Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Whole Wheat Canvas Bread

Whole Wheat Canvas Bread
Mia Morgenstern for NPR /

This recipe is called "canvas" because you can use it as a blank slate for any number of additions: nuts, dried fruits or the apple-cinnamon version below. Unlike some 100 percent whole-grain breads, which can be dry and dense, this loaf is soft and sandwich-worthy. The enriched dough is very wet, so a stand mixer is a must for kneading. I use skim milk. Whole milk will make a richer bread.

Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons honey

3 to 4 cups whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (such as SAF)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Heat milk and butter just until butter is melted, then allow mixture to cool to lukewarm. Add honey to the warm milk and stir to dissolve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 3 cups flour with salt and yeast. Add milk mixture and egg to the flour and, using paddle attachment, thoroughly mix ingredients.

Switch to a dough hook and knead dough on low speed until very elastic, at least 10 minutes. Pause the machine periodically to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to ensure that everything is well-mixed. Dough will build strength and body during kneading, but will still be wet and should stick to the bottom of the bowl.

Once kneaded, cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Stir dough down and place in an oiled loaf pan, patting down the top with oiled fingers to spread it evenly.

Cover dough and let rise for another 30 minutes or so, until dough has crested the top of the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until top is deeply browned and crusty, and the internal temperature of the bread is about 200 degrees. Allow to cool for an hour before slicing.

Note: For apple-cinnamon version: Mix 1 peeled and diced apple with 1 teaspoon each cinnamon and sugar. After patting dough into loaf pan (before final rise), place apple on top of the dough and press down, pinching the sides of the loaf up and around the apple. Proceed as directed. For other mix-ins, incorporate after the first rise by kneading them into the dough gently.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit