As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission when you make purchases through these links. For more information, read full disclosure here.
Basic Yeast Bread Recipe for the Busy Homesteader
Want to make homemade bread a part of your regular kitchen routine? This simple yeast bread recipe is almost fool-proof with flexible ingredients and adjustable rise times. You can arrange baking around your life, instead of arranging your life around the baking.Jump to Recipe
Simple Yeast Bread Recipe
I’ve called this a basic recipe, not to insult the bread, but to relay to the newer home cook that everything about this bread is approachable. The ingredients are already in your pantry. The steps are things you already know how to do.
The end result of this recipe is a classic bread that can serve as the focus of french toast, the foundation of a sandwich, and compliment your dinner. Have fun adjusting the recipe to form a dessert bread or a batch of dinner rolls.
Ingredients for this Basic Yeast Bread
The foundation of all bread recipes, including this one, is flour. Made from grinding dried wheat berries (the seed of the wheat plant), flour has been a staple of the human diet since biblical times. Flour is versatile and easy to store. Flour is packed with energy, with fiber, and the coarser, whole wheat-type flours are packed with B vitamins.
Flour alone will not make a very good loaf of bread. A few other ingredients help to bring the flour’s potential out.
Yeast is the simplest and most consistent way to leaven, or rise, a bread. Baking sodas and baking powders in quick breads rely on a chemical reaction to raise the dough. Raising your dough with yeast is relying on the eating habits of yeast- tiny microorganisms.
The yeast I use to bake bread with is a dried yeast that I store in my fridge. Alone in the cold environment, they look like miniature grains of rice.
To reanimate the yeast and prepare it for the task ahead, we need to re-hydrate it with warm water. The water will both rejuvenate our yeast and hydrate the flour- ultimately binding the entire loaf of bread together.
Flour, yeast, and water alone can make bread. But 2 more ingredients will add to the quality of the loaves we make in the end.
Salt is a great addition to bread as it gives extra flavor to it.
Sugar provides faster fuel for the yeast and, if you add enough, can affect the flavor of the bread as well.
Other ingredients can be mixed into the dough and will affect the flavor profile and texture of the bread. Adding seasonings, such as oregano or fennel seeds, will infuse the entire loaf with a strong herbal taste- a good option for dinner.
Adding extra sugar, an egg, milk, or a type of fat or oil will make the loaf softer and sweeter. Adding a cinnamon swirl to this milder bread is a great choice for snacks or breakfast.
Shaping the dough before baking can result in a variety of uses as well- dinner rolls, boules, cinnamon rolls, sandwich loaves, breadsticks, etc.
The recipe is not a prescription, it’s a starting place for your creativity and intuition as you learn.
A Note About Substitutions in this Recipe
This basic yeast bread recipe calls for all-purpose flour; it will turn out more like “normal” (store bought) bread if made with 100% all-purpose flour.
However, this basic bread recipe can be made with whole wheat flour as well.
Or any combination of the two. I’m usually making bread that is a mix of both, skewing with more whole wheat and less all-purpose depending on what’s in the pantry.
You can also make this bread with a variety of other alternative flours, or combinations of a mix of flours.
The sugar can be substituted for brown sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup. It can also be left out entirely, but I think that including a little sweetener helps..
You can use your choice of salt, in both type and quantity.
The water can be substituted for milk, which results in a much softer, slightly sweeter bread. You can also mix up a combination of milk and water, of course. Adding an oil to the dough will reduce the amount of water you need, but it will also change the texture and flavor of the bread.
Finally, you can substitute all of the mixing and kneading with the use of a mixer, if you’d prefer.
Make this Basic Yeast Bread Recipe- Step by Step
To make this basic yeast bread recipe, we need to start by assembling our ingredients and equipment. This recipe calls for flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water, measuring utensils, a spoon, a towel or bowl cover, and a large mixing bowl.
With all of our supplies gathered, our first step is rehydrating the yeast.
Start by pouring 2 cups of very warm water into the mixing bowl. Then sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of your yeast across the surface of the water. Leave the yeast/water alone for 10 minutes.You’ll notice that the yeast begins to soften and then foam, this is called letting the yeast bloom.
After 10 minutes, it’s time to start making our dough.
We’re going to add 1 Tablespoon (or so) each of sugar and salt to the yeast mixture, and then we’ll start adding the flour in 2 parts.
Start with about 4 cups of flour, and begin to mix everything together. If the dough is sticking to your hands and the bowl firmly, add more flour, 1/ 4 – 1/ 2 cup at a time. Between each addition of flour, stir the dough until it is completely combined.
Once the dough has cleaned the sides of the bowl and no longer sticks to your hands, it is ready to knead.
Kneading is basically working the dough in the bowl or on the counter, with your hands, to stretch and activate the proteins in the flour. A good thorough kneading will result in bread with a softer, better texture.
After kneading the dough for several minutes, form it into a single ball shape, and place it back into your mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with the towel (or bowl cover) and place it somewhere warm. Near a wood stove, on a preheating oven, near an incubator, in the kitchen window, on top of the dryer: anywhere just a little warmer than the rest of the house will work.
Leave the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. This can take about an hour, but will depend on the temperature of the house and the quality of your yeast and flour.
After the dough has doubled in size, it’s time to shape it.
The easiest way to shape this dough is to split it into 2 equally sized lumps. Take each lump and gently fold and tuck the edges to form an oval, loaf shape. Place each lump of dough into a loaf pan. Cover again with the towel and set somewhere warm to rise a second time.
This second rise will probably not take as long as the first, and I generally start preheating the oven after shaping the loaves.
Once the dough has doubled in size, and the oven is preheated to 400*F, it’s time to bake.
Take a separate baking pan (or a cast iron pan) and pour about 2 cups of water into it. Place this water-filled pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place your 2 loaf pans onto a rack in the center of the oven, above the pan of water.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a nice golden color. Another way to test if it is done is to remove the loaf from the pan (it’ll be hot!) and tap the bottom firmly. If the bread sounds hollow, it’s done. A dull thud (or no thud at all) means that it needs a few more minutes.
Once cooled, your bread is ready to slice and use however you’d like.
Look at that, you’ve made your own bread from scratch!
Tips for Basic Bread Success
Store your yeast in the fridge or freezer to make sure it really stays dormant- it’ll last longer.
Take off your ring(s) before mixing or kneading the dough, it can be a pain to wash off afterwards and makes for a cleaner cooking environment.
Dusting the inside of the bowl with flour before letting the dough rise can make getting it much easier to pull the dough out of the bowl for shaping.
You can ditch the plastic wrap by making a set of fabric bowl covers, or pick up a pack like these from Amazon.
You can shape the dough into any shape you’d like. Loaf pans are the easiest, since they’ll keep the bread shaped as it bakes. Boules (round loaves) can be baked on a cookie sheet, just like buns or rolls.
If you’ll be using whole wheat flour, or a mixture with whole wheat in it, expect to use less flour and have a longer rise time. The crust of the finished bread will also be darker than bread made with only all-purpose flour.
Once the loaves are out of the oven, I’d suggest removing them from the loaf pans to cool, covered, on a towel or cooling rack on the counter. Removing the bread from the pans immediately stops the baking process, and covering them helps the crust to stay soft after cooling.
To keep the bread soft after slicing, store in a plastic bag, bread bag, or another container designed to limit air flow.
If you make more bread than you’ll use in a week or so, it stores well in the freezer. Wrap the loaves or slices in plastic wrap or freezer paper. To use, let them thaw on the counter for a few hours.
Do I have to use yeast?
Leavened bread requires a leavening ingredient. Leavened bread just means that it will rise in baking and/or before baking. Whether that’s baking soda and baking powder in quick breads, sourdough starter in sourdough breads, or yeast in this basic yeast bread- you need to include some sort of leavening.
What’s the difference between this bread and sourdough bread?
Sourdough bread is made with flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter culture. The sourdough culture is filled with yeasts and other microscopic life that work to leaven the dough just like the yeast does in this recipe. Sourdough starters are a wild culture with a lot of variation and baking with a sourdough starter can have a longer learning curve due to those natural variations.
Baking with commercially-made yeast can yield a more consistent result and requires a shorter rise time than sourdough breads.
I bake with both yeast and with sourdough, and think that there’s a place for both in the home kitchen.
Can you use freshly-ground flour?
Absolutely. Freshly ground flour will, like whole wheat flour, require a longer initial rise time to allow everything to become fully hydrated. Freshly ground flour is supposed to have a better flavor and nutritional profile as well, but I do not have a flour mill and am not an expert.
Do I have to wait a full hour for the dough to rise?
No. Depending on how warm your house is, how active your yeast is, etc. the dough may be ready to shape in less than an hour. As long as the dough has doubled, or nearly doubled, in size it is ready.
Can I let the dough rise for more than an hour?
Yes. This dough is very forgiving of longer rise times, and depending on the temperature of your house, may require it. Dough can become overproofed, which means it won’t spring up in the oven as much, but the resulting bread will still be edible (and delicious).
If you know you won’t be able to get to the dough shaping at the 1 hour mark, you can let the dough rise in a cooler spot, or even place it in the fridge for a much longer rise time.
Do I have to use a loaf pan?
No, you can shape this bread dough into any shape you’d like, and bake in any sort of pan you have on hand. It works great as a sandwich bread from a loaf pan, but will also make delicious rolls, buns, cinnamon rolls, and boules.
Can I skip the sugar?
Yes, but expect a slightly longer rise time. If you’re open to alternative sweeteners, honey, molasses, and maple syrup can also be substituted for the sugar.
Can I use a Kitchenaid mixer?
Absolutely. A Kitchenaid mixer makes kneading bread dough effortless. Simply use the dough hook attachment and be sure to lock the arm.
Do I have to use the pan of water when baking?
You don’t have to include a pan of water in the oven, but doing so will keep the oven more humid when baking. A humid oven will help your bread to stay soft after baking too. It can be left out, but I think it lends to the end result and is worth doing.
More Ideas for this Basic Yeast Bread
This simple yeast bread can be turned into cinnamon rolls very easily. After the first rise, roll the dough out on the counter (like you would with a pie crust or sugar cookie dough) so that it is about 1/ 2” thick. Spread a cinnamon/brown sugar/butter filling over the surface of the dough.
Roll the dough up starting at one end and working across the width to form a log. Slice into 2” sections. Arrange the rolls in a baking pan or cast iron pan and bake for 35 – 55 minutes. Top with a glaze of your choosing. You can substitute the cinnamon mixture for jelly to make jelly rolls.
To make basic dinner rolls, after the first rise, you can break the dough up into golf ball (or so) sized lumps. Form each into a ball, then arrange in a pan, leaving little room between each bit of dough. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size. Bake for 12-20 minutes. A butter or egg white glaze is a great finishing touch.
Thanks for checking out this basic yeast bread recipe, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!
For more day-to-day updates on the homestead, or to see what else I’m cooking, follow me on Instagram: @emigrantfarms
Thanks for reading and happy homesteading!
PS In the mood for cookies? I’ve got a classic molasses cookie straight from the pages of an old school homesteading handbook. You can find the Foxfire Molasses Cookie recipe here. Baking your own bread to save on groceries? Check out this post with 56 other ways that you can save money as a stay at home mom.
Basic Yeast Bread Recipe
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring cups and Spoon
- cookie sheet
- Towel or Bowl Cover
- 1 Tbsp Yeast
- Hot Water
- 1 Tbsp Salt Adjust to taste
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 4 - 6 Cups All-Purpose Flour See notes
- Pour 2 cups of VERY hot water into the mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on the surface of the water.
- Let the yeast/water mixture sit undisturbed for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to awaken and foam.
- Add salt, sugar, and 4 cups of flour to yeast mixture. Stir roughly to combine.
- Continue to mix dough, adding extra flour 1/4 cup at a time as needed. The flour shouldn't be sticking firmly to your hands or the sides of the bowl.
- Knead the dough for 3 - 5 minutes on the countertop, until the dough is stretchy and pliable. Add flour if needed.
- Form dough into large ball and place back into mixing bowl. Cover with a towel.
- Set dough aside in warm location to rise until doubled- about 1 hour.
- Form the dough into loaf or loaves as desired. Place into loaf pan(s) or arrange on cookie sheet. Cover with towel and let rise again until doubled, approximately 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400*
- Pour hot or boiling water into a roasting pan or cast iron and place on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Bake bread on the center or upper rack, above the pan of water, for 30-50 minutes.
- To check if the bread is done, remove from the loaf pan (it will be hot!) and tap the bottom of the loaf. A hollow thud means the bread is done, a dull thud or no sound means it needs longer.
- After the bread is finished, allow it to cool, covered, on the counter top or a cooling rack.
- To store, wrap in a bread bag, plastic bag, or other container to prevent the bread from drying out.Bread will keep in the freezer for several months or more.