This soft whole wheat bread recipe is the answer to all those dense, brick-like loaves of whole wheat bread you’ve tried. Healthy bread without the chemicals!
There’s one thing that’s eluded me over these past few years as I’ve tried to feed my family real food. It’s the bread thing. I just couldn’t get my hands on a homemade whole wheat bread recipe that yielded anything other than a brick.
I baked loaf after loaf, and they always tasted good out of the oven. But then as the hours passed, each loaf would turn into a dense mass. It was always edible as toast, but “edible” isn’t exactly what I was going for. I wanted a soft, 100 percent whole wheat loaf of bread that would stay soft for a few days. I wanted bread that I could freeze and then defrost for sandwiches later in the week. I wanted my kids to stop asking for the soft, junk-filled grocery store bread.
Then one day I came across this recipe from My Healthy Green Family. Looking at her post, I realized part of the problem with the previous loaves I had made. She included a photo of the yeast bubbling up in a measuring cup. It was much more active and bubbly than my yeast had ever been, which is part of the reason why my bread hadn’t been rising properly. I learned that letting the yeast activate for 5 minutes, which most recipes advise, isn’t long enough to get the job done correctly.
I tried the recipe from My Healthy Green Family, and it came out great. I then adapted it a bit to suit my family’s texture preferences, and I’m thrilled to finally have a soft whole wheat bread recipe that everyone in my house likes.
I never thought I’d see the day.
Whole Wheat Bread Baking Tips
I want to share a few important tips about baking bread before I get to the recipe.
Yeast: Make sure your yeast bubbles up nicely. If it doesn’t, throw it away and try another packet. You’re wasting your time if you make a batch of bread with yeast that doesn’t look like this after 20 minutes or so:
Baking Time: Another thing I’ve learned about baking bread is that sometimes the bread looks done before it’s actually cooked through in the middle. Using a thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading is a great way to make sure your bread won’t come out of the oven with a gummy center. See the recipe below for details.
Texture: Once you get into the habit of making homemade bread, you’ll get a feel for when the dough has reached the proper texture. You can’t always follow a recipe and get the right result by simply adding the exact amount of flour, water, and other ingredients called for in the recipe. Variations among different brands of flour will impact the final product. The dough should be well-hydrated but not sticky.
Soft Whole Wheat Bread
$.26 per serving
- 6 cups white whole wheat flour divided (plus more for kneading)
- 1/4 cup whey, lemon juice, or vinegar (optional)
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbs. honey divided
- 4 tbs melted butter or coconut oil divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
In the evening before baking, mix together 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup whey or other acid (optional), and 2 cups of water. Some people find the bread is easier to digest if the flour is soaked with an acid. Cover and let the dough sit at room temperature overnight. (I use this silicone lid, but you could also use plastic wrap or a warm kitchen towel.)
In the morning, stir together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees). Let the mixture get very bubbly. It should take 20 to 30 minutes. If your yeast mixture doesn’t look like the photo above, your bread won’t rise properly.
Place the soaked flour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture. Then add the following: 3 tbs. melted coconut oil or butter (cooled), 1/4 cup honey, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. salt, and 3 additional cups of white whole wheat flour. Mix using the dough hook attachment.
If the dough is quite sticky, add a little more flour. It should be well hydrated, but not too sticky to handle. You may need to add as much as another cup of flour. If it seems dry, add a bit more water.
Knead the dough in the stand mixer with the dough hook (or by hand on a floured work surface) for 10 to 15 minutes. I usually start the kneading process in the mixer and then finish it off by hand.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl with enough room for it to double in size. Cover the bowl and let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. If your room is cooler than 70 degrees, the rise time will be longer.
Knead the dough for 2 minutes, then divide it into two balls.
Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough to a thickness of 1 inch. Then roll up each section of dough into a loaf shape. Place the loaves in 2 large, greased loaf pans. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and let the loaves rise again until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
Score the loaves with a sharp knife by slashing them with a line about 1/4 inch deep down the middle of each loaf (lengthwise).
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I find it very tricky to determine if a loaf of sandwich bread is done. Even if it’s “nicely browned” and thumps with a hollow sound, the dough may still be gummy in the middle of the loaf. Big disappointment after all that work! The best way to tell if it’s done for sure is to insert a thermometer and see if it’s reached a temperature of 190 to 200 degrees.
Let the loaves cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Melt the last tablespoon of butter and brush the melted butter on top of the loaves while they’re cooling. This will keep the crust soft.
Soft Whole Wheat Bread Recipe Price Breakdown
This recipe costs a total of $3.13 to make, or $1.57 per loaf. A loaf of Great Harvest’s Honey Whole Wheat Bread costs $5 where I live, for a savings of $3.43 per loaf. If you go through 2 loaves of bread a week, this comes out to a savings of $356.72 per year. Since my kids won’t even eat the Great Harvest bread, this whole wheat bread recipe has become essential in my house. I hope you’ll try it!