Bread recipes are common, but this loaf of homemade bread is the winner after testing dozens of bread recipes!
It meets every single requirement. This bread is so tender it melts in your mouth. It doesn’t fall apart when sliced and whoa, baby… it makes the most amazing toast. Plus it uses the very most basic ingredients, so it’s cheap to make. When we power through a loaf in five seconds flat, I don’t feel bad.
This recipe makes one perfect loaf. It can be doubled as long as your stand mixer or bread machine is large enough to handle double the dough.
Tips for Making Homemade Bread
- Cold water slows the rising yeast. Water that is too hot will kill the yeast. Warm water is best for bread making. I like to think of it as “baby bath” temperature.
- Yeast is available for sale in packets, jars and bricks. You can find it in the baking aisle at any grocery store. I bake a lot, so I buy the two pound bricks and store them in a glass mason jar in the fridge. If you only bake every so often, the packets or smaller jars might be better. Keep the yeast in a dry, cool place.
- Newly purchased yeast doesn’t need to be proofed, but if you find an old yeast jar in the back of your pantry and wonder if it’s still good, there’s an easy way to test it. Mix 1 teaspoon of yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup water. If after 10 minutes or so, the mixture looks bubbly, the yeast is still good to use. If there are no bubbles, the yeast is probably no longer usable.
- Bread recipes never specify an exact amount of flour because it’s better to do it by feel. Start with the minimum amount of flour, mix it together with the other ingredients, then add more flour gradually until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Adding too much flour will make your bread stiff and crumbly. That is the other reason that you should start with the smaller measurement of flour and then add it gradually… you can always add more flour, but it’s much harder to fix the dough if you add too much flour.
- For years I mixed my bread dough in a bread machine, then transferred the dough to a bread pan and baked it in the oven. Bread machines are great because you just dump the ingredients in and walk away. They mix and knead the dough for you. They also keep the dough warm, so it rises faster.
- Now I use a KitchenAid to mix my bread dough. I use the dough hook attachment and let the machine knead the dough for me. When the dough gets to the right consistency, I just cover the mixer bowl with a clean towel for rise time.
- If you make bread by hand, mix the ingredients in a big bowl, then knead on a kitchen counter. Watch this 40 second video to see how to knead bread by hand.
- Kneading is an important step in the bread-making process because it develops the gluten structure and makes the dough have that stretchy, elastic feel.
- You’ll know you’ve kneaded the dough long enough when it passes The Windowpane Test. If you can stretch a piece of dough thin enough to see light pass through it (like a windowpane) then the dough has been kneaded long enough.
- Rise time is also an important part of bread making. If you don’t give the dough enough time to rise, you’ll end up with a loaf that is too dense. If you let the dough rise too long, the dough structure won’t be able to support the giant bubbles and it’ll collapse.
- Rise times can vary based on the temperature of the air, the type of yeast, the exact amount of flour used, etc. so times are usually a suggestion and the size growth of the dough is a better indicator.
- Bread requires two rise times. Place the freshly kneaded dough in a bowl and cover the top with a clean towel. This first rise is when the yeast will do its magic and make your bread airy and fluffy. After the dough has doubled in size, you’ll shape it into a loaf shape and place it in a greased bread pan.
- Then it’s time for the second rise. I like to wait until the bread is about the size I want it to end up once baked. If you wait too long on the second rise and the dough collapses, don’t panic. You can still save it! Just reshape the dough into a loaf and let it rise again, but don’t wait so long.
- I use metal bread pans and grease them with butter. You can use glass bread pans, although it may change baking times, so watch it closely.
- Bread is done baking when the crust is a dark golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped. Or if you have a food thermometer, bread is done when it reaches 190 degrees F in the center.
This makes one loaf of soft, delicious homemade bread.
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2.5 – 3.5 cups flour (start with 2.5 cups and add more as needed)
- 1 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer or bread machine, add the water, sugar and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until a nice ball forms. The dough should feel elastic, but not dry. Add more flour if dough is sticky.
Let dough rise in a warm place until double, about 1.5 hours. Shape into a smooth log and place in a greased bread pan. Let rise again, about 20 minutes. I usually let it go until it looks the right size for a loaf of bread. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until bread is dark golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
Pin the image below so you can find this recipe later!
Looking for a whole wheat bread recipe instead? This one is my favorite:
|100% Whole Wheat Bread|