Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recipe for Sunflower Seed & Honey Wheat Bread

I know I have shared several bread recipes here recently, but this particular one is our family's current favorite. It was featured in the Taste of Home magazine a couple of issues back, and I have baked about 40 loaves of it since then.


  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (that's 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup bread flour (I use vital wheat gluten instead)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups whole wheat flour - you can substitute with part white flour if that's what you prefer
  • 1/2 cup sunflower kernels
  • butter for brushing


  • In a large bowl, combine water, oil, honey, salt, and yeast. Add the bread flour and whole wheat flour. Knead until smooth. Add sunflower kernels, and continue kneading for about 5 more minutes. If you have a stand mixer (like KitchenAid), use the kneading hook and speed 2.

  • Place mixing bowl in a warm, draft-flee place. Cover and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  • Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Shape into loaves; place in three greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans.

  • Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

  • Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately brush tops of loaves with a stick of butter. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

I like to slice all three loaves as soon as they have cooled down. We usually eat one loaf right then, with butter and honey or fresh, raw cheese on top. The other loaves get bagged and frozen.

I have been very good about sticking to my plan of not purchasing any commercial bread products, including organic and all-natural varieties. In the last 6 months or so, I could count on one had the times that we ate store-bought bread, although I have to admit that I did buy English muffins, bagels, and such a few times more often.

My next goal is to modify the recipe to make 5 loaves, which is how many pans my oven will hold at one time. Then if I made two back-to-back batches (as I now do with this recipe), I would be able to make 10 loaves in one day with not much more time or effort than it takes to make just one batch of three. Ten loaves is about how much our family goes through in one week, accounting for the fact that I like to give away a loaf of bread here and there to friends at church.

Please let me know how you like the recipe if you give it a try.


  1. I like your idea of using gluten instead of the bread flour.

    How does the bread hold up for sandwiches? I've tried many whole wheat recipes but can't get a loaf that isn't crumbly--they're good fresh out of the oven and good for toast the day after, but in sandwiches, just don't hold up.

    I'm inspired by your goal to make all your own bread for your family. I want to jump back into baking bread, I gave up after life got way to busy, but want to jump back in :)

  2. Castiron,

    thank you for your comment. You bring up a very good point about the texture of the bread.

    This loaf is a bit crumbly, but not as much as other WW loaves go. If you look at the first picture in the post, it will give you an idea how the slices look, and also how many crumbs there were on the chopping board after cutting it. I use an electric bread slicer, which helps tremendously.

    I have substituted as much as 3 cups of white, unbleached flour for the whole wheat, which makes it a bit less crumbly, but not much.

    I think the bread holds up great for sandwiches. I am careful not to let the loaves rise as much as they could, because I think if the slices were more fluffy and full of air-holes, the slices would be more fragile.

    As far as baking all our own bread, I have found that packing up five kids to go to any store is more work than to try to make my own from scratch.

  3. Thanks for the extra info, I prefer to use 100% whole wheat, it's just easier for me since I have a lot of wheat berries but little white flour on hand.

    The slices in the pic look great, mine have been so much more fragile even fresh from the loaf. I guess I let mine rise too much and am going to try your method next time, thanks for the tip!

    I hear you about packing up 5 kids to the store, makes me tired even thinking about that : ) I spent the last 4 years taking care of my mom who needed round the clock care (besides the household full of young kids) so very few of my projects got done. I'm aiming to get back into baking and cooking more (have a newborn so still hard to get back into it.) I'm curious what kinds of things you cook for your crew. I love homeschool blogs and such but most of them have unhealthy, processed-food type of recipes.


  4. Castiron, I have been thinking about the crumbliness factor every time I have fixed sandwiches since your comment. I have noticed that the bread becomes more sturdy, not more crumbly, over time. Even the day after baking it is less crumbly.

    From what I have read, I think the crumb (the technical term for the inside of the bread, as opposed to the crust) has a lot to do with what liquid is used in the recipe. This particular bread uses water, which most people don't like because water-based bread gets dry (aka stale) faster. It doesn't affect taste as far as I can tell, the bread is just more dry and thus also less crumbly.

    Another option is to use milk for the liquid. It yields a softer loaf that stays fresh for longer, but the dough will be a lot more crumbly, and increasingly so as the loaf ages. Adding eggs to the recipe has the same effect. I like to use eggs and milk in sweet yeasted breads, like cinnamon rolls, but for slicing, water is better.

    As far as what I cook for the crew, it is what I would define as down-to-earth/family friendly gourmet. We use 100% organic foods, from local producers as much as we can, and as close to the source as we can. For example, I get raw milk from a local dairy and make many of our own dairy products. We get beef and pork from a local organic rancher. And so on. I make most everything from scratch, and buy practically no processed/ready/convenience foods. I also try to include a lot of veggies and fruits, aiming for about 8 servings per day.

    I blog on this topic from time to time, most of those posts can be found under the "natural health" label. There will be a whole thread devoted to this topic when I am done redesigning my website (hopefully within the next month).

    Two documentaries that really opened my eyes to some of these issues are "The Future of Food" and "Food Inc.". Both are available for download from Amazon.

    Congrats on your baby! I think it is wonderful that you were able to take care of your mom yourself, even if it meant having to let other things slide.


  5. Thanks! We try to do organic as well. Thanks for your time and I'll stay tuned to your blog : )

  6. I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of yeast that you use? I had a honey wheat recipe that I made for a long time and we loved it. I saw this recipe that you have and I wanted to try it. The yeast that I used to use I can no longer find and the one I am using now just doesn't seem to rise as well. Any suggestions??? Oh, and by the way, I love your site. I am a homeschooling mom with eight children. I love your recipes and ideas. Thanks

  7. Hi Robyn,

    thank you for your kind comment. I would love to read your blog if you have one - I love "meeting" moms with large families. There is always so much I can learn from them.

    I use Red Star dry active yeast. In bulk, I pay only $9.30 for 2 lbs. Here is a link to where I order it:

    Thank you!


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