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Many years ago I was given a bread machine, and that had a basic bread recipe it it in the manual. That was my first foray into making bread. Since then, I’ve taken that recipe and tweaked it, and made it my own.
For starters, here’s the bare bones recipe, if you have basic bread-making experience or don’t want to see a million pictures.
One Hour Basic White Bread
Makes two loaves
18 oz warm water
4 Tbsp. butter, margarine, or oil
6 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp instant yeast, or 2 packets yeast
Mix all together and set aside in a warm place to rise. Shape into two loaves and let rise again. If you’re really pressed for time, then you can omit the second rise and just shape the dough into loaves right after mixing. The bread has a much better texture if you let it rise twice, though.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until top is nicely browned and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
This is the recipe I use to make hot dog and hamburger buns.
How to Make Bread, With Pictures
Here’s the fun part. If you’ve never made bread, my girls and I made a step-by-step tutorial.
First off, you can make this bread by hand, but I don’t. I use a Kitchen-Aid mixer. The motor is strong and can handle the stiffness of the bread dough. Not all mixers are that strong, and I wouldn’t recommend doing this with a small hand mixer. You’ll burn out the motor (don’t ask how many mixers I killed before I got my KitcheAid).
If you’re going to make it by hand, follow the same directions, but use a large mixing bowl. and a strong mixing spoon. You’ll eventually knead by hand as well.
Start by putting the warm water in your mixing bowl, and add the yeast and sugar to the water. If you’re not using new yeast, let it sit for a few moments to see if it bubbles. This is called proofing the yeast. If it gets bubbly like the below picture, it is active and good to use.
I use instant yeast that I get from Sam’s club in huge packages. You can use the little packets as well, they just won’t rise as fast as instant yeast does.
Next, add the oil.
Add the salt.
Now you will want to add the flour. The best way to do this is add it slowly. My KitchenAid mixer bowl can handle 6 cups of flour, so I measure it all in at once and start mixing very slowly.
You will want to use the dough hook attachment if you have one. Turn the mixer on the lowest setting. If you use a faster setting, you will fling the flour all over your kitchen.
I prefer to use bread flour when I can, but regular all-purpose flour will work too. Bread flour often has additives that make it rise better, but it’s not necessary to have it to make bread.
Let the mixer run until all the ingredients are well-mixed and the dough has become a smooth ball.
If you are mixing by hand, you will want to stir until all the ingredients are well-incorporated, then turn it out onto a greased countertop. This dough needs to be well-kneaded.
To knead by hand, form a ball with the dough and place your hands on either side of the dough. Use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you. This action stretches the dough and pushes the inside of the dough toward the outside. Fold the top back edge back in toward yourself and repeat. I like to turn the ball around as I go too, to keep it round. This is fun to do but takes a bit more strength than you may expect.
Once your dough is fully kneaded, place it into a greased bowl to rise. I usually just spray the bowl with cooking spray to make it easy.
Ideally you want the dough to double in size. You can skip this step if you are really pressed for time, but this rise will produce a finer texture in the finished loaf.
Now you want to remove the dough onto the countertop. My daughter here is gently prying the dough away from the edge of the bowl.
Turn it onto the countertop, but make sure you remembered to grease it first! We forgot to and the bread stuck. Oops.
Isn’t it pretty?
Now it’s time to shape the loaves. This recipe makes two loaves, so we divided the dough in half.
Pat the dough into a large rectangle shape. We are going to roll it up and seal the ends, so you don’t want it too terribly much wider than the bread pan you plan to use.
Roll the dough up tightly. We start at the bottom and roll away from us.
To keep it rolled up, you want to seal the seam. Just pinch it closed. Make sure it’s good and sealed, because as the dough rises again, it can pop open.
Fold the ends in so your loaf is sized to fit your pan. Pinch where it joins too. This will be the bottom of your loaf.
Place your loaf of dough into an oiled bread pan, seam side down.
This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. I place my loaves on the stove to rise while the oven preheats. You don’t want to put them in the oven until it’s fully heated.
Let your loaves rise again until they are just above the edges of the pans. I could have let these rise even longer, for taller loaves, but we were getting impatient.
Place the loaves in the preheated 350 degree oven, leaving space around them for the air to circulate. We lowered the top shelf so that the loaves can bake closer to the center of the oven.
Bake until the tops are golden brown. In our oven, this is about 25-30 minutes. Make sure they’re nice and brown before you take them out, or else they might still be gummy in the middle.
Remove from the oven and let them cool. If you used metal pans like we did, you should be able to remove them from the pans easily while the loaves are still warm. I haven’t personally had a lot of success with glass pans, so I don’t use them now…..but you can’t always remove the bread when it’s warm as easily.
Esther and her finished loaves. Aren’t they beautiful?
Once the loaves have cooled, you can slice them. You can cut them while they’re warm too, but the bread is so soft that they squish a lot easier….and you run the risk of burning yourself too….which I also know from experience.
One Hour Basic White Bread
- 18 oz warm water
- 2 Tbsp fast rise/instant/bread machine yeast
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 cups bread flour
- Proof yeast by adding yeast and sugar to warm water. Let it rest for a few minutes until it gets bubbly.
- Add salt and oil to mixture, adding the flour last.
- Mix well, until dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a stand mixer, this step is easiest on your hands, but can be hard on the motor of your mixer if it isn't a heavy duty mixer. Two loaves of bread in my KitchenAid works ok, but you can hear that the mixer works harder on it. I mix this at the lowest speed, because going higher makes the flour fly everywhere. If you are mixing this by hand, stir with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated well, then turn out the dough onto a floured countertop. Knead by hand until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Set aside in a warm place to rise. Shape into a loaf and let rise again.
- If you’re really pressed for time, then you can omit the first rise and just shape the dough into loaves right after mixing. The bread has a much better texture if you let it rise twice, though.
- Turn bread out onto the countertop and pat into a rectangle shape. Starting at one end, roll the dough up tightly. Pinch the seam closed, and fold the ends of the roll over to pinch them closed too.
- Place loaves into greased bread pans, and let rise until loaves are just past the top of the pans.
- Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until top is nicely browned and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
- Let cool before slicing. Bread baked in metal pans may be removed right away to cool. If you used glass pans, you will need to let them cool longer before removing the bread from the pans.
- This is the recipe I use to make hot dog and hamburger buns.