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What Is Bread Made With?
While bread recipes vary, making bread generally requires four ingredients:
- Yeast (either active dry yeast, instant yeast, or a levain, also known as a starter)
4 Tips for Baking Perfect Homemade Bread
Follow these tips next time you want to take a shot at baking your own bread at home.
- Use baking flour or bread flour instead of all-purpose. Though not required, the higher protein content in baking flour or bread flour will aid in developing gluten, which gives bread that perfect chewy texture. If you don’t have baking flour, try an all-purpose flour for your first loaf, then switch to baking flour for your second and compare your results.
- Use steam to your advantage. High heat and humidity combine to give bread a shiny, burnished crust. Create steam in your oven by spritzing the baking pan, using a steam injector device, or baking the bread in a Dutch oven to trap and circulate the steam.
- Let the bread dough rise long enough. Nothing is worse than a flat, dense loaf of bread—unless, of course, you meant to do that! Giving the dough time to rise allows for better volume, better texture, and more developed flavors.
- Use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Yeast needs to be alive and kicking in order to make your dough rise. Hot water from your tap can reach temperatures of 120°F or higher, which will kill your yeast. Instead, stick to 70-80°F for your water temperature.
15 Easy Homemade Bread Recipes
There are few things sweeter than the crackle of a golden brown crust on a loaf of bread, or the sight of steam escaping from its airy, webbed pockets. Whether it’s your first time or your 200th, baking bread is an exercise in patience and precision—and the thrill never gets old
- Baguettes. A national symbol of France, the baguette is a long, thin loaf of bread made from white flour. It has a crispy, golden-brown crust and a chewy interior marked by an open crumb structure–i.e. large air pockets within the loaf. According to French law, baguettes must be made with just four ingredients: wheat, water, yeast, and salt. To make a baguette at home, you'll need to make a poolish—a portion of wet dough that gets fermented ahead of time and that helps kick-start fermentation. Learn how to make homemade baguettes with our recipe here.
- Brioche. A French white bread similar to challah and panettone, brioche also involves dough made with eggs, which help the dough rise. The egg yolks also give the bread a golden interior. During baking, the egg whites tend to dry out, which is why you need to add plenty of butter to the mix for extra moisture. The result is a rich, buttery flavor and deep brown crust. Since butter can slow down the activity of gluten (the protein that gives wheat bread doughs their elasticity), you’ll want to work the butter into the dough after the initial kneading and first proofing. Learn how to make homemade brioche with our recipe here.
- Challah. This soft, golden brown homemade bread is traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath and other holidays. Its pale yellow color and rich flavor come from the high amount of eggs used in the dough. Traditional challah recipes use eggs, white flour, water, sugar, active dry yeast, and salt. The dough for this loaf becomes smooth and supple after kneading in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, making it perfect for braiding. If it’s your first time making challah, try a simple three-strand braid; for a spectacular presentation, try a four-strand or six-strand braid. Any leftover bread makes a great French toast the morning after baking. Learn how to make homemade challah with our recipe here.
- Ciabatta. Ciabatta is a rustic Italian bread made from wheat flour, water, olive oil, salt, and yeast. Ciabatta has a crisp and chewy crust with an airy interior. It’s best to make ciabatta in a stand mixer, since the dough is extremely sticky. Once the ciabatta dough is mixed, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl to rise. Most yeast breads, like ciabatta, need at least two rises. The first rise happens before the dough is formed and the second rise happens once the dough has been formed into loaves or rolls. Learn how to make homemade ciabatta with our recipe here.
- Focaccia. Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that is recognizable for its olive oil-infused flavor, chewy texture, and dimpled, crisp exterior. Focaccia is a great bread for beginning bread bakers. The yeasted dough is forgiving and the shaping process is fun: Focaccia's signature dimpled appearance is the result of poking the entire surface of the dough with your fingertips. You can add an assortment of toppings to your focaccia, with the classics being rosemary and salt. Serve focaccia as an antipasto, table bread, or snack. Learn how to make homemade focaccia with our recipe here.
- Irish Soda Bread. Soda bread is a type of quick bread that traditionally includes flour, baking soda, salt, and sour milk or buttermilk. The “soda” in the name comes from the baking soda used to leaven the bread, distinguishing Irish soda bread and from yeast breads, which are leavened with fresh yeast, active dry yeast, instant yeast, or sourdough starter and require extended proofing at room temperature. Unlike yeast breads, quick breads like Irish soda bread require no kneading. Yeast-free, no-knead bread dough rises due to the interaction of a base (such as baking soda) with an acid (such as buttermilk). Other types of quick bread include banana bread, cornbread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, and all types of muffins, from blueberry to apple to savory cheddar. In Ireland, soda bread is typically made with whole wheat flour, resulting in a tender, dense bread with a golden brown crust. Learn how to make homemade Irish soda bread with our recipe here.
- Lavash. Lavash is a traditional Armenian flatbread made with simple ingredients—four, water, salt—in a tandoor oven. It is also popular in Turkey, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries. The tandoor oven gives lavash its unique taste and texture: bubbly, soft, crunchy, and infused with wood smoke. If you don't have a clay oven, you can still make lavash at home by kneading the dough in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and baking in a regular oven on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Serve lavash with hummus, baba ganoush, and other dips. Learn how to make homemade lavash with our recipe here.
- Multigrain Bread. Multigrain bread is any type of bread made with more than one type of grain. Wheat is one type of grain; others include rye, spelt, barley, and millet. Since wheat has the highest gluten production of all the grains, it tends to be the preferred bread-making grain, while the other grains mostly end up in bread for reasons of nutrition, flavor, or texture. Multigrain loaves of bread often also include a topping of pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, or oats. Learn how to make homemade multigrain bread with our recipe here.
- Naan. Naan is a leavened Indian flatbread traditionally cooked in a tandoor—a cylindrical clay or metal oven. Plain yogurt gives the dough a pillowy, stretchy crumb. High heat gives naan bread its signature blistered surface, which is finished with a brushing of ghee or butter. All-purpose flour, active dry yeast, and yogurt are the essential ingredients of naan. While a clay tandoor oven is the traditional method for baking naan, this type of oven is rarely seen in homes or restaurants. Fortunately, you don’t need a clay oven or any other special equipment to make great homemade naan. A good cast iron skillet or frying pan allows naan to puff up nicely. As for mixing the dough, a stand mixer will make the kneading go faster, but you can also use your hands. Learn how to make homemade naan with our recipe here.
- Panettone. Panettone is an Italian sweet bread loaf that originated in Milan. Traditionally made during the holiday season on Christmas and New Year, a panettone—which translates to “big bread loaf”—is a large, dome-shaped sweet bread that has been leavened with yeast. It has a light and airy texture with a rich, buttery taste and subtle sweetness. Make panettone by mixing the dough with candied orange peel, citron, lemon zest, and raisins. Learn how to make homemade panettone with our recipe here.
- Pita Bread. Pita is a leavened Middle Eastern flatbread known for its puffy inner pocket—though there are also pocketless versions, such as the kind used for Greek souvlaki. Pita has a short proof time and is a fairly wet dough; the steam from its water content is what helps to inflate the bread when baked at a high temperature. Make pita at home with all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, warm water, and active dry yeast. Left to rise and then baked in an oven, you'll know your homemade pitas are ready when they puff up. Learn how to make homemade pita bread with our recipe here.
- Potato Bread. Potato bread can be any type of bread that uses cooked potato to replace some of the starch typically provided by wheat flour. The added potato starch gives wheat bread a fluffy, spongy texture that works as well for sandwich bread as it does for pull-apart potato rolls. Though potato bread is typically white bread, you can make it with whole wheat flour. Learn how to make homemade potato bread with our recipe here.
- Rye Bread. One of the most hardy grains, rye thrives in the cool, wet climate of northern Europe, where it was a staple grain for peasants during Medieval times. Rye flour is low in gluten and high in carbohydrates called pentosans, which readily absorb water to produce a very sticky dough. Pentosans, unlike starch, remain moist after baking, yielding a very dense loaf. Whole-grain rye bread is so dark that 100 percent rye loaves are sometimes called black bread—meaning that golden-brown rye loaves are typically made from refined rye or a mixture of wheat and rye. For a classic seeded rye loaf, use whole-grain rye flour, molasses, yeast, yogurt, and caraway seeds and bake in a loaf pan. Learn how to make homemade rye bread with our recipe here.
- Sourdough Bread. “Sourdough bread” is a blanket term for bread made with a living culture of wild yeast rather than commercial yeast. Before the invention of commercial instant yeast and active dry yeast, all breads were sourdoughs. Now, sourdough is considered a type of artisan bread. To make a loaf of sourdough bread, you can use almost any type of flour, including white flour, whole wheat flour, and rye flour. Bread flour—which contains a higher proportion of protein than all-purpose flour—will yield the best rise, while whole wheat and rye flours bring a heartier texture. You will also need a sourdough starter, but it’s easy to make your own.You can use sourdough starter to make all types of bread—from baguettes to sandwich bread to cinnamon rolls to pizza dough—but a classic loaf of sourdough bread is a rustic, crusty loaf baked in a dutch oven. Learn how to make homemade sourdough with our recipe here.
- Whole Wheat Bread. For homemade bread that's both yummy and nutritious, try your hand at a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread. The bread baking process for whole wheat can be trickier than that of white bread: Whole wheat flour is lower in gluten, the protein that gives bread its elasticity. There are ways to get around the challenges of whole wheat flour, including hydrating your whole wheat flour to soften the bran and mixing it with white bread flour. Learn how to make homemade whole wheat bread with our recipe here.
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