Soft + Fluffy White Bread | This is a basic but delicious homemade sandwich bread recipe with only 4 ingredients. Once you learn how to make homemade bread you'll be set up to do it all the time. Making homemade bread is easy to do and this post has step by step photos of how to shape bread loaves and dinner rolls. You'll love this soft and fluffy homemade sandwich bread for lunch or toasted with some butter and a bowl of hot soup to dip it in.
I've said it before here and I'll probably say it a million times more: homemade bread is one of the most rewarding cooking or baking journeys you can go on. I've made and loved Brioche Buns, Sweet Potato Pitas, Focaccia, Soft Pretzels, Bread Bowls for Soup, even Cheesy Scones and Buttermilk Biscuits.
From activating the yeast and witnessing those little bubbles pop up through the top of the foamy surface, to a soft and smooth dough that's magically doubled in volume, to the finale - the cutting of the bread. And the last little irresistible prize - the delectable taste of homemade bread. Sigh. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
Look at all those beautiful little air pockets and that soft and fluffy bread. This will make fantastic sandwiches, marvelous toast and a great partner for your comforting soups. We need a little comfort right now.
What you need for this recipe
- flour ( I use simple unbleached all-purpose flour)
- Yeast (I use active dry yeast. You can also use instant yeast, just skip the proofing part)
- Sea salt ( Don't skip this, you need it for good tasting bread)
- Sugar (To feed the yeast, you can skip this if you want to or use honey instead)
- an egg (optional - an egg wash gives nice golden brown crust)
How to Make Homemade Bread from scratch
To start homemade bread dough, you first need to proof the yeast. You need to do this step if you're using active dry yeast. If you're using instant yeast just toss it in and continue with the recipe without waiting.
For the active dry yeast, you add it to the warm water (yeast rises best in water that is 120°F - 130°F). Add the sugar as well (optional - you can substitute honey if you want to). Stir everything and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the top of the liquid is foamy. I do this whole process in a large mixing bowl and then add the flour and salt to it. You could use a stand mixer if you prefer.
When the yeast is ready, add your flour. I don't bother sifting it but I do weigh it if possible. When giving measurements for cups here, I count 120 grams of flour as 1 cup. To measure flour using a one cup measurement, don't dig the cup into the flour bag. Fluff up the flour with a spoon and then spoon the flour into the measuring cup. Digging in can pack it down too much and result in too much flour. It's easier to put less flour and then add it as you need it.
So, add the flour and the salt and then mix everything together. I start with a fork and then move to my hands.
Once the dough comes together, move it to a lightly floured counter and knead it for 5-10 minutes. To do this, I just push the dough away from me into the counter. Then I turn it a quarter turn, fold the dough over itself and repeat. You can knead the dough however you want. You want to end up with a smooth and soft dough in the end.
Place the dough into the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let it sit somewhere warm to rise. It'll double in size and will take an hour or so. I like to put my dough inside the oven with only the oven light on.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down again, deflating the air. Press it out into a rectangle like below.
Fold the top third of the dough down, and then fold the bottom third of the dough up, like above.
Press it out again into a rectangle. You want the width of the rectangle to match the length of your bread pan. Start rolling the dough up tightly, like below.
Pinch the seam together along the dough. Pinch the ends together and fold over into the seam side, pinching everything together tightly. Turn the loaf over and place it into the bread pan.
Cover the bread pan with greased plastic wrap (so it doesn't stick!) and then let rise again for about a half-hour to an hour. It'll double in size again.
Heat your oven to 400°F. You can brush the top of the loaf with an egg wash if you like. I often do and did so in these photos. This is optional but gives your bread a nice golden top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf is fully cooked. It'll be golden brown, like below. Let it cool completely on a baking rack before slicing it.
If you want to make dinner rolls, read below.
How to make dinner rolls
Sometimes I will double this recipe and make one loaf and some rolls. The dough is the same. Follow the recipe up to the shaping instructions.
Take the dough and press it into a rough square shape. Now cut the dough both horizontally and vertically into thirds. I like to score it first like the photo below, just to make sure I'm close to the proper measurement.
Now you'll have 9 mostly equal portions. You can rip small pieces off the center pieces if the corner pieces seem a bit small. As long as they are mostly the same they will bake pretty evenly.
Roll each piece into a ball. I do this by pinching the edges all together. I then put each ball seam side down into my tray. The tray I used fits 12 rolls better than 9 so I just put a crumpled piece of aluminum foil in the tray. This lets the rolls rise against each other. Once they've risen, you can egg wash them if you want (I do!) and then bake them in a 400°F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until done.
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Bread
What kind of flour do you use?
I use unbleached all-purpose flour.
Can I get cup measurements instead of grams?
I weigh my flour for accuracy. I count every 120 grams as 1 cup and usually give those in the recipe card. If it's an older recipe and I haven't added the cups measurement yet, use the above ratio to convert to cups.
Also, make sure to measure your flour properly. Don't dig into the bag with a measuring cup. This will pack the flour down and you'll have a dough that is too dense. Instead, fluff up your flour with a fork or spoon and then spoon it into the measuring cup.
Why didn't my yeast turn foamy?
This can happen for a couple of reasons.
- Yeast likes warm water - about 120°F - 130°F. If you don't have a thermometer to measure it, just use very warm water - not hot. Your water could have been too cold or too hot.
- Your yeast could be old. If you have the correct water temperature and you've tried it a few times, then your yeast is probably old. Strangley, this can happen before the best before date somehow. I've had it happen to me once. Throw the yeast out and buy a new package.
Check out my Bread + Buns Pinterest Board and save this recipe on your own Pinterest bread board.
White Bread or Dinner Rolls
- Mix together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
- Add flour and salt. Mix until it comes together.
- Move dough to a counter-top and knead for about 5-10 minutes, or until it comes together in a smooth ball of dough.
- Place dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit somewhere warm to rise for about 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Punch dough down and grease a bread pan.
- Place dough on the counter. Pat out into a rectangle shape. Fold each side into the middle. Pat down again into a rectangle. Roll the dough tightly like you would for cinnamon rolls. Pinch the seam together and fold the ends over to the seam side of the dough, pinching those tightly closed as well.
- Place dough seam side down into the bread pan. Let rise, covered with a towel for another 30-60 minutes until almost doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and firm. Tapping on the bottom should sound hollow. Let cool on a rack before slicing.
- Double the recipe and make half into a loaf and half into 9 dinner rolls.
- Brush with an egg wash for golden-brown tops.
- I weigh my flour and count every 120 grams as 1 cup.