Homemade White Bread
Homemade bread is an easy, 6-ingredient yeast dough with a soft interior and crunchy crust. Sliceable, shareable and simple, this loaf won’t last long!
When I started baking a few years ago, I attempted what many novice bakers fear most — a homemade yeast bread. I’d had success with pound cake and a couple other easy recipes, so I thought, How hard could bread be?
I knew baking bread wasn’t easy, but oddly enough, I didn’t fear it. Bread is one of my favorite things to eat and I was determined to make it from scratch.
I have only good memories about bread. We ate bread with nearly every meal when I was a kid. My mom would cook homemade meat sauce, and when it was ready, I sat at the table with a bowl of sauce, slices of bread and went to town.
Once you try this recipe, I guarantee you’ll fall head-over-heels for this bread. Toast it, slather it with butter and jam, or use it as the foundation of a grilled cheese. The possibilities are endless.
If you’ve never made bread or are scared of working with yeast, never fear. I’m going to walk you through the process and explain how easy it is to make homemade bread.
WORKING WITH YEAST
I didn’t know about the fears surrounding yeast when I made bread for the first time. I always use Fleischmann’s® Active Dry yeast for this recipe. The rise time is longer but I think it’s worth the wait. Besides, it gives you plenty of time to do chores, binge Netflix or take a walk while you wait.
WHAT DOES YEAST DO?
Simply put, yeast makes bread rise. The basics of any bread dough are flour, water and yeast. Once these ingredients are combined, enzymes in the yeast and the flour cause large starch molecules to break down into simple sugars. Yeast metabolizes these sugars and then carbon dioxide and alcohol are released into the dough, causing it to rise.
HOW WARM SHOULD MY WATER BE?
The temperature of your water should feel like a warm bath. It shouldn’t be cold or scolding hot, which could kill the yeast.
DO I NEED A STAND MIXER TO MAKE HOMEMADE BREAD?
Nope! Until recently, I always made this bread by hand. Kneading is a great arm workout if you can’t make it to the gym that day. You’ll knead the dough for about 6-7 minutes in a stand mixer, and closer to 10 minutes by hand. Properly kneaded dough should spring back when you press it with two fingers.
WHERE SHOULD THE BREAD RISE?
A warm place! I like to preheat my oven to its lowest setting, turn it off and let it cool until there’s only residual heat. The oven should not be hot to the touch. Place the bread in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rise.
TIP: Pour the salt down the side of the bowl, not directly on top of the yeast. Putting salt on top of the yeast could slow down its growth.
Fresh baked bread warms the soul. Once you make homemade white bread, you’ll never go back to store bought!
1.5 cups warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir until the yeast is dissolved.
2. Add 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time. Stir constantly on a low speed using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer or by hand with a sturdy spoon. The dough will be sticky.
3. Add remaining 1 cup of flour and mix by hand or in the stand mixer. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on a low speed for about 3 minutes until it clings to the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead in the mixer for 3-4 minutes more, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.
4. Place dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size; about 1-2 hours.
5. Punch down dough and place in an ungreased 9x5 loaf pan or cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double; about 1 hour.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until browned.
7. Brush with melted butter immediately after removing from the oven.
8. Turn loaf out onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.