Homemade White Bread

↓ Jump to Recipe

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.

Pin this recipe to save for later

Pin This

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!
Pin Print Review
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
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 

  • Add warm water about 100-110ºF (37-43ºC) and 1 tablespoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
  • Add 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, softened butter, warm milk about 100-110ºF (37-43ºC), 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 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 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.
  • Lightly grease a mixing bowl with oil. Add the dough ball inside 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.
  • Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with oil or cooking spray.
  • Punch the dough down while in the bowl, and then transfer it to a lightly floured surface.
  • 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. Place it in the greased loaf pan with the seam-side down.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area until it reaches about 1-inch above the pan, about 1 hour.
  • Set the oven rack to the lower position. Preheat to 350ºF (177°C).
  • 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.
  • Let the bread sit in the hot pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Slice the bread when it’s about room temperature or cool enough to handle.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 1 large loaf
  • Use the microwave to warm the milk and water (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. 
  • Store bread at room temperature in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days.
  • Slices can be frozen for up to 30 days.
  • To reheat, toast for the best texture.

Want to save this recipe?

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Register now

Nutrition Facts
Homemade White Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 155 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 6mg2%
Sodium 301mg13%
Potassium 82mg2%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 80IU2%
Calcium 28mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?

Tag @jessica_gavin on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Filed under:

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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.

Jessica's Secrets: Cooking Made Easy!
Get my essential cooking techniques that I learned in culinary school.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

17 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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. 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.

  7. 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!

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating