Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: Attempt #2

whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-2 “It’s beginning to look a lot like winter.”

I begrudgingly sang this parodied Christmas classic in my car yesterday in futile attempts to (a) keep Owen from screeching at me for our ten-minute drive home and (b) to keep myself from falling into a deep and utter depression over the change in weather.

The bare trees. The gray skies. The dead grass. The icy sleet.
You thought Carpe´ Season was a celebration of all seasons? It is. And I know eventually I will come to embrace winter. But I always struggle with this gap in time between the sunny red-leaved days of early Autumn and the beginning of a snowy white winter. And frankly, these in-between days are dirge worthy.

Plus, it’s almost the end of the year…Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, and new New Year’s resolutions will be in order when I’ve totally not completed this year’s.

whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-honey Here were my two 2012 resolutions:
#1. Have a baby; keep him alive……………check!
#2. Find a go-to whole wheat sandwich bread recipe……………


Way back on the third day of January, I pledged to achieve breadupendance. And here it is, almost November, and I’ve really only made one attempt at finding the perfect loaf. So in an effort to distract myself from the piles of wet leaves and wintery gusts, I made my second attempt at a sandwich-worthy homemade whole wheat bread.

I read through all of the bread recipe recommendations that many of you made after my first attempt. And I decided to make Sarah’s Favorite Childhood Sandwich Bread recipe from Finding Joy in My Kitchen.

Back in January, I shared my criteria for the perfect sandwich bread; here’s how this recipe stacked up:

whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-oil 1. Low-Maintenance 5/5: This entire recipe can go from start to finish in about three hours, with only five minutes of actual kneading, and only about twenty minutes of hands-on time. Plus, it yields two good-sized loaves for the work of one!
2. Ingredient Humility 3.5/5: Whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, yeast, olive oil, honey, salt, water…seven ingredients counting water. Fantastic.
The reason I give this a 3.5 is the white whole wheat flour…I almost never have this on hand. I’ve been substituting this ingredient with all-purpose flour, which makes it more accessible but less nutritious…each time I’ve made this recipe, I have been putting in a 1/2 c. more of the whole wheat and a 1/2. less of the all-purpose and haven’t noticed much of a difference.
3. Sandwichability 4.5/5: I’ve used this bread for toast, gilled cheese, and normal sandwiches. It has not crumbled though I have flipped it, slathered it, and cut it in two.. It slices into thick and thin pieces with zero frustration…even after a few days when it’s a little dried out.  The only thing we would change is that it’s not quite “tall” enough…though in the original recipe, she suggested adding a 1/4 c. of wheat gluten to the recipe, to help it make a better shape…something I have yet to try.
4. Grandma-Approved Taste 5/5: I’m not a big fan of really sweet honey whole-wheat breads, which is why I love this recipe. The olive oil and salt really balance the honey well, keeping it from being overly sweet. Again, I’d like to experiment with more whole wheat flour per loaf and see if I can up the nutty flavoring from the whole-wheat. But either way, this bread is delicious.

whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-1 While I still want to try a few other recipes, just to be sure I’ve found the perfect loaf for us, this whole wheat bread recipe is the current front-runner. I’ve made it several times now and love that I’ve nearly memorized the recipe; that’s how simple it is. And experimenting with this recipe (and having such success!) has served to  at least somewhat brighten my mood on these gloomy Fall Winter Fallterdays.


Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: Attempt #2

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: Attempt #2

(recipe barely adapted from Finding Joy In My Kitchen

(yields two loaves in 9"x5" pans)

This easy homemade whole wheat bread uses simple ingredients and can be made in about three hours total with about 20 minutes of hands-on time. This bread slices well and is sturdy enough for sandwiches, grilled cheese, or toast and is a delicious way to get more whole grains!


3 c. white wheat flour OR all-purpose flour*

4 c. whole wheat flour

3 tsp. salt

1/4 c. vital wheat gluten (optional)**

1/3 c. honey

2 1/4 tsp. yeast

2 3/4 c. warm water (I shoot for about 100-105*)

1/4 c. olive oil


*Read about the difference between white whole wheat flour and all-purpose here.

**Adding vital wheat gluten is not necessary but will give your bread a little more height and help to keep it from being too dense.


Begin by mixing the warm water and yeast together in a large bowl. Allow these ingredients to sit together for 2-3 minutes.


Then, gently stir in the honey, salt and olive oil.


Next, slowly add both types of flour while you stir. Mix until all the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to come off of the side of the bowl.


On a lightly floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. You may need incorporate a little more flour to prevent the dough from being sticky.


Place dough in your large bowl. Grease plastic wrap (I use cooking spray and spread it on the plastic with a paper towel. Cover dough with the plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 70 minutes or until doubled. (I turn my oven to 230* and let my bowl sit on the warmest burner).


Punch the dough down and then shape in to loaves.


Place the loaves in lightly greased 9x5" loaf pans, and cover each with a greased piece of plastic wrap.


Allow them to rise again for 30 minutes - 1 hour. (This rise has taken me about 50 minutes each time I've made this).


Then, uncover and bake at 375* for 30-35 minutes until crust is lightly browned and bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.


Bread keeps best in an airtight bag in the fridge. You can easily freeze the second loaf by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and putting it in an airtight freezer-safe ziploc bag.


BREADMAKER NOTE: Commenters have tried halving the recipe and making it in the breadmaker with great success!

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43 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: Attempt #2

  1. The wheat gluten will help a lot! My mom has started doing that regularly — especially when using more whole wheat flour (since those grains are heavier than all purpose). I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the bread, though.

    Two other things:

    We’ve found if you store bread in the freezer, it stays fresh a lot longer and doesn’t dry out in a few days. I often keep half the loaf out, and put half, sliced, into the freezer. Then, we just take a few slices out at a time, and thaw.

    Second — you should totally jump on the white whole wheat bandwagon. King Arthur has amazing white whole wheat — and it’s texture is almost like all purpose. We have completely eliminated all purpose from our house by using a combo of KA’s white whole wheat and Eagle Mills UltraGrain. They both even work in cookies!

    Can’t wait to see what other breads you end up trying. If you have a bread machine, I’d recommend a recent favorite in our house — Wheat Buttermilk Bread.

    • Thanks for the note; I picked up some wheat gluten at the store last time and will try that with my next batch…I’ll have to start freezing these loaves in slices; a good idea for a 2-person house!
      I can’t believe I’ve never really heard of White Wheat Flour…after reading about it, it seems so much more nutritious than all-purpose. Good to hear that it’s pretty much interchangeable.

  2. You are so motivated – and the loaves look very tasty! This is something I should start doing, but it’s just so (too) easy to grab a loaf at the grocery store.

    • Well, thanks, but we eat our fair share of grocery-store bread too. And because I know you’re a proponent of frugal meals, one time I sat down and priced out (for each ingredient) how much it costs to make two loaves of bread versus buying two on sale…and the cost isn’t really different at all. I only do this when I have a week with more time than normal on my hands but the more I do it, the easier it is to get into the habit :)

  3. Has anyone ever tried this in a bread machine either on a full cycle or just the dough cycle? I have a 2lb. brea maker so I think it is big enough. Thoughts?

  4. This is my go to sandwich bread recipe and I use my bread machine (on dough cycle)… It comes out perfect every time! I cut the recipe in half so it only does one loaf. I also use coconut oil instead of olive and I use all white whole wheat flour. Thanks for a great recipe!

  5. I am very excited to try this out as last night I heard a disturbing fact reported about store bought bread….that it contains a preservative (can’t remember the name) that is foamy and is found in Yoga mats and sneaker soles!!!! I will be attempting this recipe this week! is there a specific point to add the gluten in? Thank you so much!

      • I made the bread using the gluten. It is delicious! My 11 and 7 yr old boys love it…yay! I sliced and froze a loaf and a half and it is fresh and yummy. I think it’s a bit dense and could be lighter…is this because I didn’t get it to rise enough? Any suggestions?
        Thank you!

        • Glad to hear you and yours enjoy the bread! As far as the rising issues…a couple of thoughts. It may be that it’s not rising quite enough (especially since you did use the gluten)…but also, it may not be rising quickly enough. I am only speaking from experience and not scientific knowledge of yeast, but sometimes when my dough isn’t quite warm enough and it takes an extra long time to rise, by the time it does rise enough, it tends to be a bit dense. So, my suggestion…er, rather, question is…was your dough in a nice warm spot? Like in an oven that was heated to 200* then turned off…or on a burner with the oven turned on beneath?

  6. I did put the bread dough, covered with greased plastic, on top of my stove with the oven turned on 230º. I used active dry yeast and the 1/4 cup gluten. Is that the correct yeast? Should I use less gluten? What happens if I don’t use any gluten? I could try the method of pkacing it IN the heated oven

    • Active Dry Yeast. yes. I use Red Star brand, for what it’s worth. The gluten helps it rise better and generally have a more bread-like shape, so I wouldn’t cut the gluten if you felt like your first batch was dense. Try preheating your oven to 200* and turning it off once it gets that hot. Then pop your bread in, covered with a floured kitchen towel, and let it rise in there. Let me know how it goes!

  7. My other comment didn’t finish because my keyboard quit! I think maybe trying your heated oven method might help – I have a chilly house. What is the bread like without the gluten? And do I have the correct yeast? Thanks!

  8. I just tried your bread and it is so yummy! My 2 and 3 year olds couldn’t get enough of it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. So I just made this bread… I halved the recipe so I could make the dough in the breadmaker and then bake it in the oven. OMG sooooo good. I added 4 tsp of vital wheat gluten and its so tall, not dense at all like my bread usually is. yuuuuuum.

  10. I love this recipe! thanks so much for posting! -an easy way to get your dough to rise is to stick a heating pad under it! My kitchen gets super hot when the oven is on for a long time. The heating pad works perfectly (and I find that things rise better in my big plastic bowl)

    • Heating pad – what a great idea! I’ll have to try that, especially during summer when I definitely do not love having my oven on, even at a low temp. Glad you like the recipe!

  11. Hi, Very excited to try this bread, Can you tell me if I can use instant yeast instead? And how much of it?


    • Melissa, I think you could use instant yeast. I’ve never tried it, but I did some reading on the Interwebs, and here are a few tips for making that substitution:
      -Use about 20% less instant yeast than active yeast. So, in this recipe, I would use just 2 tsp. instant yeast (as opposed to 2 1/4 tsp. active dry).
      -Additionally, you can add the instant yeast directly to the dry ingredients; no need to proof it in the warm water first. You may find that you need a little extra water in the recipe (when you do add the water/wet ingredients later on)…I would suggest mixing it all together first and adding tablespoons at a time if it seems a little dry.

      I found the best summary of what I read on this site.

      Again, I’ve never tried it, so I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I think if you follow those tips, things should work relatively well. Would love to know if you try it and how it works out! Good luck!

  12. Hi, just wanted to let you all know that I made this over the weekend with instant yeast (2tsp) and increased the water to 3 1/4 cup and it came out GREAT!!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  13. I did not see it, (it is probably there and I missed it, through my quick reading), but could you tell me what kind of white whole wheat you used was it soft or hard?

    • I actually just used the white all-purpose flour and combined it with the whole wheat flour because I didn’t have any white whole wheat on hand. However, the blogger from whom I got the original recipe uses the King Arthur brand of white whole wheat flour when she makes this bread – not sure if that’s soft or hard, but hopefully that helps!

  14. Thank you for letting me know, King Arthur white whole wheat is hard. So that makes sense since everywhere I have read the soft white wheat is meant for desserts not anything w. yeast while the hard white wheat is like hard red, it should be used w. yeast.

  15. Instead of using vital gluten, the night before I make a biga. I use 2 cups of King Arthur bread flour, 1 cup of warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon active yeast. I leave this out for 3 hours in a covered bowl, then punch the air out and refrigerate it over night, when I make wheat dough the next day I take it out and let it come to room temp before I add it to the whole wheat dough,no problem with rising or density of bread.

  16. Instead of using the vital gluten, I make a biga the night before. I use 2 cups King Arthur bread flour, 1 cup warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon active yeast,use a stand mixer and mix it for 3 minutes, it should look shaggy and be a little sticky,put it in a bowl and leave it for 3 hours then refrigerate it up to 24 hours,I take it out in the morning and let it come to room temp for about 3-4 hours then I make whole wheat dough and add the biga, no problem with rising or with density.

  17. I am so glad I stumbled upon this recipe! I tried it the day before yesterday and it turned out wonderful! I’m making another batch today. I was searching for a recipe that was whole wheat but wouldn’t be as dense as using the 100% whole wheat, this fit the bill to a tee, and super easy too! I did not have any of the vital wheat gluten so I left it out and I was still very pleased with the outcome. Thank you so much, my husband and girls are just as grateful as I am!!!

  18. Just finished making this. I followed your directions exactly – and it turned out perfect! It is really soft, light and just sweet enough but not too sweet. I have saved it to my recipe folder and will make it again and again. Thank you for posting it! Oh, just a note, I did not use the gluten either. I live in Bulgaria and have no idea if I could find it here but it worked fine without it :))) Very happy!

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