Honey Whole Wheat Bread (for Good Friday)

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This morning I woke up and immediately wanted to bake bread. So I did. I opened my spice cabinet door where my favorite honey whole wheat bread recipe lives, allowed Red to pull up his stool to “help,” and then we measured and stirred and kneaded until two steaming golden loaves sat atop my counter. One loaf will go to a good friend who loves bread and is moving away soon. The other went to the new neighbors who moved in next door. Two loaves of bread, both headed to bless two families coming and going. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I can’t think of a better day than Good Friday to share my favorite bread recipe with you.

But first, let me try to capture in language what is on my heart as emotion, thick and stirring like the haze on a spring morning.

Do you know what we Christians celebrate on Good Friday? A death. A horrible, gruesome, criminal death of a perfect and loving God-son. Yes, that’s right. Today is the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago.

How on earth could such an event be good? First of all, because Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back to life and was fine as frog’s hair on that sparkling Easter morning. The crucifixion allowed God’s power—the power that gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17)—to truly be seen. Secondly, because the act of Jesus surrendering His life on the cross was the same act that gave me peace with God, allowed me to stand in grace and gave me the joy of hope (Romans 5:1-2). In short, Jesus took all the wrongdoing in my life, wiped my record clean and redeemed me (2 Cor. 5:21). That’s good news for someone like me.

What does all that have to do with bread? Good question. Jesus called himself the “Bread of life” in John 6:35. “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (Spiritually, that is.) And just before Jesus was arrested, he and his disciples were celebrating one of the greatest rescues in Jewish history, called Passover. (You can read the entire story in Exodus). Jesus took bread, “gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). That’s Jesus’ way of saying that his death, his horrible torture, was his gift of salvation for us. His way of rescuing me from, well, me.

So bread. Good Friday. We “break bread” tonight and remember that so many years ago God allowed Himself to be killed in order to redeem me. To bring humankind back to Himself.

I hope that didn’t sound too preachy. It wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it’s just an explanation of why I’m so grateful for today. So grateful to be able to share a couple loaves of bread and bless someone else today—because it was bread (figuratively) that blessed me so profoundly on the actual Good Friday.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with you for awhile because it’s my favorite. Before we had kids and when our counter space seemed endless like Kansas, I made these loaves every week. The recipe takes everyday, wholesome ingredients. It’s fast (ish). It’s easy. It’s soft, healthy and just sweet enough. Oh, I love it. Without further ado, this is the basic Betty Crocker Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 loaves
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ¼ cup shortening or butter
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages regular or quick active yeast (4½ teaspoons)
  • 2¼ cups very warm water
  • 3-4 cups all purpose flour
  • Butter, melted, for brushing on top
  1. In a large bowl, beat whole wheat flour, honey, butter, salt and yeast with electric mixer on low speed until well mixed. Add warm water.
  2. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough all-purpose flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
  3. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  4. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x4 inch or 9x5 inch loaf pans with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
  5. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 18x9 inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9 inch side. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch each end of roll to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in pan. Brush loaves lightly with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  6. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 375*F.
  7. Bake 30-45 minutes (or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped). Remove from pans to wire rack. Brush loaves with butter, cool.
  8. Enjoy fresh or over the next few days!

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  • Jane Sasser
    March 29, 2013

    How do you resist saving any for yourselves? It sounds lovely. It sounds much better than spending the day grading research papers.

    • Evelyn
      March 29, 2013

      Jane, it was difficult not to save a loaf for us! We still have a store-bought loaf to use up, so I couldn’t justify… I was certainly better than grading papers though. Take a bread-break for your sanity. 🙂

  • Kari
    March 30, 2013

    Our Good Friday tradition regarding bread is to have Hot Cross Buns. The bread reminds us of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples and the cross, of course, reminds us of the crucifixion. I have to admit it bugs me when people have them on Easter, not realizing the significance of them. Also, having just attended a Good Friday service last night, I realize that people who celebrate Easter without “celebrating” Good Friday are missing the point. Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter. Without the sorrow, you can’t truly appreciate the joy.

    • Evelyn
      March 30, 2013

      What a wonderful insight! You’re right–Good Friday is what makes Easter Easter. I love the tradition of making Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. That’s one tradition I might adopt for us… Thanks for sharing.

  • Sara N
    March 30, 2013

    Great post!
    You know how I love my bread machine, I’ll have to give the recipe a try in there.

    • Evelyn
      March 30, 2013

      Thanks Sara. I’d be curious how it turns out; I’m not sure how much modification the bread maker needs from original recipes.

    • Casey
      April 3, 2013

      I wanted to “like” this comment, Sara! Evy – can we get “like” buttons on your blog? 🙂

      • Evelyn
        April 3, 2013

        I can definitely look into it! Would anyone else out there like to second that request?? I’m wondering if it’s something more people would appreciate.

  • Emily Davis
    March 31, 2013

    The bread is wonderful and the heart behind it is even better! Thank you, friend, for blessing us!

    • Evelyn
      April 1, 2013

      So glad you’re enjoying it, friend! We’ll miss you guys.

    • Casey
      April 3, 2013

      Aw – I want to “like” Em’s comment, too!! 🙂

  • Beverly liston
    March 31, 2013

    Great testimony, Evelyn

  • Josh
    April 3, 2013

    Evelyn, Wouldn’t it make more sense to bake bread on Easter? After all, He is risen!
    Sorry for the bad joke. Making bread rise on Easter is probably the yeast of your worries.

    • Evelyn
      April 3, 2013

      Josh, I wish you could see… I’m standing and starting a slow clap. *Clap. clap. clap. clap. clap.clap.clapclapclapclapclapclap. Good one(s), my friend. 🙂

  • SarahWesonga
    April 3, 2013

    The Mister and I may never buy store bought bread again. Until we have kids, anyways 🙂 Thank you for a great recipe, to bring me to “wife-greatness” (home-baked bread has always seemed like the pinnacle of wife success to me!), and for the wonderful reminder of who our true bread is 🙂

  • Bethany @ Journey to Ithaca
    April 4, 2013

    What a beautiful tradition. Thanks for sharing. And the recipe looks wonderful!

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