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The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Bread starts with a classic base recipe and then covers all of the common substitutions to guide you in customizing your bread to your own needs so you can create your own perfect loaf. 

Homemade Bread on a cutting board with some slices cut out of it.

There is probably no smell on earth that is more inviting, comforting and symbolic of home than homemade bread. It is like a magnet for family and friends. Many of us have a recipe we’ve tried or one that has been passed down through family and friends. But making bread is also a science. There is a lot that goes into it and there are a lot of possible variations. We’ve included some of those here. After making many loaves of bread and trying many variations, the recipe we decided we like best for its taste and texture is made with milk instead of water, and requires very little kneading.

You will start by warming the milk in the microwave, and then combining that with all of the other ingredients in a stand mixer and letting it knead until a dough ball is formed. This only takes a couple minutes. That dough is placed in a greased bowl to rise for 90 minutes and then transferred to two greased bread pans to rise for another 60 minutes, then baked. You’re going to learn that the hardest part about this recipe is waiting to eat the bread!

SUBSTITUTION GUIDE

  • Water vs. Milk

    Milk changes bread recipes by producing a softer loaf, due to the milk fat content, which also gives bread a richer flavor. Bread made with milk browns more easily than bread made with water, as lactose or milk sugar will caramelize as it bakes.
  • Oil vs. Butter

    Butter has a lower smoke point than oil, meaning it will brown before oil will when baked. While butter and oil are interchangeable in the same amount when making bread, using butter does produce a better flavor.
  • Honey vs. Sugar vs. Sugar Replacement

    Honey and sugar are fairly interchangeable. You can replace sugar with honey in the same amount. Sugar replacements vary and usually come with instructions for substitution and what amounts to use. The kind of sweetener you use in making bread will alter the end result. Honey may add a floral element, depending on the source of your honey, while artificial sweeteners may add a metallic after taste.
  • Instant Dry Yeast vs. Active Dry Yeast

    This recipe calls for Instant Dry Yeast which requires no proofing time. If you choose to use active dry yeast in this recipe you can do so in the same quantity and proof the yeast by adding it to the warm milk along with the sugar and letting this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Wheat vs. White

    Wheat flour is heavier and more coarse than white flour and will produce a more dense bread.  You can use all wheat, a combination of half wheat and half white flour, or use all white flour. The results are pictured below.
Visual Differences Between Whole Wheat and All White Bread
  • What if I don’t have a stand mixer? Can I make homemade bread by hand?

    You don’t need a stand mixer, you can knead this bread by hand. It is physically more work, but it doesn’t require a lot of kneading. You only need to knead the dough until all of the ingredients are combined and a dough ball forms that is smooth and elastic and slightly tacky to the touch.

  • Can I use this recipe in a bread machine?

    Yes. This recipe will work great in a bread machine.

  • Should I use a glass bread pan or a metal bread pan? What is the difference?

    Glass and metal conduct heat differently which means they bake bread differently too. A glass bread pan will produce a softer, less crispy crust. A metal bread pan, especially a darker metal bread pan, will produce a crispier crust that is darker brown in color. You can see the visual difference in the photo below with the loaf made in a metal pan on the left and the loaf made in a glass pan on the right.

Visual  Difference between metal pans and glass pans for baking bread

If you’re looking for more bread recipes, here are some of our favorites:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Homemade Bread on a cutting board with some slices cut out of it.
The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Bread starts with a classic base recipe and then covers all of the common substitutions to guide you in customizing your bread to your own needs so you can create your own perfect loaf. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Rising Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
  • In a microwave safe bowl or cup, warm the milk until it is warm to the touch, 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the milk, sugar, yeast, salt, melted butter, and 5 cups of flour. Knead on a low setting for 1 minute until combined, Slowly increase speed and add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough forms a smooth and elastic ball that is soft and tacky, but not sticky. 
  • Put the dough ball into a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 90 minutes until double in size.
  • After 90 minutes, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll or press each piece into a 9-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Roll each lengthwise into a tight roll and pinch the ends shut.
  • Transfer each loaf into a lightly greased 9-inch by 5-inch bread loaf pan. Cover and let rise for an additional 60 minutes until double in size.
  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan and letting it cool completely.
Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS

  • Water vs. Milk

    Milk changes bread recipes by producing a softer loaf, due to the milk fat content, which also gives bread a richer flavor. Bread made with milk browns more easily than bread made with water, as lactose or milk sugar will caramelize as it bakes. 
  • Oil vs. Butter

    Butter has a lower smoke point than oil, meaning it will brown before oil will when baked. While butter and oil are interchangeable in the same amount when making bread, using butter does produce a better flavor.
  • Honey vs. Sugar vs. Sugar Replacement

    Honey and sugar are fairly interchangeable. You can replace sugar with honey in the same amount. Sugar replacements vary and usually come with instructions for substitution and what amounts to use. 
  • Wheat vs. White

    Wheat flour is heavier and more coarse than white flour and will produce a more dense bread.  You can use all wheat, a combination of half wheat and half white flour, or use all white flour. 
  • Instant Dry Yeast vs. Active Dry Yeast

    This recipe calls for Instant Dry Yeast which requires no proofing time. If you choose to use active dry yeast in this recipe you can do so in the same quantity and proof the yeast by adding it to the warm milk along with the sugar and letting this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75inch slice | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 314mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1.4mg
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade Bread
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Kristina P
April 19, 2020 6:26 pm

5 stars
The first time I tried this, it did not rise at all. I tried again and this time proofed active dry yeast in some of the milk and sugar, and voila! The rise was beautiful and the loaves were great. My husband couldn’t wait to cut into them. Delicious homemade sandwich bread with no preservatives. I wish I could share the photos with you! Thank you!

Ken Collins
September 27, 2020 8:25 pm

I made this bread today, and followed the recipe to the letter. The bread was the best I’ve ever made. Untill now I haven’t had much success at baking bread. My crust is usually over done, and my crumb is always too dense. But this recipe turned out perfect. The crust was perfect and the crumb was light and fluffy. I bought two glass loaf pans just for this recipe and I really think they made a difference. I also used instant dry yeast this time (per the recipe), instead of the active dry yeast I usually use. It is… Read more »

Linda
June 20, 2020 7:26 am

This is the second time I have made this bread and I must say I love it. I made white bread the first time and am making half white and half wheat this time. I do have one problem though (which did not seem to alter the bread itself) My dough was very sticky. I added more and more flour hoping that would help, but it didn’t and I was afraid of adding too much. It didn’t look like they dough in your video. What am I doing wrong?

June 22, 2020 12:02 pm
Reply to  Linda

If you are sure that you measured all of your ingredients accurately, then it could just be due to altitude or temperature. When making bread, you have to go with how the dough feels more than following the recipe exactly because there are so many variables in bread making. If you feel like your dough is way too sticky, then it just needs more flour that day. If your dough is too dry, don’t be afraid to add more liquid.

Sarah Kleisler
August 6, 2020 11:07 am

5 stars
This recipe was so easy and so so yummy!!! This recipe was my first time making successful bread!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!! We will definitely be making this often!!

Boudiccadilys
June 4, 2020 9:54 am

I made this bread yesterday evening and had it this morning. The salt quantitative too much. I’m sorry, I questioned it at the time but told myself that it would’ve been caught by now if it were a problem.
I enjoy reviewing your blogs and occasionally finding something new to try.

Patsy
May 30, 2020 6:59 pm

This bread is my new favourite recipe. Thank you for sharing

Wallaya
May 25, 2020 1:38 am

I always find your recipes give the best taste to all food and dessert. Thank you for the recipe!

Leeeah :)
May 13, 2020 11:03 pm

5 stars
This recipe was amazing! This was my first time making yeast bread and this helped me a ton :^) The texture was amazing

Apple R.
May 11, 2020 8:43 am

I am a newbie at baking. Just started now during the lockdown. And I came across your recipe and if I must say, I feel so lucky! The bread was so awesome! I actually did 3 pans for this recipe. One in a loaf pan and 2 in a round pan (1 aluminum, 1 glass) as that is all the pans i have. And i really love the one in the aluminum as it turned out golden brown vs the one in the glass. I have a over the stove oven so i had to check it everytime to be… Read more »

Jane Adorno
October 26, 2020 4:35 pm

5 stars
I have been trying various bread recipes and was never happy with any of it until this one! Thank you, Rachel! Question for you, you talk about scoring the tops of your French bread. Why not this bread?

C B
October 24, 2020 7:05 pm

Rachel l love your rye bread I have made storybook also when I type the Italian meat receipt STORYBOOK comes up it want let me type the word anyway I have made it twice and the second time it was better I added peppers olives mushrooms EXCELLENT I will be making calzone tomorrow

Jaine
September 29, 2020 9:12 am

5 stars
I love this recipe! I do use bread flour. I have to make this two times a week for my family. No more store bought.

August 26, 2020 10:24 pm

4 stars
Easy to make and it turned out well. It’s a little salty for me so I might cut back on the salt a teeny bit next time. Check the first rising, mine was ready in just an hour and you don’t want it to rise too much more than double. It can deflate. Definitely will make again! Thank you.

Ken C.
September 28, 2020 2:12 pm
Reply to  Mary Jo

Mine was ready in an hour also.

AnA
June 26, 2020 12:41 am

5 stars
I recently starting following you on this channel. I love your show you make things easy to understand. Thank you for taking the time to show us ,

estela
June 25, 2020 7:03 pm

5 stars
love all you recipes!!i have made your chocolate chip cookies and amazing chocolate cake soooo many times.!i have made quite a few of your other recipes and they were all amazing!may i use buttermilk instead of regular/2% milk for the bread?

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