Homemade bread is always a great idea. Homemade whole wheat bread makes excellent sandwiches and toast. It has lovely texture, healthy fiber and delicious flavor. This post has lots of tips and tricks on how to make the best whole wheat bread recipe.
We ran out of bread the other night. That means a trip to the store…or make some! We must have bread for sandwiches and toast. So I dragged out this old favorite recipe I found at busycooks.com eons ago and made two loaves of bread. Why do we ever eat store bought? Homemade bread is SO much better!
The printed out computer copy of this whole grain bread recipe is barely legible from the many times I have remade and re-created this recipe. I have adapted the recipe many, many times. It’s a really good basic Whole wheat bread recipe using honey as a sweetener. We absolutely love the various incarnations it has had at my hands over the years.
BTW, You may be interested in our 100 percent whole wheat sourdough artisan bread recipe. It’s made with wild sourdough starter and has a complete tutorial on the long rise bread making process. A whole new world of baking will open for you!
So now I’m passing it on to you along with a few tips on making your bread especially delicious. Make this 50 percent whole wheat bread recipe as you find it. THEN, After you master it play with it. I have added so many different ingredients to this over the years! I will share some of it’s other successful versions as time goes along.
Yes you CAN make this homemade bread recipe as 100 percent whole wheat bread.
If you do, I suggest you try it with WHITE whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is exactly the same nutritionally as the hard red winter wheat flour we are used to working with.
But WHITE whole wheat flour is so much lighter and easier to work with. It also gives you a much lighter result than the red wheat flour.
Some bread making tips on this honey whole wheat bread Recipe:
If you’re new to bread making, follow the directions for this recipe and use good, fresh ingredients! I have been an off and on baker, over the years. Sometimes my flour gets old and the recipes don’t work at all. If my yeast gets really old the bread can fail entirely to rise, or might just not rise as well. Here’s what I have learned about producing a successful baked loaf.
To make your experience the best it can be:
USE fresh flour and yeast
- Good, fresh bread making flour has the best chance of making gluten (although a good quality all purpose or whole wheat flour like this one is fine .)
- I grind my own whole wheat flour but if you find a good FRESH flour source it will be fine. OLD whole wheat flour will go rancid. Please don’t use old flour. Your lightest loaf will come from white whole wheat flours.
I recently was GIVEN a brand new KoMo Grain mill by Pleasant Hill Grain. Read my review and watch it work. Komo Mio grain mills are wonderful electric grain mills with excellent ceramic milling stones. My old one was an impact grain mill. SO noisy and it blew dust everywhere. I’m feeling quite spoiled.
- Using a grain grinder like the komo mill allows you to REALLY get playing in whole grain breads. It is SO fun to make your own flour blends and create breads using them.
- Grinding your own grains into flour AT THE TIME YOU NEED THEM is the BEST way to ensure your flour is fresh, not rancid. You will be impressed with the wonderful flavor of your loaves.
Proof your yeast:
- This means put your yeast in a small bowl, with warm water (115 degrees) and let it sit five minutes. It should get active. This means the yeast will bubble up slowly to the top of the water and make a foamy mass. If your yeast isn’t active stop everything and go get some fresh, active yeast.
Use a strong stand mixer with a dough paddle or get ready to exert some serious muscle.
- Kneading bread by hand is a fantastic way to make bread.
- Hand knead helps you FEEL the different stages your dough goes through as it develops gluten. It will get more elastic and stretchy.
- But hand kneading takes time and muscle. Especially with whole wheat breads.
- If you want to spend the time, get into the moment as sort of a zen thing.
- kneading bread is a task I gladly assign to my Bosch Mixer.
Instead of using a floured surface to work your bread dough, try oil:
- I use coconut oil on my work surface. It keeps the working area much cleaner(and my floors).
- Also flour on the work surface will increase the flour in your loaves. Keep the extra flour to a minimum for best results.
- The added flour in your loaves with cause the loaves to be denser since it’s unworked. It has no gluten development.
Keep your hands wet or oiled too:
- Wet hands handle a sticky dough with no trouble.
- Oil also works really well to keep your hands dough free while kneading and shaping the loaves.
USE the windowpane test for best results. Your whole wheat bread dough needs to get to a certain stage of gluten development to really give you the texture a good bread requires.
- The windowpane test is done by grabbing a golf ball section of dough and stretching it into a square window pane shape until it it is transparent.
- If the dough breaks before transparency(CAN YOU SEE LIGHT THROUGH THE DOUGH WHEN IT”S STRETCHED?if not, keep kneading. The dough is not developed enough to make the best bread.
- Can you make bread before this stage? Yes. But it will be heavier and less evenly raised.
If your dough if REALLY tight and not responding to kneading. Try slapping it!
Whole Wheat Dough can be extremely resistant to gluten Formation. Especially if your using the hard red winter wheat flours. If your dough is not loosening and stretching. Slap it on the counter!
This technique is one I learned in my whole wheat sourdough breads. But it will help with whole wheat yeast bread too.
- Pick up your dough with one hand and STILL holding the dough slap it hard on your counter. It should stretch a bit.
- Give it about four good slaps on your counter and then let it rest five minutes or so.
- The point of this is to loosen tand force the gluten to develop when gentle kneading is not working.
- You’ll laugh when you see my next point bout gentle handling. But some doughs need a bit of force to get developed. Try not to slap your dough after the first rise.
Learn to handle the dough lightly, and don’t squish the air bubbles unnecessarily after the first rise.
A lot of recipes, including this one, say to punch down the dough and then squish it with a rolling pin into a rectangle and roll it up into a loaf pan shape. that begets images (to me anyway) of a flat dough with no air bubbles. We are not making a flatbread here.
The whole point of the first rise is to give your loaf of bread tenderness and air. Squishing all the air out (Otherwise known as DEGASSING) is not entirely necessary.
The whole point of Degassing is to give you an even textured loaf with no annoying holes in your bread slices. You want that for your whole wheat bread recipe success.
However, Heavily Degassing the dough makes the bread heavier and denser as does over handling the dough. Try using your hands instead of a rolling pin to gently and lightly form the dough into a loaf after the first rise. Then once in the pan, let it rise slowly, at room temperature to prevent it rising too fast.
Your kitchen temperatures are important for a proper rise. Keep the dough about 70 to 80 degrees for a nice even rise.
- Try to give your dough even warmth when it’s rising. Keep your rising dough away from drafts at all times!
There is a thing called “oven spring”:
- If you want a really high loaf put the bread on a low oven rack in a cold oven for the second rise.
- When the dough is doubled, turn the oven on and let the dough get a lift(so the speak) from the oven heating.
- The yeast will be very active until the oven gets to temperature and kills it.
- This will give you a high loaf with hopefully no air pockets. Worth playing with the concept of oven spring to see how it works for you.
Learn how to “hear’ when your bread is properly baked.
- Your baked bread will have a nice hollow “thump” sound when you give it a good flick with with your fingers.
- If the bread sounds dull after the timer goes off. Give it another five minutes and flick it again. Repeat until the bread is properly thumping with a hollow ring to it.
- Otherwise, you’ll get a underdone, dense loaf, rather unpleasant in texture. Probably still edible, just not ideal.
YOUR OVEN ISSUES:
Bread baking is rather an art and science combined. Do get a proper bake you need proper heat. If your oven has hot and cold spots you may be frustrated. Here are some tips to help get a better bake.
If your bread bakes or browns unevenly your oven has hot spots. MANY ovens, even new ones, have this problem.
TIPS: At the halfway point in the baking process, after the crumb in your loaf is set you can reach in and turn your loaves around. Hopefully you can find the best placement in your oven to get an even bake.
USE YOUR CONVECTION FEATURE if you have it.
Convection ovens are especially nice for baking. They use fans to force the warm air in your oven to all places. This will help get your loaves the even heat necessary for even baking and browning.
Use a baking stone:
Baking stones are well known for pizza and other crusty Artisan breads. Like our sourdough bread recipes.
- You can use a preheated baking stone to help give your loaves even heat too.
- Place the baking stone on the lower shelf under your bread.
- Preheat it with the oven at least 30 minutes to get it really warm.
- During baking the stone will help produce a consistent heat for your loaves. The crust of your bread loaves will be a bit crustier.
If you loaf is over browning use a foil tent to protect the top. This can happen with a really high lofty loaf or an uneven oven.
YOUR OVEN TEMPERATURE MAY NEED to be adjusted. Some oven runs hot (mine does). Some runs cold (Kayti has a cold oven). Perfecting a bread baking recipe requires you to determine if you can make a better loaf by adjusting your oven temp by 5 degrees up or down. Follow the instructions for your bread making recipe once and see how it goes. If your bake is not perfect. Try adjusting the temperature of your oven.
Now you are armed with excellent well tested great recipes and tips. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you. We love comments. And I will help you if you get stuck. Just ask!
This homemade whole wheat bread makes excellent sandwiches and toast. It has lovely texture and delicious flavor.
- 3 1/2 to 4 Cups All purpose flour
- 2 1/2 Cups Whole wheat flour
- 2 Pkg active dry yeast(about 11/2 Tablespoons bulk yeast)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Cup milk
- 1/2 Cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons oil
- 1 egg
- In a stand mixer with a dough paddle attached. Combine 1 Cups all-purpose flour, 2 Cups whole wheat flour, yeast and salt and mix well.
- In a saucepan, heat milk, water, honey and oil to 120 degrees (use a thermometer, you want it warm, not hot or you will kill the yeast).
- Pour the warm liquid into the dry ingredients and add the egg. Mix to combine.
- Now mix for three to five more minutes on a high speed to develop the gluten.
- Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in the remaining whole wheat flour. Add in as much all purpose flour to form a dough the pulls away from the sides of the bowl when the mixer has combined it all. It should almost but not quite stick. Adding to much flour will give you a heavier bread.
- Mix on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth, resilient and passes the window pane test(the window pane test is done by stretching a golf ball size piece of dough between your hands in a square shape. It should not break, even as it get thin enough to be almost transparent. It if breaks early then mix it some more.)
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size. (I use the proofing function on my oven and don't cover the dough. Any warm place out of cold drafts will work.)Set your timer for 45 minutes and check your dough. Add 15 minutes if necessary.
- Grease two 9 X 5 loaf pans
- Punch down the dough and divide into two evenly sized dough pieces.
- On lightly floured surface, roll or press dough lightly into a rectangle about 14" X 7".
- Starting with the shorter side, roll up the dough.
- Tuck in the edges as you go to make an evenly shaped loaf.
- Pinch the seams together to form a loaf and place seam side down into the loaf pans, making sure the loaf ends are snuggly fitted to the loaf pans.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cover and let the loaves rise until the dough fills the corners of the pans and is doubled in bulk, about 30 to 40 minutes.(set your timer and occasionally check the loaves. Do not over-rise!)
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until loaves are golden brown and give a hollow 'thump' sound when sharply tapped on the top with your fingers. if the bread is sounding more like a dull thud. Give it five more minutes and test it again.
- Remove from oven and turn the loaves onto a cooling rack.
- Brush immediately with beaten egg white if a shine on the crust is desired.
- Let cool completely before cutting with a serrated bread knife.
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Serving Size1 slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 163Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 9mgSodium 203mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 4g