hello Paula, I was wondering if the wheat berries can be processed in a blender before cooking in a microwave?

        Paula

        Tuesday 26th of May 2020

        Hi Debbie, Wheat berries are really hard--almost like tiny rocks. I wouldn't want to do that to my blender. I don't have one of the big expensive blenders though. Maybe it's no problem for them.

        At some point, the seeds have got to be softened before you put them in the bread dough. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

        Connie

        Sunday 29th of March 2020

        Hello Paula. This may be a silly question, but here goes. Why did you divide this into two loaves? I made your oatmeal sunflower bread and yogurt pie crust for cherry pie. They came out awesome. The ratio is about the same as the cracked wheat berry bread, so was wondering if I could bake it in a loaf pan? Thanks for being my bread guru. Hope you have a blessed Sabbath.

        Paula

        Sunday 29th of March 2020

        What a great question, Connie. The reason I divide the dough in half is because I like the little loaves they give you at a restaurant sometimes. They have so much crunchy and chewy crust. Since it's only my husband and me at home now, it also makes it easier to freeze one. But do what suits you. I think it would be wonderful in a loaf pan. This is just good bread. Period. I'm so happy your oatmeal bread and the pie crust turned out good. Thank you for the blessing. The current situation is a reminder to all of us how much we need God's blessing. Right?

        AmyInNH

        Friday 29th of November 2019

        This recipe produced two nice tender loaves. I ground half the wheat berries and added the rest whole. The center of wheat berries were hard. I used the 20 minute simmer method, I'll cook them longer next time.

        Paula

        Friday 29th of November 2019

        Good idea! Things like seeds and beans can vary in moisture content. Which means the time needed to make them tender can also vary.