Are you a bread maker? I. am. not. But, warm homemade bread with a wee bit of local honey is the very, bestest thing EVER to have with my coffee in the morning. The last week when we had the coldest temperatures in decades around these here parts (yes, I truly just said that. In a Minnesotan accent, even!) snuggling up with warm bread, hot cocoa, and a latte (with my homemade flavors!) was a memory-maker. Just saying. I’ve become a bread maker.
This is my recipe. The most basic recipe I know of. It’s not the absolute simplest, this is true. But, this is the way my Grandma made it. And her Grandma. And so on and so forth. And all of that history, Grandma’s, and so forth’s make this old-fashioned, homemade bread the best. It just is. And, it is a very basic bread recipe. A good one for non bread maker’s like me. Perhaps for you, as well!
A few important tips about making homemade bread.These will make your life easier, your bread better, and your Grandmas happy.
- Use fresh yeast. And to keep your yeast fresh after opening store it in the fridge! (I am ashamed to tell you I just learned that yeast had to be stored in the fridge. Hence the reason I’ve had failed bread until the last few years. *sigh*)
- When the recipe says to use warm…do it. The temperature makes a difference!
- If kneading by hand expect to get a work out. You need to put your muscle into it. If you are short, like me, a stool is sometimes helpful.
- Brushing the top of the dough with milk or a beaten egg before baking will give you a nice golden crust.
- Preheat your oven first. Don’t put the dough into a cold oven.
- You can tell if your bread has risen enough by pressing a couple fingers into it. If the indention remains…you are good.
- Slicing bread on it’s side will help it not become squished.
When it comes time to let your dough rise…your recipe will tell you to use a warm place. I like to just put the bowl on top of a small amount of warm water in another dish and cover with a towel. Toasty warm dough! Don’t put it near a drafty window.
I like to cut a few slits into the top of my dough. You can see a pretty egg wash on the top of my bread. I even use a vintage glass loaf pan. Doing what my Grandma did. (That loaf pan makes the bread all that better, I swear!)
If you don’t have a loaf pan you can absolutely use a cookie sheet and make a “free form” loaf of homemade bread. You’ll want to bake it a bit less because it won’t be as thick. But, don’t fret about the loaf pan.
Basic White Bread
- 1 package dry yeast about 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 cups bread flour if you can't find this go ahead and use all-purpose
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp honey
- Pour the yeast into the warm water and stir until dissolved.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt to the yeast mixture.
- Stir until you get a ball of dough. It will be soft.
- ---all of these parts are super handy to do if you have a mixer!
- Put the dough on a floured surface. Knead until smooth and stretchy (about 9 minutes) adding in the remaining flour so that the dough isn't sticky.
- ---if you have a mixer with a dough hook...use it here!
- Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray or coated with oil.
- Put the bowl in a warm place and cover with a towel (or use my warm water in bowl method above :))
- Let rise until doubled in size. (about 45 minutes)
- Punch your down and then cover and wait 5 minutes.
- Shape the dough into your loaf.
- Place in loaf pan coated with spray, butter, shortening.
- Cover and let rise until doubled again (about 45 minutes)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.
- if you like...apply a egg or milk wash before baking.
Don’t be scared to try some of the old, favorites from the past! If you’ve never made homemade bread…try it! If you’ve never made your own latte…try it! Or if that’s intimidating, maybe start with Mexican coffee you can create with just some brewed goodness? With a piece of toffee, perhaps?
More bread recipes:
Did you try making bread for the first time…let us know how it went!
Do you have additional tips and tricks for first-time bread makers to use…tell us and we’ll add them to the bottom of this post!