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Aug 16, 2023

The Approachable Loaf - Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

The Approachable Loaf is an easy-to-make, nutritious, and accessible sliced pan bread. It's perfect for sandwiches. 

Whole wheat bread slices with a breakfast scenario

The original formula for this bread was created by the Washington State University Bread Lab. The goal was to create a nutritious bread for commercial bakeries that is affordable and nutritious with whole grains and only natural ingredients. 

The mission of the WSU Bread Lab is worth learning about. 

This bread is perfect for sandwiches and simple to make. It's great for packing back-to-school lunches. 

Whole wheat loaf sliced on a cutting board.

My friend Kelly of A Messy Kitchen translated the formula to make a single loaf. I made it twice, once with almost 100% whole wheat, and once with 60% whole wheat. 


Leavening: This bread is leavened with a small amount of sourdough starter and a small amount of commercial yeast. You prepare the levain/starter first, and let it ferment for 12 to 15 hours. This really helps develop flavor. 

You add a tiny amount of commercial yeast when creating a final dough, making this recipe less intimidating. 

For the whole wheat, I used white whole wheat. The flavor is a little less strong than "regular" whole wheat. For the blended formula, I added bread flour. 

Other ingredients include honey, olive oil, water, and salt. 

Whole wheat bread slices with a breakfast scenario.

The Approachable Loaf Variations:

This bread can be made with all whole wheat flour or a blend of whole wheat flour and up to 40 percent bread flour (or anywhere in between). 

My almost 100 percent whole wheat loaf was a little less lofty than the mixed flour loaf, and the texture reminded me of English muffin bread. There were lots of nooks and crannies in the crumb, and the bread was delicious toasted and buttered. 

Below is a view of the crumb:

Whole wheat bread on a cutting board.

For the blended flours loaf, the bread was a little loftier, and the crumb was slightly less airy. This may also be because I paid more attention when I added the additional water at the end of mixing the dough (more on that later). 

Here is a photo of the crumb of the loaf with a blend of whole wheat and bread flour:

Whole wheat and bread flour loaf sliced on a cutting board.

In both cases, the loaves are very high hydration. Definitely hold back the last ten percent of the water and incorporate it slowly once your initial dough has come together. 

You can use a higher mixer speed to facilitate this process. I used my KitchenAid 7 Quart Pro mixer for mixing this dough. 

Whole wheat and bread flour loaf sliced on a cutting board.

Between the levain and the whole wheat, this bread has a strong sourdough flavor that develops even more over time. 

It's excellent sliced and buttered, for sandwiches, and toasted for breakfast. It also makes fantastic cheesy garlic bread. 

Note about measurements: I highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking. Both flour and salt can vary depending on how you measure it or the brand you use. 

My favorite kitchen scale: OXO Good Grips 11 Pound Scale with Pull Out Display. 

My favorite scale for measuring tiny amounts of yeast and salt: Weigh Gram Pocket Scale. 

Thank you Kelly for introducing the KSU Bread Lab and this recipe to the Bread Baking Babes. After the recipe, be sure to check out everyone's versions of this formula. 

Whole wheat and bread flour loaf sliced on a cutting board.

The Approachable Loaf

The Approachable Loaf
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 45 MinInactive time: 15 HourTotal time: 16 H & 45 M
The Approachable Loaf is an easy-to-make, nutritious, and accessible sliced pan bread. It's perfect for sandwiches.


  • 60 grams (~1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon) water
  • 10 grams 100 percent hydration sourdough starter
Final Dough
  • 340 grams (~2 1/2 cups) white whole wheat flour. For the blended loaf, use 204 grams white whole wheat flour plus 136 grams bread flour.
  • 247 grams (~1 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 3/4 teaspoons) water, divided
  • 7 grams (~1 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 2.4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 23 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 17 grams (4 teaspoons) olive oil
  • All of the levain


To Make the Levain
  1. Mix together the levain ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let sit for 12 to 15 hours at room temperature.
To Make the Bread
  1. Add all of the dough ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer, holding back 25 grams of the water to add later.
  2. Mix the ingredients on low for about two minutes. Switch the mixer speed to medium low, and mix for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough had developed gluten and comes together.
  3. With the mixer on medium, add the rest of the water, but tablespoon, until each addition is incorporated.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes, stretching and folding at 45 minutes.
  5. Spray an 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with spray oil. From the dough into a loaf and place it, seam side down, into the pan. The dough may seem hard to shape. Using an oiled scraper should help transfer and shape the dough.
  6. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until it rises about 3/4 inch above the rim of the pan.
  7. Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Add the loaf to the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake the loaf for 40 to 45 minutes, until it reaches an interior temperature of about 195 degrees F.
  8. Cool the loaf completely on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

1.67 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.2 g

Carbs (grams)

21.82 g

Fiber (grams)

3.39 g

Net carbs

18.44 g

Sugar (grams)

1.8 g

Protein (grams)

3.87 g

Cholesterol (grams)

0 mg
whole wheat
Did you make this recipe?
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The Bread Baking Babes' Approachable Loaves:

A Messy Kitchen (host kitchen)

Bread Experience

My Diverse Kitchen

Blog from Our Kitchen

Feeding My Enthusiasms

Would you like to comment?

  1. Wow, what a difference between the whole wheat and the blend! Beautiful structure especially with the blend. I am tempted to go grab some pre-ground whole wheat flour and see if that makes a difference from my fresh ground as far as the hydration goes. But not until this heat wave ends!!

    1. It is interesting isn't it. I have always struggled a bit with 100 percent whole wheat.

  2. Both of your loaves look great! I like that you tried two different percentages. It's interesting to see how different types of flour perform. Delicious bake!

    1. It is interesting isn't it. Thanks Cathy!

  3. Both loaves look so good, Karen. I'm envious of the loft you achieved.

    I LOVE the photo with the blueberries and the jam.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. That's one of my favorites too =)

  4. Karen, I like both loaves and am impressed with how well your loaves rose. Did you use white whole wheat for the 100% loaf? I think it behaves more like all-purpose than regular whole wheat flour.

    1. I did use white whole wheat! I'm so surprised at how dark it looks. At least the loaf isn't super dense. In fact, the toast was amazing.

  5. The toast looks amazing! And very nice, high loaves!

  6. While waiting for colder days to come, I'm keeping this versions! Both are irresistible for sandwiches, bruschetta or anything our heart desires.... Thank you so much!


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