This year I’ve made two new goals: eat healthier and try new things. To follow through with my goal, I thought I’d try whole wheat as my newest flour. And since whole wheat flour is definitely healthier than all-purpose flour, it’s a win-win.
I will admit that I was a little scared to try whole wheat flour because I’ve never worked with it before. Many of my friends and family had tried whole wheat recipes, and they had mixed results. On good days, whole wheat bread has an amazing flavor that you just can’t get with all-purpose flour. But on bad days, whole wheat bread can turn into a brick. It doesn’t rise. It stays heavy and thick and dry and coarse.
However, I wasn’t about to run away from a good recipe just because it required something new. I figured that even if my bread was a complete disaster, I could at least blog about it and tell the tale of the worst bread I’ve ever made.
But this honey whole wheat sourdough recipe surprised me.
The crust turned dark without being burnt. The bread was easy to slice, making it one of the best breads for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And the crumb was delightful – a few small holes peppering the loaf while still maintaining a soft, chewy texture.
Even better, the flavors danced back and forth between savory and sweet. The honey complimented the sourdough perfectly, and the wheat held everything together beautifully while adding its own flavor to the mix.
I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely loaf.
I think this bread is absolutely amazing with a little bit of melted butter and honey, but it’s great for toast and sandwiches, too!
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Rise time: 3 to 4 hours
Cook time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total time: Approximately 3 Hours 45 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes
This recipe is simple yet packed full of yummy ingredients:
- 17 Grams (1 Tablespoon) Dry Active Yeast
- 240 Grams (1 Cup) Warm Water
- 226 Grams (1 Cup) Sourdough Starter
- 170 Grams (1/2 Cup) Honey
- 21 Grams Butter (1 1/2 Tablespoons)
- 1 Large Egg
- 520 Grams (4 1/3 Cups) Whole Wheat Flour or Whole Wheat Bread Flour*
- 6 Grams (1 Teaspoon) Table Salt
*If you don’t have whole wheat bread flour, you can make your own substitute with vital wheat gluten:
- 494 Grams Whole Wheat Flour
- 26 Grams Vital Wheat Gluten
The vital wheat gluten gives your bread better chew and helps it hold its shape during baking.
Here are a few items you’ll want to have on hand when you make honey whole wheat sourdough bread:
- Small and Large Mixing Bowls
- Wooden Mixing Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Kitchen Scale
- Container With Lid
- 9-inch by 5-inch pan
- Cooling Rack
I turned my bread into a basic sandwich shaped loaf. However, this recipe works well as a rounded boule or rolls. Feel free to experiment and use the equipment you have on hand.
This bread recipe requires a little bit of bread-baking experience to get the rise time just right. But even beginners can pull it together with little fuss or mess.
To start, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir until no grains are left. Wait 10 minutes for the yeast to become bubbly and active.
Use a spoon or spatula to stir in the starter and honey until the honey dissolves. Then turn on the mixer and use the dough hook to gradually mix in the whole wheat flour, salt, butter, and egg.
Let the mixer knead your dough for you until the dough pulls away from and cleans the sides of the mixing bowl. Turn out the dough onto a lightly greased surface and shape into a round ball.
If you’re mixing by hand, knead until the dough becomes smoothly and slightly elastic. It’s fine if the dough feels a little tacky with your fingers, but it shouldn’t feel too wet or stick to your fingers like gum.
When you’re ready, place your dough ball in a greased container.
Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your room.
Punch your dough down and let it double again, about 45 minutes to an hour. (I noticed my bread tended to rise more quickly the second time around, though I’m not sure if it’s because my kitchen tends to be warmer during the day or if my dough simply becomes more active.)
Punch your dough down again and flatten it out into a rectangle.
Grab the bottom section of the rectangle and fold it about 2/3 of the way up the dough.
Next, grab the top section of dough and fold it down over the rest of the dough.
Grab the edges of the dough and fold them in, about two inches in on both sides.
Gently flip the folded dough over so the seams rest on the bottom. If your dough lost some of its shaping, use your hands to cup the dough back into a loaf.
Transfer your dough to a lightly greased bread pan. Cover and let it rise about 30 to 45 minutes, or until it passes the poke test.
Poke your dough lightly with your finger. If the dough springs back quickly, your dough could use a little more time rising. If your dough springs back slowly, it’s ready to bake. If your dough completely collapses, it’s over proofed.
If your dough has over proofed, don’t panic. You can still turn it out on the counter, punch it down, and reshape it back into a sandwich loaf for one more rise.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius) for about 35 to 40 minutes. If you have a digital thermometer, the interior of the bread should read between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit (87 and 93 degrees Celsius). As with most breads, the bottom will sound allow when tapped.
The loaf won’t have a lot of color at this stage, but turn it out onto a cooling rack.
While your bread cools, brush melted butter over the crust. The butter will not only soften the crust but will give it color and flavor.
Allow your bread to cool completely before slicing and serving. This bread tastes best the day you make it; however, it will last a few days on the counter top at room temperature if you keep it sealed in a bag.
Just the Basics
Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough
- 17 Grams Dry Active Yeast (1 Tablespoon)
- 240 Grams Warm Water (1 Cup)
- 226 Grams Sourdough Starter (1 Cup)
- 170 Grams Honey (1/2 Cup)
- 6 Grams Salt (1 Teaspoon)
- 520 Grams Whole Wheat Bread Flour (4 1/3 Cups)
- 21 Grams Butter (1 1/2 Tablespoons)
- 1 Large Egg
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir until no grains are left. Let proof until bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl of a standing mixer, add the starter and honey to the yeast. Stir until the honey dissolves.
- Using the dough hook of the mixer, slow add the flour, salt, butter, and egg to the dough. Keep mixing until the dough pulls away from and cleans the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface and shape into a ball.
- Place your dough ball in a greased container. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Punch your dough down and let it rise a second time, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Punch your dough down one more time and fold it into a sandwich loaf. Place your dough in a greased pan and allow the dough to rise above the edge of the pan, about 30 to 45 minutes again.
- Bake at 350° Fahrenheit (176° Celsius) for about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Turn your bread out onto a cooling rack and brush with melted butter. Let it cool completely before slicing and serving.
Secrets to Success
The original recipe given to me was a little vague about how long it should rise. The description was “until double.” And without a lot of experience bread baking, it’s hard to tell when your bread has fully doubled in size.
I found that the easiest way to tell if your bread is done rising is the finger-poke test. Press your finger about 1/2 inch into the dough. If it springs back instantly, your bread could rise a bit longer. If the dough collapses under your finger and doesn’t spring back, it’s risen for too long. However, if your dough slowly and springs back but still has a slight indentation, it’s just about perfect.
With the first two rises, don’t worry if your bread rises a bit too long. You can knead the dough a little when you punch it down, and it it will turn out just fine. In fact, the longer the rise, the better the flavor and the texture of your bread.
Although the shortening in this bread adds a few extra calories, I’m impressed at how much fiber you can get in each serving:
This bread is perfect for slicing into thin pieces for sandwiches, so I managed about 12 thick slices. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if you managed to squeeze out 14 slices if you have a steady hand. Keep in mind that the size of your slice will affect how many calories are in each piece.
Did You Try It?
I love the flavor of this bread, and I definitely think it’s one of my favorites. Wheat flour may seem more challenging than all-purpose, but I think it’s definitely more rewarding when it turns out right. This recipe is a great way to get you started with wheat flour, and I’m excited to see how you do.
Let me know if you tried this bread and whether you liked it in the comments.