Oh my goodness!!! This honey whole wheat bread is so so good. It is slightly sweet, earthy, nutty moist and DELISH! I am partial because I would eat moist whole wheat over white bread any day . . . BUT even my kids love this bread. My son is super picky but he will choose honey whole wheat over any other. This bread is a BIT healthier too with no refined sugar and the goodness of whole grain. It is a little more finicky than white bread recipes but I am about to share tips and tricks to make it turn out great. . . Every . . .Time!
Flavor stars of this recipe:
This honey whole wheat bread recipe is great because of some flavor boosters that you may not expect.
The honey in this whole wheat bread gives it a lightly sweet flavor that really compliments the nutty flavor of the whole wheat.
Honey is natural! As such it tends to be easier for our bodies to digest. Refined sugars are good to avoid when possible as they can have chemicals and additives. Compared to refined sugars, health benefits of honey include less of a spike and crash of blood sugar as well as trace vitamins and minerals like magnesium and potassium.
Honey is still sugar as far as your body is concerned so eating in moderation is a best. . . . honey tends to TASTE sweeter though so we don’t need to use as much of it in recipes. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of honey but you could even back that down to 1/4 cup . . . don’t remove it all together though. I promise you will miss it!
Okay, so while molasses is not a refined sugar, it is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. If you haven’t tasted molasses, it has a rich earthy and almost bitter flavor but not in a BAD way. It adds a depth of richness and flavor not to mention beautiful, dark brown color to this bread.
Molasses, specifically “blackstrap” molasses is full of bone and blood healthy minerals like iron, selenium, calcium, B6 and copper. Even though it has some nutritional value molasses is STILL a sugar and should be used in moderation.
WHAT?! YUP you heard right COCOA Powder. . . leave it to me to find a way to infuse CHOCOLATE into bread.
While this is not a CHOCOLATE bread and does not taste chocolatey at all the rich, earthy, warm flavor is there. . . just a small amount of cocoa powder really amps up the flavor profile.
This is UNSWEETENED, all natural cocoa powder mind you and the earthy, warm aroma of this bread is unmatched because of it. Cocoa has been known to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too so let’s just call this “Health Bread” (wink, wink)
. . Please just TRUST me on this one and add the cocoa powder . . . M-Kay?!
Why is whole wheat better for you?
Whole wheat contains ALL the nutritious parts of the wheat berry. . . the bran (outer layer), germ (innermost layer) and endosperm (starchy in-between layer). White flour contains only endosperm so is very starchy with little nutrients. . .
Whole wheat is higher in iron, potassium, Vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium. It is also a great source of fiber and complex carbs which helps to keep blood sugar from rising too quickly. It is also surprisingly high in plant based protein.
In the bread making world, the bran and the germ of whole wheat tends to interfere with gluten development of the dough making it difficult to achieve a good rise and a get bread that holds together for a sandwich.
The high fiber content of whole wheat really absorbs water in a whole wheat recipe and can cause your bread to be very dry and crumbly if you do not add enough water to the dough. It is difficult to achieve a light but moist, tender but sturdy sandwich quality whole wheat bread. . . Until NOW!!!
FEAR NOT I have mastered honey whole wheat bread for you . . .
Here are 5 tips/tricks for baking better whole wheat
1. Keep your dough moist/sticky:
- Keep your dough very moist during the initial knead. Do not be tempted to add too much flour.
- Your freshly mixed whole wheat dough should be somewhere between cake batter and regular white bread dough consistency. It will still hold together in a loose ball but will feel pretty STICKY. Trust me after the first rise much of the water will be gone.
2. Add more FAT! Butter IS Better . . .
- Fat in any bread recipe helps retain richness and moisture but is especially important with whole wheat. It helps to make the loaf more tender with a finer grain.
- I use a 1/4 cup of soft butter in this recipe to keep the loaf moist and toothsome but you could easily substitute lard or coconut oil.
3. it GO! . . . rise longer
- Let your whole wheat dough rest and rise a bit longer than you would white. . we are looking at 2 hours of rise time or more for this loaf.
- It takes longer for whole wheat to develop a gluten network what with all that yummy bran and germ. Bran and germ is heavy so requires more time for the fermenting yeast to do its work.
- I would not recommend letting this rise more than 3 hours. A 90 minute initial rise followed by a 60 minute final rise seems to be just the right amount for this recipe.
4. Don’t be an Over-mixer
- The sharp bran can cut apart gluten strands if you knead it too much – making the dough tough but crumbly in the end. It can also prevent a nice rise.
- Mix the dough enough to JUST come together in a consistency more relaxed than white dough. This is ALMOST a no knead dough and can be successfully made by hand with a bowl and stirred with spoon.
5. Okay so I’m not a whole wheat purest – add SOME white flour:
- Baking white flour is more forgiving. The extra starch and protein in the endosperm will create a stronger dough that is able to trap gases produced by the yeast. This gives your dough a better rise and holds it’s shape. . .
- Even a little bit of white flour can help your loaf rise and lighten it up a bit while maintaining much of the flavor and goodness of whole wheat.
What you need:
- 1 C warm water (110-115 degrees)
- 4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 C honey
- 1 C WHITE bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp UNSWEETENED cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp molasses
- 1 egg
- 1/4 C softened butter
- 2 1/2 – 3 C Whole wheat bread flour
How to make it:
In a small bowl, dissolve honey in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for at least 5 minutes and allow yeast to soften and become bubbly.
In bowl of stand mixer add 1 Cup of WHITE flour, salt and cocoa powder.
FYI: my salt here is PINK Himalayan sea salt.
Once yeast is active and bubbly, pour into bowl of mixer with flour/salt/cocoa and mix well.
If you don’t have a stand mixer you could certainly make this by hand in a large bowl. Just stir ingredients together. This is almost a no-knead dough.
Mix in molasses, egg and softened butter at medium speed or by hand until MOSTLY incorporated.
Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and mix, scraping sides of bowl as your go.
Measure another 1 cup of whole wheat flour, add to bowl and continue to scrape sides and mix.
Add another 1/2 cup – up to 1 cup of whole wheat flour in small amounts at a time. Mix in between additions. You don’t want to add too much flour.
You want flour mixed in but to still remain sticky. Aim for the consistency thicker than a batter but not as tight as a regular white dough.
Remove the dough from bowl and form into a loose ball. Oil, spray or butter your bowl and return dough, cover with tea towel and allow to rise in warm place. – FIRST RISE 90-120 minutes. You want the dough to almost double.
Punch dough down, remove from bowl, fold twice in half and form into final shape for baking.
Butter/grease a loaf pan and place dough inside. Set aside for FINAL RISE 30-60 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from oven, butter the top and allow to cool before removing from pan and slicing.
If you love this recipe try my Easy Artisan French Bread.
Leave a Comment Below: White or Whole Wheat- What is your favorite bread?
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- 1 C warm water (110-115 degrees)
- 4 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 C honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 C softened butter
- 2 1/2 - 3 C Whole Wheat Bread Flour
- 1 Cup White Bread Flour
- 2 Tbsp Baking Cocoa Powder
- 3 Tbsp Molasses
- In a small bowl, dissolve honey in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for at least 5 minutes and allow yeast to soften and become bubbly.
- In bowl of stand mixer add 1 Cup of White flour, cocoa powder and salt.
- Once yeast is active and bubbly, add it to bowl of mixer with flour/salt/cocoa.
- Using the dough hook attachment (or a spoon if making by hand) mix all ingredients until mostly combined.
- Add egg, molasses and softened butter and mix again medium speed or by hand until MOSTLY incorporated.
- Add 1 cup of Whole Wheat flour and mix well, scraping sides of bowl as you go.
- Add another 1 cup of Whole Wheat Flour and mix/knead, scraping sides of bowl.
- Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of Whole Wheat Flour in 1/4 cup increments. (just a little at a time) You are looking for dough be mixed but still sticky - thicker than a batter but not as stiff as white dough.
- Remove from bowl and form into a loose ball. Oil/butter bowl and return dough to bowl, cover with tea towel and allow to rise in warm place until about doubled. - FIRST RISE 90-120 minutes
- Punch dough down, remove from bowl, fold twice in half and form into final shape for baking.
- Butter/grease a loaf pan and place dough inside. Set aside for FINAL RISE 30-60 minutes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from oven, tub top of loaf with soft butter and allow to cool before removing from pan and slicing.
5 Tips to Make Better Whole Wheat Bread:
- Keep dough moist/sticky - whole wheat flour absorbs a lot of moisture while it rises. Don't mix in too much flour in the begining or resulting loaf will be dry/crumbly.
- Add Fat/Butter - Fat in the dough makes the resulting loaf moist, rich and flavorful.
- Let it rise longer - plan to let a whole wheat loaf rise longer than a white loaf. It takes longer for gases and gluten networks to form.
- Don't overmix - the sharp bran in the whole wheat can cut apart the gluten strands when overmixed resulting in a dense, crumbly loaf.
- Add White flour to the recipe - just a bit a white flour to a whole wheat recipe helps to lighten the loaf and produce a better overall rise.