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Ultimate Guide to Homemade Bread Process Photos 1The 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

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!

Apple R.

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 »

Cathy Gushue

Can you half the recipe for one loaf?

Wallaya

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

Winifred

5 stars
LOVE THIS RECIPE!! SIMPLE, CLEARLY PRESENTED ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE NOVICE BREAD BAKERS. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Heather

Love it!!! So soft and delicious. Thank you

Leeeah :)

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

Stephanie Strand

5 stars
This was my first time making bread so I followed the recipe exactly. The bread turned out wonderful! Everyone loved it! Thanks for video instructions they helped a lot!

Sofia

5 stars
Followed the recipe exactly and it came out awesome. One question, it was a little salty, is there any reason for that amount and would it be ok if next time we did 1/2 tablespoon of salt?

We’ve found that everyone has a slightly different preference on how much salt to add to bread. You can certainly use less if you found it to be too much for you!

SK

4 stars
Hi Rachel
Thank you for the recipe. I used half of both wheat and white flour. Used honey instead of sugar. After baking, i see some dense spots in the bread. What do you think went wrong? The taste is good and also when i cut the loafs, few of them seem to be separating at the points where it was rolled after the first rise. I have a feeling that the dough was little harder than it should be! The dough had a full first and second rise. Any suggestions to make it better next time:)

Apple R.

I am a newbie at baking and I came across your recipe and I just have to say, it’s my lucky day! I had my very first bread and i love it! My family loves it, too!!! I actually made 3 instead of 2 loaves. I did one loaf, and 2 round breads using a round pan. And it turned out awesome! It’s so soft and chewy and i just love the taste. It smells divine! I prefer cooking it via the aluminum pan vs the glass as it turned out better and golden brown unlike in the glass. Also,… Read more »

JJ

5 stars
Absolutely delicious! First time bread maker and this recipe was VERY easy to follow.
Had bought a loaf of homemade bread from our local Amish market, and when I got it, it was fresh from the oven – but
my hubby and I both thought this one was much better – seemed to have more flavor – I used melted butter, not oil, and milk.

Marinelle Barola

Is it ok to put raisins inthe dough?

yes! A cinnamon/raisin swirl is a common favorite!

Eve Verschelden

5 stars
Awesome!

5 stars
Thank you for this ridiculously amazing bread! I loved it so much not only can I not stop baking it, I shared it on our blog Flaky Bakers today! Thank you!

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