How to Make a Loaf of White Bread

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A simple loaf of white bread is a great recipe to have in your baking arsenal, and you’ll love knowing how to make bread anytime you might want it. It’s a fairly straightforward process to form the dough, and you don’t need any special equipment. From beginning to end, it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours between proofing the yeast to pulling 2 freshly-baked loaves out of your oven!


  • of warm water
  • 2 teaspoons (6.2 grams) of active dry yeast
  • of milk
  • of melted, unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (17 grams) of salt
  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups (660 to 780 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • Neutral oil, like canola oil
  • Cooking spray (optional)

Makes 2 loaves of bread


[Edit]Mixing the Dough

  1. Proof the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes. Use the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one; if not, any large mixing bowl will work. Add of warm water and sprinkle 2 teaspoons (6.2 grams) of active dry yeast over the surface. Set a timer for 5 minutes.[1]

    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • This process gives the yeast time to dissolve and activate.
    • The water should be warm to the touch, but not hot. Stick your finger in it before adding the yeast—if you can’t leave your finger in there for a few seconds, the water is too hot and needs to cool down a bit more.
  2. Combine the milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl from the proofing yeast, add of milk, of melted, unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar, and 1 tablespoon (17 grams) of salt. Stir them together.[2]

    • For this recipe, you can use any type of milk. Keep in mind that if you use something like vanilla almond milk, your loaves will take on some of that flavor.
    • It’s a great idea to use a digital scale when baking bread if you have one. It helps you measure exactly the right amount of each ingredient.[3]
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the activated yeast. Carefully transfer the contents of the bowl with the milk into the bowl with the water and yeast. Stir them together with a wooden spoon.[4]

    • It’s okay if not all the sugar, salt, or yeast have dissolved. They’ll incorporate during the kneading process.
  4. Add 1 cup (120 grams) of flour to the liquid to form a loose dough. This step begins to bind the ingredients and makes it a lot easier to add the rest of the flour. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t exactly look like dough at this stage.[5]

    • If you don’t have a digital scale, use the spoon-and-level method. Instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour, which can overly-compress it and add more to your recipe than you need, spoon the flour out of the bag into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a clean knife.[6]
  5. Stir an additional 4.5 cups (540 grams) of flour into the dough.[7] Add the flour slowly so that the dough can absorb the flour and not get overly dry. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything until the dough becomes shaggy (lumpy, but mixed well). It’s okay if all the flour isn’t yet incorporated—it will come together during the kneading process.[8]

    • Don’t put your flour away just yet! Once you get to the kneading process, you may need to add a little more to get your dough to the right consistency.
    • Shaggy dough is mixed well so there aren't any visible dry spots of flour, but it won’t look like a smooth, round ball yet.

[Edit]Kneading and Proofing

  1. Use a dough hook, on a stand mixer if you have one. Attach the bowl to the mixer and put the dough hook in place. Set the speed to medium and let the dough knead for 8-10 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. If the dough looks super sticky, add 1 tablespoon (8.5 grams) of flour at a time until it starts pulling away from the walls of the bowl.[9]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • Test the dough by poking it. If it springs back, it’s good to go! If it doesn’t, knead it for another minute before testing it again.
    • If the dough sags through your fingers when you pick it up, that’s another sign that it’s not ready yet. It should hold its shape pretty well.[10]
  2. Knead the dough by hand for 8-10 minutes if you don’t have a stand mixer. If the dough is incredibly sticky, add 1 tablespoon (8.5 grams) of flour at a time until it’s easier to handle.[11] Push down on the dough and stretch it out with the palm of your hand. Fold the top of the dough back on itself, then press and stretch it again. Repeat this process for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough makes a smooth ball.[12]

    • At the end, the dough should spring back when you poke it.[13]
    • If you need to, let the dough rest for 5 minutes after adding some extra flour. This gives the flour time to absorb moisture from the dough, making it easier to handle.[14]
  3. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and let it rise until it’s twice as big. Use either butter or a neutral-tasting oil, like vegetable oil, to coat the bowl so that the flavor doesn’t impact the taste of your bread. Place the dough inside the bowl, turning it a few times, so it’s entirely coated in the grease. Cover the bowl with either plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set it to the side for about 60 minutes.[15]

    • If you used a stand mixer, wash and dry that same bowl and use it for your proofing process to make fewer dishes for yourself.
    • When you use yeast in a recipe, the dough is going to rise and spread. The yeast essentially eats the flour and releases carbon dioxide, creating air bubbles and making your dough rise.[16]
    • At the end of this process, the dough should not spring back when it’s poked. If it does, it needs more time.[17]
    • Keep in mind that bread rises faster in a warm environment and slower in a cool one. If your kitchen is super cold, you could even turn your oven on low and set your dough nearby.[18]
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal sections. Sprinkle a little flour on a clean countertop, then gently dump the dough out of the bowl. Use your hands or a bench scraper to cut it in half. If you want to be super precise, use a food scale![19]

    • A bench scraper is a baker’s tool used to cut and manipulate all different kinds of doughs.[20]
  5. Shape each section of dough into a ball and let them rest for 10 minutes. These balls can be loose—there’s no need for them to look perfect at this stage! Just gently roll them or tuck the dough so that they resemble a ball, and leave them on the counter for about 10 minutes.[21]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • When you divided the dough and formed the balls, you created a little bit of tension in the dough. Letting the dough relax releases that tension, which means it’ll be easier to do your final shaping. Easier shaping equals better bread![22]

[Edit]Shaping the Loaves

  1. Grease 2 loaf pans that measure . Take a few seconds to prep your loaf pans while your dough is resting on the counter. The next stage requires the dough to go into those pans, so it’ll be nice to have them ready. Use cooking spray if you want, or just lightly coat them with oil or butter.[23]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 11 Version 2.jpg
    • You could also use pans.[24]
  2. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and fold the bottom 1/3 up. If the dough seems like it’s a little too sticky and isn’t coming away from the counter easily, sprinkle a little flour underneath it. Use your palms to spread the dough ball into a rectangle, then fold the bottom 1/3 up to the middle.[25]

    • The folding technique here is similar to how you would fold a letter.
  3. Fold the top 1/3 of the dough down and pinch the dough closed. Bring the top of the dough down, so it covers the bottom section that you already folded up. Use your fingers to pinch the seam closed all around, including the sides.[26]

    • Your loaves will look much more professional with closed seams.
  4. Create more tension by folding the dough in half a second time. Gently press down on the middle and bring the sides together. Pinch the seams together again.[27]

    • This entire process creates surface tension so that the loaves rise well and keep their shape.
  5. Place the dough into the loaf pans and let them rise for 30-40 minutes. Set the dough into the pans seam-side down. The dough should start to peek over the edge of the pan once they’ve grown enough.[28]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 15 Version 2.jpg
    • If you use larger pans, the dough will rise to be about level with the tops of the pans rather than peeking over the top.

[Edit]Baking Your Bread

  1. Preheat your oven to . Position a rack in the center of the oven, making sure to remove any racks above it. Otherwise, there won’t be enough space for your bread to grow![29]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 16 Version 2.jpg
  2. Score the top of the dough before putting it into the oven. Use a sharp, serrated knife or a lame (pronounced “laahm”) to make a long, deep slash down the length of the dough. You could also do 3 diagonal cuts across the width of the dough if you prefer.[30]

    • For an easy variation on this classic recipe, brush the top of the scored dough with beaten egg white and sprinkle sesame seeds overtop.[31]
  3. Put the loaves in the oven and reduce the heat to . Bake both loaves at the same time. The high heat helps the dough rise and creates a nice exterior, and the lowering temp ensures your loaves will keep cooking through without getting overly brown on the outside.[32]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 18 Version 2.jpg
    • If you forget to reduce the temperature, do it as soon as you think of it.
  4. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, until it’s golden-brown on top.[33] Test the bread by carefully tipping it out of the loaf pan and tapping the bottom—if it’s done, it will sound hollow. If it needs a little more time, pop it directly onto the rack instead of placing it back in the loaf pan.[34]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 19 Version 2.jpg
    • You could also use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should read when the bread is done.[35]
    • Wear oven mitts when handling the hot pans and bread!
  5. Let the loaves cool on wire racks for several hours before you cut them. Cutting bread while it’s still hot is, of course, super tempting—who doesn’t love fresh, warm bread? But doing so compresses the bread and ruins all of that beautiful volume you spent so much time developing. It’s best to let it rest until it’s cool to the touch before diving in.[36]
    Make a Loaf of White Bread Step 20 Version 2.jpg
    • You’ll at least get to enjoy the smell of your bread while it’s baking and resting, even if you have to wait to eat it.



  • Save your bread for a few days on the counter by wrapping it in foil and plastic.[37]
  • Freeze uncut loaves of bread by putting them in a sealed plastic bag. Use them within the month for the best taste.[38]

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

  • Stand mixer with a dough hook (optional)
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Digital scale (optional)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Kitchen towel
  • 2 loaf pans
  • Serrated knife or lame
  • Wire rack

[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary