This Honey Wheat Bread is made with 50% whole wheat flour and wheat germ to win over the adults. And its soft texture and slightly sweet flavor will make it a favorite for the back-to-school sandwiches.
Read on to learn about using a sponge starter and other recipe tips and tricks. Or just grab that jar of wheat germ, hit the Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make some homemade honey wheat bread!
A few things make this recipe for homemade honey wheat bread special:
- Use of a sponge – This is a technique adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. While making a sponge adds time, it also adds flavor and better structure to your sandwich breads, especially those with whole wheat flours. I also use this technique in my sweet brown molasses bread and Russian rye.
- Wheat germ – The germ is the part of wheat that grows into the grain (think “germination”). Making bread with wheat germ adds even more vitamins and minerals.
- Honey – Adding honey to your wheat bread gives it a touch of sweetness and a golden brown color.
Safety note! Never give honey in any form to children under 12 months. Babies are at risk from infant botulism, and baking is not enough to kill Clostridium spores.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Replace the honey with another sweetener like brown sugar or agave.
- Vary the proportion of whole wheat to white bread flour.
Key technique: making bread in a stand mixer
The stand mixer is a great kitchen tool for making homemade bread. The mixing bowl of a stand mixer is the perfect size for bread-making. And your stand mixer can take over the work of kneading your bread dough.
This honey wheat and wheat germ bread recipe shouldn’t be too much challenge for your mixer, but you should be aware that many home stand mixers can’t knead really stiff dough. Always switch to the dough hook attachment (below, right) when your bread dough starts to come together, or knead your bread dough by hand if the motor is struggling.
Recipe tips and tricks
Making the sponge
Step 1: Mix the ingredients for the sponge starter in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (Panel #1, below). Make sure your water is just barely warm to touch, because hot water may kill our yeast friends instead of slowly waking them up.
Step 2: Sprinkle the top of the honey wheat sponge with the wheat germ, flour, and a second half teaspoon of instant yeast (Panel #2). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it sit in a warm place in your kitchen for an hour or three. It will be bubbling up through the flour layer (Panel #3).
Tip from the wise quacker: yeast loves temperatures in the high 70s. If your kitchen is cooler: 1) heat your oven (use the proofing function if it has one) to 80 degrees or 2) microwave a cup of water for two minutes. Put your mixing bowl in the oven or microwave, and don’t turn on the oven or microwave again with your bread inside!
Mixing the dough
Step 3: Once the yeast is bubbling through, start by mixing the dough in your stand mixer on low speed with the paddle. When the bread dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook attachment. You can always knead this bread by hand too!
Step 4: Add the salt and vegetable oil and beat on medium speed for about 10 minutes until it is elastic and stretches without breaking. The dough will be slightly tacky but not sticky.
If the dough is too wet, add more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time, as you are mixing. If it is too dry, add a teaspoon of water.
Tip from the wise quacker: yeast are single-celled fungi. “They say” that adding salt at the same time as yeast can lead to osmotic pressure that kills the yeast, resulting in less fermentation and rise and potentially affecting your bread’s texture and flavor. It’s not clear if avoiding this really makes a difference, but it can’t hurt.
Step 5: Shape the honey wheat bread dough into a boule (Panel #1, below) and let it rise in the mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap in a draft free place, until it is about doubled in size (Panel #2). This first rise will take about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Step 6: Grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray and shape the dough (Panel #1 below). If you aren’t yet an experienced bread-baker, I’d recommend this youtube video on how to shape a bread loaf. Again let the dough rise in the greased loaf pan (Panel #2) in a warm spot in your kitchen.
Step 7: About 30 minutes prior to baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until your honey wheat bread reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees on a digital thermometer. It will make a hollow sound when you thump on the bottom of the loaf.
Remove the bread from the pan immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
If you are going to eat your wheat germ bread in the next few days, keep it wrapped in a plastic bag or an airtight container on your countertop at room temperature. Never store bread in the refrigerator, or it will dry out.
Bread can be kept for longer in the freezer. Just slice it and freeze it in freezer bags.
Unless you’re in a hurry (e.g. you’re a contestant on the Great British Bake Off), you can use less yeast and allow for longer rising times. Longer rising time, even an overnight rise like in my Ooni pizza dough recipe, results in better flavor. Longer rising times are particularly important for breads like baguettes that are made of only flour, yeast, and salt.
Your homemade bread structure continues to develop as the bread cools. While a warm loaf of bread can be really tempting, slicing into it can release the steam the crust is trapping inside.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Honey Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ
- Stand mixer with bread hook attachment
- 1 cup (150 grams) whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 cup (240 grams) warm water
- 1½ cup (187 grams) bread flour
- ½ cup (75 grams) whole wheat flour
- ½ cup wheat germ, toasted
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- Make the sponge. Combine the 1 cup of whole wheat flour, honey, ½ teaspoon of yeast, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl and whisk until well-combined and frothy.1 cup (150 grams) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons honey, ½ teaspoon instant yeast, 1 cup (240 grams) warm water
- Create a layer over the top of the sponge with the remaining flours, wheat germ, and additional ½ teaspoon of yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at warm room temperature until the sponge is bubbling through (1 to 3 hours, this can be flexible to your schedule, see pictures).1½ cup (187 grams) bread flour, ½ cup (75 grams) whole wheat flour, ½ cup wheat germ, toasted, ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- Combine the honey wheat and wheat germ mixture on low speed using the paddle mixture until the dough starts to come together.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the oil and salt. Knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes using the mixer (longer if doing by hand). The dough will be smooth and not sticky at all.1½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Shape the dough into a boule, put in an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume (about 2 hours, see pictures).
- Grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan (I use butter because I find the bread releases more easily) and shape the dough into a loaf. Cover with plastic wrap and again put in a warm place to rise. It will rise to about one-half to one inch above the sides of the rim of the loaf pan (see pictures).
- Approximately 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the honey wheat bread for approximately 30 to 35 minutes until the internal temperature reads 190 to 200°F.
- Remove the wheat germ bread from the pan immediately and let it cool on a wire rack. Do not cut into it for at least one hour.
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?