This honey whole wheat bread recipe calls for 100% whole wheat flour and results in a hearty, yet still fluffy, sandwich bread. Pin it for Later »
Honey Whole Wheat Bread Recipe Overview
Skill Level: Intermediate | Techniques Used in this Recipe: The Sponge Mixing Method
This honey whole wheat bread recipe creates such a comforting and hearty bread that tastes much better than store bought varieties. The bread is fluffy and chewy and works beautifully for sandwiches or for a simple canvas for homemade jam.
This recipe calls for 100% whole wheat flour and no white flour, creating a bread packed with flavor. The sponge method is used for mixing this bread dough because it creates even more depth of flavor and supports a lighter texture for whole grain breads.
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- If you are brand new to working with yeast it might be beneficial to read these two articles to gain a better understanding of the process: Intro to Bread Making: the Basic Process and Baking with Yeast 101.
- When kneading, try to avoid adding too much extra flour into the dough. It will become less sticky the more it is kneaded, though some extra flour may be required.
- Bread proofs best in warm temperatures. Setting the loaf near a preheating oven can help it rise a bit quicker.
- Avoid storing bread in the refrigerator because it actually speeds up staling. If the loaf is not eaten within a few days, store it in the freezer.
- Yeast is what makes the bread rise. The yeast will feed on the starches and sugars present in the dough which creates carbon dioxide and leavens the bread.
- Honey adds flavor and sweetness to the bread but is also a food source for the yeast to feed on.
- Whole Wheat Flour is the main structure for the bread. When wheat flour is combined with water and kneaded, a strong gluten structure is formed. This creates the chewy texture of the bread. Whole wheat flour is also much more flavorful than white flour.
- Butter adds some tenderness to the texture of the bread.
- Salt is needed in yeast bread not only for flavor, but also because it helps control the yeast growth. Without the salt, the yeast would quickly over-ferment.
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz, 355 ml) warm water (not hot, around 110F, 43C)
- 1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 0.25 oz, 7 gr) instant or rapid rise yeast, Red Star Platinum Yeast recommended (*see recipe notes if using active dry yeast)
- 1/2 cup (6 oz, 168 gr) honey
- 4 1/4 cups (18 oz, 506 gr) whole wheat flour, divided (*see recipe notes for subbing in white flour, if desired)
- 2 TBSP (1 oz, 28 gr) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 4 tsp if using Diamond kosher salt)
- CREATE THE SPONGE: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or large mixing bowl if you will be kneading by hand, combine the water, yeast, and 2 cups (8.5 oz, 238 gr) of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. The mixture will begin to grow in bulk to about double in size. (If the mixture does not grow in bulk then the yeast is not active and the sponge should be restarted with fresh yeast.)
- COMBINE THE DOUGH: Use a spoon or rubber spatula to deflate the air out of the sponge. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir until combined.
- KNEAD: If using a stand mixer, knead the dough with the dough hook attachment at medium/high speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. If kneading by hand, knead on a lightly floured work surface for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour if it is too sticky. The dough will become less sticky as it is kneaded. Try to avoid adding too much flour.
- FERMENTATION: Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size. This should take about 1 hour. It might take slightly longer if your kitchen is very cool.
- PUNCHING: After the dough has doubled in size, press down in the center of the dough with your fist (do not aggressively punch it) and bring the sides of the dough into the center, releasing the gas.
- RESTING: Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes before shaping to allow the gluten strands to relax. Meanwhile, position an oven rack on the center rung and preheat your oven to 350F (177C). Grease a 9 x 5 in (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter.
- SHAPING: On a clean work surface, pat the dough into a rectangle with the short end being about the width of your loaf pan. Bring one short end of the dough into the center and then the other end into the center so the ends are touching. Use the heel of your hand to press down and seal. Fold the loaf in half and gently move it into the loaf pan, seam side down. Use the palm of your hand to gently press down the dough and evenly distribute it in the pan.
- PROOFING: Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap and allow it rise until double in size. This should take about an hour. The loaf should be crowning the pan by about 1" (2.5 cm).
- BAKING: Bake the bread at 350F (177C) for 45-55 minutes. To test if it is done, thump the top of the bread and if it sounds hallow then it is done. If you have a thermometer, the bread is done when the internal temperature reads 190F-200F (88C-93C).
- RUB OR BRUSH BUTTER ON TOP OF THE BREAD when it comes out of the oven to prevent the crust from becoming hard. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.
- STORE uneaten bread in a twist tie bag or in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Slice the bread and wrap it well and freeze it if it is not eaten within a few days. Bread can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- This recipes is written to be made with 100% whole wheat flour. Because it is made with only whole grain, Red Star Platinum Yeast is the preferred yeast because it improves the texture of the bread, making it less dense. However, this bread is still delicious when made with other types of yeast.
- Active Dry Yeast can be substituted for the instant or rapid rise yeast. Note that the rising times may be up to 2 times longer with active dry yeast.
- White Flour can be used in place of some or all of the whole wheat flour if you prefer it. Bread made with some or all white flour will have a lighter texture, but less depth of flavor.