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This soft, *easy* Homemade Bread Recipe is a classic, go-to, simple white bread recipe suitable for snacking, toasting or sandwich making. Also easily adaptable into honey whole wheat loaves. Amazing fresh out of the oven with honey butter. Also so good when turned into grilled cheese or served alongside chili or soup.
Homemade Bread – So Much Better Than Store Bought!
Today I’m sharing one of those recipes I make all the time that I haven’t ever posted to the blog, my Homemade Bread Recipe! The last 4 or 5 weeks in a row, I’ve been making this soft sandwich bread on Sundays so we have a loaf to enjoy all week and my husband can take a loaf back with him to DC. (This recipe makes two!) Whether I’m making beef stew or simple chicken noodle soup, this bread is the perfect accompaniment. I’ve tested this recipe at least 6 times, trying to get it right where I want it and we are finally there! So here is this recipe for you all to enjoy.
In order to have success, I’m going to write out everything I can possibly think of so you can have some amazing bread to show for the 3+ hours of work. Bread making IS work, but relatively easy work that is so so worth it!! Plus 2 hours is just waiting for it to rise, so it’s really not so bad!
Basic Bread Ingredients
For ANY bread recipe, you will use the same basic ingredients. Whether it’s for crescent rolls, pizza dough or even cinnamon rolls, the ingredients generally are the same. Most of these items should be ridiculously easy to find, if not already in your pantry! Be sure to double check your yeast to ensure it’s not expired.
- Warm Water. In order to dissolve the yeast and proof it (meaning make sure its fresh and will give you the lift you’re looking for) you’re going to want to stir it into warm water. Think the temperature of baby bath water. Always err on the side of too cold than too hot. This way you won’t accidentally kill your yeast.
- Active Dry Yeast. I buy the packets of yeast for ease, but any kind or brand of active dry yeast is fine. Just make sure its not expired. I like keeping my yeast in the fridge.
- Honey. I dissolve the honey into the warm water to act as food for the yeast to help it proof quicker.
- All Purpose Flour. For two white loaves of bread, I use unbleached all-purpose flour. See my notes below for making honey whole wheat loaves.
- Granulated Sugar. I like my bread on the slightly sweeter side, so I add in 1/4 cup (which equates to 2 tablespoons per loaf…so not *that* sweet overall.)
- Salt. Do not forget the salt! This makes an enormous difference in the finished product.
- Melted Butter. Adds flavor and the fat adds texture too.
Scared to Work With Yeast? Read This First!
Nervous to work with yeast? Scared this bread recipe won’t work for you? RELAX! This whole bread making process is much easier than you think. Take a breath and read my best tips for beginners:
- First things first is check your yeast. Make sure it is fresh and not past it’s expiration date. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, not fast acting, quick rise yeast (though that would totally work in a pinch).
- Use warm water and honey to activate your yeast. If you are concerned about killing your yeast by using water that is too hot, err on the side of too cold. You’re looking for lukewarm water, the temperature baby bath water would be.
- You’ll know your yeast is activated if you see foam and small bubbles forming at the top of your water-yeast mixture after 5-10 minutes.
- If you don’t see any bubbles or any sign that your yeast is alive, throw it out and start again. You get soft and airy bread from yeast that creates air bubbles as it rises and then bakes.
- I recommend kneading by hand because you are much less likely to over-knead and add too much flour. If you are using a stand mixer, you’ll have to watch it carefully to ensure you get the right texture. You’re looking for a slightly tacky, smooth dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
- I’ve typed out the variation for honey whole wheat bread in the recipe card, if that’s your thing. Same tips apply, you’ll just use less flour.
How to Make Homemade Bread
If you’re new to this process, I’d recommend making this by hand and forgoing the stand mixer. You want to be able to feel the dough and not accidentally over-knead it (which can be easy to do when using a machine). All increments and specific instructions are located in the actual bread recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Stir warm water, active dry yeast and honey together until dissolved. Set aside 5-10 minutes to bubble and foam. It should start creating bubbles within 5 minutes. If it doesn’t seem to be doing anything, your water may have been too hot OR the yeast is expired. Throw away and try again with cooler water and/or fresh yeast.
Form the Bread Dough
Add 4 cups flour, sugar, salt and melted butter to a large bowl. Stir in yeast mixture. As you mix, it should be a thick batter. Switch to kneading with your hands. As you knead, sprinkle flour into the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your hands. This process should take about 6 minutes.
DO NOT pour entire amount of flour onto dough and try to knead it in. YOU WILL get a tough, dry dough. Just go little by little to get the texture you’re looking for.
Rise, Form into Loaves, Rise Again
Place dough into a clean, well greased bowl. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
Divide dough into two, form into loaves and place into loaf pans. Cover and rise again.
Bake Your Bread & Enjoy!
Bake 40 minutes, brush tops with butter and cool completely. Cut into slices and enjoy!
Storing Your Bread
The options are just about endless when it comes to storing bread. While I have a larger family and this bread recipe never lasts us long (even though it makes two loaves!) I know a lot of you will want to store it longer than us.
Shelf Life of Homemade Bread
The best way to store this bread is in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge. While it’s fine to keep on the counter or in the cupboard at room temperature, you will definitely notice mold a lot sooner than if kept in the fridge. Shelf life on the counter is about 3 days. Shelf life in the refrigerator is 5 days. See notes below on freezing.
When and How to Freeze
There are two options for freezing this bread: before baking and after baking.
Freezing Before Baking
To freeze this bread before baking, make the recipe as listed. After the first rise, form into loaves, place into loaf pans (I’d recommend the disposable ones) and immediately cover well and freeze. To bake, remove from the freezer, defrost and rise (should take 6-8 hours on the counter). Then bake according to recipe directions. Unbaked dough will last in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Freezing After Baking
To freeze this bread after baking, make recipe in entirety. After the loaves have cooled completely, place into an airtight container or bag and freeze. Will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, simply transfer bread from freezer to fridge until its fully defrosted. If you’re wanting to use this bread for sandwiches, I recommend cutting into slices before freezing.
Other Bread Recipes You Will Love:
- Bread Bowl Recipe
- Hot Cross Buns
- Fail-Proof Pizza Dough and Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- Soft Zucchini Bread
- Banana Nut Bread
Anyways, with Fall right on our doorsteps, I thought warm homemade bread would be the perfect accompaniment for all those soups and stews (chili, anyone?) we’re bound to make 😉
Be sure to grab the printable recipe below and save for later because this is a good one!
Have a great day, friends!
Homemade Bread (white bread)
- In a liquid measuring cup, stir warm water together with yeast and honey. Set aside 10 minutes to proof and bubble up*.
- In a large bowl, add 4 cups all purpose flour, sugar, salt and melted butter. Stir together gently. Create a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture.
- Start mixing using a large spoon until a dough forms. Switch to kneading with your hands, sprinkling flour into the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your hands. This process should take about 6 minutes. DO NOT pour entire amount of flour onto dough and try to knead it in. YOU WILL get a tough, dry dough. Just go little by little to get the texture you’re looking for.
- Place dough into a well greased bowl and roll around to coat. Cover gently with a clean kitchen towel and rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Remove dough from bowl and divide into two even amounts. Gently press into two rectangles the width of your loaf pans. Roll up to form a log and place into each greased loaf pan. Cover and rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- After about 30 minutes of rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake loaves for 30-40 minutes or until completely cooked through. Try to not over bake!
- Optional step: when bread is removed from the oven and still hot, rub the tops with butter.
- Cool 20 minutes in pans before removing to cooling racks. Cool completely before cutting into slices. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator to keep up to 4 days. OR place into the freezer.
- For Honey Whole Wheat Bread: you will use 3 cups all purpose flour and 2 1/2 cups to 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. In step 2, add 3 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour to the bowl with the other ingredients. Then as you knead, you will sprinkle in whole wheat flour as needed. (You will not need or use as much whole wheat flour as you would all purpose because the whole wheat flour soaks up more liquid.) The rest of the directions remain the same.