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My Favorite Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Half whole-wheat, half white flour, this loaf is soft and flavorful, and sturdy enough to make a great sandwich.


  • 1 1/2 cups cool water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour


  1. Add water, yeast, sugar, ground flax seed, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add whole wheat and all-purpose flour to the mixer.
  3. Mix using a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed for 4 minutes. If mixing by hand, knead on a lightly floured counter for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Leave the dough to rise in the mixing bowl for 1-2 hours, covered with a clean towel.
  5. Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, or looks pillowy and nicely domed, scrape out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Shape the dough into a log by folding it in half several times, first left-to-right and then top-to-bottom. Tuck the folded sides underneath, then place in a lightly oiled bread pan.
  7. Leave for a second rise of about 1 hour, covered with a clean towel.
  8. About 15 minutes before you're ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. Bake on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes or until the top crust is a nice golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan before removing to finish cooling on a rack.


Cooling: As tempting as it is to cut into that hot, aromatic loaf right away, the bread will slice much better once it's at least mostly cool!

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Half whole-wheat, half white flour, this loaf is soft and flavorful, and sturdy enough to make a great sandwich.

I’m on a never-ending quest to find the perfect bread recipe, and it’s come as a revelation to me that there is no such thing. At least, the perfect bread recipe has to come in the context of the perfect bread for what?

I love an all-whole-wheat loaf, but the rest of my family doesn’t. Too dense and crumbly. (But the flavor is so rich!) No convincing them.

I also love a chewy sourdough loaf with a really crusty crust. It goes so perfectly with a steak dinner paired with squash or asparagus. But that crust doesn’t make for an ideal sandwich.

So, the perfect sandwich loaf for me and our family is this sturdy, soft, flavorful bread that’s half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flour. Add in some ground flax seeds for an extra boost of nutrition, and it’s the perfect loaf.

Let’s Talk Ingredients

Cool water: The way bread fits into my daily schedule means that cool water is ideal. So here’s what I do. I mix up the dough after lunch and leave it for the first rise for about 1.5-2 hours. I don’t want it rising too fast, so the cool water provides for slower yeast growth.

If you want a faster rise, use warm water.

If you want to start the dough in the morning, to bake for an evening meal, mix up the dough with warm water, and allow it to rise for 30 minutes before moving it to the refrigerator. Take the dough out of the fridge about 1 hour before you want to bake it, shaping and transferring to a loaf pan.

Yeast: I use rapid-rise or instant yeast. If you’re planning to do a lot of bread baking, it’s a good idea to buy yeast in bulk rather than in small packets. Once a large package of yeast has been opened, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to stay fresh. I keep it in the freezer in a sealed container.

If you’re using a small packet of yeast, the amount in each packet will usually be about 2 1/4 teaspoons. Go ahead and use the whole packet. Just dump it on in there. If you’re measuring from another container, 2 teaspoons should do it.

Salt: Any type of table salt will work fine here. I use fine sea salt or kosher salt just because that’s what I keep on hand.

Sugar: I like to keep white sugar out of my cooking whenever possible, and this recipe is a great place to use a healthier substitute such as sucanat, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. You really could even get by with skipping the sugar altogether.

Ground flax seed: Flax seed is one of those super-healthy foods, high in fiber, healthy oils, micronutrients, and antioxidants. Sneak it into your baking whenever possible. If you buy it in bulk pre-ground, store it in the freezer to prevent it from becoming rancid.

The 1 Tablespoon called for here doesn’t add any flavor or noticeable texture. But it’s visible as small flecks of brown, which I think adds interest and makes the loaf look rustic without making it extra textured, which my little flock tends to object to.

Whole wheat flour: I use fresh ground whole wheat, as I’m fortunate enough to have a wheat grinder. Fresh ground whole wheat flour acts quite a bit differently in recipes (and has much better nutritive properties) than the whole wheat flour you buy at the store.

Either one should work in this recipe, but you might need to decrease the amount of whole-wheat flour slightly if you’re using whole-wheat flour that’s not freshly ground.

My standby wheat varieties are prairie gold (soft white wheat) and spelt (an ancient grain – hard red wheat). The loaf works equally well with either of these, but they come out with different coloring and flavor profiles. Both are equally delicious.

All-purpose flour: The white flour here allows this bread to have a tall rise and good structure. In the case of my family, it’s the compromise that helps me to convince the kids to eat some whole wheat.

I use unbleached Sir Galahad flour from King Arthur, which I buy in 50 lbs bags and store in large plastic bins in the pantry since we go through so much homemade bread. Any standard all-purpose flour will give satisfactory results.

Making the Bread

An important part of bread making is how it fits into your daily rhythm. I’ve included some tips about how to schedule the steps for making this loaf into your day.

Bread is so simple to make and takes such little hands-on time that there’s no reason not to make homemade bread part of your daily life!

Make the dough and first rise

Add the water, yeast, sugar, ground flax seed and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

Tip: Skip the yeast-proving step called for in most recipes. I’m all about finding shortcuts, and I’ve never had yeast fail to rise.

Add the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at the lowest speed using a dough hook attachment for 4 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, knead on a well-floured surface for 4-5 minutes.

The dough will be quite sticky and will not form a cohesive ball. Leave it in the mixing bowl (or move it back to the bowl after kneading by hand) and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Leave to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

Schedule tip: Mixing the dough should only take 5-10 minutes. My normal routine is to start the dough right after lunch so that a fresh-baked loaf is ready for dinner. If you’re not home during the middle of the day, you can start the dough in the morning or the night before. Allow to rise for 30 minutes at room temperature, then cover tightly and move to the refrigerator.

Shape the dough and second rise

Once the dough has nearly doubled in size or has a light pillowy look and a domed surface, it’s ready to be shaped.

Schedule tip: If you put the dough in the refrigerator, take it out about 1.5 hours before baking. Shape dough while cold (it will be easier to work), allowing an hour and a half for the second rise.

Gently scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured surface using a flour-coated rubber spatula.

Tip: I work my bread on a floured plastic cutting mat. This makes the cleanup much quicker and easier.

Gently fold the dough in half from top to bottom. Fold again from left to right. Repeat folding several times until the dough is holding its shape relatively well.

Tuck loose edges underneath as you shape the dough into an oblong that will fit into your loaf pan. Place the shaped loaf into a lightly oiled stoneware loaf pan. If you’re using a metal or glass loaf pan, I recommend lining it with parchment paper before putting the dough in.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Schedule tip: For a loaf ready for a 6 o’clock dinner, shape the loaf as described above by 3:30. It will then rise until 4:30, then bake and be out of the oven by 5:10, giving plenty of time to cool enough to slice easily, while still being tantalizingly warm and fresh.

Bake the bread

Preheat the oven to 350°F about 15 minutes before you plan to bake the bread.

Place the loaf on a rack in the middle of the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Look for a nicely browning top crust.

If you like a darker, crustier crust, you can increase the temperature to 375°F towards the second half of the bake time.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan before removing to finish cooling on a rack.

Those few minutes resting in the pan will allow the bread to sweat a little bit, loosening up the edges from the sides of the pan. If you try to take the loaf out too soon, you’re more likely to have a lot of it get stuck in the pan. If it does stick even after resting for 10 minutes, slide a flat spatula around the edges to loosen them up.

Finish cooling for at least half an hour on a rack before slicing. Use a serrated bread knife for the cleanest cuts.

More Tips

Storage: Store any leftovers in a gallon-size ziplock bag or other plastic bag and store at room temperature (for best texture). Be sure the bread is completely cool before putting it in a bag, otherwise it will sweat and become soggy inside the bag.

The bread will keep the freshest if not sliced. Cut off slices as you need them.

The bread will stay fresh for 1-2 days. After that, a quick toast will freshen up the slices for the best texture. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, the bread will stay mold-free for 4-5 days.

Freezing: If you want to have fewer bread-baking days, bake two or three loaves at a time and freeze some. Thoroughly cool and store in a sealed plastic freezer bag. To defrost, just set the bread on the counter 2-3 hours before you plan to use it.

The texture will be slightly more crumbly after freezing than it would be fresh, but the flavor is still great. If that slightly crumbly texture bothers you, try toasting the slices before using them to build your favorite sandwich.

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