Family Bread

  • 4 cups warm tap water (not hot)
  • 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder (instant powdered milk)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 packets or 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted margarine or oil
  • 12 cups (approximately) white or whole wheat flour or a combination

The first thing you need is a big bowl or clean dish pan to mix this up in. I use a huge metal bowl that is made of stainless steel. But I used to use the same plastic dish tub I washed the dishes in. I would wash it with a little bit of bleach, rinse it really well, and then dry it completely. In some ways it worked better because it fit on my lap more conveniently due to the rectangular shape. But the shiny stainless steel one does look more like I know what I’m doing. So much for appearances.

So anyway mix the water, dry milk powder and sugar in the dishpan or bowl. Add the yeast, sort of sprinkled on top. Allow the mixture to sit until the yeast dissolves some, this will only take a couple of minutes. Add the salt, margarine or oil, and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until it gets too stiff and then dig in with your hands. When the dough is in a nice cohesive ball, turn it out onto a floured kitchen table or counter. Or if you are using a dish pan, you can just leave it in there.

Now start kneading the dough with all of the love you have for your family. Press the dough and send big love vibes into it. Stretch the dough and impress all of your compassion and generosity into it. Remember why you love your kids, and your spouse and your mom or you dad, and just put it all into the dough. Knead it like this for a full ten minutes. Add more flour if you need to as you go along.

Coat the dough with oil, about 2 tablespoons of it, and put it into the bowl or dishpan. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let it set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or so. It should double in bulk. It may take up to two hours on cool days, or in the air conditioning, so be patient.

Punch down the dough by literally pressing your fist into the center of it. Divide the dough into 4 equal lumps. Coax them into loaf shapes and place them into large (9 by 5-inch) well oiled loaf pans. If you don’t have enough loaf pans, use casserole pans or cake pans, or whatever. Cover the dough with a cloth or more plastic wrap and let it rise again. It should take less time for the second rising. When the dough is risen up enough, bake the loaves at 350° for 40 minutes.

You can tell the dough is done if you turn it out of the pan and thump the bottom with your finger. It should make a dull hollow sound. If it doesn’t sound hollow, put it back into the pan and cook it some more. Makes four loaves.

Old-Fashioned Low-Yeast Bread:

This variation is similar to sourdough bread and it has 2 benefits. The first is economical. You only need a single packet of yeast to make 4 loaves of bread. The second is that the work can be done the day before and finished when you have more time the next day. The process is simple.

Reduce the yeast to 1 packet, or approximately 2-1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast. Mix and knead the dough as directed. When you tuck it away to rise, put it in a spot that is safe from nocturnal critters (like in the oven or the drier) and let it sit for 12 to 18 hours. The yeast has to have a long time to work because there isn’t much of it in there. As it sits in the dough, it will reproduce itself and gradually raise the entire batch of dough. Do not refrigerate it during this time; let it sit at room temperature.

The next day check your dough to see how it’s doing. If it has doubled in bulk, then you can punch it down and shape it into loaves. If it hasn’t doubled yet then let it sit a while longer.

Don’t worry about the dough. Don’t worry about it going bad, or getting contaminated or anything like that. Remember, our foremothers always made their dough this way and they produced healthy, hearty offspring that could withstand all sorts of trouble. Eating this kind of bread didn’t make anyone sick back then when their sanitary methods were questionable at best and it won’t hurt you or your crew either.

After the dough has doubled, you can proceed with the recipe as written. The second rise may take 2 or 3 hours, or it may take less than that. Bake the bread like you normally do. When it’s done you’ll notice that the texture may seem a tiny bit chewier than usual, but for the most part it will be perfectly normal bread.

Here’s another homemade bread recipe I use almost every single week. This one is for buttery bread sticks that go perfect with lasana or spaghetti.

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  1. Christine says

    I love this web site!!! My husband has been in seminary the past two years so my job is the only source of income for our family of 6. We have saved so much money by using your recipes and by meal planning.
    Thank you for all your effort, you have blessed our family greatly!!

  2. Barbara says

    Just found your website. A friend and I are constantly looking for new
    recipes and economical ones, she has 3 small children and I am always looking to save money. I love this site and thanks for all the tips and all the hard work. (great looking family too BTW!)
    God Bless!

  3. Stern Family says

    I love your website. With the current economy, and so many unemployed and struggling, you are a huge help to others and such an inspiration!!!

    Rayven Stern

    • uhhuh_444 says

      We have been having a really hard time making ends meet too. The end of the month is a PAINFUL event. I have been using the low-yeast bread recipe for some time now, and that’s one of MANY here that have helped us get through these trying, austere times. This is a WONDERFUL WEBSITE, one that has helped us NOT to go hungry. In these difficult times, this website is a GODSEND. We are EATING and getting FULL-no more rumbling, empty stomachs at bedtime! Life is getting harder and harder…THANK YOU for helping us!

      • says

        You are very welcome. I remember the days when we had to make tough choices at the end of the month on how to spend the last few dollars (gas or food) and I’m glad you’re finding this helpful. And thank you for taking the time to write such a nice comment. Responses like this is what keeps me going and continuing to make HBHW bigger and better.

  4. says

    Some place I saw a recipe for a bread that didn’t need kneading. You put the batch of dough in the refrig and took out a piece of it and mounded it on a sheet and let it rise and bake it. Does anyone have the recipe ? It sounded like something I would like to try.

  5. says

    I am so enjoying this!!! i am just watching my bread rise.It is very similar to one i used to make and then went and lost the recipe…..when are you going to start a chat ??????? swapping ideas and recipes crosses the seas and air no problem..!!!keep it up

  6. Terri says

    Hello! Now I know why those gals had muscles! Making it through the whole 10 minutes was a challenge. The family LOVES the bread! I sliced and froze some to have for later, but later came very quickly :). Does anyone have a suggestion on how to keep it fresh/soft the longest? Thanks!

  7. Kim H. says

    Hi there. I have been making this bread recipe for about a year now. It’s the only bread my family likes. Well, this weekend I was making a batch and then got called away during the final rising before sticking it in the oven. It was almost ready and I had to put it in the refrigerator. I knew I would not be able to get back to it until at least 12 hours later. By the time I had a chance to it had fallen in and the top of the dough dried out. I could see wasting all this dough so I re-kneaded the dry tops back into the rest of the dough. If there wasn’t enough moisture I just moistened my hands a little under the faucet and re-worked it then which worked pretty well. Then I divided up each load into 8 – 10 small balls and rolled them out thin. I followed your directions on how to make Indian fry bread for 1/2 of the dough balls and how to make flour tortillas for the other half of the dough balls. Both methods cooked up nicely. My husband likes the fried, my 13 year old daughter likes the “tortilla” bread. She wasn’t sure about using it to make a sandwich to take to school but I told her to pretend it was from a gourmet store. She seemed to like that idea. I just thought I would like you know that even if you have a “failed” batch that it can still turn out to be a success.

  8. Kim H. says

    By the way, yes I do have a suggestion on how to keep it fresh the longest. Place thoroughly cooled loaves into the “Forever Green” bags and put them in the refrigerator. I buy mine at a local discount store called “Family Dollar” for $5 a box of bags. They normally run about $10 in a regular store. The same company makes bread bags too but the forever green bags work quite well and I’ve had success for up to 2 weeks. I’ve had bread in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks but by the last weeks it’s pretty dried out. Then I just cut these up into cubes and dry them in the oven for croutons or bread crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil for putting on salads. Also, don’t slice your bread ahead of time. It leaves more surfaces to dry out faster. Just cut what you need when you need it. 5 – 10 seconds in the microwave also will make refrigerated bread taste like it just came out of the oven.

  9. Melissa G. says

    Just made this bread last week & it makes TRULY EXCELLENT thick cut French Toast bread! My family gobbled it up and was begging for me to make a few more loaves!

  10. Gerrie says

    Help! I’m doing something wrong. I used this recipe for a while with regular flour and it worked fine. I’ve since bought whole wheat and I’m grinding it as needed. I’ve had 8 loaves come out of the oven as hard as a rock. What am I doing wrong?

    • says

      I am no baker, but whole wheat flour does not have as much gluten in it as white, so you can’t just substitute it straight across and get the same results. I wish I could give you tips, but I don’t have them :( Look into a 100% whole wheat cookbook at your library.

    • Kristin says

      We bake with freshly ground, whole wheat flour all the time. It takes some extra gluten… you can buy it in a bag at most natural grocery stores or regular grocery stores’ natural food isles. Add about 3-4 tablespoons. And it takes some extra kneading! Literally whip the first couple of cups of flour with the liquid ingredients for about 10 minutes. Then, when time to knead, I have to have my husband finish off the kneading for me when we do an exclusively whole wheat loaf… whack it on the counter, throw it down on the counter, you have to get almost violent with it! :)

  11. Amy says

    Help! (me too) i made this for the first time last night, it rose great, but the top dried out. i covered it with a tea towel overnight – is this right? or maybe i should do plastic wrap? i will try what another poster said – knead the dry dough back in with a little water if needed. But, i am wondering if anyone else has this problem.

    • melissa bartmess says

      i use a dampened flour sack towel when i cover my bread to rise. it helps keep teh moisture int eh rbead and to keep it from drying out.

    • Peach Smith says

      To prevent the tops of my loaves from drying out, I brush them gently witha little oil, or spray with Pam – especially if I have the loaves rising overnight or in the fridge. Also, after baking I sometimes rub a little butter onto the hot tops – delicious & keeps the tops soft.

  12. Melissa says

    I have made this bread twice already. My family loves it and so do I. It has been very rewarding to knead the dough and watch it rise. I only have three bread pans, so I make dinner rolls with the last quarter of the dough. I brush melted butter on them when it comes out of the oven, makes 12 regular rolls or 9 gaint rolls. Great for dinner that evening. Thanks for the great recipe.

  13. Marie says

    (Also posted this in the 70.00 menus, its the old fashion overnight bread link.) I love the low cost menus. Trying to get out of debit, so this helps a bunch. How would I take the bread recipe and reduce the overnight bread or family bread for the 1 loaf? The reason is I can only bake 1 loaf at a time because I have a very small oven (we live on a boat). Thank you for this website I really enjoy it very much.

    • Peach Smith says

      If you need bread more often, you can also make the whole batch & bake 1 quarter, put 1 quarter in the fridge & 2 in the freezer. When you are ready, take out the refridgerated quarter & bake, and take one from the freezer to the fridge: continue the cycle. I used to do that, and actually got some exellent bread – the grain was very fine & light…

  14. burled says

    Marie, I would think that you could quarter all the ingredients easily other than the yeast. If using the packages of yeast, try taking one package of the yeast and measuring it out so you know exactly what you have, then using 1/2 of that one package. (Or if using the yeast in a jar, then it would be easy…1 teaspoon of yeast would equal one-quarter of the recipe.)

    I am going to try this myself, as there are only two of us.

  15. Joan Emanuel says

    Gerrie – When using whole wheat flour, add wheat gluten to the dough. You can find it in the flour section of the grocery store. It’s made by Hodgson Mill. The directions are on the box, but basically it’s just four teaspoons of gluten per loaf. It also saves buying bread flour, which is just all purpose flour with extra gluten added. I think you will find this makes a much better loaf. Good luck!

  16. CharlieAnn says

    Could I use powdered soy milk or leave out the powdered milk? Are son has a dairy allergy and can not have any dairy at all.
    If some one would know it would be great.
    Thank you ahead of time.

  17. Taryn says

    I found this website today and I will be trying out your recipes they all sound wonderful. My question is that I only have evaporated liquid milk in a can and I was wondering if I could use that instead of the dry milk and how I would go about making that switch if it’s possible for me to even do that? I would really appreciate your help, thanks.

    • Peach Smith says

      When I have to use liquid milk, I just substitute milk for water. So you could use 1 cup milk & 3 cups water, instead of 4 cups water.

  18. Amy says

    You can just omit the dry milk if you don’t have it (that’s what I do). But if you want to use regular milk, then try about 2 cups of regular milk to replace 2 cups of warm water–but don’t add cold milk to the water before you add the yeast, or the liquid might not be warm enough for the yeast to work! Just add the milk with the rest of the ingredients, AFTER the yeast has softened in the sugar-water solution. To use evaporated milk, you can pour it into a measuring cup and then add enough hot/warm water to make 4 cups (and just omit the dry milk). But, again, make sure the liquid is the right temperature for your yeast! HTH!

  19. Sarah says

    We love homemade bread. I have used this (low yeast)recipe dozens of times easily with great success. The last few times my dough has gone sour…I have no idea why. Suggestions?

  20. says

    A good tip, is to heat the flour in a microwave safe bowl for about 1.5 minutes that way the mixture is still warm for the yeast to proof. It’ll help the proofing go by faster thereby decreasing the time that you need for the mixture to rest. It’s a great time-saver!

  21. Tracy says

    Tried the low yeast recipe for the first time – it’s DELICIOUS! I made 4 loaves: 2 plan, one with italian herbs on top, and one with shredded cheese, bacon bits, and chives on top. turns out great! Only problem is that there’s only two of us – what are we going to do with all of this bread?!!

  22. Brittany says

    Is it normal for the low yeast to have a funny chemical smell? there is no way i put any chemicals in it. did i let it sit too long? HELP??

  23. jt says

    it isn’t normal for any yeast bread to have a funny chemical smell. it is normal for it to smell sour.

    i make this bread regularly for the family. it barely lasts, it’s so good. thanks for the fantastic recipes!

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