Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey

I think this Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey is the best bread I have ever had; made with both white and wheat flours, it is also enriched with milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Simply delicious!

The Perfect White Bread with Milk and Honey Topped with Sunflower Seeds and Served on a Cutting Board

Growing up, bread was Wonder or a loaf of French bread served with spaghetti and all of it was purchased from the grocery store. I didn’t make my own bread until I was an adult and it all started with this recipe for Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds; an enriched bread with eggs, milk, butter and honey. It is truly OMG good!

When my children were born, I left my job as the Sales Manager for a state Electric Membership Cooperative. To have a few minutes each week to manage errands, I started them in a Mom’s Day Out program once a week when they were each about a year old.

Nothing highly structured but a place for them to practice some social skills and I’ll admit as importantly some time for myself. You know…to get a haircut or get grocery shopping done or even coffee with friends who also brought their kids there.

Why I didn’t think of using that time to pamper myself a bit is beyond me but that was never really my style. I would rather meet a friend and cook than get my nails done…still do!

Sliced White Bread with Sunflower Seeds Served with Butter and Honey
Lucky to have local honey from The Denver Bee Company!

I met another young mom when my oldest daughter Emily started MDO. Joyce and I were about the same age, our first children were both girls the same age and both named Emily. She immediately became my new best friend; we had so much in common!

Not just for those reasons but more because we shared a desire to do some things that our peers sometimes chided us about. We both simply loved caring for our young families, were decided homebodies who loved to plants gardens and sew our own clothes, and that certainly included preparing delicious meals.

We took our kids to fields of berries to pick our own and of course, we shared many recipes and meals together with our families. While I might have helped Joyce further some skills too, I will never forget that she supported me through my first attempt to make home baked bread.

This bread. After making this Billowy Off-White Bread I’m not sure I ever needed another recipe. It has always turned out for me and that flavor is simply amazing. Like so amazing that even writing those words makes we want to stop and run to the kitchen for another slice.

I love it toasted for breakfast with a bit more butter and honey. No words people, none.

Fast forward a couple of years. Joyce and her husband Brian had a 2nd girl Kate; we had our 2nd girl Lauren and they moved to Binghamton, NY and we eventually lost touch.

I still loved Joyce’s bread the best of any I tried and in one of those things that show just how powerful food memories are; I have never once made this bread without thinking about Joyce and the fun we had together with our girls.

I have to say though that as much as I love homemade bread, I’ve never ‘needed’ those moments of kneading to bring me solace or a sense of purpose. It was part of the job and I loved the end result so you did what you had to do. Some issues with carpal tunnel always reacted to kneading though so I was happy with the advent of bread machines for home cooks.

I never initially thought a bread machine of much value; I hated that the resulting bread looked like it had been made in a coffee can. But luckily, I eventually found a unit that made a normal looking, horizontal loaf in a pan that looked like, if you can believe it…a bread pan. I might have paid a bit more (OK, understatement there) but you know what? I’ve never regretted it.

Slice of Billowy Off-White Bread with Milk and Honey Topped with Sesame Seeds and Served with Pats of Butter and Drizzled Honey

When I decided to make this bread yesterday, I was reminded of that bread machine I bought all those many years ago. It’s been long gone; I think I gave it away when I moved 6 years ago but I had stopped using it. I’m always trying to find storage space for appliances and try to keep mine to a minimum.

When dough hooks came into use for mixers, the ease was enough that eliminating a huge bread machine from my cabinets was a blessing. Anyone with a stand mixer today can make bread pretty easily as an alternative to kneading it by hand. That’s the part that so many resist and has them stop making bread. Injuries and arthritis should not be an obstacle to bread making!

The ingredients include all-purpose flour, wheat flour, milk, butter, eggs, honey, flour, salt, and yeast; pretty standard items most have on their shelves. Maybe the wheat flour is not a standard item for you and honestly it is not for me either; I was happy to find a small package of it and not have to pop for 5 pounds.

Don’t have it? Don’t worry; I would not spend the time or effort during the current crisis trying to source it either, just use all white flour.

If you have all-purpose flour and no bread flour, no problem, simply use the all purpose. It’s all about the protein difference in the two but both will work fine.

All-purpose flour has between 8 and 11 percent protein, while bread flour contains between 12 to 14 percent. That extra protein in bread flour results in a slightly higher rise, but you’ll still get a good rise with all-purpose flour. Bread flour also produces more gluten. This makes bread just a bit denser and chewier.

If you’re having a problem finding yeast you might enjoy these tweets from a scientist on Twitter that will guide you through making your own. I also found it in one pound packages on Amazon (affiliate link); this product can be frozen and will last for a couple of years. While shipping shows it is out a bit; mine actually shipped the day after I ordered it.

Making it is pretty straightforward too (ingredients and complete directions are in printable recipe card at the bottom of this post):

  1. Dry ingredients, including the yeast, are mixed together.
  2. Milk and water are warmed and combined with the warm melted butter and honey and mixed; eggs are added one at a time and blended until incorporated.
  3. The dry mixture is added a cup at a time until you achieve a soft dough and then it is either kneaded or mixed with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Bread is proofed for about 90 minutes. I’m conservative with my thermostat so my house is not the best for proving so I turn on my oven to the lowest setting, for me, that’s 200 degrees, and let it warm for about 5 minutes. Then I turn if off and if necessary, let some of the air out until the inside of the oven is like a warm and toasty home…that’s my version of a ‘proofing drawer.’ The dough is proofed for 60 minutes, punched down and let go for another 15 minutes and then put into a bread pan that has been coated with butter. I let it proof for another 10 minutes before baking and it’s make a big, beautiful loaf of bread
  5. Optional…sprinkle some seeds on top and/or drizzle melted butter over the top when it’s removed from the oven. I know it will be hard but let it cool before slicing it. Yes, I know…patience!
  6. Try not to eat it all in one sitting.

It’s slightly sweet, has a terrific crumb and it’s a great texture for sandwiches. I think it most wonderful when toasted and served with some butter and more honey. I was fortunate to have a neighbor gift me with some of their local Denver Bee honey at Christmas; it is so good, I think I was saving it for this Billowy Off White Bread with Sunflower Seeds.

They have an Etsy Shop where they sell individual products and an assortment of gifts too…I bought little gift baskets for my neighbors for the holidays and they were so well received!

As spring is finally starting to peek out of the cold in Colorado, I will get my herbs planted first. I love to make herb butters during the summer and they are fantastic spread on this bread. Heck this bread is fantastic with nothing on it…but go on, indulge. It’s 2020, we’re all stuck at home and if a bit of bread can give us comfort, I say ‘Why not?’

If you are craving bread and not in the mood for using yeast and waiting, I also have a couple of favorite quick bread recipes. Three are quick breads leavened with baking powder or baking soda and one is a beer bread that rises from the yeast in the beer. All are wonderful!

PIN IT! ‘Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds’

Loaf of Billowy Off-White Bread with Sunflower Seeds

Billowy Off-White Bread with Milk and Honey Topped with Sunflower Seeds and Served on a Cutting Board
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4.8 from 10 votes

Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds

The best loaf of bread I've ever made combines both bread flour and wheat flour (the off white!) with milk, honey, and butter in this loaf that is garnished with sunflower seeds.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Additional Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Breads
Author: Creative Culinary

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 C scalded milk cooled to body temperature
  • ¼ C lukewarm water
  • ¼ C melted butter
  • ¼ C honey
  • 2 eggs - slightly beaten

Dry Ingredients

  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 ½ C bread flour
  • ¼ C whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. yeast
  • Melted Butter sunflower, sesame or poppy seeds for top

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine the flours, salt, and yeast.
  • In a stand mixer on low speed, combine the milk, water, melted butter and honey.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating gently until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the flour a cup at a time and mix just enough to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour as necessary. (Or use the dough hook and your stand mixer which will probably take a couple of minutes less to get that smooth and elastic result).
  • Place dough in a large buttered bowl, turning to butter top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place, free of drafts. Punch dough down; knead until smooth and let stand for 15 minutes longer.
  • Put prepared dough into a large loaf pan. Spread melted butter over top and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired; press the seeds into the dough a bit. Let rise for 10 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Top should be a nice golden brown.

Bread Machine Instructions:

  • Add all wet ingredients to bottom of bread machine container.
  • Combine all dry ingredients except yeast and evenly pour on top of wet ingredients.
  • Make an indentation in flour and pour yeast into it. (You do not want yeast to make contact with wet ingredients during cycle to warm those up).
  • Setup machine for large loaf with medium color crust. Press GO!

Notes

Change up the seeds on top; I've used sunflower, poppy and sesame.

Nutrition

Serving: 18
* Thinking of Joyce and her family and how our girls were each other’s first best friends made me decide to do a quick Google search and see if I could find anything on her present whereabouts. I was saddened to find that she passed away several year ago…much too soon. So this post is dedicated to my friend Joyce Bingham; we may have lost touch but you have never been forgotten.

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32 Comments

  1. I grew up on Wonder Bread and know it isn’t the most nutritional staple; I have wonderful memories of rushing home from school at lunchtime (oh yes back in the day when kids walked to school and those close enough went home for lunch) after my Mother went back to work. I would meet my older sister about half way there and we’d barge through the door to see what Mom had on the table for our lunch. Always a note with our chores for the day to be done by the time she got home from work. And usually on the table was a large plate of peanut butter and jelly (open faced and cut into 3″ or so pieces) arranged on a huge plate. We would eat and rearrange the designs and laugh at who would eat the next piece and adjust the arrangement. We’d continue till the last piece was gone. Or if not this favorite, there would be ct in half sandwiches of tuna or chicken salad on a plate in the fridge. If Mother had a late day at work and would be home? she would always make grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup. Those were the best. I will forever remember those school days and tried giving my own 2 children the same if not slightly different fond memories. The too remember sandwiches packed in their school lunchboxes and occasionally a note from Me tucked inside. We moved away from the midwest and many places we lived, there wasn’t Wonder Bread ; but the occasions I had to travel back to visit my Mother without my children, I always managed to bring back several loaves. We all (their Dad grew up on wonder bread too) delighted in the sandwiches we would savor for the next few days.

    Well, when seeing this moring that Wonder Bread was going out of business I felt a little tug at my heart and went looking on line for like-minded with a penchant to indulging a taste for “the not so healthy” best bread for making a sandwich. Well, was not finding anyone but came upon your wonderful recipe and I just had to have it and will be baking bread this week-end I think. My granddaughter comes every Friday and at 7 she loves our time in the kitchen cooking up something. She has been cracking the eggs into a bowl fo me and doing the slightly beating part since she was 3.

    Thank you for your great story about when your girls were first born and the friendship you found. I was a military wife and never long in one place. I would just connect with a new friend and end up saying goodbye. I stayed in touch for awhile with a few but lost touch with most all. As how it is in a busy world. But always enjoy stirring up a memory from the past these days and your post did that for me.

    A very nice find for the chilly fall day. The smell of bread baking is just what we need.
    ;o)

    1. Ann, thank you for sharing such a sweet story. I honestly don’t think my mom was all about the most nutritional of anything. With 6 kids to feed I know some of the ease presented to her generation was most welcome and Wonder was a part of that! Did you hear about Twinkies today? They are lambasted as if they are poison but were central to my childhood treats. I now want one. 🙂

  2. There just isn’t anything better than home made bread. I can almost smell it baking now….sigh. I sometimes wonder about friends I’ve lost touch with. So sad Joyce isn’t here to read this wonderful post full of memories.

    1. Thank you Jenny. I love the bread and it will have such a sweet memory of Joyce attached to it forever.

  3. How sad to discover too late that a once-dear friend has passed away. That is so sad. But you have this one concrete memory – souvenir – of her and that makes this bread that much more special. And what a delicious bread! I have no bread machine so would have to go back to hand kneading (which I kind of like). The crumb is perfect and the list of ingredients make it sound much tastier than simple white bread. A great recipe!

  4. What a nice post about your girls and their first friends. I think Joyce would be very proud of your bread baking skills. So sorry to hear she passed away. Your bread looks wonderful.

    1. Thanks Lora…I still just can’t believe it. Joyce was too young and it’s sad to think of her girls not having their mom with them. My mother died when I was 28 so I’m particularly aware of that loss at such a young age.

  5. Lovely post, Barb. It’s always lovely to eat something and be reminded of friends and good old times… I started baking bread only a couple of months back and am totally in awe with the process. May we always have bread!

    1. I go through spells and I’ve been baking it more lately too. I actually want to try this recipe using my dough hook and see how it turns out. I most likely don’t love kneading because of a predisposition towards carpel tunnel issues but I sure love the results.

  6. That’s what I’d call delicious! Thanks you for sharing the recipe as well, I think I’m going to give it a try at this weekend! We use to bake our bread always on our own, that’s why I always feel glad about to find some new bread recipes, thanks for sharing this one!

  7. What an absolutely lovely post, Barb! Aside from finding out that your dear friend has passed away, that is. I did a post some time back about some of my family food memories and love reading about other people’s as well. Food is so powerful – just the fragrance of a favorite recipe cooking away in the kitchen can evoke. The making and sharing of tried and true recipes is about so much more than just getting a meal on the table. Those recipes hold some of our most cherished memories and often pay tribute to those who came before us. There was a time in life when I made all our breads fresh every week. Perhaps it’s time to open up a packet of yeast again 🙂

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend … this was such a sweet story and for the very least, you have fantastic memories with her 🙂 All those who make this bread, will do it to honour your dear friend.

  9. As I started to read this on my phone this morning it made me think of our recent ‘recipe attribution’ chat Barb. Made me wonder if somehow publishing her recipe would bring Joyce out of the woodwork. I was so sad to arrive at the end of your post to what you recently learned about her passing. So what started as your celebration of her wonderful recipe and the time you shared has become that and honoring her with that celebration; something her family I’m sure will take great pride in, knowing readers all over the world will now keep her memory alive by making her food.

  10. I’m sorry that you found out through Google that your friend had passed away. This was a lovely tribute to her and your bread looks wonderful. I don’t have a bread maker so I’m going to make this soon and bake it in the oven.

    1. It was such a shock and I cried as if there were no years or distance between us. She was just the sweetest person and friend and those memories are even more special now Paula.

    1. I’ve never done that Kat but see no reason why it would not work; please do let me know if you try that.

  11. Bless Joyce’s soul. That is a lovely loaf of bread you made and a nice way to honor your friend.
    I think bread is so much more than something we put jam on or hold our favorite pieces of thin sliced meat and cheese. It is comfort and joy and and at times a way to get our frustrations of life worked out in the motions of developing the gluten. Peter Reinhart said, it is the closest thing to solid beer. Can that be bad?
    I have been making bread for 50 years. I still feel a thrill when my loaves come from the oven. Now that there is just two of us, I have to make sure the bread I make won’t go to waste, so I make small baguettes most of the time. They freeze so well. I also love to make laminated dough and then decide if I want danish or croissants. I treat the neighbors from time to time, when I make too much. It will make the most humble meal seem special. Forget the meal, bring me the butta! 🙂

    I used to use a bread machine, and I still have it. I use it on rare occasions now, because I have time to use Kitchenaid and the oven. If I want to shape a loaf for the oven, sometimes I use the dough setting on it. Mine is old, but it has been a good one, and it is the verticle type. I just don’t like the big ol’ hole the paddle leaves.

    1. If I’m paying attention to the cycles I’ll actually remove the dough after the last cycle of mixing and remove the two paddles so that there is no indentation at all. That is if I’m paying attention. 🙂

  12. What a great sounding and looking bread! But what a sad ending 🙁 I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I have a feeling she was there in spirit with you that day in the kitchen and was very happy to know that you were thinking of her.

    1. So many of the recipes I have are part of food memories that I shared with someone else and this bread is no exception. I can see Joyce’s sweet face each and every time I make this bread; I do hope she is with me in spirit each and every time I make it.

  13. I’m so sorry that you lost your friend. The same thing just happened to both me and my husband recently when Googling friends’ names. This post is such a nice memorial to her. Your bread is gorgeous.

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