Whole Wheat Bread
This easy Whole Wheat Bread is perfect for sandwiches, toast, or just enjoying with some softened butter. You will love this soft homemade bread recipe!
This whole wheat bread recipe is perfect for beginning bread bakers. The method for making the bread dough is simple and easy to follow. Don’t be intimidated by baking with yeast, I promise the steps are really easy!
I used to make a more complicated homemade wheat bread recipe, but it called for ingredients that I don’t usually keep on hand in my kitchen. My goal with this recipe was to use simple, wholesome ingredients, so you won’t have to buy anything special just for this recipe. The only ingredients that you’ll need to make this whole wheat bread from scratch are whole wheat flour, honey, yeast, butter, milk, salt and water.
The Best Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
This healthy whole wheat bread has the best flavor, with a touch of honey. The bread is incredibly soft, and I can never resist eating a slice warm from the oven. Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the best whole wheat bread recipe!
Below I’ve also included instructions for how to make this bread with all-purpose flour or bread flour. Whichever you choose, you will have a delicious loaf of bread to use for sandwiches or to serve with dinner. I highly recommend spreading some butter and honey on a slice – it’s so delicious!
How to Make Whole Wheat Bread
Here are some tips and answers to common questions about making this bread recipe. You will find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
Do you have to proof the yeast?
If you are using instant yeast, you can skip the proofing step and just mix all of the ingredients together in your mixer bowl. However, I almost always proof the yeast because it is a good way to tell if your yeast is active (which is necessary for bread to rise). Most yeast that is called active dry yeast (not instant or rapid-rise) needs to be proofed.
To proof yeast, you mix the yeast with the warm water, milk and honey. Let the mixture rest for 5 to 10 minutes. It should become somewhat foamy or bubbly, which means that your yeast are alive and active. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, your yeast may be dead and you should try again with new yeast.
How much flour to use
When you are new to making bread, it can be hard to know how much flour to add. The amount listed in the recipe is a guide, and depending on your particular ingredients and baking conditions, you may need to add a little more flour.
Start by adding 3 cups of flour when making this recipe. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is very sticky. The dough has enough flour when it is only slightly sticky to the touch. If a lot of dough sticks to your finger when you press it, add more flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the dough is only slightly sticky. Three cups to 3 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour is usually the perfect amount when I make this bread.
How long to knead the dough
Knead the dough using your mixer’s dough hook for about 8 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can knead by hand, but you may need extra flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Stop the mixer every few minutes, as needed, and use a spatula to scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl. After kneading, the dough will be a little sticky and very soft. It won’t hold its shape tightly in a ball, but should hold together when you transfer it to an oiled bowl using your hands or a spatula.
How long does the dough need to rise?
This bread dough needs to rise twice, first in an oiled bowl and second in the bread pan. The first rise takes about an hour, until the dough doubles in size. The second rise is shorter, about 20 to 30 minutes. For the second rise, the dough is ready to go into the oven when the top is just above the top of the bread pan, as seen in the photo below.
How do you know when bread is done baking?
Bread is done when the inside measures 190° F on an instant-read thermometer. This whole wheat bread takes 35 to 45 minutes to bake.
Can I use all-purpose flour or bread flour in this recipe?
I tested this recipe with whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and bread flour. The homemade bread was delicious when made with each of these flours.
If you use white flour, either all-purpose or bread flour, you will need to use a little more flour to get a dough that is only slightly sticky. In my tests of this recipe, 3 1/2 cups was the perfect amount for all-purpose flour and bread flour, while 3 to 3 1/4 cups was the perfect amount for whole wheat flour. I recommend starting with 3 cups of whichever flour you choose, and then adding more flour, a little at a time, as needed.
Can I make this whole wheat bread dairy-free?
To make dairy-free bread, replace the milk with water. Use oil instead of butter. I recommend olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil, such as canola oil.
What type of pan is best for baking bread?
I tested this recipe both in a 9 x 5-inch glass loaf pan and an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch metal bread pan. The bread will bake faster in a glass pan than in a metal pan. In the glass pan, my loaf took 37 minutes to bake. In the metal pan it took 43 minutes.
How to Freeze/Store Homemade Bread
Homemade bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, wrapped airtight. If it is very warm in your kitchen, I recommend keeping the bread in your refrigerator.
This bread also freezes well. To freeze, cool completely and then slice. Freeze in an airtight container, such as a zip-top bag, for up to 3 months. The slices may stick together slightly when frozen, but you can use a bread knife to gently and easily separate them. Or, you can place a small piece of parchment paper between each slice.
Baking Tips for Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
- You can speed up the first rise by putting the covered bowl with the dough in a warm oven. Heat the empty oven for a few minutes, turn it off, and then put the dough inside.
- After the bread bakes, you can rub butter over the hot top crust to soften and flavor it, if desired.
- Homemade bread slices easiest after it has cooled. Since this bread is so soft, I find that I have to slice it a little thicker than typical sandwich bread.
Whole Wheat Bread
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup milk*
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, or instant yeast (1 packet)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour*, plus more as needed
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened
- Combine the water and milk in a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or bowl. Warm the milk and water to 105-115° F. (If you do not have a microwave, you can warm them in a pan on the stove.)
- Pour the milk and water into the bowl of a stand mixer.* Add the honey and yeast and stir to combine. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam or bubble. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, your yeast may be dead and you should start over with new yeast.
- Add the flour, salt and butter to the bowl. Mix using the paddle attachment until everything is combined.
- Switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on low speed for about 8 minutes. The dough should feel slightly sticky when you touch it, but a lot of dough shouldn't stick to your finger. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. As the dough kneads, stop the mixer every few minutes, as needed, and use a spatula to scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl. After kneading, the dough will be a little sticky and very soft. It won't hold its shape tightly in a ball, but should hold together when you transfer it to an oiled bowl using your hands or a spatula.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn it once to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
- Grease a 9 x 5-inch or 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch metal or glass bread pan. Use your hands to gently punch down the dough, deflating it and popping any air bubbles. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Then use your hands to gently pat the ball into a loaf shape. Put the dough in your greased bread pan.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in the bread pan until the top of the loaf is just above the top of the pan. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F.
- Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, until the inside registers 190° F on an instant-read thermometer. If using a glass baking pan, the bread will take 35 to 40 minutes. It will take 40 to 45 minutes in a metal pan. If desired, rub the top crust with butter as soon as the bread comes out of the oven.
- Let the bread cool for 20 minutes in the pan and then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. The bread will slice easiest when it is cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To make this bread recipe with all-purpose flour or bread flour, you will need to use a little more flour to get a dough that is only slightly sticky. In my tests of this recipe, 3 1/2 cups was the perfect amount for all-purpose flour and bread flour, while 3 to 3 1/4 cups of flour was the perfect amount for whole wheat flour. I recommend starting with 3 cups of whichever flour you choose, and then adding more flour, a little at a time, as needed.
- I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough in a large bowl with a spoon, and knead it by hand on a clean work surface.
- To make dairy-free bread, replace the milk with water. Substitute the butter with olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil, such as canola oil.