Beginner’s Bread

  • 3 cups of white or whole wheat flour, or 1-1/2 cups of each (plus a little extra flour for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet, or about 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot, just warm)

When you need a recipe to practice making bread with, this is the one to turn to. First you need a big bowl. If you don’t have a big bowl, then a large pot will work just as well. Measure the flour into the bowl (or pot). White flour is easier to use to make your first batch of dough. Whole Wheat flour makes a simple variation though, when you decide to branch out a little. Make sure your flour measurements are level with the top of the measuring cup. Don’t pack the flour down into the cup. Just scoop it in lightly, and even off the top of it with your finger by brushing off the excess. After you put your flour into the bowl, add the salt, sugar and yeast. One of the packets of yeast from the store will work just fine. If you have a jar or bag of yeast, then use about 2 teaspoons of it. Using your hands or a spoon or fork, stir the yeast, salt, sugar and flour all together. These are the dry ingredients. They are called dry ingredients because they aren’t wet or sticky. They are dry and light. Now measure in your oil. Add a cup of warm water. Do not use hot tap water. Hot tap water is too hot and will kill the yeast. Use warm tap water instead. Warm enough to feel warm to your finger, but not warm enough to scald you. Try to measure the water accurately.

Stir the dough with a fork or spoon until it gets sticky and stiff. Next look at your hands, are they clean? If not then wash them. Remove any rings or watches you may have on and put them in a safe place. Dig into the dough with your clean hands. It will be gooey, and warm. Work the dough with your hands, right there in the bowl. Scrape the dough off of your fingers as necessary and try to get the dough to all work together into a nice ball. If it is too sticky then add more flour. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour, or even more sometimes. If it is too dry, then add a little bit of water at a time, to get it right. Usually a teaspoon of water at a time, is a good way to go. Mix and mash; Mix and mash. When you get a ball of dough, turn the dough out onto your counter or kitchen table. Scatter a bit of flour about the dough, and around the counter. Knead the dough. Press it, fold it, stretch it, turn it. Keep kneading the dough for a full 5 minutes by the clock. Set the timer if need be. Kneading makes the dough soft and fluffy. Be sure to knead it enough.

Then let the dough sit on the counter for a few minutes while you wash out the bowl you used to mix it in. Dry the bowl and pour a little bit of oil into it. A spoonful (teaspoon or tablespoon) will be just enough. Place the ball of dough into the clean bowl, on top of the oil. Roll the dough around in the oil, to coat it evenly. Place the dough in a warm spot, or on the counter near the stove. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the dough to sit and rise. It may take the dough up to 2 hours to rise. You will want it to double in size. Be patient and give the dough enough time to get as big as it can. Sometimes this happens in as quickly as an hour, but usually it takes longer, especially if the kitchen is cold.

When it is well risen, punch the dough down. Put your fist into the dough and smash down to force all the air out of it. Knead the dough again. This time, just knead it for a minute or so. Long enough to get all the air out of it. Let the dough rest for a minute or two while you oil or grease a loaf pan. A large loaf pan either 9″ by 5″ or 8½” by 4½” is the perfect size. If you don’t have a loaf pan, then use a casserole pan, or a round cake pan. The dough doesn’t know what shape it is supposed to be. You have to give it shape. Round bread is sometimes easier to make as a first loaf, so if you don’t have a bread pan, use what ever you do have. Just make sure to grease the pan well. Coax the dough into the shape of the pan you are going to bake it in. Cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap again. Set it aside and let it rise for about an hour to an hour and a half. It should double in bulk again. After it has risen enough, it is time to bake it. Set the oven to 350° or 375°. Place the bread into the oven. You do not need to preheat the oven. Let the bread bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When it is done the top will be golden brown. It will be well risen, and crusty. Carefully turn the hot bread out of the pan and onto a dishtowel on the counter. Be careful not to burn yourself. Thump the bottom with your finger. If it sounds hollow then it is done. If it doesn’t sound hollow, then put it back into the pan and bake it some more. Allow the bread to cool down for a few minutes before slicing it.

When you slice it be sure to use a serrated (bumpy) edged knife. Saw back and forth across the bread like you are sawing a log. Do not press too hard, just saw gently. When you get your first slice of bread, spread a little margarine or jam on it and take a bite. Succumb to the pleasure which only a bite of your own homemade bread can create. Grin decadently and plan your next loaf.

Or, if this loaf of bread fails, check the recipe and try again. Keep trying until you are satisfied with your results. I didn’t make it perfectly the first time; I made bricks. Big heavy, chewy, undercooked bricks. It takes practice to get the hang of it, so don’t give up. Just keep at it, and before you know it, you will be very pleased with what a little flour and yeast can make up for less than twenty-five cents.

Ready to give another frugal bread recipe a try? How about making your very own cornmeal tortillas. It’s easier than you think.

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  1. joyce voss says:

    Add one fourth cup of oil plus scant one half cup honey to the flour mixture, A light texture bread!!!!

  2. Frederika says:

    Just cut into my first piece of homemade bread! Got it on my first try!!!! Tried other recipes and only I got hard bricks, and doughy bricks.
    Thank you! Your instructions were invaluable to a novice like me. I’m not a hillbilly, but a city girl..I know even less than nothing.
    Can’t wait to try the whole wheat and that next bread recipe

    Thank you so much

  3. I did it! This was my first attempt at making bread and I have to say I am now addicted. I used White Whole Wheat flour and I am quite proud of myself and it! Thanks so much for such great and descriptive instructions.

  4. thank you thank you for such an easy recipe. Do you have any easy recipes like this where you soak the flour first? or do you have one for sourdough?

    • damien roberts says:

      If you are looking for a simple starter try this: the night before you are going to make your bread mix 1 cup flour 1 cup cold water and 1/2 tsp yeast into a clean container cover with plastic wrap or towel and leave out on the counter for at least 12 hours. When you make your bread the next day substitute this starter for one cup of the flour and water and keep the rest of the recipe the same. Your end result will taste so much better!

  5. I was wondering to make the bread do you use self rising flour

    • When determining what kind of flour a recipe needs (if it doesn’t tell you) – here is my rule of thumb:

      If you use yeast, use all purpose flour.

      If you use salt and baking soda, use all purpose flour.

      If you see no mention of salt, baking soda, or yeast – then you use self rising flour.

  6. Thanks it’s great recipe my bread is rising perfectly.
    Could you email this recipe to me. Thanks.

  7. Victoria says:

    What kind of yeast did you use? Will active dry yeast work?

    • Margaret says:

      Yes sweetheart. Active dry yeast is exactly what you use! You can either use a packet of it from the store such as red star or 1 tablespoon out of the bulk package you have! ;)

  8. Hi, I made this bread today and it kind of scared me, so I have a question. :P I’ve made it twice before and it didn’t get an oven spring. Then today I baked it in a higher temperature and it became *huge*. It is more than 10 inches long and touches the metal thingies on the top of the oven (english isn’t my native language, I hope it makes sense). My question is this; I don’t really know how to use an oven, so I have no idea how to bake it. I called my mom and she told me to leave it alone and it will bake, but it seems wrong to me to let it touch those things… Do I need to make any adjustments if I put it lower in the oven? Say, in the temperature for example?

  9. Hi! This is a nice recipe. I’m glad lots of people were success in making it. However, yeast is bad for your health. Click on link for recipe based on a homemade sourdough based on sour milk product.

  10. billi brush says:

    do u have to use sugar

    • The yeast needs sugar to activate, so the scant amount is used for that and a little bit of flavoring. You can use honey or agave nectar to give it a different flavor but the yeast doesn’t react the same to sugar substitutes (honey and agave have natural sugar so they work fine).

  11. Thanks so much for this recipe! Achieving the proper texture when baking bread is my biggest problem. Your directions pointed out the flaws in my technique. I just made my first two soft, fluffy loaves, and they are awesome.

  12. This is a great recipe- however my loaf was quite dark and the crust was too crunchy- do I decrease temp or time or both?

  13. Have two young grandchildren ages 3 and 5. They wanted to bake bread, the 5 year old learned about yeast in kindergarten. Came out perfectly, think they are hooked on making bread. Thank you!!!!

  14. I made my first bread with this recipe and a few others which are very similar. And its good! I screwed up a bit coz I forgot to add butter the first time and when I put it in for the second rise to compensate the loaf wouldn’t shape anymore so I left it as a blob but it tasted great!
    Don’t mind my English please, its not my native tongue.

    • The Hillbilly Housewife says:

      I’m glad the recipe worked out for you, Evelyna. And your English is just fine. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  15. Billie-lee says:

    I made this bread for the first time and it turned out perfect thanks for such a n easy recipe to follow i am now making it again but just wondered if you can use this recipe for bread rolls as well or a cob loaf????

  16. I had to add quite a bit of water to this recipe and it turned out alright, if I hadn’t it wouldn’t let me even attempt to get all the flour incorporated, why did I have trouble with the ratio in this recipe and nobody else?

  17. Pat Pope says:

    I would love to start making homemade bread but I can’t use my hands to knead the dough. I purchased a bread machine but I don’t want to bake in the machine. Knead only. Unfortunely the machine I purchased is for 1 lb. loaf’s. Most recipes are for larger loaf’s. Any ideas. I just found your site today but I love it.

  18. Thank you for such a simple recipe & thorough directions! I just made a perfect loaf of 100% Whole Wheat my first time out!! I’ve only made bread in bread machines in the past and they never turned out as nice as this. It is fluffy with a perfect crunchy crust. i followed your directions exactly.

    Now I just hope I manage to pull it off again the next time!!

  19. Laura Lou says:

    Best bread I ever made! I used butter instead of oil and honey instead of sugar. I also baked it in a round casserole dish. The bread was light as a feather. Thank you so very much!

  20. I began using this recipe several years ago when I was single and living alone. I made loaves for family and friends, everyone loved it. Now I am married with 4 kids, a wife, and a mother-in-law at home and the whole family loves this bread. So inexpensive and easy to make. Even an old guy like me can do it.

  21. I bloomed my yeast in the warm water with 2 tbs honey before adding flour and salt
    Have had bad luck using the yeast dry. Turned out great!

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