It is no secret that I’ve been working to perfect a honey whole wheat sandwich bread recipe for months now. I was not only looking for a recipe that was reliable and tasted good of course, but that also didn’t contain any “unusual” ingredients like dried milk powder or wheat gluten.
We absolutely LOVE the honey whole-wheat loaf from Great Harvest, and if they can make it with only five simple ingredients (freshly ground whole-wheat flour, water, honey, salt & yeast) then I should be able to do it too!
Wow! Your recipe has it all! First, of course, it’s delicious. Density is perfect, and my favorite part is that it is so low in salt.
Perfect Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread in the Bread Machine
So after months of experimenting, I am thrilled to finally have a homemade bread recipe to share. And while this recipe comes out just right 9 times out of 10, I’ve learned that things can’t always be “perfect” when it comes to baking bread machine recipes.
If you aren’t weighing your ingredients and instead just measuring them out like me, or if you live in a place where the humidity might change from time to time … well then, expect some occasional surprises with the outcome of your bread.
I have learned one valuable trick though (from a blog reader!), and that is to check on the bread once or twice during the kneading process to make sure the dough looks “right.” I’ve caught mine looking too wet and sticky a couple of times, so I’ve added a few sprinkles of flour to get things back on track before the baking started.
I also want to share that this particular recipe makes a loaf that is on the larger side, which I like because then I don’t have to replenish our bread supply every two days. This loaf also comes out with a lighter crust due to its big size, and that is a plus in my book as well.
Easy Trick for Perfect Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Crust
After your honey whole wheat bread has finished baking let it rest for a couple of minutes until it’s cool to the touch. Then remove the bread from the pan and wrap it completely with a clean cotton or linen tea towel. Place the wrapped bread on a rack to cool.
The towel helps stop the bread’s moisture from being drawn out in the open air while still being breathable enough to keep the crust from turning mushy.
Once bread is completely cool you can put it in a plastic bag to keep the crust soft for longer.
Can I Make This Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread in the Oven Instead of a Bread Machine?
Yes, this recipe for honey whole wheat bread also works in the oven. Keep in mind that this recipe is for a 2lb loaf so you’ll need a large pan (or split it between two smaller bread pans).
The first option is to use your bread maker to mix and proof the dough, then remove it to bake in the oven. If you don’t have a bread maker, though, you’ll need to make several adjustments to make this whole wheat sandwich bread with honey by hand:
- Add the hot water, a packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) of regular active dry yeast, and 1 tsp of honey to a large bowl or electric mixer. Stir gently to combine.
- Tip: Put a little oil in your measuring spoon before the honey and it won’t stick.
- Let the mixture rest until the yeast activates (10-15 minutes). You’ll know it’s ready when plenty of bubbles have formed.
- Mix in the remaining honey, oil, and salt.
- Add the flour 1 cup at a time, fully incorporating each before you add the next one. Dough should be soft and not too sticky.
- If you’re not weighing flour the amount each person scoops can vary. Add more or less flour, as needed.
- Either with a dough hook or by hand, knead the dough for 7-12 minutes, or until elastic. You can tell if dough is kneaded enough by poking it; if the dough bounces back quickly kneading is done.
- Cover the dough with a clean towel to lock in heat and prevent drying. Let it rise until doubled in size (1-3 hours).
- Punch the dough down, then shape your bread loaf. Place dough in a greased pan, then cover again to rise until doubled.
- Bake honey whole wheat bread at 375 F for about 30 minutes or until crust has browned.
- Note: Cooking times will vary depending on loaf size and oven, adjust as needed.
Why Didn’t my Yeast Activate in Homemade Bread?
Old or inactive yeast: Yeast is alive and will become inactive under certain conditions. Honey or any type of sugar helps to activate it. Before you bake, make sure the yeast hasn’t expired. Once opened, a container of yeast only keeps for about four months when stored in cool environment, like the fridge. High temperatures can make yeast inactive quicker.
Water temperature: The water should be between 105 and 115 degrees F, a lukewarm temperature that you can comfortably wash your hands in. Too cool and the yeast won’t activate, too hot and it kills the yeast.
Not added to the bread machine correctly: Most bread machines have very specific instructions for how to add the yeast. The general rule is to keep the yeast dry; if your bread machine doesn’t have a yeast compartment, see if it helps to dig a small well in the flour to keep yeast from activating too soon in the cycle.
Didn’t wait long enough: If you’re making this recipe by hand make sure you wait until the yeast has fully activated before adding other ingredients.
If you enjoyed this honey whole wheat sandwich bread or have any good bread-making tips or recipes that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below!