It doesn’t really matter what day it is… there’s just something about fresh, homemade, perfect wheat bread that makes me happy. It could be 100 or -20 degrees outside and it wouldn’t matter to me. Give me a slice of warm, perfect wheat bread with honey butter and I’m your new BFF. (For the record, fresh homemade bread with strawberry jam or plain butter qualify for BFF status, too!)
Anyway, this recipe is a variation of one that my mom and grandmother learned at a cooking class at Shar’s Kitchen. I haven’t personally taken any of their classes, but I remember how highly my mom spoke of them.
Ready for some awesome, perfect wheat bread in just a few hours? Then let’s do this!
If you can, you’ll want to start by grinding your own wheat. If you can’t or don’t want to, don’t stress. You can use bread flour, plain ole flour, or a mix of flours and it’ll still be amazing. Personally, I’m a big fan of the freshly ground stuff. My husband and kids seem to like the taste of a mix of flours: 75% whole wheat and 25% bread flour mix. Whichever flour you choose, that’s awesome. Go with it. You’re makin’ bread and that’s pretty stinking amazing.
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You’ll also need to have your mixer ready. If you don’t have a mixer (or you’re ready for one that’ll last for-ev-er), this is the best mixer of all time. Seriously.
- 6 cups warm water, 115 degrees Fahrenheit
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2/3 cup honey
- 3 tbsp dough enhancer
- 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 cup Flax seed meal
- 3-4 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
- 3 tbsp yeast
- 6-10 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
Add the ingredients in this order.
- Pour the warm water into your mixing bowl. While the official recommendation is to have it at 115 degrees Fahrenheit, I turn the tap all the way warm and that’s generally the right temperature.
- Add the salt. I’ve also used kosher salt – although if you do, you’ll want to do closer to 2.25 tablespoons or the bread will lack that extra oomph.
- Using a 2/3 cup measuring cup, add the oil followed by the honey. Using the same cup and adding the oil first will help the honey slide out of the measuring cup easier.
- Add the dough enhancer. It took me a few years to decide that this was actually a good idea. It does make a difference to the flavor – in a great way. Don’t leave it out – your mouth will thank me.
- Add the vital wheat gluten OR 2 cups high gluten bread flour. I know that gluten is a hot topic. I’ve made the bread without this just fine, though the bread doesn’t rise as well. I've experimented with adding only a few tablespoons in (like 3) and the bread is just fine.
- Add the flax seed meal and 3 to 4 cups of freshly ground flour.
- Add the yeast.
Making the dough
- Mix the ingredients together for a few moments, just enough to get the yeast into the hot water, sugar, and flour.
- Then turn off your mixer, put the lid on, and WALK AWAY for 10-15 minutes. This is to give the yeast time to activate.
- Next, you’ll turn on the mixer and start adding flour - anywhere from 6-10 cups, depending on the type of flour you use. How much exactly? Well, you’re going to keep adding flour until the all the dough is pulled off the sides and bottom of the mixer. The goal is to use the least amount of flour possible to achieve this. Why? Using the least amount of flour possible means you’ll have super yummy bread – and it won’t be dry or crumbly.
- I turn the mixer off when I add flour, then turn it on for a minute to evaluate how much more I need to add. I do this because I have four small children who like to help… and I like their fingers where they are – attached. You can leave it on while adding flour if you’re better at pouring flour than me, don’t have small helpers who like to touch things they shouldn’t, or if you’re okay with the possibility of having to clean up large amounts of flour scattered around your kitchen because it shot right back out of the top of the mixer.
- Let it knead for about 10 minutes with the lid on (for safety).
- Next, we're going to let the bread rise. There are two ways to do this, and both are equally right. It just depends on how much time you have available and how patient your taste buds are. If you have time, keep going. If not, skip ahead to the instructions on Final Rise and Cooking the Bread.
You've Got Time & Patience - Let the Bread Rise for Up to 24 Hours
- If you’ve got time (and planned ahead), this is my preferred way to make bread. When bread rises more slowly, it creates a richer flavor for the bread.
- Once the bread is done kneading, dump it all into a well-greased bowl or bin. Cover it and let it sit in a cool spot for up to 24 hours. I like to stick mine in my cold storage room. The fridge also works.
- Once it’s doubled in size, go ahead and punch the dough. Not only is it therapeutic, but it’ll also help the dough get back to a manageable amount.
- Now you're ready for the final rise and cooking the bread.
Final Rise and Cooking the Bread
- Grease your bread pans. For ease of use and how easily they clean up, these are by far my favorite bread pans.
- Once the bread is done kneading and is a beautiful ball of dough, make sure you have a large area of clean and clear counter space (or a giant life-changing silicone pastry mat and oil your hands. I’ve used both oil spray and from the jug – and in my experience, the spray is easier to use.
- OH! A quick heads up. If you want regular, perfect wheat bread, please continue. But if you want to add some cinnamon goodness, well, click here to make cinnamon swirl bread.
- Pour out the dough and divide it into 6-8 equal parts. I use a plastic dough scraper when cutting my dough to avoid damaging my pastry mat.
- Shape the dough into an elongated shape so it will fit into your preferred bread pans. Place the dough into the pans.
- Place the pans somewhere safe and warm to rise. I put them on the top of my stove and start preheating it to 350 degrees. Then cover each loaf or pan of rolls with a towel so they don't dry out.
- Let the loaves rise for about thirty minutes, or until they double in size. Don’t wait any longer than that, because they’ll still rise some while you cook them.
- Then, cook them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes. The official recommendation is to cook them until the interior bread temperature is 200, but I’ve never checked that because I don’t like holes in my bread. Between my oven’s quirks and the glass pans, 35 minutes has proven to be just perfect.
- When I pull the pans out of the oven, I set the still-full pans on a cooling rack for about five minutes. This helps the sides of the loaf set up better so the loaf doesn’t collapse on itself. Because nobody likes squishy bread.
- Next, take the bread out of the pans. Let them cool on the cooling racks. I admit: I’m not good with this step. I want to eat the bread I just spent 90 minutes or more making!
- Time to enjoy! After I’ve eaten too much good bread, I let the bread finish cooling on a cooling rack under a towel. When it’s cool, put it into a bread bag and freeze it for up to a month. It doesn’t last that long in our house, because I eat it.
Power-Up Your Bread
- If you make your own Greek yogurt, you can easily substitute room temperature whey for equal amounts of water. It does NOT affect the flavor of the bread and adds protein and other nutrients.
Bread Not Rising Right?
- Cut back to 2 1/2 tablespoons of yeast. Altitude, humidity, yeast age, and all sorts of other things can affect your bread. This little trick is a lifesaver!
How Much Flour to Add:
- If you use too much flour, it’ll be dry and crumbly. You can add a little bit of water to fix that. Just add it slowly – and in small amounts.
- If you don’t use enough flour, then your dough will be super sticky. It’s super hard to knead – or form into loaves. Add some more flour and your life will be a lot easier. Again, though, add it slowly – and in small amounts.
- Did you find the perfect Goldilocks level? No? Okay – keep working at it. Once you’ve got it, you’ll know and we can move on.
Serving Size1 slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 135Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 60mgCarbohydrates 27gFiber 4gSugar 1gProtein 5g
Time to enjoy that bread!
This is our favorite bread by far – nothing in the store comes close to it! And, stay tuned because I’m working on a version of this exact recipe that’s compatible with a bread machine.
Oh – and this bread is super budget-friendly
Once you’ve got the gear, the costs for making bread at home are quite minimal. In fact, I did some math to figure out what it’s costing me. And, based off a recent power bill and the cost of ingredients, I love that I can make amazing wheat bread in as little as two hours and for less than $1 a loaf.
And if I needed to, I could cut that down further by skipping the flaxseed meal, the dough enhancer, and the vital wheat gluten. I don’t recommend skipping those, though, unless you use a mix of flours. Using a mix of flour I just ground myself with some store-bought bread flour usually gives the bread enough strength and elasticity to rise properly.
Now go enjoy making some amazing bread. I’m certain you’ll love it, too.