Whole Wheat Brioche from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Whole Wheat Brioche
Photo from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day | photo by Mark Luinenburg

For The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day the idea was to offer a variation of sweets and enriched breads, but they had to fit with our goal of healthier ingredients. This meant less white flour, less sweeteners, less fat and yet still delicious, tender and rich.  

Whole Wheat Brioche

Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

4 cups white whole wheat flour (white whole wheat is nice for its lighter color and flavor, but the recipe works fine with regular whole wheat)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

2 1/4 cups lukewarm water

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted or (zero trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine) or (neutral-flavored oil)

3/4 cup honey

5 large eggs

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing on the top of loaf

The following are the basic instructions, for more details refer to the book.

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) Food Storage Container.

2. Combine the liquid ingredients and mix the m with the dry ingredients without kneading , using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor or a heavy duty stand mixer with paddle.

3. The dough will be loose, but will firm up with chilled.

4. Cover (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours.

5. Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before using. The dough can be stored and used over the next 5 days.

6. On baking day, grease a Non-Stick Brioche Mold or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated whole wheat brioche dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece of dough (you can make a one-pounder as well). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball. Place the ball into the prepared pan and allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for about 1 hour 45 minutes. (dough should no longer feel cold and will have a bit of spring to it).

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the middle of the oven.

8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the loaf’s top with egg wash.

9. Bake the loaf near the center of the oven for about 40-45 minutes. For smaller or larger loaves you will need to adjust the resting and baking times– a one-pounder should need only about 35 to 40 minutes in the oven.

10. Remove the brioche from the pan (see page 50) and allow it to cool on a rack before slicing.


Note: BreadIn5.com is reader supported–when you buy through links on the site, BreadIn5 LLC earns commissions.

245 thoughts to “Whole Wheat Brioche from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!”

    1. Hi Lina,

      Yes, if you are making 2-3 ounce buns then you can reduce the resting time to 1 hour. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  1. Okay, back from the kitchen…I made the dough, shaped it, and put it in little tins while it was still cold. I then stuck the tins in the fridge for 8 hours, thinking they would rise even in the cold environment and thus conform to my busy schedule. To my dismay, when I baked them straight from the refrigerator, they were not at all light and airy as some other posts have indicated. Was this because it was whole wheat, and there isn’t as much butter and eggs in this recipe as the regular brioche, or was this because I should have let the buns rise at room temp for an hour or so instead of the refrigerator? The rolls weren’t bad, they just weren’t overly wonderful either. I’d love any insight, thanks!

    1. Lina: I think you’ll be happier if you rest it for at least a half hour, despite the overnight fridge rise. It’s possible that this approach just won’t be to your liking with whole grain loaves. I’m assuming you were using 100% whole grain dough; this would be less of a problem if you went, let’s say, even 50/50. Jeff

  2. I made this dough a couple of days ago. Smelled good, looked good. This morning I followed the directions for the crescents but my dough would not come off of the parchment paper I rolled it out on. So, I scraped it up and put it in a parchment lined loaf pan, thinking it would be kind of like monkey bread. It looked good, and the two ends tasted good but the inside didn’t cook through. I typically have this problem with loaves, while rolls, etc are perfect. Any suggestions? How do you know loaf bread is “done”?

    1. Hi Sue,

      If you are rolling the dough out on parchment paper you need to still use enough flour to prevent it from sticking. After rolling out the dough and baking in a loaf pan you will need to allow the dough to rest for about 90+ minutes or it will be dense, after handling it so much. Breads baked in a loaf pan also need to be baked for a longer time at a lower temperature.

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Hi! Sorry – didn’t have time to read all the questions, so I hope this hasn’t already been asked. I made the HBin5 Cinnamon Crescent rolls with the master recipe and thought they were very good, but my picky, picky son (8yo) didn’t like them. I wanted to make them with a softer dough, and thought that the soft whole wheat sandwhich dough would be good to try, but it’s not listed as one that would work. Is there a reason, or do you think that would work? I didn’t check first, and now have a tub of it in the fridge, half of which was destined for the cinnamon rolls . . . I can use it otherwise, but wanted your thoughts on using it for these rolls.


    1. Hi Patricia,

      The only reason it isn’t listed is because of space. It will work, but I’m not sure it will satisfy your son’s desire for a softer and fluffy dough?

      Let me know how it goes! Zoë

  4. Thanks, Zoe! I’m not sure it will satisfy his desire, either, but it’s worth a shot. At any rate, I, my daughter and my husband will like them! And I can always try something else down the line, too!! :0)

  5. Thanks to both of you for posting this recipe (and the corrections). I became addicted to brioche that my local Trader Joe’s used to carry (haven’t seen it there in months) and have wanted to make a healthier version of it. I made your recipe and it tasted FANTASTIC!! However, the texture was quite different than what I was used to – my brioche came out very similar to whole wheat bread and the TJ’s product is very, very light and flaky.

    Is it the healthier ingredients that make your brioche less flaky or did I do something “wrong”?

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Part of the issue is that whole wheat will never allow the same texture of the crumb that you can get with all white flour. In this recipe, to make it healthier, we also cut back on the amount of butter in the recipe. All of these things make a healthy version of brioche, but they can’t compare entirely to the real thing. Maybe cut loose and have the brioche from our first book on occasion! 😉

      Enjoy, Zoë

  6. Great book…I got the ebook on Kindle for HBin5 and the error for the whole wheat brioche is in it. So I have to throw it out and start over 🙁 I was wondering about the gluten and the dough was super firm instead of loose as you described. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristin,

      I am sorry about your first batch of ww brioche. I will let the publisher know your experience right away and hope they can get it fixed!

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Hi. So excited, I just received my HBin5 book from Amazon yesterday. I went straight to page 275. What is the difference between the book recipe and the web recipe? I could not tell. Thank you.

  8. I couldn’t figure out where to ask this question or find a similar one, so I hope it’s okay to ask it here.

    Sometimes when making dough – especially whole wheat – the next day the dough is too dry. When I pull it out, it doesn’t stretch and need to be cut apart, it just comes apart. When I stretch and turn the ball, it tears and/or the surface does not get smooth, it kind of pulls apart in layers. Can I add more liquid? Help!

    1. Nellie: Hmm, some questions.

      Which recipe are you using (which book, page number)?
      Using fresh-ground flour? Try commercial WW first and see if it resolves.
      Any other changes in the recipe? Are you using vital wheat gluten in WW recipes that call for it?

    1. Kana: You won’t get any protein boost from wheat germ, so no. Consider keeping your shapes as flatbreads and it may not matter (though you’ll need less water).

  9. Love your breads! But I’m making some bread for a friend who is a diabetic. They usually have to limit their egg intake. Is it possible to make your breads with egg replacemeants?

    1. Hi Jane,

      I have not tried it, but other readers have reported that it works well. You may want to try a 1/2 batch to make sure you are happy with it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. Hi, Love the brioche recipe (p. 275) in HB5 and used it to make the Apple Strudel Bread (2 loaves with leftover dough used for two plain mini loaves) which are out of site!
    The WHITE whole wheat flour was a revelation–I had never heard of such a thing. It is equally nutritious as regular whole wheat and MUCh more so than Unbleached White. I read that you can substitute them pretty equally, but not in the case of Unbleached White which says you can use 1/3-1/2 of White whole wheat in place of Unbleached white. I don’t like using unbleached white, so will try that.
    Mostly I make the basic recipe whole wheat recipe with Olive oil (p. 81) since I think the addition of the oil makes it moister when using it as a sandwich bread (I put it into one of those long pullman loaf pans). Which leads me to a question–Can I reduce the honey in the brioche recipe by half without negative results? Do I need to increase water perhaps? Just don’t like my bread that sweet.
    Thanks for your great books. Everyone I bake for loves the bread. A new passion.

    1. Hi Susan,

      You may want to check out the Challah recipe in HBin5, sounds like that is more to your taste and has less sweetener.

      Yes, whole grain breads have a longer shelf life, especially if they are enriched with oil and sweetener.

      Thanks, Zoë

    2. Hi so in the above recipe of brioche do you subsitute white flour with whole wheat white flour? DO you mind any other changes you make? i don’t have the book just referring to the above recipe. thanks!

  11. Did I read somewhere (books, blog?) that enriched AB5 or HB5 breads “keep” longer than the basic recipes? Or am I just making that up.

    1. Hi Kristine,

      I would use 2 eggs and then whisk the 3rd one, use half and save the other half for the egg wash you will need to paint on the top of the loaf. Or you can use just the yolk of the 3rd egg.

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. Hi,

    I am glad I found this post before making this dough. I too have the ebook. The recipe is different.


  13. Can I use bread flour instead of unbleached all purposes flour,mid yes, can I omit the vital wheat gluten, as my shipment has not arrived yet….?

    1. The bread flour will partly make up for the lack of VWG, see what you think. May need to decrease water slightly. 1/8 cup?

  14. For some reason, I cannot find Vital Wheat Gluten, is there any way I can get away with this problem at all?

    I dare not make the dough unless you give me proper instructions on how to proceed.
    Thanks ! 🙂

    1. ?? order from amazon, ??? if there’s an equivalent in Hong Kong; in U.S. it’s on Amazon. If you drop it, lower the water. But it won’t store as well. Will be an experiment, don’t have parameters for you.

      1. I finally got it in HK at a supermarket. The Brand is: RED BOB’S MILL.
        Am trying to make the dough now!
        Wish me good luck!

  15. I tried the recipe, and the dough turns out to be very liquid and gluey. Does not stand or take shape. But it tastes well!

    These are the deviations in recipe I’ve used:
    1) Peanut Cooking Oil instead of Butter.
    2) 1/4 cup water less already
    3) Coz my eggs are small, so I used 6 instead of 5.
    4) The all-purpose white flour I bought was presifted.

    Would you say it’s the lack of butter that’s making this happen? Or something else?

    Also, is Whole Wheat Brioche Recipe ideal for making Cinnamon Roll? (I saw you used the white flour brioche instead, so…just wondering)

    Many thanks for answering my question!

    1. Go back to 5 eggs, probably too much liquid. No problem with “pre-sifted,” all flours are. Also, oil yields a looser dough than butter, so you’d have to decrease water a little more (not sure how much). This’ll make a great cinnamon roll.

      1. I went back to 5 eggs. Used butter.
        I even added 1/3 cup of milled flaxseed.
        I also cut back on water by as much as 1/2 cup. It turned out both the look & taste are superb.

        There’s only one thing left to improve.
        There’s a smell inside the baked bread, which I’m not sure if it’s yeast or alcohol. It’s a bit pungent , but it’s not a foul smell.

        (I’ve kept all the resting & rising time as instructed. But I baked in a small oven at temp 160 celcius for 20 min. Crest is already perfect in my standard at this temp & time.)

      2. Some people prefer the aroma of low-yeast versions, so see https://tinyurl.com/yate3j6. If you try a low-yeast, long-rise approach with egg-based dough, be sure to follow the instructions in that link regarding the 2-hour limit for eggs at room temperature, completing the long rise in the refrigerator.

        Alternative: you may also be able to decrease aromas of alcohol or yeast by being sure you’re venting the container so gasses don’t accumulate.

  16. I tried your recipe and made my first cinnamon roll. Turned out the taste was quite well! Thank you!

    The only thing I wanna improve is its puffiness.

    The recipe I’m using now is 1/2 cup less water than listed on this page. That way I could get a proper consistency.

    Anything I should add/subtract to make it work better?

    1. WW brioche just isn’t as puffy as white-flour, though you could try a longer rest, but not sure that will do much. I assume you used vital wheat gluten, which lightens WW recipes.

      1. This is my first time using vital wheat gluten. May you explain what the purpose of its use is?
        How does it affect the texture if I use more / less of it?
        Thanks a lot!

  17. Hi,
    I just found this website, after mixing up brioche dough from my recipe that was written wrong. I thought it seemed too dry! Is there anything I can do with the dough rather than throw it out? Like biscuit type things or fry bread?

    1. Try to work extra water into it! Should work, may need to use a slurry of water and flour to “feed” the yeast and give a little more rise after overmanipulating it this way.

  18. Hi Zoë and Jeff, this is one of my fave dough recipes of all time, right behind your WW olive oil pizza dough. My Belgian family and neighbors raised on high quality white flour brioche absolutely rave about this recipe, which I make in a silicone brioche muffin-size tray. It is heavenly as is, but it’s undeniably good in pecan rolls too. My copy of your books are in an unknown box in the attic since we just moved, but thanks to this page I’m stirring up a batch for my the visit of my stateside family and friends this week. I was so worried that I couldn’t make it for them. Cheers!!!!!

  19. Hi,

    I don’t have any white whole wheat flour but I do have stone ground wheat flour. Would I need to adjust anything in the recipe? Love your books, BTW. the bottom shelf of the fridge has been given over to buckets of dough! Thanks.

  20. I make bread and rolls for my daughter who is on a no processed sugar diet. I use only the whole grain, whole wheat flour in my recipes but since it’s more dense, I’m often not able to make such things as these hamburger buns. What can I use that is in keeping with the limits of this food plan. The white whole wheat is not allowed on her plan.

    1. Hi Becky,

      You could try the 100% whole grain stollen dough, but remove all the spices and dried fruit. You could even reduce the honey by a little, but I wouldn’t cut it out entirely.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Thank you, Zoe. I’ll give it a try. I’m learning how to use the wheat flour but some experiments are a huge fail.

  21. I’d like to use sugar as the sweatener instead of honey. How much would I add, and then would I need to add extra liquid?

    1. It’s basically 1 to 1, but if you want to decrease the sugar by 10% and add a couple of teaspoons extra water, that’s good too (I don’t happen to do that).

  22. I have the 2016 copy and noticed the granulated yeast is 1.5T online but only 1T in the book. Can you clarify what’s correct?

    1. Hi Laura,

      Both are correct and work, it is just a matter of taste. Some people like more yeast and others prefer less. We found using 1 tablespoon of yeast was just as effective as the larger amount.

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. In step 2, how long should I mix the dry and wet ingredients? Just a few minutes until everything is combined?

  24. Hi, I purchased your book years ago, “Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a Day.” I was going to make the whole wheat brioche and noticed in my book it calls for 2 1/4 CUPS vital wheat gluten but your recipe here calls for only 1/4 cup. The book I have was a first edition November 2009. Please tell me that 2 1/4 cups is a type error.
    Thanks Vivien Heyob

  25. Would it still be okay to use this dough on day 7? I made doughnuts on day one (incredible!) and hoping to try cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, but that will be day 7… hesitant to freeze for a couple of days at the risk it might become more dense. Many thanks!

    1. Sure, it’s pushing it, but it’ll work. We do say 5 days on this one, so it may be a little over.dense, esp if u tried to do this as a big loaf. Should be good as smallish rolls though

      1. Thanks for such a quick reply, Jeff. Maybe I’ll just make another batch to be safe. I really appreciate your help and terrific recipes. I have had so many successes with the New Healthy Bread in Five. Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

    1. Haven’t specifically tested it, but it should work by decreasing the water by about a quarter-cup. You may have to experiment, and the result with be a little denser.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.