The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need help weaning off of white sandwich bread :)

cloudcover's picture

Need help weaning off of white sandwich bread :)

hello folks -

i've started baking at home recently and came across this wonderful forum while trying to solve a problem: how best to wean my family (especially with 2 young kids) off of the white sandwich bread to which we've become accustomed over the years.

when i first started baking, i was focused mostly on baking at home the same kinds of breads we used to buy from the store. (the goal was to make breads that were less processed and had fewer ingredients) so i bought a few bread/baking cookbooks, including the nicely done "bread bible" by rose levy beranbaum and was pretty satisfied with the white sandwich loaf recipe in that book. but then i read michael pollan's excellent book, "in defense of food," which has motivated me to move away from refined flours. so the goal is eventually to eat bread made without any refined flour. but i know we won't just be able to go "cold turkey" and so i'm totally fine with getting there gradually, with blending of refined/unrefined flours, if that makes the most sense.

i have to believe that others have been down a similar road already; and so instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, i'd love to tap into those experiences. i would greatly appreciate any advice or experiences on how best to get "from here to there" and also pointers to recipes to use along that road. by the way, i've tried a few recipes from king arthur's website (including ones based on white whole wheat) but they seem pretty dense and the kids still balk at them.



Janedo's picture

You'll probably be pretty surprised at how quickly people's tastes can change, especially children. Mine went from the daily baguette (we're in France) to regularly eating the equivalent of semi whole wheat and white sourdough. Now they find a regular baguette "tasteless".

I guess it depends on how you eat bread. Is in toasts and sandwiches? You could try mastering a basic hearth bread and then little by little add some semi-whole wheat. You could even try sourdough. You can make them vienna bread in individual portions. It's easy to make and they'll love it for breakfast or for sandwiches. There are so many very easy breads to make. I just wanted to say that I've been through it too and it was really pretty easy to change their habits. 


cloudcover's picture

thanks, jane.  in answer to your question, yup the main challenge is finding a bread recipe that will work well for sandwiches.  the kids do somewhat okay with denser and nuttier wheat-ish bread if it's used for toast.  but when it comes to a bread for something like a ham sandwich, they prefer the softer and more airy texture of a typical soft white sandwich bread.  so that's the challenging part for me:  figuring out recipes that will help me gradually get down the path from something like an orowheat country white sandwich loaf towards (eventually) more of a whole wheat loaf.

Oldcampcook's picture

I have the same problem with my SO.

I have found that she loves the taste and texture of Memo's Brown Bread, the recipe for which you can find at the bottom right of the home page here.  It is a very good bread.

 It is the 6th item down under "Highest Rated Stories".

mse1152's picture

My 3.5 year old son eats Memo's too, even after I added another half cup of graham flour to it.  He'll even eat the crust on occasion!  I also had success sneaking white whole wheat into a basic white sandwich bread, but I like Memo's better.


Marni's picture

I found the best way to get whole grains into the breads (and pastas) my family eats was to add them gradually.  I make a sandwich loaf my kids love that started from a white flour recipe and I now make with  white whole wheat.  They would eat almost two loaves a day between the four of them if I allowed it. They like PB&J and cheese sandwiches on it.  I think it is a bit sweet, but even the crusts get eaten.  I'd be glad to share the recipe if you'd like it.  It's very simple. 

I've read many articles that point out that children need to be exposed to a new food repeatedly before it will be accepted. (20 times?) I think the earlier you start the easier it is too.  I still find them picking out the "brown" pasta occasionally.

Good luck.


Windischgirl's picture

Hi CC:

I too have spent time easing my kids into whole grains.  It's gotten to the point where I can't leave a recipe for anything alone--pancakes, muffins, cookies, bread.  My middle child is still, at 13, a finicky eater--a couple slices of bread with olive oil or honey is his breakfast--so I try to cram in as much nutrition and protein as I can into those little loaves.

I started, years ago, by making "Cornell Formula": In a 1-cup measure, place 1 Tbs. soy flour, 1 Tbs. nonfat dry milk, and 1 tsp. wheat germ...then top it off with a high-quality unbleached white flour.  The additions will not affect the recipe (in terms of hydration, baking time, etc.).  but any more soy flour and the baked good browns very quickly and may burn.

Another easy adjustment is to place 2 Tbs. ground flax meal in a 1-cup measure and top it off with regular flour.  the flax gives the batter a nutty taste (in the innocent days I told the kids the specks were "flavor buds").  the same could probably be done with nut meals to enhance the protein.

These additions can be used in whatever you are baking, bread or other.

I have also gradually substituted whole wheat flours (white whole wheat or traditional whole wheat) for the AP/bread flour in recipes.  However, once you get past quantities of 1/4 c or so, you will need to adjust the liquid.  But once you make enough loaves of bread, you will get a feel for how to adjust.  Reinhart's book "Whole Grain Breads" uses a unique approach to make WG breads he offers recipes for "transitional breads" made with some WG and some white flour.  We're now at that stage here...most days!

Oatmeal breads may be another good route to go at first, as the oats are pale and don't affect the color of the bread as much, but do help keep the texture of the loaf nice and moist.  Yesterday I made the Sourdough Oatmeal from Beatrice Ojakangas' book and the crust is wonderfully crunchy with a nice moist had turkey, PBJ sandwiches with it today. 

It may also help your cause to get the kids kneading with you...sometimes when they have invested their energy in making something they are more likely to eat it.  My 11 yo daughter kneaded, shaped (well, sort of...the perfectionist in me had to take over :-(   ) and slashed the loaf yesterday.  Calling it "her bread" made her beam!

I'm going to take the plunge tomorrow and the recipe for the Flax Seed Wheat bread tomorrow...turning it into rolls for cheesesteaks...maybe the flax can counteract the grease?!  (Actually, pastured beef from the Mennonites).  I am in Philly, after all!


verminiusrex's picture

Here's my recipe for home made wheat bread that is pretty close to store bought white in texture, but better in flavor.


5 oz whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons sugar or honey

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

10 oz water

let proof at room temp for around 8 hours, 24-48 hours in the fridge.


11 oz high gluten flour (or bread flour plus a couple Tablespoons vital wheat gluten)

1-2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspooon instant yeast


Knead until smooth, let proof for about 2 hours until doubled.  Shape adn proof about 1 hour, bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

This makes a very light loaf, and I think it's the texture of store bought white bread that most people are used to. 


cpmart's picture

I was trying to find the same thing, a 100% whole wheat light loaf for sandwiches.  I started with a great recipe from someone named Macy on the King Arthur message board that was really lovely.  I tweaked it a bit here and there, and I'll share my recipe with you. 

It makes 2 loaves that I find to be light, easily sliced, soft crust and mild flavored. 

My 5 year old daughter changed overnight from homemade, white sandwich bread to this without a peep.  If you try it, please let me know what you think...I've never shared the recipe!  It's too new!

Maria's Bread
112 gm orange juice (or equal amount water**)
456 gm water

10 gm instant yeast
100 gm honey (used 80 gm last time, and it was fine)

54 gm Non-Fat Dry Milk
750 gm whole wheat flour (traditional, not white whole wheat) (perhaps 75 gm more**)

19 gm salt
4 Tbl butter, softened

Warm liquids.  Add yeast and honey, non fat dry milk, flour and salt.  Mix, rest 20 min covered.  Add butter and knead about 5 min in KA mixer.  Should be tacky but not sticky and shaggy.  Cover and rise until doubled (1.5 to 2 hr).  Knead a couple of strokes and let rise again 1 hour.  Divide and let it rest covered 10 min.  Shape and proof in greased loaf pans about 45 min (until crowns about 1 inch above pan)  Bake at 350 degrees until done (about 190+ deg internal temp), maybe about 35 to 40 min (I didn't write down the exact time, sorry, my bad).

**As an interesting side note, I originally made this with water only.  It came out great.  The next time, I did a side by side experiment with either all water or part water/part orange juice.  I had read that OJ made the flavor of 100% whole wheat milder, and wanted to test it.  I liked the flavor of the added juice, but found the dough to be much wetter, and ended up adding about 75 gm additional flour after I had machine kneaded about 5 minutes.  The second time I tried it, the same thing happened, so if you use the juice/water mixture, knead it, and if it is more sticky than tacky (if that makes sense) add some additional whole wheat flour.
Good luck


cloudcover's picture

thanks for the ideas, folks! i'm a believer in "the more information the better," so i really appreciate the comments. a few questions on some of the responses:

  • memo's recipe: i checked around and the hodgson's mill graham flour mentioned in the recipe isn't available here. i'm sure i could find a mail-order source, but for me part of having an "everyday loaf" recipe is being able to get the ingredients easily and on short notice. has anyone had success with more readily available substitutions for that? our local stores have lots of the bob's red mill products, a few of the king arthur products, etc.
  • marni: i'd appreciate it if you'd share the recipe that you have in mind.
  • windi: in the adjustments that you mention (e.g., with cornell formula or flaxseed), i'm not clear on how that works. you mention measuring out one cup, but is that the only "modified" cup and the remaining cups of flour called for in the recipe are as-is? or do you make the modification to each cup of flour called for?

thanks again everyone! this is exactly the kind of help i was hoping to get. :)

dolfs's picture

My multi-gain oatmeal bread. I created it just fo r this purpose ad I have tested it on kids from several different families. All kid referred white bread, but said they "love" this bread.

Bread is soft, not a hard crust, and does not taste extremely "nutty" or "wheat-like". A picture of the bread is currently featured on the site's home page and the description and recipe can be found here:


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Windischgirl's picture

Sorry, CC...

The modifications for Cornell or flaxmeal are per each cup of flour in the recipe.

So for example: my pancakes take 3 c. AP flour...I can sub 6 Tbs. of that flour with 6 Tbs. flaxmeal with no change in quality.

I have been able to get my kids to eat crust and I can't recall what helped.  I think part of it was Opa (my dad) telling them about the European breads he grew up with and then baking them for the kids.  Part of it was a trip to Switzerland and all they had were crusty breads.  I also wonder if, as kids get bigger, their mouths can better accomodate no longer "hurts" to eat it.