How to Make Soft Honey Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Berries

Using seven simple ingredients and no preservatives, this family favorite honey whole wheat bread is hearty and super soft! More affordable and taster than store-bought bread. Whether you’re a pro baker or just starting your bread journey, this post will show you step-by-step how to make the best whole wheat bread using freshly milled wheat!

Loaf of bread with a few slices of bread lying in front. Wheat berries in a jar in the background.

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Honey Whole Wheat Bread

  • This recipe keeps it’s simple with just seven ingredients! Yep, you read that right, only six!
  • The sweet aroma of freshly baked bread filling your house. It doesn’t get more nostalgic than that for me!
  • Just the right amount of chewy with the crust and soft texture inside.
  • It’s packed with hearty goodness and flavor, milling your wheat keeps all the good parts of the wheat berry that you don’t get with bread at the store!
  • Makes the best crispy toast and sandwiches, you’ll never go back to store-bought bread!
Three slices of bread slightly stacked with bread loaf, jar of honey and wheat berries in the background.

Ingredients You’ll Need for This Honey Whole Wheat Bread

  • Warm water: Activates yeast and provides structure.
  • Active dry yeast: Make sure to use fresh yeast.
  • Honey: Feeds yeast and adds sweetness.
  • Oil: I love using avocado, melted coconut oil, or melted butter. Any mild-flavored oil will work.
  • Wheat berries for grinding: My favorite for bread is hard white wheat, but you can also use store-bought wheat flour.
  • Salt: Essential for flavor.
  • Butter: For buttering bread loaf tops.
  • Vital wheat gluten: Higher in protein, it helps improve the bread’s structure and elasticity, giving it a good rise.
  • Butter, shortening, or non-stick spray: For greasing the pans and your counter when shaping bread loaves.

Supplies You’ll Need to Complete This Recipe

  • Stand Mixer and dough attachment: I love the Bosch mixer I have had mine for over 10 years, and it’s still going strong. If you’re using a stand mixer like a kitchen aide, you need to make sure the motor is big enough motor to be able to knead the dough. You could totally make it by hand, too! 
  • Grain mill: I use a Nutrimill and love it.
  • Measuring tools.
  • Rubber spatula for scraping down sides of the bowl.
  • Three bread pans, I use an 8″x4″ bread pan.
  • Large bowl for rising dough, you could also leave it in the mixer bowl.
  • Clean dish towel or plastic wrap to cover dough when rising.
  • Kitchen scale for measuring dough, optional.

Tin for Eating Freshly Milled Wheat

Whole wheat you buy at the store and bread made with freshly milled wheat are not the same. Store-bought wheat bread is not 100% wheat.

Whole wheat flour sold in stores often has the bran and germ stripped from it, so it stores better on the shelves. This means store-bought flour may contain less fiber than home-milled wheat flour, which has all the fiber still present after milling.

If you are not used to consuming a lot of fiber, this freshly milled wheat bread may give you a “rumbly in your tumbly”. (name that cartoon) 

If you are worried about the “rumbly,” I have a tip! Anytime we’ve taken a significant break from eating homemade wheat bread, I use about half white all-purpose flour and half wheat to help ease us back into 100% whole wheat. If you go this route, you don’t need to add the vital wheat gluten. The white flour helps compensate for the elasticity the vital wheat gluten provides.

whole loaf of whole wheat bread on a cutting board with jar of honey and a jar of wheat berries in background.

How to Make Soft Honey Whole Wheat Bread

MILL YOUR WHEAT

Mill your wheat into fine flour. I love my Nutrimill!

Before picture of wheat berries in grain mill, after picture of wheat flour.

PROOF YOUR YEAST

Activate the yeast. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to bloom. You’ll know it’s bloomed when it starts to look frothy. The time will depend on how warm your house is.

Before and after of proofing yeast.

MAKE A SPONGE

Freshly milled wheat flour soaks up more water than store-bought flour. Adding too much flour to your bread dough will result in dry and crumbly bread loaves. To help avoid this, I like to make a simple sponge first and let the flour soak up some water before adding more. 

To do this, add yeast mixture, half the honey, and about four cups of your milled flour and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flour to soak up the water. 

Before and after of whole wheat flour and other ingredients making a sponge.

FORMING DOUGH

Freshly milled wheat flour soaks up more water than store-bought flour. Adding too much flour to your bread dough will result in dry and crumbly bread loaves. To help avoid this, I like to make a simple sponge first and let the flour soak up some water before adding more. 

To do this, add yeast mixture, half the honey, and about four cups of your milled flour and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flour to soak up the water. 

Before picture in mixer with ingredients, second picture of dough starting to come together.

You’re looking for a smooth dough that is tacky but not too sticky. Too sticky means your dough is still too wet. When it starts looking smoother and is less tacky, I know we’re getting close. At the tacky stage, I stop adding flour and let it knead. It will get smoother and work than gluten, making the dough elastic.

See how the dough on the right below looks smoother and, when touched, is less tacky. Very little dough comes off on my hand. This is the point where I just let the dough knead. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Before an after picture of dough that is two wet and one that is perfectly tacky.

WINDOW PANE TEST

When the dough looks smoother and stretchier while pulling away from the dough hook during kneading, turn off the mixer and test if it’s ready for its first rise using the windowpane test. To do this, grab a small piece of dough with two fingers and stretch it apart. If it gets thin enough to let light through without tearing, it’s ready. If it rips easily and isn’t stretchy, keep kneading.

FIRST RISE

Add finished dough to a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, place in a warm place, and let the dough rise until doubled in size. This should take around 15 minutes but will depend on how warm your house is. 

SHAPE LOAVES

Grease your countertop. I prefer not to use more flour when shaping my loaves since I already have it just how I want it in the dough. So, I grease the counter with shortening or non-stick spray. You can use a lightly floured surface, but this works best for me.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and add it to your prepared counter. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, shape your loaves, and add to your loaf pan. I use these pans, and my dough is usually around 23-25 ounces per loaf.

SECOND RISE

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. If you think your house is warmer and loaves will be ready before your oven preheats, then go ahead and preheat your oven during the first rise. Once loaves are shaped and in the pans, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double in size. You’ll know the dough is ready when you poke. It springs back slowly and leaves an indent.

Before picture of shaped dough loaf in greased bread pan. After picture of same picture but dough has risen and doubled in size.

BAKE BREAD

Bake bread at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know your loaf is ready when it’s golden brown all around or the internal temperature reads 190ºF-200ºF. The sweet spot for me is always 190ºF.

​LET COOL

When the bread is finished baking, remove the pans from the oven, turn the loaves onto a cooling rack, and butter the top of the loaves. 

Over head shot of full loaf of wheat bread.

ENJOY!

We love our homemade bread recipe! We also love my Great Aunt Jean’s white bread, it makes the best white sandwich bread, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls!

Honey being drizzled on a slice of buttered whole wheat bread.

FAQS

How to store honey whole wheat bread?

Store in a bread bag in a cool spot for 3-4 days. Since this honey whole wheat bread is preservative-free, it won’t last as long as store-bought bread. Storing it in the fridge will help prevent mold and make it last longer. To freeze, wrap the cooled loaves in a few layers of plastic wrap and a bread bag for up to 3 months. Just a heads-up, it might be a bit drier after freezing.

Can I make this whole wheat bread if I don’t have a grain mill?

Absolutely! No worries if you don’t have a grain mill. You can easily use store-bought whole wheat flour instead. Just swap it in and you’re good to go! I always say, “Do the best you can with what you have,” and using store-bought whole wheat flour is totally fine! It’s all about getting started and learning, and it’s still way healthier than store-bought bread!

Do I have to use vital wheat gluten?

Nope, you don’t have to use vital wheat gluten. It adds more protein, which helps with gluten development for softer, higher-rising loaves. If you prefer, you can just skip it or add in some all-purpose or bread flour to make up for it. Your bread will still turn out delicious either way!

Where do I buy wheat berries?

You can snag bulk wheat berries from spots like Azure Standard, Winco, and Amazon. A quick internet search might even lead you to a local grower.

RECIPE

Soft Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Using seven simple ingredients and no preservatives, this family favorite honey whole wheat bread is hearty and super soft!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serving Size 3 loaves

Ingredients

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 5-6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or a mild oil like, avocado or coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Instructions

  • Freshly milled wheat flour soaks up more water than store-bought flour. Adding too much flour to your bread dough will result in dry and crumbly bread loaves. To help avoid this, I like to make a simple sponge first and let the flour soak up some water before adding more. 
    To do this, add yeast mixture, half the honey, and about four cups of your milled flour and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flour to soak up the water. 
  • Freshly milled wheat flour soaks up more water than store-bought flour. Adding too much flour to your bread dough will result in dry and crumbly bread loaves. To help avoid this, I like to make a simple sponge first and let the flour soak up some water before adding more. 
    To do this, add yeast mixture, half the honey, and about four cups of your milled flour and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flour to soak up the water. 
  • You're looking for a smooth dough that is tacky but not too sticky. Too sticky means your dough is still too wet. When it starts looking smoother and is less tacky, I know we're getting close. At the tacky stage, I stop adding flour and let it knead. It will get smoother and work than gluten, making the dough elastic. Knead dough for about 10 minutes.
  • When the dough looks smoother and stretchier while pulling away from the dough hook during kneading, turn off the mixer and test if it's ready for its first rise using the windowpane test. To do this, grab a small piece of dough with two fingers and stretch it apart. If it gets thin enough to let light through without tearing, it's ready. If it rips easily and isn't stretchy, keep kneading.
  • Add finished dough to a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, place in a warm place, and let the dough rise until doubled in size. This should take around 15 minutes but will depend on how warm your house is. 
  • Grease your countertop. I prefer not to use more flour when shaping my loaves since I already have it just how I want it in the dough. So, I grease the counter with shortening or non-stick spray. You can use a lightly floured surface, but this works best for me.
    Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and add it to your prepared counter. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, shape your loaves, and add to your loaf pan. I use 8"x4" braed pans, and my dough is usually around 23-25 ounces per loaf.
  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF. If you think your house is warmer and loaves will be ready before your oven preheats, then go ahead and preheat your oven during the first rise. Once loaves are shaped and in the pans, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double in size. You'll know the dough is ready when you poke. It springs back slowly and leaves an indent.
  • Bake bread at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes. You'll know your loaf is ready when it's golden brown all around or the internal temperature reads 190ºF-200ºF. The sweet spot for me is always 190ºF.
  • When the bread is finished baking, remove the pans from the oven, turn the loaves onto a cooling rack, and butter the top of the loaves. 

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