Homemade White Bread

5 from 20 votes
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Easy homemade white bread recipe that yields a gorgeous golden-brown crust with soft tender slices. It’s a simple yeast-leavened dough that combines all-purpose flour, butter, and milk. In just a few hours you’ll have a fresh-baked loaf, perfect for sandwiches and more!

Homemade White Bread

Incredibly soft and delicious

If there’s just one bread recipe to master, it’s got to be a classic soft white bread. The simplicity of it may seem intimidating, but I challenge you to roll up your sleeves and give it a try. The ingredients aren’t fancy or complicated, but to nail the perfect dome top and soft texture, you need to understand a few important bread-making techniques.

Knowing how to work with the yeast, how long to knead the dough, and the proper shaping technique are all covered here. So if you’re curious and have a little time to play in the kitchen, I’m excited to share this knowledge with you. I know once you perfect the recipe, you’re going to think twice about the preservative-filled store-bought stuff.

Making a yeast-leavened dough in a stand mixer

Yeast selection

Active dry yeast is my preferred choice when making homemade bread. It has a sturdy moderate rise rate as the organisms ferment the sugars and starches in the dough. This process is where some bread flavors are developed. You can use other types of yeast like instant dry to cut the rise time in half, but I find there’s a slight sacrifice in flavor for speed.

Flour power and how to pick one

All-purpose flour is the backbone of the dough. This type of flour has a medium level of protein, about 10 to 13%. This creates just enough gluten formation for a sturdy, yet soft texture. If you enjoy a more chewy texture, use bread flour. It contains 12 to 15% protein and slightly elevates the strength and resistance of the bread’s structure.

Key ingredients for soft and fluffy bread

  • Butter limits some of the gluten formation in the dough, however, adding a small amount coats the protein and makes for a much softer bite.
  • Sugar is a tenderizer during the mixing stage. It loves water, so it competes with the proteins to absorb moisture to slow the development of gluten. The result is a more tender crumb.
  • Yeast uses the sugar and starch as fuel during fermentation to create air bubbles which make the dough rise, while also helping to develop the fluffy texture.

person rolling out dough on a floured surface

The basics of making white bread from scratch

To make things easy, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Proof the yeast (make sure the yeast are alive) with warm water and sugar. If it’s good, then mix with salt, butter, warm milk, and flour. Knead at the lowest speed for a few minutes. You should be able to stretch a small piece of dough without it tearing while being able to see through it.

On a lightly floured surface shape dough into a ball then cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm area until doubled in size. I recommend making an oven proofing box for this step. Afterward, punch the dough down, shape it in a rectangle then roll it back up. Allow it to rise a second time in a loaf pan. Bake until the surface is golden brown.

Letting dough rise in a loaf pan

Give the dough a poke

To tell if the dough has properly doubled in size after the first round of fermentation, poke the dough with your finger and make a half-inch indent. If the dough stays dimpled, it’s ready for the next step.

Roll it out, then roll it up

To prep the dough for its final rise, it needs to be punched down and reshaped. The yeast creates various-sized bubbles in the dough, and so punching releases some of the big air pockets. Once you get your aggression out, roll out the dough, then roll it into a cigar shape. This process redistributes the gas and ingredients to ensure an even crumb texture with no gaps inside the bread.

Cooling a loaf of bread on a wire rack

Choosing the right pan

A metal loaf pan gives the characteristic shape we want. I prefer using a 9×5-inch aluminized steel pan for even heat distribution. If using glass, be aware that it retains heat much longer, so check for doneness about 5 to 10 minutes earlier. A smaller 8.5×4.5-inch pan can also be used, but the bread will be taller and may finish baking sooner as well. I recommend lightly greasing your pan so the bread removes easier after baking.

The cooling down process

After baking, the bread may stay in the pan for about 5 minutes, but don’t go longer than that. Steam will start to emit from the hot loaf and the condensation in the pan will make the crust soggy. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool down completely. It’s going to be hard to resist, but let the proteins set and the moisture redistribute so that you’ll have perfectly tender slices.

Loaf of white bread with a slice removed showing the inside

Knowing when the bread is done baking

There are three ways to check for doneness. Visual, the crust will be golden-brown in color. Acoustic, carefully remove the bread from the pan and knock on the bottom, listen for a hollow sound. Measure, use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bread and look for a reading between 190 to 200ºF (87 to 93ºC). If your bread isn’t done yet, place it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Homemade White Bread

Easy homemade white bread recipe that yields a gorgeous golden-brown crust with soft tender slices. A fresh-baked loaf, perfect for sandwiches and more!
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time3 hours
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Course Bread
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Yeast - To the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water between 100 to 110ºF (37 to 43ºC) and 1 tablespoon sugar, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
  • Mix the Dough - To the bowl, add 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, softened butter, warm milk between 100 to 110ºF (37 to 43ºC), and 1 cup of flour. Use the dough hook attachment and mix for 1 minute on the lowest speed setting, scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula after 30 seconds.
  • Add More Flour - Add 1 cup of flour, then mix on medium speed until the dough just starts to come together, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour and mix on medium speed until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl, 30 seconds.
  • Knead the Dough - Knead the dough on low speed until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead until a smooth ball forms, about 1 minute.
  • First Dough Rise - Lightly grease a mixing bowl with oil. Add the dough ball and turn to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
  • Punch the Dough - Punch the dough down while in the bowl, and then transfer it to a lightly floured surface.
  • Shape the Dough - Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 15x9-inches. Roll the dough into a tight 9-inch long cylinder. Press the side and bottom seams together to seal.
    Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with oil or cooking spray. Place the shaped dough in the loaf pan with the seam-side down.
  • Second Dough Rise - Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area until it reaches about 1-inch above the pan, about 1 hour.
  • Heat the Oven - Set the oven rack to the lower position. Preheat to 350ºF (177°C).
  • Bake - Bake the bread until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches between 190 to 200ºF (87 to 93ºC) in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Cool - Let the bread sit in the hot pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • To Serve - Slice the bread when it’s about room temperature or cool enough to handle.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 1 large loaf
  • Warm the Milk and Water: Microwave in 15-second increments, about 45 seconds.
  • Instant Yeast Substitution: Add the same amount of instant yeast for active dry yeast. Warm water and milk to 120-130ºF (48-54ºC). The rise times may be reduced by nearly half since instant yeast is more active. 
  • Storing: Bread can be stored at room temperature in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days. Slices can be frozen for up to 1 month.
  • Reheating: Toast the slices for the best texture.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 12 slices
Calories 155kcal (8%)Carbohydrates 28g (9%)Protein 5g (10%)Fat 3g (5%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 6mg (2%)Sodium 301mg (13%)Potassium 82mg (2%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 80IU (2%)Calcium 28mg (3%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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26 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Laksh says

    Hi i tried this and although my top browned slightly, bread was dense and not soft. I checked internal temperature before removing from oven. Both rounds of proofing i did inside oven as im in singapore and my kitchen is generally warm. Both times it rose in 30mins as i used instant yeast. What could be the issue?

  2. Aurore Stubbs says

    Jessica,
    Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely try it.
    Unfortunately, I do not have a stand mixer.
    Any recommendations for kneading the dough by hand?
    Thank you,
    Aurore

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You could use 1% but the bread may be slightly less tender since there is more fat in the whole milk to reduce gluten formation.

      • Laksh says

        Hi thanks for the recipe! I tried it with instant yeast. Both times proofing was done inside my oven and it took 30mins to rise. Im in singapore so kitchen is generally warm. 2nd time i punched in once and it deflated, which i then rolled out. Baked for 35mins and top was slightly browned but bread was dense and not soft. Took some difficulty to even cut into slides as it was going in with each slice and i couldnt get perfect square cuts. What do you think i could have modified?

        • Jessica Gavin says

          I believe the problem is that you proofed the dough too many times using instant yeast. With instant yeast you only need to the dough rise for 10 minutes, then you shape it and let it rise for about 30 minutes, then bake. I think that the dough deflated, losing the carbon dioxide, resulting in a very dense and tough loaf. Only do the two long rise steps if using active dry yeast.

          • Laksh says

            Thank you, i will try again! New thing i learnt about instant yeast 🙂

            So to confirm, i proof it 1 time in the oven for 10mins and after it rises, take it out and do the punching and shaping into cylinder and put it back into oven for 30more mins and then just turn on the oven?

          • Jessica Gavin says

            The 10 minutes allows it to rise slightly covered in the bowl, but it won’t expand much. The step is more to allow the gluten to relax so you can shape the dough. They shape and allow to rise, then bake the dough.

  3. L Wirth says

    Just found this recipe. Put it in my bread machine on dough setting and baked in the oven. Absolutely perfect and very delicious!

  4. Chelsea says

    I made this today in a 5×9 ceramic pan. When I took the bread out of the pan the entire bottom and side crust stayed in the pan leaving a crustless loaf. I am guessing I didn’t oil the pan enough. Any other suggestions as to why this happened?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think greasing it more would help. What did you use? I would use a cooking spray next time if you didn’t for this recipe, it will give a better release than oil. Ceramic tends to have less of a nonstick surface compared to metal, so it needs a stronger product to use for greasing.

  5. Julie says

    Made this for family Thanksgiving and it was an embarrassing bomb. I had made a practice loaf last weekend, but it was a different recipe. I wished I had not tried this recipe to be honest. The initial rise was fantastic. I punched it down, rolled it out and put it into 2 smaller loaf pans to rise again. The 2nd rise went well and I had to transport it to my son’s house to bake it, since my oven is on the fritz. I brought it to his house to bake it and baked it for more than half hour and and it was barely browned and flattened out dramatically. It ended up cooking for 45 minutes, again still barely browned on top, and the bread was very dense and not very tasty.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Julie- I’m sorry to hear that the bread didn’t turn out as it hoped. There’s a lot of things that could have happened along the way. How long did you have it transported? Could it have deflated some? What type of pans did you use? If the second rise went well and the bread was domed, I don’t’ think you over kneaded it. I’m wondering if your son’s oven was calibrated? Maybe it’s running lower, which would make the bread not have the initial oven spring of steam so it’s not dense. If it didn’t turn brown that’s a similar issue with temperature. I’m wondering if there is a difference in oven temperature between yours and your son’s oven?

  6. Rubina Pradhan says

    Hi…I liked it when the recipe said all purpose flour so tried it. It took me more than an hour to bake it. Since the instruction said 30-35 minutes, I baked it without covering it and when I checked it wasn’t browned… So I sprinkled a little water and covered it and baked it again, checked every 15 minutes. So after 40 mins, I took it out, there was a hollow sounds which made me happy. But, it wasn’t dark brown on top… Why? Any idea so next time it would be perfect? Btw I liked the method of rolling and making it in a cigar shape. Please suggest how to make it brown. Is it because I didn’t cover the pan in the beginning?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Adding water on top of the bread will cause the oven temperature to decrease and create steam on the surface, which prevents browning. For faster browning I would brush some egg wash or butter on top, then bake. Cover with foil towards the end of baking if needed.

  7. Peg says

    Jessica, I love so many of your recipes and have made several with great success. I love to bake, but I do not own a stand mixer. Do you have any tips for hand-kneading (how long to knead, etc.)? I really want to make this recipe.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can definitely knead the dough by hand! I would mix all of the wet and dry ingredients together with a large spoon. Then transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until it feels soft and elastic. It might take about 8 to 10 minutes of hand kneading.

  8. Gavin says

    Hello Jessica,

    Trawling the internet and discovered your website. In times like these – Just wanted to give you a shout out all the way from sunny South Africa! Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  9. Christine says

    Thanks so much and looking forward to trying it out except I only have instant yeast…how much should I use and will the bread still turn out ok?

    • Grace says

      Read Jessica’s article on the different kinds of yeast . It is brilliant !
      A thermometer is crucial as well . It takes the guessing out of when the interior is fully baked.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Christine- You can substitute the same amount of instant yeast for active dry yeast in the recipe. The bread will turn out great, just check on the rise steps sooner because instant yeast tends to work faster.