Homemade Easy Yeast Bread Recipe

This easy yeast bread recipe is fantastic for all levels, including beginning bakers. With straightforward step-by-step instructions and minimal ingredients, you will bake two soft, golden-brown loaves that are perfect for every occasion!

Slices of bread next to butter.

Nothing is better than homemade bread that is fresh out of the oven. This simple, easy yeast bread recipe makes two loaves of soft and fluffy bread with a gentle flavor. It is perfect for any occasion, from breakfast toast and sandwich bread to holiday dinner bread.

If you are new to bread making, this is the perfect recipe to get you started. All you need is five simple ingredients. Below are step-by-step instructions with pictures, walking you through each stage in detail!

Slices of homemade bread.

Types of Yeast

Yeast is a fungus that can convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. What does that mean? Yeast is a live culture. So, if your yeast has been around for ages, you probably need to run to the store and buy a new packet before making this recipe. Before you buy yeast, it is helpful to know the difference between the two most common types sold at the grocery store: active dry yeast and instant yeast.

  1. Active Dry Yeast: This is one of the most common forms of yeast used in bread making. It is dormant and needs to be rehydrated in warm water (usually between 105°F to 115°F or 40°C to 46°C) before being mixed with the flour and other ingredients. Active dry yeast is sold in packets in most grocery stores. When opening, use caution not to spill the granules.
  2. Instant Yeast: Also known as rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast, this type of yeast does not require rehydration in water before use. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients. Instant yeast is finer in texture and works faster than active dry yeast.

Active dry and instant yeast is sold in jars or packets. The amount of yeast in one packet is 2 and 1/4 teaspoons.

Ingredients Needed

  • Dry Active Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Warm Water
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cornmeal (Optional)

Easy Yeast Bread Instructions

Step One: Activate the yeast

Combine the warm water, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let it sit for 7-10 minutes until it becomes foamy.

Step Two: Mix the dough

Add the flour to the bowl with the activated yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Steps of how to Make Turkish Pide Bread.

Step Three: Knead

By Hand:

  1. Lightly oil or flour a clean work surface.
  2. Turn the dough onto the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. To knead, form the dough into a rough ball and push it away from you with the heel of your hand. Fold the dough back over itself, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat until it is smooth and elastic.

By Stand Mixer:

  1. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer.
  2. Add the dough to the mixer bowl and knead on low-medium speed for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball on the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Steps to make bread at home.

Step Four: First Rise

  1. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Step Five: Shape the Dough

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired.
  2. Gently punch down the dough to release air bubbles.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf or boule.
  4. Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
Steps to make bread at home.

Step Six: Slash and preheat the oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  2. Use a sharp knife to make 3-4 shallow slashes on top of each loaf.
  3. Bring 1-2 cups of water to a boil in a roasting pan, cast iron pan, or other oven-safe container.

Step Seven: Bake

  1. Carefully place the boiling water pan on the preheated oven’s bottom rack.
  2. Place the baking sheet with the loaves on the rack above the water.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The loaves are done baking when tapped on the bottom, and there is a hollow sound.
Slices of homemade bread.

How to Shape Bread

Shaping Baguette

Preparation:

  1. Gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape, about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide.

Folding:

  1. Grab two corners of the same side of the rectangle and lift. Fold it inwards towards the center of the rectangle, about 1/3 of the way, pressing gently to seal the seam.
  2. Repeat the folding process with the other side of the rectangle.
  3. Gently tuck the sides of the dough inwards to create a smooth, rectangular shape.

Rolling:

  1. Using a cupped hand, start rolling the dough forward and backward, applying even pressure to elongate it into a baguette shape.
  2. Continue rolling until the baguette reaches the desired length, approximately 24 inches long.
  3. The baguette should taper slightly from the middle towards the ends.
Steps to shape a baguette.

Boule (Round Loaf) Shape Instructions

Preparation:

  1. Gently gather the dough into a loose ball, ensuring no sharp edges or corners.

Rounding:

  1. Rotate the dough in your hands, using your palms and fingers to smooth out the surface and create a round shape.
  2. Continue rotating and shaping the dough until it forms a taut, evenly rounded ball.
  3. The boule should have a smooth, seamless surface.
Steps to shape a round loaf..

Frequently Asked Questions

What is artisan bread?

The definition of artisan bread is not clearly defined. It varies from baker to baker. Generally speaking, artisan bread uses traditional bread-making techniques.

Why is my dough taking so long to rise?

The rise time for dough can vary due to the house’s temperature, humidity, and countertops. For example, when the AC is cranked in the summer, my dough takes closer to 1.5 hours to rise. When I have the heat on in the winter, my dough rises in an hour. Because I have cold stone countertops, I often place a folded towel under the bowl.

Give it more time if your dough is rising but has not doubled. It will get there.

Can I use whole wheat flour instead?

Yes, this recipe can use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. However, it will impact the overall formula. First, the bread will not rise as much, and second, the texture will be chewy. For these reasons, only substitute up to 50% whole wheat flour.

How many tablespoons is one packet of yeast

One package of yeast contains 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Storing Instructions

Baked Bread Storage

  • Room temperature: Place the cooled bread in an airtight container and store it on the counter for up to three days. The crust will soften slightly over time.
  • Refrigerator: Place the cooled bread in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. The bread will be firmer when chilled.

Dough Storage

  • Refrigerator: If you plan on baking the bread later, follow the instructions until the first rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to one day. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (2-3 hours). Once at room temperature, punch down the dough and follow the instructions from step 3 (shape and second rise).
  • Freezer: Follow the instructions through shaping before the second rise. Wrap the shaped dough tightly in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Freeze for up to three months. To thaw, place the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Then, let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours to complete the second rise. Continue with the instructions starting at step 4 (bake).
Slices of homemade bread.

Homemade Easy Bread Recipe – Perfect for Beginners

This simple yeast bread recipe is perfect for bakers of all levels. With just five ingredients and straightforward instructions, you'll be crafting soft, golden-brown loaves in no time.
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 slices (2 loaves)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 and ⅔ cups (370g) warm water between 95F and 105F
  • 1 tablespoon (11g) sugar
  • 2 and ½ teaspoons (15g) salt
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons (7g) active dry yeast
  • 4.5 to 5 cups (540g-600g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (10g) cornmeal (optional)

Instructions

Activate the yeast

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let sit for 7-10 minutes until foamy.

Mix the dough

  • Add the flour to the activated yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Knead the dough:

  • By Hand:
  • Lightly oil or flour a clean work surface.
  • Turn the dough onto the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. To knead, form the dough into a rough ball and push it away from you with the heel of your hand. Fold the dough back over itself, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • By Stand Mixer:
  • Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer.
  • Add the dough to the mixer bowl and knead on low-medium speed for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball on the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

First rise:

  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Shape the dough:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired.
  • Gently punch down the dough to release air bubbles.
  • Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf or boule.
  • Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.

Slash and preheat the oven:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • Use a sharp knife to make 3-4 shallow slashes on top of each loaf.
  • Bring 1-2 cups of water to a boil in a roasting pan, cast iron pan, or other oven-safe container.

Bake the bread:

  • Carefully place the pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the preheated oven.
  • Quickly place the baking sheet with the loaves on the rack above the water.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool and serve:

  • Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

General Tips
  • Let the dough rise in a warm place, free from drafts. A warm oven with the light turned on is a great place to let the dough rise.
  • Always preheat the oven before baking the bread. This will ensure that the crust is golden brown and crispy.
  • Tap the bottom of the baked loaves and if there is a hollow sound the bread is fully baked. 
  • Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. This will help prevent the bread from tearing.
Baked Bread Storage
  • Room temperature: Place the cooled bread in an airtight container and store it on the counter for up to three days. The crust will soften slightly over time.
  • Refrigerator: Place the cooled bread in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. The bread will be firmer when chilled.
Dough Storage
  • Refrigerator: If you plan on baking the bread later, follow the instructions up to the first rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to one day. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (2-3 hours). Once at room temperature, punch down the dough and follow the instructions from step 3 (shape and second rise).
  • Freezer: Follow the instructions through shaping before the second rise. Wrap the shaped dough tightly in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Freeze for up to three months. To thaw, place the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Then, let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours to complete the second rise. Continue with the instructions starting at step 4 (bake).

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Easy Bread Recipe – Perfect for Beginners
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
198
Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Sodium
 
240
mg
10
%
Carbohydrates
 
42
g
14
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
6
g
12
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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7 Comments

  1. I am impressed with the thoroughness of your instructions – well done! I’d like to try this, but wonder if I can use all the dough for one big boule and if so how long to let it bake? With Thanksgiving coming up, I look forward to making Turkey sandwiches on BIG slices of soft, white bread.

    1. Hello Barb, Thank you! I try so hard and it’s nice to hear a compliment. I have never tried to make this into one large boule. I imagine you could could, you would need more baking time. You can always tell when the bread is ready by tapping it and listening for a hollow sound.

      I have another recipe that I have used for years that creates a large boule. It’s a no knead bread that is made in a ducth oven. The result is a perfectly crisp outside and a tender inside! https://sinfulkitchen.com/easy-bread-recipe/

      1. Ruth, thank you for your reply with the Dutch oven recipe. I haven’t tried that specific recipe, but I have made a round loaf in a Dutch oven when we lived in Germany – so maybe it was actually a “German oven”!?

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