The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Has anyone made a SOFT 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich bread????

ngabriel's picture

Has anyone made a SOFT 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich bread????

Hello all, seems like I have tried forever to find a whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that is SOFT, and like the sandwich bread we are used to.  Yes, I know all the benefits of crusty bread, and people love it, and all the rest..  but I am looking for a SOFT 100% wheat sandwich bread recipe that someone has had some success using for some time.  Please, if there is one out there, please let me know! 




Darxus's picture

Yeah, just cook it at a lower temperature for longer.  I don't know what's ideal, but the common goal for all bread baking seems to be an internal temperature around 200F, so the lower the temperature you cook it at, while reaching that goal eventually, the softer crust you should get.  The extreme end of this is sous-vide bread, which has no crust.  

I was basically always like you, wondering why people liked hard crusts.  I recently managed a crispy crust I liked.  Haven't done it a second time yet.

clazar123's picture

There is no single key to making soft whole grain bread. It is more a conglomeration of both techniques and ingredients. Milk,potatoes,fats,rye flour,eggs are all ingredients that will soften whole grain bread but not by themselves. Also if "like the sandwich bread we are used to" means like a commercial whole wheat spongey bread then you may be disappointed. The reason those loaves are like that is the air, gums and other additives that are put in the loaf to get it from mixer to shelf in a short time and have it have an endless shelf life. You won't be able to achieve that kind of loaf. Not sure why you'd want it.

However, If you want a delicious loaf that is not crumbly -that can be accomplished.

Just enter "soft whole wheat" in the search box and start reading-there are over 100 hits when you do that,some with recipes.

Search "water roux" or Tangzhong method

Search "hydration whole wheat""

Search  "autolyse"

Search "preferment"

Search or read the Whole Grains forum.There are MANY posts on this very same subject.

What recipe and methods have you used? It is helpful to know what you have done and how it turned out.

Keep going!

lookahead's picture

"Also if "like the sandwich bread we are used to" means like a commercial whole wheat spongey bread then you may be disappointed. The reason those loaves are like that is the air, gums and other additives that are put in the loaf to get it from mixer to shelf in a short time and have it have an endless shelf life."


clazar123, since you mentioned commercial bread, I have always wondered why by 'real' bread is always much heavier than commercial bread of the same volume. Could it be commercial bread is made with powerful mixers and incorporates lots of air, thus lighter? When my bread turns out well, it rises high and the crumb is quite light with lots of even small holes. Visually not that much different to commercial bread, but still much heavier.


Back to the threadstarter's question, yes soft whole wheat sandwich bread is possible (not spongey soft though) and I've made some with Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread formula. Search the web, you will find it posted in entirety on some webpages.

ngabriel's picture

Thanks everyone for your replies! I appreciate everyone's replies.

Seems I have tried a multitude of things, sourdough, yeast breads, milk, eggs, gluton, honey, oils, etc.. kneading times, rising times, yada yada.  I tasted a friends bread that hers is absolutely divine!  I tried it at home and it didnt come out the same, not as soft, chewy and nice. She makes 6 loaves at a time and uses a bosch mixer (which I don't have, so that was the only difference). 

That's really hat I would like to get to - is her bread, soft chewy.  Not so much like store bought bread, as we are "real food" eaters and not so much fond of store bought, anti-nutritional, processed, "frilly" food.. So, store bought texture is not what I'm after. But soft whole wheat, sandwish bread is.  I know it can be done, just trying to figure out if it can be done like the best I'VE ever tasted, but without a Bosch mixer!  LOL!

I will look into all of your suggestions, and look forward to more! 

Thanks Again!



Darxus's picture

If you already have a friend baking exactly what you want, it's probably best to try to figure out what you're doing differently than to try to find entirely different methods to achieve the same thing.

Try baking at her house, with her watcihng over your shoulder, exactly as she does, until you reproduce it.  Then do it without her mixer, until you reproudce it.  Then go back to your house and try it.  If using the same technique and same types of equipment doesn't result in the same bread, figure out what's different.  Different water hardness?  Different oven temperature (get a thermometer, and measure the actual temperature of both ovens set to the same temperature with that thermometer)?

Maybe if she's baking 6 loaves at once, without the bread in individual covered containers, there is a higher moisture level in the oven, and reducing it to 1 loaf would mean less ambient moisture, so more moisture loss?  Try a lid (possibly of aluminum foil)?  Lids are awesome. 

Darxus's picture

All soft.

30g soudough starter (mine is 142% hydration, and probably weak, so you can probably use less)

255g water

283g 100% whole wheat flour (90% hudration, not counting starter)

1 tespoon salt


Mix, cover, let sit for 24 hours at ~60°F (maybe shorter, or with less starter, at a more reasonable temperature).

Stretch and fold a couple times (with dripping wet hands).  Or not.

Transfer to bread pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Let sit for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  

Bake for 1 hour.


Tasty yummy soft crusted sourdough.  This amount of dough fills my 9.5" loaf pan maybe half way.  I've been baking tiny batches for more frequent experimentation.  But when I double the batch, the dough rises just enough to come in contact with the aluminum foil, and sticks, and that's a pain.

phxdog's picture


'Soft crust' is a matter of personal preferenc. I have had success with this recipe-

Check out this link:

RLB shares a REALLY good whole wheat recipe that always seems to work well for me. I have been grinding my own red winter wheat as I need it and put it into the recipe while still warm from the grinder. I've  even converted a few former 'whole wheat haters' who thought all whole wheat breads were heavy and bitter.

Phxdog (Scott)

jdzm's picture


I've been lurking here for over a year.  I have learned so much that now it's time for me to pay back.  So I just registered so that I can share with you a recipe I came up with which is now my favorite 100% whole wheat bread.  Here it is:

  • 1-1/4 cups Milk (skim works fine)
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1/4 cup total Honey and Molasses combined in whatever proportions you like (I like 3TB molasses and 1 TB honey – I find the flavor of the molasses mellows the flavor of the whole wheat)
  • 2 - 3 TB Bulgur or Cracked Wheat and equal amount of Boiling Water
  • 1 TB Flax Seeds
  • 1 TB Sesames Seeds
  • 2 TB Sunflower Seeds
  • 14 ounces KA White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp Salt (I use Kosher salt)
  • 2-1/2 tsp SAF Red Instant Yeast

My instructions may seam a little quirky.  I have experimented with a lot of methods and this always makes a high rising fluffy loaf.

  1. Put milk in a two-cup measuring cup and heat in the microwave until it reaches 180° to 190°.  Add oil and honey/molasses mixture.  Stir.  Leave to cool to about 100° to 105°. (It usually takes about an hour to cool.)
  2. While the milk mixture is cooling, combine the bulgur or cracked wheat and boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  3. Weigh out the flour in a medium bowl.  Add the yeast and salt and stir to combine.  (If you want to do this ahead of time, like while the milk is cooling, measure in the salt and yeast, but don’t let them touch, and don’t stir to combine until you’re ready to proceed with the milk since yeast and salt don’t play well together.)
  4. Once the milk has cooled, stir the milk mixture and the bulgur into the flour mixture.  Cover and let sit for 30 to 45 minutes. 
  5. I knead this in a Zo bread machine for 20 minutes (I set up my own program to just knead), but you can use your favorite kneading method.  I have used the stretch and fold method with success, though I didn't get as high a rise.  I add the flax, sesame and sunflower seeds to the pan before the the rested dough so that the seeds  don’t fly around when the Zo starts mixing.
  6. When the Zo is done kneading, leave the dough in there with the lid down (to take advantage of the warm environment) and let the dough rise until about doubled.  This will take about an hour.
  7. To form the loaf I like to roll the dough with a French pin to flatten it into a rectangle, fold it into thirds, then turn it 90°, roll to flatten again and roll up into a loaf.  Place the loaf in a 9x5 loaf pan lined with parchment.
  8. Let the loaf rise until the center has crowned about 1” to 2” above the pan.  This should take about 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of your house.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until it reaches 190°.

You can skip the seeds and bulgur, but I like some texture in my whole wheat bread.

I hope you like it!

cranbo's picture

ngabriel, search these forums for txfarmer's whole wheat bread recipes (here's her WW oatmeal bread). Yes it's possible to make very light and fluffy wheat breads. 

here's a summary of tips towards making soft fluffy breads with soft crusts:

  • incorporate some protein and/or fat into your loaf (milk, butter, oil, egg, etc)
  • consider adding lecithin
  • intensive kneading (10+ minutes on medium speed in your stand mixer)
  • lower baking temps (between 375-400F)
  • brush crust with butter after baking


ngabriel's picture

Thank you all SOO much!  I will be slowly and methodically trying each and every one of these, one at at time to register results of each, over the next month or so!  Thank you so much!  I am SO excited!!!