Honey Wheat Bread

By Chef Megan Joy / May 14, 2012

This is my go-to bread recipe when I want something that is tasty, soft, and can be sliced like regular sandwich bread.

I baked it for my trip to Moab, Utah, recently. I also had a loaf in the car while I drove across the country back to my home state, Indiana, to visit my family. At one point I was driving through Iowa and using one hand to reach into the bag and grab slices to scarf down for lunch. But hey, it makes my body feel better than eating fast food. I also like knowing what is in the food I put into my body.

And a bonus for us mountain/foothills people: bread rises much faster at altitude so we get to enjoy it sooner.

Sometimes you would think the opposite with high altitude baking. But the low air pressure found at high elevations causes the yeast to grow much faster than normal. This can be really handy when you’re short on time.

When I worked at the restaurant, I could bake bread or rolls (start to finish) for staff meal in under an hour and a half. The biggest thing you have to worry about is over-proofing, which will produce a spongy textured bread.

If you want your yeast breads to have a stronger, more developed yeast flavor, let them rise overnight in a refrigerator, which will slow down the yeast.

How to make this high altitude recipe:

Honey Wheat Bread (adapted from AllRecipes.com)

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup grapeseed, safflower, or canola oil
5 cups all-purpose flour (I like Wheat Montana flours)
2 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let sit for five minutes until foamy. Add the salt, honey, oil, and flours. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. You should be able to stretch a small ball of the dough thin without it tearing. With any flour-based recipe at altitude, your flour may be drier than normal, so adjust by adding a little water if you find that to be the case. This step can also be completed using the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 20-30 minutes. Punch down the dough and shape into two loaves. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 ” loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has risen to just below the rim of the pan (3/4-1″), about 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 F until the tops are a light golden brown and they sound hollow when tapped, around 20-25 minutes.

Let the bread loaves cool in their pans for 5 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on a wire rack. Slice thick and enjoy with homemade jam or local honey.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

A Trip to Moab, Utah | HIGH ALTITUDE BAKES - May 14, 2012

[…] of our snacks was honey wheat bread that I served with a chickpea spread, cucumbers, and butter lettuce. I like to eat healthy, […]

Michela Hart - October 28, 2012

I have been having the hardest time baking bread because I live in Salt Lake City at 4800 altitude! And every high altitude recipe I have found is ridiculously hard and complex, but not this one. I’m going to be trying this tonight and definitely checking out your other foods! Thank you!

    Chef Megan Joy - October 28, 2012

    Good luck Michela! Just remember that with yeast breads the only adaptations you may need to do are use a little less yeast and flour, and the rising time is much shorter.

Stephanie - January 11, 2013

I live at 6,000 feet.. I am having a terrible time making bread, I am going to try this recipe next.. I am bound and determined to make my own bread!!

j west - January 25, 2013

Is there any other, more common oil I can substitute? Like butter, veg oil, or shortening?

Roger A - January 28, 2013

Might be an off question, but what is “warm” for warm water for the yeast? My wife and I differ on what warm is. I don’t want it to be too cold for the yeast, and I’m not sure if it is too warm, what it will do to the yeast. My bread receipe is from my mothers memory, who makes great bread… but she doesn’t use a receipe and you can’t really measure “about that much”.

    Chef Megan Joy - January 28, 2013

    Hi Roger. For active dry yeast, between 105-110 F is best. For fresh yeast, 95-100 F is recommended. Measure the temperature and see how it feels on the back of your hand. After awhile you won’t need to use a thermometer. I usually go with water that is not too tepid, nor too hot, as the right temperature.

      Roger A - January 29, 2013

      Thank You! Coming from my Architecture background, I need to at least start with “numbers”.

Happy Birthday High Altitude Bakes! β€” High Altitude Bakes - February 20, 2013

[…] Wholesome Honey Wheat Bread…Honey Wheat Bread […]

Tressa - February 25, 2013

Hello. I live at 7200 feet in Colorado. I just made the dough, it didn’t rise much during the first “rise”, I am hoping that it will rise during the second “rise”. My fingers are crossed.

    Chef Megan Joy - February 25, 2013

    Hi Tressa. There’s a few things that could have prevented a nice rise with your dough. First, make sure your yeast is fresh and not expired or old, otherwise it will not work as well. One way to test this is in the first step of the recipe, when you combine the warm water and yeast to activate it. If the yeast does not get foamy or bubbly, then it is not good. Another reason for your dough not rising could be the temperature of your water. For optimal rise it needs to be between 105-110 F. One last factor- the temperature of your room. If it’s a cooler temperature, it will take a bit more time.

      Erin - October 21, 2013

      Another tip I’ve been implementing since moving “to altitude” (~5900 ft) is to let the plastic wrapped dough bowl rise in a microwave oven that you’ve just steamed by bringing 1c water to a boil for a few mins.

      Boil water, remove water, place covered dough bowl inside and close door for desired rise time (don’t open!) … the mixture of moisture and slightly elevated temp does wonders.

      This won’t help matters if your yeast is bad, but it does seem to help ensure a nice rise during colder months of the year or if your kitchen is particularly drafty.

Lourdes Leather - March 16, 2013

Hey Megan! I tried this recipe tonight – baked bread for the FIRST time thinking it would be the hardest thing on earth but it was incredibly easy and fast! Thank you so much for posting this and for your blog! I love to bake and cook – I’m on a new adventure trying to bake from scratch with my hubby and we’re loving it so far. We are new fans to your blog and will be using it as tool often! All the very best!

Marci - March 20, 2013

Would white whole wheat flour work in this recipe if you are trying to make a higher fiber bread?

    Chef Megan Joy - March 21, 2013

    Hi Marci- you can definitely use white whole wheat flour. It may be a little more dense, but it should still be delicious!

Raini Spatziani - March 30, 2013

I have been unsuccessful in registering. The site continues to inform me that I need to register, however when I click on “register” I receive an error message.
Your assitance is appreciated.

May I have access to the Carrot Cake Cupcakes etal?

Kind regards,
High Altitude Raini

    Chef Megan Joy - March 30, 2013

    High Altitude Bakes.com visitors: The registration login is for visitors who have purchased The High Altitude Bakes Holiday Cookbook (http://flidonline.com/cookbooks/). It’s a downloadable instant-access cookbook which can be retrieved at any time through the website. When you buy the cookbook, you create a member id and login, which allows you to login and access your purchased cookbook. If you have not purchased the cookbook, disregard the member login, you do not need it.

    With the exception of the High Altitude Bakes Holiday Cookbook, everything else on this site is free and accessible to everyone.

    If you would like to receive e-mail updates for new blog posts, then you can enter your information into the email subscription sign-up box on the main page.

    Thank you!

Marcia - April 18, 2013

I’d like to add some King Arthur Flour harvest grains blend to this recipe.
Based on 7 C total flour, if I added 1 C of their blend, how much should I increase the liquid?
p.s. at 7,000′

    Chef Megan Joy - April 18, 2013

    Marcia- I’d recommend soaking your grain mix in hot water for 30 minutes before you start. Just pour hot water over the grains to cover. When you’re ready to proceed, drain the excess water. The initial ‘soak’ is going to give those grains some time to absorb water and not zap it out of the dough later. Mix the dough for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then add the soaked grain mix until incorporated. Continue the recipe as directed. Sometimes, whole grain breads take a little longer to rise, so take note. Let me know how it comes out!

Marcia - April 21, 2013

Thanks, Megan — I’ll try that and will let you know.

Helen Langworthy - May 11, 2013

Thanks Megan,
I live in Northern NM 7400ft above sea level. I have tried other recipes that have failed and yours turned out perfect! Can you provide an approximate kneading time as I kneaded my dough for nearly 40 minutes before it became smooth. It seemed perfect when I turned it out onto the counter (not sticky nor dry). Thanks, Helen

    Chef Megan Joy - May 11, 2013

    Hi Helen, in this recipe I recommend kneading the dough for 8-10 minutes. Sometimes kneading by hand will take an extra couple of minutes. It will be elastic and slightly tacky. The main factor to achieve is proper gluten development. You can tell if the dough is ready when a small piece of dough stretched between your two index fingers and thumbs makes a ‘gluten window’. The dough will stretch to almost translucent-thin without easily tearing.

Mari Jo Brown - May 22, 2014

Merci beaucoup for sharing this wonderful honey wheat bread recipe. This is the second time I’ve made it, and I bought Wheat Montana flour this time. Just took out of the oven, and I am thrilled that I made good bread, finally, after many attempts. Looking forward to trying more recipes on your site, and maybe buying a cookbook.

Dean Randall - June 10, 2014

I love Morton’s onion bread. Can add onion to this?

Michi - September 9, 2014

Hi Chef Megan,

One of my joys in life was making whole wheat bread. When I lived in Los Angeles, baking bread was a monthly affair. Always came out right. Now I’m living in Boulder, CO at 5430 and tackled my first attempt. the bread was ok. I used a recipe from Pie in the Sky. The bread was spongy and had a texture like corn bread but spongy. a bit odd. I’m going to try this recipe. My big question is can i sub the 5 cups of AP flour with bread flour??

    Chef Megan Joy - September 9, 2014

    Hi Michi, I hope that you like this recipe. Many people have baked it with great success. You can certainly sub the five cups of AP with bread flour. Use equal amounts, so five cups of bread flour. It will give your bread more gluten and consequently, more chew, which is desirable in bread. Happy baking!

Colleen - September 26, 2014

Wow!!! Super easy. How do I store it to make it last?

    Chef Megan Joy - September 28, 2014

    Hi Colleen, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and it will stay fresh for 2-3 days. Homemade bread lacks preservatives and has a very short shelf life. After about 2 days it gets noticeably drier.

Esther - October 3, 2014

Hi Megan, just took my first stab at this. I hand-kneaded it but I wouldn’t say I got all the way to the gluten window you are referring to, before I let it start rising. It went about a half hour til I punched it down. Then I let it rise and by the time I got back to it, it was over the top of the pan. I used both my loaf pans, so one was metal and one stoneware. In the oven, the loaf in the metal pan (which had risen higher) was sky high with a large air bubble. The bottom was doughy, the top was yummy. The stoneware loaf was evenly cooked and probably should have been in the oven 25 minutes vice 20.

I am wondering if I needed to knead longer, rise shorter, cook longer? I’m at 5030′.

    Chef Megan Joy - October 14, 2014

    Hi Esther. For the best bread, you want to knead until you have a gluten window. You’ll find that with different types of baking pans your products will bake differently as well. Recipes and ovens can have a mind of their own, so as my chef mentor used to say “it’s done when it’s done”. Sometimes you need to add or subtract a few minutes from the recommended baking time. As you make a recipe again and again, you’ll start noticing what steps, tools, and baking times work best for you. Happy baking!

Myriadelle - October 22, 2014

After over thirty years of successful bread baking in Sunny South Florida at an elevation of 20 feet about sea level….
[Yes… 20… and during the summer rainy season, you could hit water if you dug with a teaspoon into the soil.]

…I moved to a Wild West Wyoming valley at 4660 feet with surrounding mountains over 10,000 feet above sea level.
At high altitude, all my “tried and proven” bread recipes FAILED…. miserably!

THANK YOU!!!! I have tried your recipe.
LOVE IT ! ! !

I did have to increase the baking time and temperature. I have my third batch of this recipe in the oven, now, with timer set at 30 minutes, and oven at 375Β°F. With my oven and atmospheric conditions, this setting is perfect.

Amanda - May 18, 2015

just put them in the oven. I’m at 6,000 feet, and have tried so many different recipes, and none of them rose correctly. This is the first batch that rose beautifully. I didn’t add as much flour, though. As I was adding flour it started getting dry, and I stopped after 2 cups whole wheat and 3 cups all purpose. With that amount the dough was absolutely perfect! My first success! Thank you so much! Saving this for my future loaves!

Kathie - October 29, 2015

I live at 8900′ in Colorado and have been trying to make 100% honey whole wheat bread. The flavor of the bread is wonderful and the texture is not bad but it did not rise the second time. Is it possible to make this type of bread at this altitude? I added extra gluten and some ground flax seed to the mix. From what I have read here, I am thinking I may have let it rise too long the first time. My recipe also recommends sifting the flour. What do you think?
Your recipe sounds wonderful so I may just go to that if I can’t make mine work.

    Chef Megan Joy - October 30, 2015

    Hi Kathie, baking 100% whole wheat bread, regardless of altitude, is always a bit of a challenge. Typically, whole wheat bread will never rise as high as white bread, which is also why it’s best to follow a recipe specifically formulated for whole wheat bread, rather than altering one created for white bread. I don’t think that sifting flour for bread is necessary. I would suggest adding more water to your recipe, as a starting point. King Arthur Flour has some great tips on troubleshooting whole wheat bread baking/rising here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2014/02/28/yeast-bread-rolls-and-pizza/

Betty Gallagher - November 4, 2015

Hi Megan Joy,
I have been trying your high altitude honey wheat bread recipe. I have not perfected it yet, keeping in mind that I am not at all well-versed in bread making. Just playing around.
Can you tell me what altitude you are at? We are at 9800 ft. I am trying again today and have reduced the yeast by ΒΌ tsp. I also have wondered if I am over kneading the dough. Rises fine, looks like a fine loaf from the outside, but dense and yeasty in the middle with a hole in the middle.

    Chef Megan Joy - November 5, 2015

    Hi Betty, I tested this last when I lived in Vail, about 8,500 feet above sea level. Holes in the center of your bread, and dense texture could be attributed to a number of things. I would make sure you aren’t under-baking the bread, as that’s one possible cause. Another could be the bread rising too quickly, or not enough. It’s so tricky at altitude because some breads rise really fast, and others still take their time. After the first rise, before you shape the dough to put it in the loaf pan, make sure you punch out any air bubbles. Next time I would also suggest kneading your dough less- this recipe doesn’t require too much kneading. Sorry, I know, not really any clear answers, but bread is quite fickle!

      donna - November 7, 2015

      megan, you haven’t posted a new recipe since march..i hope you are not abandoning your blog! it is the best!!

        Chef Megan Joy - November 25, 2015

        Thanks Donna! Life has been a bit hectic this year- we moved, I opened my commercial kitchen, lost the camera, etc. I am hoping to get back to this sometime soon πŸ™‚

Sherry - February 21, 2016

Made your recipe but used rapid rise yeast. Added dry yeast to dry ingrients as directed on package and after kneading rolled into loeves and put in pans to once. I also added 15-20 min cooking time, they were not done in the middle at suggested time. They turned out great! Thanks, will keep making.

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