Brown Bread

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Brown bread refers to bread made of whole grain wheat. Whole grain wheat is either the only wheat based component or major component of the bread.

Brown bread arrived with Plato in 400 BC. In Plato’s “ideal world” consumption of whole grain bread (brown bread) from local wheat was encouraged to give men the ability to live to a ripe old age. In 1937 there was a stir between white bread bakers and brown bread bakers in England which resulted in formation of separate bakers’ guilds. The opposing guilds were reunited only two centuries later.


All about brown bread

Brown whole grained bread was considered healthier than the white as it was primarily consumed by the military in the 1820s. The white, refined bread was on the other hand used by the aristocracy.

But today more and more people are shunning white bread in favor of the healthier brown varieties. For instance, in the UK demand for brown sandwiches went up 44 per cent in 2006, while that of white bread declined.

All varieties of bread contain high carbohydrate and low fat and sugar content and are, therefore, healthy. But the wheat grains which give brown bread its color are a good source of fiber, protein and vitamin B, making it a healthier option. With white bread the husk of the grain is removed and only the inner part is used.

Ways of Making Brown Bread

Baking of brown bread gives of one of the most enticing smells. There are probably as many ways of making brown bread as there are cooks. Basically it is much the same as white soda bread except that it is made with whole grain flour.

Irish Brown Bread is made of special wholemeal wheat flour which gives it a nutty flavor and slightly coarse texture. It’s a staple in the famous Irish Country Breakfast, but you can enjoy the same at any fancy restaurant. Visit Odlums Brown Bread Mix and find out how every Irish home uses this mix. Also see Irish Brown Bread Recipe

Some of the flavors of Boston Brown Bread come from molasses. Boston brown bread was developed by early New Englanders. As wheat was in short supply cornmeal and rye flours were used to make this form of bread. The bread was cooked by steaming instead of baking as ovens were not available to all colonists.


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan, knocking out excess flour.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and brown sugar. Mix in molasses and buttermilk until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for one hour, or until done. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

When is Brown Bread Really Brown?

Brown bread is brown in color because it is made with whole-wheat flour which appears brown because it includes the brown parts of the wheat kernel. Whole-wheat bread tends to have a stronger flavor than white bread due to the additional components from the whole-wheat flour.

Just because bread is brown in color doesn't necessarily mean it's brown bread in the traditional sense of the term.

Identifying brown bread

  • Among the first ingredients mentioned on a brown bread packet is whole wheat or wholemeal flour instead of enriched wheat flour or just wheat flour. Enriched/wheat flour is the same type of flour used in white bread.
  • The presence of caramel, which is primarily a coloring agent, also indicates that it's not true brown/wholemeal bread.
  • Also try and avoid breads which contain fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil/fats; aka trans fats as ingredients
  • Look for natural sweeteners like molasses or honey over high fructose corn syrup. Preferably, the sweetener and salt should be last on the ingredients list.
  • In a 100-calorie slice of rye bread there will be a few grams of protein, a few grams of fiber, around 20 grams of carbohydrate, and sufficient calcium and iron. There is also flaxseed in the bread which increases protein and fiber but also adds trace amounts of healthy, unsaturated fats.

Brown Bread and White Bread

There is significant difference in taste, texture and the looks between white and brown breads. Those who are accustomed to white bread making the switch can be really difficult. White bread has lower zinc content, trace elements of fiber, thiamin, niacin and "good" fats and oils. Laws in different countries require brown bread to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. So, in effect, the nutrients that are removed from wheat are re-added by this means. In the process of making white bread the flour is bleached using potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide or chlorine dioxide gas once the bran and germs are removed. Brown bread, on the other hand, is made with whole wheat or wholemeal flour rather than enriched wheat flour or just wheat flour. Whole wheat breads usually have more vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, folic acid, copper, zinc, and manganese. There are more fibers in 100% whole wheat/whole grain breads than white bread or other breads made with wheat flour. A high fiber diet is recommended for good health and specially for constipated children. If made with milk there is more calcium in white breads than wheat breads. However, many different kinds of wheat breads are now fortified with calcium too. See the nutrition contents of Whole Wheat and White Breads along with recipes. Finely ground flour of white bread contains more starch, but this is not of much help as for we have plenty of starch-containing foods in the vegetables, mainly potatoes. White bread made from the finest flour product of the rolling mills also has too little phosphorus, lime, and iron.

Brown bread and health

For more than a decade the medical benefits of whole grain in our diet has been debated. In the last decade it was believed that whole grains play an important role in preventing heart disease and colon cancer. But in 1999 some research found that grains and fiber were not as beneficial as they were earlier thought to be.

But one thing is certain that high fiber food is beneficial for the heart. Fiber can also lower the LDL cholesterol (the Bad Cholesterol) and the total Cholesterol thereby helping reduce the risk of heart disease. It also reduces blood pressure and keeps diabetes under control. Constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis can also be brought under control with brown bread.

Medically 25 grammes of fibre is enough to maintain your digestive system. Four slices of brown bread contains 5 grammes of fibre.


  • Boston Brown Bread
  • About Brown Bread
  • Brown Bread
  • Diet and Health
  • Bread