30 Minute Honey Whole Wheat Skillet Bread
Every once in awhile, I get lucky with a recipe. The stars align and things works out better than anticipated.
This is that recipe.
Recipes like this are the good karmic payback for all the caketastrophes, seized chocolate, wasted butter, and various fails that I experience. Fresh, warm, no-knead bread in a half hour is great karma.
It’s the easiest bread I’ve ever made. It only takes 3 minutes to mix up the batter in one bowl. It’s so easy you’ll think you’ve missed something.
Simply combine all the ingredients, all at once in one bowl, pour buttermilk over the top, stir until just moistened, and turn dough out into the skillet and bake. No kneading, no mixer, no dough hooks. Nothing fancy or complicated, and no tricky steps.
It’s reminiscent of Irish soda bread in appearance, but I avoided the pitfalls that come with soda bread. Usually that’s dry, bland, crumbly, and by the next day it’s even drier. This bread is anything but dry.
I had a little buttermilk to use and wanted a quick and easy bread but didn’t want to remake Browned Butter Buttermilk Banana Bread. Even I didn’t need another banana bread recipe. This week. Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls were out of the question because they aren’t quick. I loved the loaf of bread that’s created when making Fruit, Seed and Nut Crackers. It’s so good I almost didn’t even want to make crackers with it and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
So I recreated a version of it, minus the fruit, seeds, and nuts. I baked in a skillet rather than loaf pan so that it bakes more evenly, and in about one-third the time.
I used my Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 10-1/4-Inch Skillet. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, this 10-inch pre-seasoned cast iron pan is $15 bucks. With almost 2800 4.5/5 star ratings, you really can’t go wrong. Or, bake it on a baking sheet. No excuses not to bake this easy loaf.
For the flour, I used a combo of whole wheat and all-purpose, one cup of each. I’m sure you could use a combination of your favorite flours including whole wheat pastry flour, bread flour, ground oats, rye, or almond flour. I’d be reluctant to use more than 50% wheat or another similarly low gluten flour because they’re more resistant to rising. I don’t know how gluten-free flours and baking blends will behave, but because of the buttermilk, you have as good of a chance of any as getting some height and lift, even without gluten.
If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, pick up a container of Cultured Buttermilk Powder. Not all grocery stores have it, but it’s in the baking aisle. It’s shelf stable, and just mix a couple tablespoons with water for buttermilk.
Or, make buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or lemon juice) to 1 cup milk, wait 10 minutes to allow it to curdle, stir; use as necessary. Or, add 1/4 cup yogurt to about 1 cup milk, stir, and use as necessary.
Those options give you many of the benefits of a cultured milk and for a this recipe, they’ll likely be fine. However, I don’t recommend the shortcuts for a very fancy cake or fussy recipe that calls for buttermilk. Use the real thing.
When pouring the buttermilk over the dry ingredients, start with 1 cup, and stir. The dough should be quite loose, shaggy, and very moist. The flour is like a sponge and seems to inhale the liquid. If it’s at all dry, add up to 1/4 cup more buttermilk so that it’s nicely moistened. I used 1 1/4 cups buttermilk total.
The dough will be lumpy, bumpy, thick, and not at all smooth. Don’t overmix and don’t try to make it smooth. It’s like pancake batter, less is more when it comes to stirring and mixing.
Turn dough out into the skillet in a circular mound that’s about 6 inches in diameter and bake for 15 minutes at 400F, rotate the skillet 180 degrees to ensure even baking, lower the oven temp to 350F and continue to bake for 10 minutes at 350F, or until browned and done. Starting out with a hotter blast of air and then reducing the temperature helps create internal steam, helping the dough rise better, which creates a puffier loaf than if you bake at 350F the whole time. The same principle applies to muffins create bakery-style, high-domed muffin tops.
After removing the skillet from oven, turn bread out of the skillet and onto a rack immediately because the carryover heat will continue to cook the bread and the bottom will become too browned.
After the bread has cooled completely, I wrap it in plasticwrap, and slide it into a large Ziplock or airtight container, where it’ll keep for 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. But leftovers weren’t an issue here.
It’s moist and flavorful enough that ripping off soft hunks and enjoying them plain and fresh was just fine; and with a little hummus or butter, even better.
I used it for PB & J sandwiches with Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter. So good.
It’s soft, fluffy, chewy, and lightweight without being airy, crumbly, or dry. The crust isn’t a tough or overly hearty and the interior has a moist crumb that reminds me of the texture of a moist muffin. Buttermilk always works miracles keeping things light, moist, and tender.
It’s has just a very slight hint of both honey and molasses amidst the heartier wheat flavor. It’s not a ‘sweet bread’ and the honey just takes the edge off the wheat, which can sometimes be a little bitter or earthy.
On a work-reward scale, this is the type of recipe you wish every other recipe could be like. Three minutes of effort for a scrumptious loaf of soft bread.
The hardest part is waiting 25 whole minutes for it to come of of the oven.
30 Minute Honey Whole Wheat Skillet Bread
This is the easiest bread I’ve ever made with fabulous results and virtually zero effort. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, pour buttermilk over the top, stir, transfer to skillet and bake. It’s so easy you’ll think you’ve missed something. Skillet breads bake quicker than bread in loaf pans, so you get to enjoy this bread sooner rather than later. It’s soft, fluffy, chewy, and lightweight with a moist crumb that reminds me of the texture of a moist muffin. It’s very lightly-sweetened with honey and has just a hint of molasses flavor amidst the wheaty flavor.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses (I recommend a medium molasses as opposed to dark or robust, and not blackstrap; it’s too pungent and bitter)
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar, packed (I use light brown)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk* (see Buttermilk Tips below if you don’t have it on hand)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Spray an enameled cast-iron skillet with cooking spray, grease a seasoned cast iron skillet, or prepare an oven-safe skillet; set aside. My skillet is 10 1/4-inches and I recommend a skillet from 8 to 12 inches in diameter. Alternatively, bake bread on a Silpat-lined or greased baking sheet.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients in the order listed, except the buttermilk, and give a quick stir to mix them. Pour 1 cup buttermilk over the top. Stir to combine. Dough should be quite loose, shaggy, and very moist. The flour is like a sponge, and if dough is at all dry, add up to 1/4 cup buttermilk so that it’s nicely moistened, and stir until just combined (I used 1 1/4 cups buttermilk total). Dough will be lumpy, bumpy, thick, and not at all smooth; don’t overmix and don’t try to make it smooth. Turn dough out into skillet in a circular mound that’s about 6 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 inches high. Score top of bread with a knife, making a cross.
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350F and bake for 10 minutes, or until bread is golden and done. (When I lower the temperature to 350F, I also rotate my skillet by 180 degrees to ensure even baking).
- With a large spatula, slide or nudge bread out onto a wire rack immediately to cool. Don’t keep it in the skillet because it will continue to cook and bottom will get too browned. Serve after it’s sufficiently cooled. Note – If you’re not consuming this bread immediately and it stays on a rack to cool for an hour or two, you may observe a fair amount of water released that’s pooled underneath the rack. Mine released about 3 tablespoons in 1 hour. I store all my fully cooled bread by wrapping it in plasticwrap, then placing it inside a large Ziplock where it stays fresh for up to 4 days. Bread may also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
*Buttermilk Tips – Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or lemon juice) to 1 cup milk, wait 10 minutes to allow it to curdle, stir; use as necessary. Or, add about 1/4 cup yogurt to about 1 cup milk, stir; use as necessary. Both of these options provide many of the benefits of a cultured milk and for a quickbread like this, will likely be fine. I don’t recommend using these shortcuts with a very fancy or fussy recipe that calls for buttermilk; use the real thing.
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Do you have a favorite buttermilk recipe or favorite quickbread?
What do you like to make in your skillet?
Tell me about those tried and true recipes you love.