This simple whole wheat sandwich bread recipe was originally published in July 2013. I updated it June 2017 with new photos and a printable recipe card. Enjoy!
Back when I started this blog, I posted a recipe about homemade sandwich bread. It was yummy, it was tasty, and it was full of white flour. It worked for us. I was gifted a Wondermill from a friend, and we shifted to using more whole wheat flours in our cooking and baking. With the Wondermill, fresh and healthy whole wheat flour was right at my finger tips. While that was amazing, I also had to learn how to remake bread. Fortunately, I made all the mistakes so that you can learn to bake delicious and simple whole wheat sandwich bread.
Simple Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
A simple whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that can be made without a bread maker.
- 2 cups hot water (~110 degrees)
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp active dry yeast (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- 1/3 cup honey, preferably raw
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup bread flour (optional) I use King Arthur Bread Flour
- 5 cups whole wheat flour, if purchasing buy "whole wheat pastry" flour
- 5 tbsp vital wheat gluten
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the hot water and 1/3 cup honey. Stir to dissolve the honey. Add the yeast, and stir to combine. The yeast will not mix in to the water completely; you just want to whisk it around a bit. This will create the "sponge". Set aside for about 30 minutes, or until the yeast has activated and more than tripled in size.
Add the salt, olive oil, vital wheat gluten, bread flour, and whole wheat flour to the sponge. If you want a 100% whole wheat dough, omit the King Arthur bread flour, and add another cup of whole wheat flour, plus an additional 2 tbsp of vital wheat gluten.
Using the bread hook on your mixer, mix the dough at mix speed "2" until it clings to the hook and almost all the dough is off the sides of the bowl. If the dough seems "shaggy" or is still sticking to the bowl, slowly add more whole wheat flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to the mixer bowl and place the dough in there, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with a wet rag, and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Rising time will depend on the temp in your house.
Once the dough has doubled, use the bread hook and mix the dough again at mix speed "2" for about 30 seconds. Grease two 9x5 bread pans. I either melt a little butter and then brush it on the bottom and sides of the pan, or use my Misto with olive oil. Pay special attention to the corners of the pan.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and break it in two equal chunks. I eyeball it to get the "equal" proportion. Flatten out one portion.
Like you're rolling a sleeping bag, take one side and roll it up, tucking the edges underneath it. Tuck the short edges underneath to fit the length of the bread pan. Let the dough rise until doubled in size. Rise time will depend on the temp of your house. In the winter, I like to put my bread pans on our heating registers.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake both loaves together for 35 minutes, or until the loaf makes a hollow sound if you "thump" it.
Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, flip over to remove the loaf. Quick like a bunny rabbit, flip the loaf over on the rack so that the top doesn't cave in. Allow to cool completely before storing. We always store the loaf we're currently eating in a bread bag. The others get wrapped in foil and then stored in a 1.5 gallon Ziploc in the freezer. Pro tip: save that foil after you’ve thawed out the bread. It’s not dirty, and makes great pan liners when roasting veggies.
This bread can be made for around $1-1.25 per loaf, depending on how you are sourcing your ingredients. If you compare that with legit whole wheat sandwich bread at the store, the savings can be huge! I have been known to make eight loaves of bread at a time, and freezing the extras. This makes for more dishes, but then also keeps you from baking every week. We wrap the loaves in foil, and then put them in jumbo freezer bags. You can fit two loaves per bag. To thaw, keep in foil, and leave at room temperature for a few hours. Save that foil since it isn’t dirty. It works great as a pan liner when roasting veggies or cooking bacon.
Obviously the possibilities with simple whole wheat sandwich bread are endless. It’s great for sandwiches (duuuuuuuuh), makes awesome French toast, is a key staple in grilled cheese, and is a wonderful base for toad in a hole. There are few things in life as joyful as bread still warm from the oven, especially with a smear of easy homemade strawberry jam.
As with any new skill, baking homemade bread can have a steep learning curve, especially whole wheat! Even after all these years of baking, I still have a few batches flop from time to time. I can point to the same two mistakes in about 99% of my “duds”. First, I rushed the process. I didn’t give the sponge or the dough time that they really need to create that perfect loaf of bread. Second, the temperature of my house is too cold. Some ovens have settings for rising bread, but my crappy range is not one of those. What works best for me is finding the warmest place in my house. In winter, my kitchen is one of the coolest places in the house, so my mixing bowl goes mobile as I seek the heat. The ideal place for rising bread is on the heat registers if your furnace is running, or in front of a fire place. You can also put it in your oven with the light on and the heat off. In a pinch, I have turned the oven to the lowest setting and waited until the preheat was over. After about 10 minutes, I put the mixing bowl in there and close the door to take advantage of the extra heat.
Fragrance companies work hard to create products to make your home smell amazing. I will never understand spending money on “lilac fields”, when the scent of fresh bread is one of the most alluring smells known to man. On baking day, the members of my house will circle the kitchen like gluten-crazed piranhas, just waiting for the first slice of fresh homemade bread.