Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (2024)

By

Elizabeth Yetter

Bread expert Elizabeth Yetter has been baking bread for more than 20 years, bringing her Pennsylvania Dutch Country experiences to life through recipes.

Learn about The Spruce Eats'Editorial Process

Updated on 08/23/23

Tested by

Diana Rattray

Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (1)

Tested byDiana Rattray

Southern-cuisine expert and cookbook author Diana Rattray has created more than 5,000 recipes and articles in her 20 years as a food writer.

Learn about The Spruce Eats'Editorial Process

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This delicious white bread with a soft crust and moist center uses basic ingredients that can be found in most kitchens. Our easy recipe will walk you through all the steps you need to make a perfect loaf of yeast bread, whether this is your first loaf of homemade bread or your thousandth.

With no preservatives and a great flavor, this simple loaf will show you why baking your own bread is so much better than buying it at the store. Experienced bakers will also find that this recipe is a great base for experimentation. If you're adventurous, feel free to alter and play with it to create your own bread recipes. Slice the bread with butter and jam, marmalade, or honey, use it for sandwiches, or serve it alongside soup, salad, or any entree.

The 7 Super-Simple Ingredients You Need to Make a Great Loaf of Bread

Chances are good that you already have what you need in your kitchen to make amazing bread. Here's a rundown of the key ingredients for this simple loaf.

  • Yeast: Yeast is a single-cell organism that needs warmth, food, and moisture to thrive. When it has these things it needs to thrive, it converts its food—sugar and starch—through fermentation, into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide bubbles help your bread to rise and have a lovely, pillowy texture instead of being dense and tough as a hockey puck. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, which must be rehydrated in liquid before being added to the dough.
  • Warm water: Regular old tap water is fine, but slightly warm water—95 F to 110 F—is best for activating the yeast. Water should not be hotter than you can comfortably put your hand in, as hotter temperatures can kill the yeast before it does its work in helping the bread rise. It's better to err on the side of cooler water, which simply will make your bread take longer to rise.
  • Salt: Salt plays many roles in bread baking—it helps control the rise, it strengthens the gluten in the flour, helps give the crust a nice browned color, and, of course, makes it taste better.
  • Sugar: A little sugar feeds the yeast and provides a hint of sweetness to your bread.
  • Milk: While not essential to all bread, in this recipe milk makes the bread taste richer and helps it develop a golden-brown crust and a lovely, tender texture inside.
  • Vegetable shortening or butter: The fat in vegetable shortening improves the texture of this bread and gives it a richer flavor. If you prefer butter, you can substitute it in this and many other bread recipes. The general recommendation for substituting butter for shortening is to add a little more butter for each cup of shortening. However, since this bread only requires 1 tablespoon, your butter substitute should be just fine with that amount. If you want to be safe, cut the butter stick a tiny bit bigger than the tablespoon marker on the package.
  • Flour: This recipe uses all-purpose flour because it's the most common type stocked in the average kitchen. However, if you enjoy baking bread, you'll want to switch to bread flour. It has more gluten and creates a better tasting bread that rises just a little more. The two types of flour can be substituted in equal measurements in most bread recipes.

What Does Proofing Mean?

You'll hear proofing in two contexts in bread baking. The first is the process testing yeast to be sure it's alive before using it in your recipe. The second use of proofing (aka proving) in baking refers to allowing the bread to rise—"proof" is used here because we're talking about the fermentation action of the yeast causing the dough to rise and create an airy texture. In most basic yeast bread recipes, including this one, the dough is allowed to proof twice: once after kneading and a second time after shaping and before baking.

Why Dough Must Be Kneaded

Knowing how to knead dough is an important step in your bread-making journey. While there is such a thing as no-knead bread, as well as quick breads that don't require kneading, for many types of bread kneading helps create structure and strength in the dough by helping the two proteins in flour combine to formgluten, which is responsible for creating the elastic texture in the dough and allowing it to trap the gasses that cause the dough to rise.

Why You Need to (Gently) Punch Down Your Dough

After your dough's first rise, you'll need to punch down the dough before shaping it into your desired form and letting it rise again. Gently pushing into the dough with your fist breaks up air pockets, creating a final product with a finer texture and better flavor.

Shaping: Turning Your Dough From a Blob into a Loaf

Once you've punched down your dough, it's time to turn that blob of dough into a loaf. This process is called shaping the loaf and it not only creates a better looking loaf, but it also helps the gluten to further develop, improves the structure of the bread, and helps create a nice even exterior.

How—and Why—to Score Your Bread

Before you pop it in the oven, you'll want to score the loaf of bread by making one or more slashes on the surface of the loaf with a very sharp knife, a razor blade, or a special tool called a lame. Doing so allows the sudden burst of gas that's produced by the yeast when the dough enters the hot oven (an effect known as "oven spring") a controlled way to escape. Otherwise, the escaping gas can produce large, ragged holes in your bread or lumps that protrude from the loaf on the top, bottom, or side. You can make one long slash along the length of the bread, a cross-hatch pattern, or elaborate designs—as long as you give that gas somewhere to go, you'll be good.

Why Didn't My Bread Rise?

There are many variables in baking bread. The most likely culprit for a loaf that doesn't rise is bad yeast. It can even happen before the package's expiration date, especially if it's open and not refrigerated. If you're not buying yeast frequently, you can test yeast by proofing it with water and sugar.

Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (3)

"The recipe is great for beginners, but also enjoyable for experienced bakers. It's a standard white bread with no fuss, special ingredients, or advanced techniques. Since it’s so easy, it's a great recipe to familiarize yourself with kneading, proofing, shaping, and scoring, even experimenting with different approaches to each." —Diana Rattray

Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (4)

A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water (95 F to 110 F)

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4 ounce/ 7 grams) active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)

Steps to Make It

Mix the Bread Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (5)

  2. Pour the warm water into a large bowl.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (6)

  3. Slowly stir in the yeast until it is dissolved.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (7)

  4. Add the salt, sugar, and milk to thebowl. Stir until everything is thoroughly combined.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (8)

  5. Mix in the shortening and the first 2 cups of flour. The shortening will continue to integrate into the dough while kneading, so don't worry if there are still small lumps at this stage.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (9)

  6. If needed, begin adding more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough chases the spoon around the bowl.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (10)

Prepare and Bake the Bread Dough

  1. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes. Add small spoonfuls of flour as necessary, until the dough is soft and smooth (not sticky to the touch). You may not need all of the flour, or you may need a little more. Keep the surface floured to prevent the dough from sticking to the board and your hands.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (11)

  2. Put the dough in a greased or buttered bowl and turn the dough over so the other side is also greased.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (12)

  3. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot, such as an oven with the light on, for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (13)

  4. Punch down the dough.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (14)

  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (15)

  6. Form the dough into aloaf (here are some helpful tips) and set it gently into a greased bread pan.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (16)

  7. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled. If your kitchen is chilly or drafty, place the pan in a cool oven with the light on for this step, or you may not get a proper rise. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (17)

  8. Score the risen dough by cutting three slashes across the top with a sharp knife. While not essential, this step controls the direction in which the bread expands as it bakes. (If you forget to do it, the bread will taste the same.)

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (18)

  9. Place the bread in the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (19)

  10. Turn out the loaf of bread and let it cool completely on a rack or clean dish towel before slicing.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (20)

  11. Slice and pair with your favorite jam, butter, or sandwich toppings.

    Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (21)

Recipe Variations

  • Brush loaves with milk before baking to produce a dark, shiny crust.
  • Brush loaves with egg white before baking to produce a shiny crust.
  • Spraying loaves with water while they bake will produce a crispy crust.
  • Brush loaves with butter immediately after baking to produce a soft crust.
  • Add flavor with herbs and spices, such as caraway, garlic, rosemary, and sesame seeds. Use about 3 tablespoons total and mix them in with the flour and shortening.
  • If you'd like to include dried fruit or nuts, stir them in with the initial flour as well. To avoid overwhelming a loaf, start with 1 cup total and increase that on the next loaf if desired.

How to Store and Freeze

  • At room temperature: Homemade bread does not have the preservatives of store-bought bread so it doesn't last quite as long. Generally, a loaf will stay fresh when stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. The refrigerator will dry the bread out and should be avoided.
  • In the freezer: To freeze bread, wrap the cooled bread—sliced or whole loaf—in plastic wrap and then wrap it in foil. Label it with name and date and use it within 6 months. For short-term freezer storage of 1 month or less, it's fine to freeze it in a plastic bag or container. The bread will thaw perfectly at room temperature in a couple of hours.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
136Calories
2g Fat
26g Carbs
4g Protein

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories136
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g2%
Saturated Fat 1g3%
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 182mg8%
Total Carbohydrate 26g10%
Dietary Fiber 1g4%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 18mg1%
Iron 1mg8%
Potassium 56mg1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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Super Easy Yeast Bread Recipe for Beginners (2024)

FAQs

What is the easiest yeast to use for bread? ›

The Very Best: Instant Yeast

Instant yeast is the only yeast I ever use in my baking. Always have and always will. The yeast of choice in most restaurant kitchens and commercial bakeries, it's easy and convenient.

What are the three basic ingredients of yeast breads? ›

There are only four yeast bread ingredients you really need: flour, yeast, water, and salt. All the other ingredients in a recipe are there to add flavor, nutrition, color, and to change the characteristics of the crumb.

What are the 10 basic steps to making yeast bread? ›

These are the 10 stages of yeast production:
  1. Scaling the Ingredients.
  2. Mixing and Kneading the Dough.
  3. Fermenting the Dough.
  4. Punching Down the Dough.
  5. Portioning the Dough.
  6. Rounding the Portions.
  7. Shaping the Portions.
  8. Proofing the Products.
Apr 23, 2012

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