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Honey Wheat Sunflower Bread Recipe

Posted by Claire | Tuesday February 21, 201214 comments

Like most people, I was once intimidated by the thought of making my own bread.  It's a lengthy process and (presumably) easy to flub, but I come from a long line of German women who make fantastic brrrrread from scratch all the time (and yes, it's important to roll the "r" or it doesn't count) so defeat is not an option.

This Christmas I received a stand mixer with a dough hook from my husband who made the oh-so-hopeful comment that maybe I might give breadmaking another go.  Having 3 kids in the house means my time is severely limited, but so is the bread variety at our local grocery store and you can only eat so much whole wheat toast bread before you go batty.

I recently found a beautiful recipe online, but because I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand and always personalize my recipes anyway, what you're about to read is slightly different. This time, I'm happy to report, I didn't have to upsell my final product because it worked out perfectly.

Honey Wheat Sunflower Bread
(Yields 2 loaves, Active Prep Time 30 mins, Total Time 3 hrs)


2 cups very warm water (about 50C/120F)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour* or bread flour
2 0.25-oz or 7g packages (or 2 Tbsp in total) active dry yeast, any variety
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/4 cup butter or margarine*, melted and cooled
1/4 cup honey*
2 tsp salt*
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds*
(*for substitution ideas, please scroll down to the end of the recipe)

Stage 1: Mixing Raw Ingredients

The beauty of this recipe is that you do not have to proof your yeast (i.e. when you mix the yeast separately with sugar and warm water).  However, if your yeast is nearing or just past expiry, it would be a good idea to proof it anyway to ensure that it is still active.

Mix 2 cups of all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl (I used my large stand mixer bowl) until thoroughly combined. 

Add the warm water: 50C (120F) water temperature is hotter than bathwater but not yet scalding.  Water that is too hot will kill the yeast, and cold water will slow the process down. Mix thoroughly by hand with a wooden or plastic utensil. The mixture will have a consistency similar to pancake batter (above right).

Cover and set aside in a warm place.  Allow to rise until nearly double, about 20-30 minutes.  The mixture will have a bubbly and puffy texture (above left).

Add whole wheat flour, oats, salt, butter, and honey (above right).  Mix with your wooden or plastic utensil to start, then use your mixer with dough hook to finish the job (below left).  Add up to 1/2 cup more of all-purpose flour to make the consistency less sticky.

Add sunflower seeds last and mix thoroughly to get a firm ball a little smaller than a volleyball.  Lightly grease a bowl and roll the ball around in the bowl to sparsely coat all sides (this helps the dough stick less later).  I usually set the dough aside on the kitchen counter, grease the mixing bowl I've been using, then replace the dough and proceed.

Stage 2: Rising and Kneading

Cover and set aside in a warm place (above left).  Allow to rise until double, about 45-60 minutes (above right).  Knead with your hands or the dough hook to work out the air pockets, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Grease 2 loaf pans lightly with cooking spray or butter, and then divide the dough into 2 portions according to the sizes of your pans (above top).  I used one 9x5-inch pan and one 8x4-inch pan, so I made the first loaf a little larger.  You can adapt this recipe to make little round dinner buns or 2 long baguette-style loaves (which you'd put on a flat pan).

Set the filled loaf pans aside and allow to rise until nearly double, about 45-60 minutes (above bottom).  If my kitchen is chilly, I prefer to put them into my oven which I've prewarmed by setting to 350F (175C) for perhaps 10 seconds and then switching off.

Stage 3: Baking and Enjoying!

Heat your oven to 350F and bake loaves for 20-25 minutes.  When I allow my pans to rest in the oven during the rising cycle, I do not remove them to preheat my oven because the exposure to cooler air usually makes the loaves deflate (and they will not recover in time).  However, if you let them rise on your kitchen counter, preheat the oven before adding the loaves to bake.

Test baked loaves by tapping lightly on the tops with your knuckle.  If it makes a hollow sound, your bread is done (above top)

Optional: brush a small quantity of butter or margarine on the tops of the loaves (above bottom).  This will help your crust from becoming too crunchy and avoid tearing when you slice the bread later. 

After allowing the loaves to rest in the pans for about 10 minutes post-baking, ease a utensil around the edges of the pan to loosen, then pick up the pan and lightly bounce to encourage the bottom to release.  Put the loaves onto a kitchen rack to continue cooling (if you leave them in the pans, the bottoms will turn soggy).

The bread will be perfect for fresh eating about 15-20 minutes after baking!

General Bread Making Tips

* According to purists, yeast breads prefer glass bowls and wooden utensils.  This is certainly true if you are baking a sourdough bread and using your own sourdough starter, but I find in this recipe that using stainless steel bowls doesn't appear to affect this bread.

* You can allow bread to rise a little longer than the recipe directs; however, if you let it go too long, the dough will collapse and may not recover in a uniform shape.

* Bread Machine yeast works more quickly than traditional yeast, but both are effective in this recipe. 

* Refrigerate your yeast after opening but remember to bring the recipe-quantity of yeast to room temperature before using it.

* "Best for Bread" flour includes vital wheat gluten, something that is typically removed or reduced in all-purpose flour.  Wheat gluten aids in the rising and elasticity of your dough, so when using all-purpose flour, add 1 Tbsp of vital wheat gluten per yield loaf (in the case of this recipe, 2 Tbsp) in the first step.  This is optional but I do highly recommend it.  (Vital wheat gluten can be found in your baking aisle and should be refrigerated after opening.)

* Sugar is important for the yeast in the early stages, so do not remove it from this recipe. 

Recipe Substitutions

* you can use bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour (bleaching is done only for cosmetic reasons, not for food quality so I prefer to avoid bleached flour whenever possible).

* you can make this recipe entirely using whole wheat flour (instead of 50/50 as listed), but this usually results in a denser loaf that does not rise as well.

* butter and margarine can be switched for lard or shortening entirely or in part.

* honey can be replaced with molasses.  A difference in taste (though not unpleasant) will be noticeable when switching out half the honey quantity and even more pronounced if swapped entirely.  The loaf will also have a darker golden colour with added molasses.

* if using salted sunflower seeds, do not add the salt as described above.  Too much salt will negatively affect your yeast.

Are you nervous about baking with yeast, or are you a seasoned pro?  Let's help the newbs out - post your advice in the comments!
More by Claire
More on Recipes, Nutrition

Facebook Comments


on May 12, 2012  PSW241  412 said:

can not wait to try this. There is nothing like fresh bread.

on March 08, 2012  LadyChick234234  3,701 said:

That looks so delish.....bread can be such a bitch to make....but when it comes fresh out of the oven.....*sniff*.................Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

on February 27, 2012  assia  1,578 said:

Thanks for the tips!

on February 27, 2012  Racenhawk  2,689 said:

I used to bake my own bread but don't have the time now. Maybe I can try this on the weekend!

on February 25, 2012  bdeyell86  2,033 said:

This looks so good, I can't wait to try it.

on February 22, 2012  AlexJC  50 said:

@takoda I have also heard that keeping your bread in the fridge actually makes it go bad faster because the cold air sucks out all the moisture, so it's always best to keep it at room temperature.

on February 22, 2012  mamaluv  STAFF said:

@Takoda - I freeze my second loaf if we're not going to eat it immediately. If I make a smaller loaf, they fit nicely inside of a gallon-size Ziploc Freezer bag, but if that doesn't fit, I wrap securely with wax paper and then a double layer of saran wrap over that. It's not a perfect solution, but the bread will keep just fine for at least a month or two in the freezer. Just make sure the loaf is properly cooled before you package it up or the condensation will freeze onto your bread.

on February 22, 2012  takoda  28,648 said:

Looks really yummy Claire. I have a bread maker and I use it all the time. You can't beat the smell of fresh bread baking!
If anyone knows how to keep it fresher for longer could you please let
me know. I've tried wrapping it in plastic wrap, after it has completely
cool, tin foil, resealable bags and nothing seems to be able to keep it
fresh for longer then two days.

on February 21, 2012  Becky  13,128 said:

agreed!! I'm waiting for the day they come out with carb-free-bread. Is that too much to ask for?

on February 21, 2012  mamaluv  STAFF said:

I'm telling y'all - as soon as they come up with a carbs-only diet, I'm going to be alllll over that! Why must bread be the bad guy?

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