Ever since I started making sourdough bread, I’ve been giving other breads some serious side eye. Nothing is comparable to the taste and texture of sourdough and using instant yeast in place of a natural leavener seems like a major cop out to me. Why go the easy route when a slightly more involved one will yield incomparable results, right?
Right! Except for when I’m so busy I simply can’t find the time to make bread, which seems to be the case quite often these days. Sometimes, if I’m really desperate, I’ll turn to the bagged sandwich loaf we occasionally have on the counter, but I never feel good about eating something that is so full of preservatives and which I know I could easily make myself.
That’s where this easy, classic whole wheat loaf comes in. It’s pretty much the sandwich bread of my dreams- as good with pb&j as it is with scrambled eggs, as perfect for grilled cheese as it is for toast- but it’s homemade rather than store bought, so it’s fresher, tastier and healthier.
It’s also refined sugar free, vegan if you skip the egg wash, and takes around 3 hours of mostly hands off time from start to finish. I’ve tried it with different ratios of whole wheat to all purpose flour and although the one I’ve listed below is my personal favorite, the bread rose beautifully and came out delicious each time, so you can definitely play around with the flours a bit.
Sourdough bread or not, I’ll be making this loaf again and again. It’s such a great staple to have on hand, it comes together easily, and it freezes and reheats well. Get baking, everyone. Breakfast and lunch just got so much better!
Yield: 1 loaf of bread, 12 slices (recipe is easily doubled)
Why I love this recipe: I love that this bread is healthy, simple to make, and so much tastier and fresher than store bought sandwich bread. It’s perfect for grilled cheese, avocado toast, eggs, or butter and jam, and for convenience’s sake, can be sliced and stored in the freezer, where it keeps for one month. Just reheat in the toaster!
Variations: make it vegan by substituting maple syrup for the honey and a few tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil for the egg wash. Use all whole wheat flour or part spelt or rye flour in place of the flours listed below.
For the bread:
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose or bread flour
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 egg yolk, mixed with a drop of water, for egg wash
- Combine the warm water and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to dissolve the honey.
- Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the flours and salt to the mixture. Knead in the mixer until the dough is smooth and cohesive, about 7-10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel or a piece of plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until puffy and double the original size, around 1 1/2 hours.
- After the first rise, lightly flour the counter. Tip the dough out onto the counter and using one hand, shape the ball of dough into a round, turning it clockwise on the counter, like a dial.
- Gently tuck any ragged edges beneath the dough, creating a dome-like ball of dough. Let it rest, covered with a clean dish towel, for 10-20 minutes.
- Grease a standard 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan. Shape the loaf: fold one side of the dome in toward the center, and then the other side over it. Starting at the top, roll the dough tightly into a log.
- Transfer the loaf, seam side down, into the prepared pan. Cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise until the top of the loaf pokes over the rim of the pan, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush the loaf with the egg yolk. Bake until risen and golden brown, around 25-30 minutes.
- Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then gently release the bread from the pan to finish cooling.