I use this flour for making parathas: Pillsbury Chakki Fresh Atta (whole wheat flour)
This is whole wheat flour. The parathas never tasted bitter.

Is the commercial whole wheat bread made of this kind of flour? I have found the commercial whole wheat bread to be bitter. What's the reason?

If I make the brown bread with this flour only, will that be bitter too?

  • 4
    It happens the same where I live. Industrial brown bead has an odd taste. But when I made myself (whole) brown bread for the very first time, noticed just the oposite: a sweet taste. My guess (in my country) is that they added that strange taste because "whole bread is healthier" and "healthy food tastes like medicine".
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 9:24
  • 7
    @J.A.I.L. "My guess (in my country) is that they added that strange taste because "whole bread is healthier" and "healthy food tastes like medicine"." -- You indeed have a great sense of humor! Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 9:29
  • 4
    I believe commercial bread normally contains burned malt used for colouring (real bread is never as dark as most commercial breads).
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 20:28
  • i am not sure but they might be adding some kinda preservative, as expiry period of brown bread is more than that of normal(maida) bread. That preservative or baking powder must be reason behind bitterness. Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 3:00
  • 1
    @Cerberus It's true commercial brown bread is usually added non-diastatic malt for colouring. And yes: the odd taste in those breads resembles a lot to that burnt malt. I think this might be the reason.
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 10:06

2 Answers 2


Much of the bitterness in breads made from whole wheat is caused by the phenolic acid and tannins in the bran layer of the wheat. Different varieties of wheat have different levels of those compounds and produce breads with different levels of bitterness. "Traditional" varieties of wheat, such as red wheat, contain high levels of tannins, while hard white spring wheat contains relatively low levels of tannins.

Here is what bakingbusiness.com has to say about this subject:

With whole wheat, taste differences boil down to the tannin content of the bran. These red pigments in hard red wheat carry a bitter flavor. “... Whiter whole-grain varieties typically contain fewer tannins, which results in a less bitter taste,” said Brook Carson, technical product manager, ADM Milling, Shawnee Mission, Kansas. "Differences in taste can also be overcome with added sweetness or with a masking agent."

Based on your question, it sounds likely the Pillsbury Chakki Fresh Atta whole wheat flour you use for making parathas is milled from either hard white spring wheat or a blend of the white wheat with a more traditional variety of wheat resulting in a non-bitter end product.

There is another possible source of bitterness in bread made from whole wheat flour, although it shouldn’t really affect commercially made bread. When whole wheat flour is milled, it includes the oil containing wheat germ, which is different than refined white flour where the wheat germ is removed prior to milling. This oil in the whole wheat flour results in it having a much shorter shelf life than white flour and makes it susceptible to rancidity if not stored properly. Commercial bakeries go through (literally) tons of flour, so their whole wheat flour shouldn't be sitting around long enough to go bad.

I can tell you from first-hand experience, one of the signs whole wheat flour has started to go rancid is an increase in bitterness.

  • What is your opinion on the non diastatic malt possibility commented in the question?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 20:38
  • 1
    If the bread contains a dark non-diastatic malt (or for that matter a dark diastatic malt) the malt could also contribute a slight bitterness to the bread. Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 4:10
  • I highly suspect dough conditioners change the flavor. I only taste this odd bitterness in factory bread. ie dough processed at high RPMs that would 'burn' without the conditioners
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 18:09

American bread is more bitter than Japanese bread. I think this is caused by the use of baking power or baking soda.

  • 1
    While there are some types of bread that use baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent (quick breads), it is far more likely that the OP came across a yeast leavened bread. Chemical leavening agents can leave odd and unpleasant flavors if used incorrectly but this is also unlikely to be the case for a commercial product. Commented May 19, 2015 at 20:34
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    @ChrisSteinbach I dunno, commercial products are by no means perfect, and if it's easier/cheaper to use chemical leaveners they may prioritize it over ideal flavor.
    – Cascabel
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 2:00

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