Culinary Arts

How to Make Homemade Bread: Tips and Easy Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Feb 14, 2019 • 4 min read

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 of crumb. Whether it’s your first time or your 200th, baking is an exercise in patience and precision—and the thrill of bread making never gets old.

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What Is Bread?

Bread is a staple food across the globe, made by baking a dough formed of flour and water. It is thought to be one of the earliest prepared foods in existence, and can take on unlimited shapes, flavors, and textures. From country loaves to baguettes, white bread, yeast bread, and brioche, bread is an indispensable culinary format.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Bake Bread?

To make bread, you need:

What Equipment Do You Need to Bake Bread?

Homemade bread can be made many ways. The most common pieces of equipment include one of the following:

  • Bread machine
  • Loaf pan
  • Cast iron dutch combination oven
  • Baking sheet or a baking dish
  • Large bowl
  • Stand mixer
  • Knife

3 Tips for Baking Perfect Bread

  1. Baking flour instead of all-purpose. Though not required, using baking flour instead of all-purpose flour will aid in developing gluten (what gives it that perfect chew), thanks to its higher protein content. Try all-purpose the first time and baking flour your second time to experiment with both and see how it changes your results.
  2. Don’t forget salt. Without enough salt, your loaves will be bland and too starchy.
  3. 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 within a Dutch oven to trap and circulate the steam.

The 2 Most Common Mistakes in Bread Making

  1. Not letting 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 and more developed flavors.
  2. Using hot water instead of lukewarm water. Yeast needs to be alive and kicking in order to give your bread volume; hot water kills it instantly. 70-80°F is a good spot; just make sure to stay below 110°F.
a loaf of bread

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Easy Recipe for the Best Bread

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 4 hr | Cook Time 30 min | Prep Time 3 hr 30 min | Serves 1 loaf

This easy recipe for bread is as simple and foolproof as they come: once you’ve mastered it, level up the next time by using a sourdough starter to give your loaves a subtle, tangy flavor, or experiment with different flours like whole wheat flour or rye for more nuanced bakes.

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
  • Semolina, to prevent sticking
  1. In a large bowl or a stand-mixer, mix all of the ingredients together, starting with the yeast, sugar, and warm water, then 4 cups of flour and salt, gradually adding more flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  2. Knead the bread dough. Fold the dough into a rough envelope shape, pulling the top edge towards you, then pushing back with the heel of your hand. Rotate 90 degrees, and repeat. Continue to knead for at least five minutes to develop gluten; the dough will take on a smoother texture and begin to stretch. Add small sprinkles of flour to work surface to prevent sticking as needed.
  3. Set the dough aside, and clean the bowl of the stand-mixer. Grease lightly with olive oil or vegetable oil, then transfer dough to bowl. Turn once to coat, then cover the bowl and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours to allow the dough to rise.
  4. Once the dough has doubled in bulk, transfer back to clean work surface. Cut neatly in two with a bench scraper or large knife, then shape into two ovals loaves. Sprinkle baking sheet with semolina, and place loaves on top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again for at least 45 more minutes, until puffy.
  5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. Carefully, but decisively, slash tops of loaves with a razor or sharp knife (this will allow loaves to expand in the heat without splitting along the middle).
  7. Bake for 20-35 minutes, until crust is golden and internal temperatures is at least 190°F.
  8. Remove loaves and let cool; they should sound hollow when the bottom of the loaf is tapped, and feel light in the hand.

How Do You Store Bread?

Fresh bread is best stored tightly wrapped in plastic and/or foil in the freezer, and reheated in the oven as needed. If you’d rather not have to deal with constant defrosting, keep bread (still wrapped in plastic and/or foil) at room temperature. Keeping bread in the refrigerator accelerates the staling process.

How to Make Breadcrumbs

To make breadcrumbs, slice bread and place directly onto racks of a 250°F oven. Bake until bread is golden brown and inflexible; remove and crumble into small pieces or blitz in a food processor to desired consistency.

How to Make Croutons

To make croutons, cut your homemade bread loaf into medium-sized cubes (stale is best, but fresh will also do), toss in a drizzle of oil, and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

7 Easy and Creative Bread Recipes

  • Zucchini bread. The high water content in zucchini makes for an incredibly moist and tasty quick bread containing eggs and spices that can take on both savory and sweet characteristics.
  • Banana bread. This comfort food classic made with overripe bananas, brown sugar, and honey is also a great vehicle for chocolate, toasted walnuts, or spices like cinnamon and clove.
  • Pumpkin bread. This seasonal loaf has a dense crumb and spiced flavor that pairs especially well with ginger. Sweet potato, or other squashes with similar consistencies, also work well as substitutes.
  • Cornbread. Cornbread is a quick bread often eaten alongside chili or barbecue, leavened with baking powder instead of yeast.
  • Garlic bread. Garlic bread is typically slices of French bread brushed with minced garlic, butter, Parmesan cheese and herbs, then quickly broiled until melted and golden. Best used to sop up pasta sauce.
  • Spice bread. A Christmas-time favorite, spice bread can refer to anything from gingerbread to applesauce based doughs.
  • Fry bread. This yogurt-based dough can be fried in cast-iron pan for a quick, fluffy flatbread