Who doesn’t love bread? We all love bread! But baking bread is usually something we leave up to the pros. No one is skipping the bread aisle to bake fresh bread because it seems far too intimidating. Just working with yeast is enough to scare folks away. So, I am sharing a recipe of an Easy White Bread.
Well I am here to tell you that you can bake bread and it will be delicious. You will be shocked at how easy this recipe is and how flavorful and yummy the end result is. If you have these 7 ingredients and about 2 hours, you can have freshly baked homemade bread.
Before you get started
Working with yeast is not easy. I’ve actually dumped several cups of flour because the yeast just didn’t work in the recipe. My rule (which is very different from a traditional bread baker’s) is to always activate the yeast. This rule is reserved only for active dry yeast but I activate ANY and ALL types of yeast before working with it. This is my foolproof way of knowing the yeast will work and I will get the rise I need.
To activate yeast most recipes say use hot/warm water. That directive is far too vague. You need lukewarm water that feels like bath water. You should be able to stick your finger in the water without burning it. For this reason, I don’t recommend boiling water for yeast. It is far too hot. I recommend starting with tap water and warming it in the microwave briefly– about 30 seconds. Depending on the power of the microwave, you may need more or less time but test the water with your finger before adding the yeast. Once you stir in the yeast, give it a sprinkle of sugar and set it aside until it gets frothy and foamy. If the yeast does not get frothy or foamy it is dead and you need to dump it and start over. It’s better to dump the yeast than an entire batch of flour right? This is why testing it first is so important.
Rising Dough: In the winter months my house stays pretty cold. It is hard to find a place in my kitchen that is warm. So I turned my oven into a proofing box!
When using yeast, I do a few things to turn my oven into a proofing box. I placed the top rack in the center placement of the oven. I covered my dough and placed it on that rack. Then I boiled water in a kettle and placed a cake tin or loaf pan on the rack directly below the dough. I then poured the hot water into the cake tin and pushed the rack back into place and closed the oven door. The steam from the hot water will create a warming place for the dough to rise. Voila! Your oven is a proofing box.
For White Bread you will need:
- Stand mixer or Large bowl and good wooden spoon
- Large bowl for proofing (if using stand mixer)
- 2- 9 inch loaf pans
- Cling Film
- 1 packet of Rapid Rise instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 2 1/4 cups of warm water (luke warm)
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 6 cups of bread flour
- 2 tbsp of butter for topping
- Dissolve a packet of yeast in warm water with a pinch of white sugar. Leave the yeast to become frothy for about 5 mins. (If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. If the water is not warm enough the yeast will not get frothy.)
- In the mixing bowl, add 4 cups of flour, sugar and salt. Combine with a spoon to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Once the yeast is foamy, add oil to the warm water and immediately add to the flour mixture.
- Mix on low speed or mix by hand with a large heavy spoon until the flour mixture is smooth.
- Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be slightly sticky but not too wet that it will stick to your hands. If it is too wet, add another small amount of flour.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and knead for 5-7 minutes by folding the edges and turning the dough. Knead in a fold and turn motion until the dough is smooth and forms a ball. Kneading the dough is an important step. I needed my dough for the full 7 minutes.
- Add your ball of dough into a well oiled bowl. Be sure to also oil the top of the dough. Cover your bowl with cling film and let rise in a warm area of your kitchen for 1 hour. (check notes for how to get your dough to rise)
- After the dough rises, punch it down and divide it into two equal sections.
- Roll out each section gently without any added flour, into two rectangular shapes.
- Roll the rectangles tightly onto themselves and keep the rolls about 8 inches wide to form a cylinder.
- Place the rolled dough seam-side down in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover with cling film and place in a warm area of your kitchen.
- Let the dough rise again until it is about 1 inch above the top of the pan. This should take an hour or less.
- Remove cling film and bake loaves in a preheated oven on 375 degrees for exactly 30 minutes.
- Once baked, brush the tops of your loaves with melted butter and remove from pans to a wire rack for cooling. Do not cool bread in the pans. It will make them soggy.
- Once completely cooled, place dough into airtight bags for storage.