Recipe: Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread

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Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread (Wendy Goodfriend)

When I was a professional baker, quite a few years ago now, I used to wake up when everyone else was leaving the bars and head to the bakery in the inky-black night to start making dough for all sorts of breads and pastries. It was tiring work, and I never quite got used to the crazy hours, but there was something magical in that time. The physical aspect of making bread, something so simple and basic, was invigorating, and the smiles and happiness that a warm baguette brought customers was reward enough.

I got out of the habit of baking my own bread until a few years ago when I started teaching at the San Francisco Cooking School. In one of my fundamentals classes we learn to make the basics of yeast bread. And this recipe is one of my favorites. It makes an incredible sandwich bread – hearty and wheaty and moist and just dense enough – and even better toast when slathered with butter and maybe some homemade marmalade.

Make sure you use active dry yeast, which is different than instant or rapid rise; active dry needs to be proofed before using, which means it needs to be mixed with a warm liquid (less than 105°F and it won’t activate, and higher than 115°F will kill the yeast).

Sliced Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread
Sliced Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe: Whole-Wheat Honey Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 lb unbleached bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110–115°F)
  • 1/2 lb whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, honey, half of the bread flour, and the water until combined. Let the mixture stand until the yeast dissolves and foamy bubbles appear, about 5 minutes (it should look like a latte). Add the remaining bread and whole wheat flours, the wheat bran, 2 tbsp of the butter, and salt. Using the dough hook, mix the dough starting on low speed and then increasing the speed to medium, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky.

  • Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Form it into a ball. Clean out the mixing bowl and then grease it with a little olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, turning the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with greased plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  • Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle that’s about 1/2-inch thick, with the short end the length of the loaf pan. Roll the dough into a tight log, then pinch together the seam. Place in the pan, seam side down. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Make sure not to overproof the bread or it will collapse when you bake it.
  • While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 375°F. Carefully remove the plastic wrap. Gently brush with the remaining 1 tbsp melted butter. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until browned and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom or sides, about 30 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
  • Sliced Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread
    Sliced Homemade Whole-Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread (Wendy Goodfriend)