Making homemade bread shouldn’t have to be intimidating. This Magic Multigrain Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread is great for novice and experienced home bakers looking for an easy, soft, whole grain bread recipe they can make from scratch.
Yeast bread has a reputation for being difficult, time-consuming, and all-around scary to bake.
Further, homemade sandwich bread is viewed as especially horrific (but not this Crock Pot Bread), since they must walk a texture tightrope: sturdy enough to withstand thin slicing and sloppy sauces, yet soft and tender enough to enjoy.
Want to make it whole wheat? You’re in for an even bigger challenge (unless it’s this 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough) since whole wheat flour is typically heavier than traditional all purpose or bread flour which means you run the risk of the final baed product being more of a “brick” than “bread” if don’t follow the recipe with care.
5 Star Review
“Made this yesterday with no changes and it turned out beautiful and very tasty! I’m still a novice with yeast bread, but the instructions made it foolproof!”— Marcia —
Well, what if I told you that in a few short, almost exclusively unattended hours you could be enjoying your very own gooey Avocado Grilled Cheese, tempting peanut butter toast, or Easy Kale Feta Egg Toast with 100 percent from scratch and 100 perfect whole wheat sandwich bread?
This magic multigrain whole wheat sandwich bread is what (a baker’s) dreams are made of!
Whether this is your first or your five-hundredth loaf of homemade bread, this homemade whole wheat sandwich bread couldn’t be easier to master (this Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread is another simple yeast bread recipe to try).
How to Make Magic Multigrain Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Magic multigrain whole wheat sandwich bread nails the sweet spot of being tender and fluffy, yet hearty. I call this bread “Magic” because it will both melt on your tongue with tenderness and hold up to whatever schmear of messy spreads or hearty toppings you desire. This is a multigrain sandwich bread that can take it (and so can this Rosemary Olive Oil Bread).
- Cornmeal + Wheat Bran. Key for giving this whole wheat multigrain bread the heftiness it needs to hold up to any sandwich (or toast) challenge you throw at it.
- Oatmeal. Our other whole grain addition to this magic multigrain bread offers a subtle nutty flavor and fantastic chew. (If you love oats in your bread, try my favorite Oatmeal Bread recipe.)
The above ingredients will be combined ahead of time into what’s called a soak. Translation: The grains are soaked together overnight before being added to the dough. This process juices up the grain’s enzymes, frees sugar from starch, and gives you a loaf with perfect texture and flavor.
- Water. I typically wouldn’t go into too much detail about water in a recipe. However, when it comes to making bread (like this Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread), water is critical. Measuring water accurately is key to achieving the proper hydration level for your dough and proper water temperature (usually 110-120 degrees F) is key for properly activating (and not killing) the yeast so you get the best rise possible.
- Yeast. For this recipe, I typically use active dry yeast which needs to be activated with warm water before incorporating it into the other ingredients as opposed to instant yeast which can be mixed right in with the other ingredients.
- Whole Wheat Flour. My love for whole wheat flour runs deep for its ability to sneak in extra plant-based protein, iron, and fiber into every carblicious bite of homemade baked goods (like these Whole Wheat Rhubarb Scones).
- Vital Wheat Gluten. My secret to pillowy soft homemade whole wheat bread (and Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Hazelnuts). Vital wheat gluten boosts the dough with extra protein which improves the elasticity and thus the overall crumb structure and softness of the bread.
- Brown Sugar. Lightly sweetens the bread and functions as food for the yeast while it ferments, proofs, ad bakes.
- Salt. Just a pinch (or two) to enhance and balance all the flavors of this wholesome homemade whole wheat sandwich bread.
- Brown Rice. Cooked brown rice adds lovely texture and a subtle chew throughout this whole grain bread recipe.
- Honey. Subtle sweetens and flavors this whole grain bread with the natural goodness of honey. (This Soft Pretzel Recipe is another honey-tastic bread recipe to try.)
- Buttermilk. Add a little extra fat and moisture to the dough for improved softness and tenderness.
- Topping. For an artisanal touch, I like to sprinkle the top of my homemade whole wheat bread with poppy seeds or oats before baking.
- The day before baking, prepare the soaker by combining the cornmeal, rolled oats, and wheat bran (or grains of your choice) with 1/4 cup water in a small bowl covered with plastic.
- Let the soaker sit overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, combine warm water and yeast and let stand until yeast is foamy.
- Next, stir together the whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, brown sugar, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine the soaker, brown rice, honey, and buttermilk then add to the dry ingredients along with the yeast mixture.
- Mix on your mixer’s lowest speed until a shaggy dough forms.
Increase to your mixer’s second speed and knead the bread for 6 minutes. (You may also knead by hand if desired.)
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and finish kneading by hand until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Not sure if your dough is proof properly? Test it by pressing two fingers gently into the dough. If the indent stays and does not spring back, the dough is ready.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a 6×10-inch rectangle.
- Roll the dough, starting with the short end, into a tight log and transfer (seam-side down) to a lightly greased loaf pan.
- Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with any desired topping.
- Let it rise again until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
- Bake in an oven, preheated to 350 degrees F, until the loaf is deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
For best results, use an instant-read thermometer to test your bread for doneness. When the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F, it’s ready!
- Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely slicing. ENJOY!
To ensure your magic multigrain whole wheat sandwich bread is a loaf of baked glory, follow these tips:
- Plan ahead. This recipe calls for a “soaker.” Translation: The grains are soaked together overnight prior to being added to the dough. This process juices up the grain’s enzymes, frees sugar from starch, and gives you a loaf with perfect texture and flavor.
- Be patient. Depending on the temperature of your home, on its first rise the bread may take up to 2 and 1/2 hours to double in size (cooler = longer). A full rise is critical for a fluffy loaf. Embrace the process (or go shopping). Give the yeast time to do its thang and use these moments to reflect with on the wonder of a few small granules breathing life into your dough.
- Put away your ruler. Not sure if your loaf has “doubled” in size? Lift two fingers, poke the dough gently, and see if your indent stays. If yes, your dough is ready to be shaped into a loaf.
- Take your bread’s temperature. Instant-read thermometers (I love this one) are super inexpensive and make the processes of determining if your loaf is “done” much clearer. When you believe the bread is ready, insulate your hands with a dishtowel, carefully flip the loaf out of the pan so its bottom is facing you, and insert the thermometer into the center. Bread not ready yet? Flip it back into the pan, then check again in 5 minutes.
- Practice makes perfect. While this recipe is easy and approachable, it can still take practice to get that PERFECT loaf if you’re new to baking. Baking is just as much (if not more) of a science as it is an art. So, if first you don’t succeed, bake, bake, and bake again.
- To Store. Homemade whole wheat bread is best enjoyed within a few days of baking. Store at room temperature, tightly covered in plastic, for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze. This multigrain bread freezes like a dream. Simply wrap tightly in plastic and a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. You can even pre-slice it if you’d like. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then enjoy as desired.
My final tip for perfect homemade multigrain whole wheat bread: Think positive! You’ve got this.
Frequently Asked Questions
In 100% whole grain bread, like this one, vital wheat gluten is, well, vital. Think of it like magical fairy dust that gives whole-wheat bread elasticity and rise. In scientific terms, vital wheat gluten adds protein, which low-protein flours (whole-wheat) desperately need to rise like their higher-protein counterparts (bread flour). I love this one from Bob’s Red Mill, and have seen it available in many grocery stores and the internet.
Yes! Since freshly baked whole wheat bread (and xxx) tastes best when eaten within two days of baking, it’s a good idea to freeze it if you are not going to go through the whole loaf that quickly. Simply pre-slice the whole caboodle, then freeze what you don’t plan to use right away. When ready to eat, grab the slices right from the freezer, pop them right into the toaster or microwave, and voila. Instant homemade bread.
Unfortunately without being in the kitchen with you, it’s hard to say exactly what may have caused your bread to not rise properly. However, here are a few common factors to check. First, check the expiration date of your yeast since older yeast will lose some of its activity over time. Second, the temperature of the water used to proof the yeast and the temperature of your kitchen can impact the rise. Too cold, your yeast won’t activate fully, and too hot, you run the risk of killing your yeast. Last, measure and mix with care. Improper measurement and over (or under) mixing your dough can severely impact the rise of your dough.
Magic Multigrain Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
For the Soaker:
- 3 tablespoons coarse ground cornmeal or millet, quinoa, or amaranth
- 3 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons wheat bran
- 1/4 cup water
For the Dough:
- 3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 3 cups whole wheat flour plus a few additional tablespoons as needed
- 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cooked brown rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds or rolled oats for sprinkling
- The day before baking, prepare the soaker. In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, rolled oats, and wheat bran. Pour the 1/4 cup water over the top of the grains, stir, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the soaker sit overnight at room temperature.
- In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Let stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast does not foam, it did not activate properly and this step will need to be repeated.)
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon), stir together the whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, brown sugar, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine the soaker, brown rice, honey, and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients. Add the yeast and water mixture to the dry ingredients, then mix with the paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon) at a low speed until combined and the dough forms a rough, shaggy ball.
- If using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook. If making by hand, turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead the bread at a medium-low speed for 6 minutes. If using a dough hook, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Finish kneading by hand for an additional 2-4 minutes, until dough is smooth and tacky, but no longer sticky, adding a bit of extra flour as needed. (Total knead time will be 8-10 minutes).
- Coat a large mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 90 minutes to 2 and 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. (Press two fingers gently into the dough. If the indent stays and does not spring back, the dough is ready).
- Lightly grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rectangle that is about 6-inches wide and 10-inches long. Press out any large bubbles.
- Starting with the short (6-inch) end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log, pulling the dough tightly as you go. To shape the log to fit the pan, fold each end of the log towards the roll seam so that the log is the same length as the loaf pan. Pinch ends into place. Place the log in the pan, seam side down, and gently press the dough down with the back of your hand so that it is evenly spread.
- Mist the top of the dough with water (or brush lightly using a pastry brush) and sprinkle with poppy seeds or oats.
- Cover the pan with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let it rise again until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.
- Arrange your oven rack in the center and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake dough for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf is deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped (internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F).
- Remove loaf from pan and let cool 1 to 2 hours before slicing. Use a bread knife or the sharpest knife you own. Toast (or not), top liberally with butter as desired, and enjoy your handiwork.
- TO STORE: Homemade whole wheat bread is best enjoyed within a few days of baking. Store at room temperature, tightly covered in plastic, for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: This multigrain bread freezes like a dream. Simply wrap tightly in plastic and a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. You can even pre-slice it, if you’d like. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then enjoy as desired.
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