Soft and delicious, with just a touch of sweetness, and not at all like flimsy store-bought white bread, this homemade white bread recipe is easy and it’s made with simple ingredients.
Here’s all you need to know about making the perfect loaf of Homemade Bread (White Bread)!
There’s something deeply satisfying about a slice of white bread. And when that white bread goodness is homemade? The best! Plus, I LOVE the smell of freshly baked bread. I’ve been making Homemade Bread (White Bread) for about 15 years now, and I’ve made it so often that I can make this white bread recipe without measuring the ingredients now. And the more you make it, a better feel you get for it, and you’ll instinctively know what your bread dough is supposed to feel like.
Make no mistake, this homemade bread recipe is simple, and it’s easily the best white bead I’ve ever tasted! Incredibly soft and delicious, with just a touch of sweetness, this recipe is nothing like the sad, flimsy store-bought white bread. Plus, it’s free of all the sodium and preservatives of store-bought bread, and it’s made with simple ingredients. What’s not to love?
I guarantee you’ll never want to go back to store-bought white bread after tasting this!
What is classic white bread made with?
Delicious white bread is traditionally made with just,
- Butter (or some other type of fat)
However, I also like to add a little citric acid (or vinegar) as well. This is optional, but it achieves two things.
- The acidity helps keep the bread soft. It apparently helps with preserving the bread too, but the amount I add in this recipe may likely not have an appreciable impact on this.
- Citric acid adds a little sourness to the bread loaf as well, much like the acidity in sourdough gives it that characteristic “sourness”. The citric acid adds an extra depth of flavor to the this classic white bread recipe too. But the sourness here isn’t as pronounced as with sourdough.
Tips for making perfect homemade bread (homemade white bread)
Use a stand mixer.
Makes the whole process easy. You can knead the dough by hand, but it takes quite a while to develop the gluten in the dough this way. (Although, I do quite enjoy kneading dough by hand sometimes, bashing the dough repeatedly. Great for letting out some pent up frustration!). Just make sure not to “tear” the bread while you’re kneading it by hand.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there and feel the texture of the dough.
This is the only way to make sure you get the right consistency. The amount of water or flour needed to make this homemade white bread can vary slightly each time. Use this recipe as a guide, and know that you may have to adjust it a touch depending on the weather, and type of flour and ingredients used.
I usually use AP flour to make homemade white bread, but you can use bread flour too.
With bread flour, you may need to use a little extra water to get the right consistency, because the more protein content in the flour, the more moisture it’ll need to yield a soft texture.
Proofing is important.
The first proof is important to allow the yeast and gluten to develop. This plays a huge role in the flavor of the final product as well. The second proof is important to get a beautifully risen, airy and light bread loaf.
If you over-proof the bread dough at any stage, it can result in an unpleasant yeasty flavor. And if you over-proof the dough during the second stage, you’ll likely end up with a bread loaf where the crust separates from the rest of the loaf, or the crust is misshapen, or there’ll be big holes in the bread and it’ll collapse.
With under-proofed bread dough, you’ll end up with a smaller bread loaf that is more dense and has less volume.
A quick, simple way to check whether your homemade bread loaf is done is to tap the bread on top for that characteristic “hollow” sound. However, a fool-proof method to ensure perfectly baked bread is to use a thermometer. Your bread loaf is done when the internal temp. registers 195°F.
To avoid a soggy bread bottom, make sure not to leave the bread in the pan to cool completely.
Leave it in the pan only for about 10-15 minutes and then place it on a wire rack to cool completely. This prevents any condensation from forming on the pan and making the bread soggy.
Another really helpful tip that I’ve discovered is to allow the bread to cool down in the oven.
When the bread is done, I turn off the oven and let it cool down inside, with the oven door half open. Or if I have to do more baking, I let the bread cool down in a draft free, warm place. If the bread cools down too fast, it can cause some wrinkles to form on the crust. It doesn’t affect the taste however, just the appearance. However, this may sometimes be unavoidable in the winter.
Choosing the right bread pan
You can make this white bread recipe in a 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan for best results. But a 9 x 5 loaf pan will work too. However, if you do use a 9 x 5 inch pan, the resulting bread loaf won’t have as much height (or shape).
How to form the perfect loaf of bread
The next step after proofing the bread dough, is to form the dough into a log to fit inside your bread pan.
I turn the bread dough out on to a lightly floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle. This removes excess air that formed in the dough while it was proofing. The longer side of this rectangle should be slightly shorter than that of your bread pan.
To make sure you have a tightly formed bread loaf, roll up the dough, while pinching the edge into the dough along the way. Pinch the seams of the dough, tuck the sides in and pinch them into the dough as well. It’s important to tightly roll up the dough while pinching it into itself. This prevents large air pockets from forming inside the dough as it proofs and bakes.
All the seams of the dough should be on one side, while the other side should be smooth and tightly stretched (with no wrinkles). Make sure your bread dough log has an even thickness too.
Then carefully place this in the prepared bread loaf pan, and gently press it into the corners and bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and let it proof for a second time.
How to check when your bread loaf is ready to be baked
The second proofing time can vary greatly depending on the ambient temperature and weather. It can take much longer in the winter to proof, than in the summer. So it’s important to know what signs to look for to know when you’re bread loaf has proofed properly and is ready to be baked.
- The bread dough will rise about 1 ½ inches above the rim of your bread loaf pan in the center. It’ll form a dome, so just look at the pan from the side to see how much it has risen above the rim.
- When you gently press into the dough with your index finger, an indentation will form and it’ll remain, if the dough is perfectly proofed. If the dough bounces back without leaving an indentation, then the dough is under-proofed. If the indentation causes the dough to collapse, then the dough has over-proofed, and you may need to re-knead and re-form the dough and proof it once again.
How to store homemade white bread
The fact is homemade white bread doesn’t keep for too long, since it doesn’t have preservatives like store-bought bread.
So it’s important to keep your homemade bread in a container that allows for some ventilation, to let the the bread “breathe”. This white bread will keep for about 4-5 days this way.
But what I personally like to do (especially because I bake two loaves on the same day usually), is to slice the bread once it cools down, and then place these bread slices in a container or sealable bag and freeze. This keeps the bread fresh for much longer! Then I just remove the slices I need from the freezer, and let them thaw out whenever needed.
However, never refrigerate bread. The dry air in the fridge will make the bread go stale even faster.
Seriously, there’s something just so satisfying about a slice of white bread, when you’ve made it yourself! 🙂 Even from frozen, it tastes incredibly fresh and DELICIOUS.
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches are a whole new level of comfort with this homemade white bread recipe! 🙂
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Homemade Bread (Homemade White Bread)
How to make the best Homemade White Bread that's soft and delicious, with a touch of sweetness. An easy to follow recipe for perfect homemade bread, with step by step instructions.
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast 7 g
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp honey (or sugar or maple syrup)
- Proofed yeast mixture (ingredients listed above)
- 19.5 ounces AP flour 4 cups + 6 tbsp
- ⅓ cup lukewarm water
- 1 ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp honey (or sugar or maple syrup)
- ¼ tsp citric acid or ½ tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted (or vegetable oil)
- Place the water in the mixer bowl of your stand mixer.
Stir in the honey to dissolve, and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Gently stir to mix.
Allow the yeast to sit in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until it's activated and becomes frothy. This could take longer if your yeast was in the freezer. If the yeast doesn't activate (no frothy bubbles), then your yeast is likely too old and you will need it replaced with fresh yeast.
Once the yeast is activated, you’re ready to make the bread dough.
- To the proofed yeast mixture, add the flour, warm water, salt, honey, citric acid and melted butter.
Using a dough whisk or a spatula, mix the ingredients to form a rough dough.
Place the bowl in the mixer with a kneading hook attached, and knead the dough on low speed for about 2-5 minutes, until the dough comes together to form a ball.
Increase the speed by 1 level (speed 3 in a kitchen aid mixer) and knead the dough for a further 12-15 minutes until it's smooth and elastic.
While the dough is kneading, check on it every few minutes to make sure it’s kneading well, and is not too dry or too wet.
If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, then it’s too wet, so add a little extra flour (a dusting at a time), to get the right texture. To check if it’s at the right consistency - lift the kneading hook from the bowl, and check if the dough only sticks to the bottom of the bowl. If yes, then the moisture is perfect. If the dough isn’t sticking to the bottom of the bowl however, you may need to add a little extra water (just ½ tsp at a time), to get the right consistency. The dough should be smooth, a little soft and a little tacky to the touch.
Once the dough is kneaded, remove the dough hook and fold the dough over a few times by hand, to get a smooth ball. Then place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof for about 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
While the dough is proofing, prepare the bread loaf pan. Butter a 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan and set aside, until the dough is ready.
Turn the proofed dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press the dough into an evenly thick rectangle. The short side of this rectangle should be roughly about 7.5 - 8 inches (i.e. slightly shorter than the length of your bread loaf pan).
Next, tightly roll up the short side, along the length of the dough rectangle. Make sure to pinch/press the edge of the dough as you go, while rolling it up (read the post and see pictures for more details).
Once the dough is rolled up, pinch the seams to seal it, and tuck in the two sides and pinch these seams as well. Make sure all the seams are on one side (this will be the bottom) and the other side is smooth and seam-free (this will be the top).
Transfer this into the prepared loaf pan, seam side down, and press the dough into the pan. Make sure it’s evenly pressed into the bottom of the pan. Loosely cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and let it proof again in a warm place, for about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
The dough should rise about 1 - 1 ½ inches above the rim of your bread loaf pan (when looking from the side), and when you leave an indentation in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain, and not bounce back (read the post and see pictures for more details).
Preheat oven to 375°F, during the last 30 minutes of the second proofing time. It’s best for the oven to be preheated to the right temperature for at least 20 minutes, before baking the bread.
When the bread loaf is ready and the oven has preheated, place the loaf pan in the middle of the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. It's done when it sounds hollow when the bread is tapped on top, OR when the internal temperature has reached 195°F.
Remove the pan from the oven, and keep it in a warm place (away from drafts) to cool. After about 10 minutes, remove the bread from the pan and keep it on a wire rack to cool down completely. The bread is now ready to be served.
Optional - brush melted butter on the top while it's hot to add more buttery flavor.
Keep the loaf in a bread box at room temperature for upto 4 - 5 days, or slice and keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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