Soft Whole Wheat Bread
You won’t believe how easy it is to make homemade whole-wheat bread! This recipe bakes up soft and is perfect for sandwiches.
Have you ever made homemade bread?
I have to say I find it one of the most rewarding things to do. It can be a labor of love, but it is so satisfying. It’s guaranteed to make you feel super proud of yourself!
And honestly, the taste can’t be beaten. So much better than store-bought!
But the most versatile, everyday recipe of all would have to be this soft whole wheat bread. In my family, it’s our go-to!
We love it because it’s so soft, pillow-y, and moist, with just a bit of nuttiness from the whole grains. It’s a perfect everyday loaf!
Is whole wheat bread healthy?
Bread is carbs; there’s no way around that, even when it’s 100% whole wheat!
But wheat bread is a much healthier alternative because whole wheat flour has a lot more fiber and nutrition than the more processed white flour bread.
Whole wheat bread ingredients
There are just 6 simple ingredients in this recipe.
Here’s a quick rundown, with explanations and substitution recommendations:
Water: Water brings the yeast to life and hydrates the bread. You’ll need warm water to dissolve the yeast.
It should be warm but not hot, like a baby’s bath. Aim for around 105 degrees F.
If the water is too hot, it can kill the yeast.
Yeast: I prefer active dry yeast for bread baking. It allows a slow enough rise for the flavor to really develop, and it’s easy and convenient to buy and store.
Instant yeast is another option. If you go this route, you’ll only need 0.75x the amount, and you can cut the rise times down by 15 to 20 minutes.
Either way, be sure to check the expiration date on the packet and make sure it hasn’t past. If it has, the yeast could be dead and your bread won’t rise properly.
Honey: Honey is used to feed the yeast as well as to flavor the bread. You can use any type of honey that has a flavor you enjoy.
The final result won’t taste sugary like a dessert, but it will have a slight sweetness to it.
Butter: Butter provides a richer flavor to this bread.
I like to use unsalted butter because it lets me control the amount of salt in the dish. Different brands of butter contain different amounts of salt, so this way you get a more consistent result.
Flour: This recipe is made with 100% whole wheat flour.
To make white bread, check out this recipe: Soft White Bread.
If you’d like, you can play around with other types of flour. You may be able to find some good tips on that in the comments below.
Salt: Salt carries all the flavors and intensifies them. It adds a slightly savory taste as well as making everything so much more flavorful!
I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any additives (table salt usually contains iodine and that can leave a bitter taste) so the flavor is pure, and it’s very inexpensive and easy to find.
How to make soft whole wheat bread
Making homemade bread can often seem intimidating, but I promise you, this recipe is easy. It’ll have you making homemade bread every week!
Start by dissolving your active dry yeast in a little warm water in a large bowl.
This usually takes about 5 minutes. Make sure the yeast hasn’t passed its expiration date!
Once the yeast mixture looks frothy, throw in the honey and melted butter.
Then add just 2 cups of flour, along with the salt.
Beat that for about 3 minutes, then add more flour until you see the dough forming a ball.
Once that ball of dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl cleanly, it’s time to knead.
You can knead this bread dough by hand or let your mixer do the work for you.
I kind of like kneading by hand. But sometimes I’m too busy, and I leave it in the mixer so I can do other things. Either way will work!
If you’re kneading using the stand-mixer, keep it on low speed.
After about 10 minutes of kneading, you’ll see that the dough looks smooth and elastic.
Perform the windowpane test: Pinch off a little piece of dough and using your fingertips, stretch it gently from the center outward. You should be able to pull it tissue-thin without it tearing. It should be so thin you can see light passing through it, just like a windowpane.
Mist your mixing bowl with non-stick spray, pop in the dough, mist the top of that too, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to proof (aka: rise).
About 30 to 45 minutes later, you’ll see that the dough has grown to double what it was before.
Punch it down, form it into a loaf shape, cover it, and let it rise a second time.
Once again, it should be double its original size.
Bake the bread until it’s puffy, golden brown, and gives a hollow sound when tapped.
How Much Flour Do You Use
When making bread, the amount of flour to add is only an estimate. It can vary based on several different factors.
You’ll probably need anywhere from 3 3/4 cups of flour to 4 1/2 cups flour to make this bread. Start with 3 3/4 cups of flour, and add more, if needed up to 4 1/2 cups.
You’ll know you’re done adding flour when the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. It should feel slightly sticky. If it’s too sticky, keep adding more flour.
How Long to Knead The Bread Dough
Crumbly bread is a result of not enough kneading.
If you are using your hands to knead the dough, you will need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough has an elastic feel. However, if you prefer a stand mixer, you can use the dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, and it passes the windowpane test, you have kneaded your dough enough. If it doesn’t pass the windowpane test, keep kneading until it does.
This will produce that stretchy, elastic texture that’s so satisfying.
How Long Does The Dough Need to Rise
This bread dough requires two rises.
The amount of time needed can vary based on the temperature in your kitchen. You’ll want to look for the dough to double in bulk. It should get all puffed up with air.
Then you’ll punch the dough down, place it in a bread pan, and proof it again until doubled.
If it doesn’t get enough time to rise, it will have a tight, gummy texture. If it rises for too long, the gluten structure will weaken and the bread won’t puff up as it bakes.
Either way, the bread will bake up smaller than it should, so just keep your eye on it and when it’s twice its original size, it’s time to move on to the next step.
How to know when the bread is done baking
This bread is ready when it looks golden brown and puffy. It should sound hollow when you give it a light tap.
The bake usually takes around 40-45 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 F, but keep in mind that this can vary and you should really look out for those sensory signs and not rely solely on the times given.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best type of flour to use?
There are lots of different flours available for bread baking.
You can use white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and bread flour instead of whole wheat flour if you choose.
The best flour to use has a high vital wheat gluten content.
However, this recipe is for whole wheat bread. So the best flour to use for an authentic whole wheat bread recipe is (naturally!) whole wheat flour.
What type of pan is best for baking bread?
I used a 9×5 glass loaf pan to develop this recipe.
A 9×5 inch metal or silicone non-stick loaf panwill also work, but that could affect the baking time. You may want to increase the temperature by 25 degrees F and decrease the bake time by about 10 minutes if you use metal instead of glass.
How to serve 100% whole wheat bread
Besides just eating it warm from the oven, this homemade whole wheat bread can be enjoyed in many ways.
It’s perfect for sandwiches because of its soft, pillow-y texture.
You could also use it as a base for your avocado toast!
How to make vegan whole wheat bread
To make a vegan version of this soft wheat bread, substitute the butter for a vegan butter substitute. Look for one that swaps 1:1 for dairy butter.
And the honey can be replaced with an equal amount of brown sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup.
How long does homemade wheat bread last?
Homemade bread doesn’t last quite as long as store-bought, and that’s because it doesn’t have all those artificial preservatives to keep it shelf-stable.
Once this bread is completely cool, slip it into a plastic bag or airtight container to keep it from drying out. Then keep it in the fridge. It should last for at least a week.
You can also freeze it! I’d recommend slicing it first, so you can grab a slice or two from the freezer whenever you need it.
It thaws very quickly. Probably just a few minutes or so at room temperature. Or pop it into the microwave for around 10 or 15 seconds.
Treat your family to a homemade loaf this week! It’s easy, fun, and so delicious!
As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases..
Soft Whole Wheat Bread
- Place the warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
- Add the honey and butter.
- Blend in 2 cups of the flour and the salt until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Stir in an additional 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups flour, until dough pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
- Knead on floured surface, adding 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional flour, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Place dough in large greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Lightly mist a 9x5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
- Punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf.
- Place in prepared pan, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Uncover dough, and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.