The warm smell of bread. The soft pillowy roll that’s perfect for the holiday season.
Ask someone about a person in their family that baked bread and they’ll get a happy faraway look in their eyes as they think about it. It makes homes feel homey. It brings people together. It fills the belly and spreads joy. It’s pretty hard to beat the taste and smell of a fresh batch of bread.
Growing up, I was surrounded by people who knew how to cook and bake well. I knew that someday I would want to raise a family of my own, and I began asking the women I knew to teach me their ways. I was especially interested in learning how to bake bread.
One special friend from my church invited me over to learn how to make bread dough. She is an amazing baker and I was honored that she was willing to teach me.
She was one of those talented bakers who just knew recipes in her mind… or in other words, understood the science of baking without needing a recipe.
I, on the other hand, had to write her recipe down. Which I have done here. For all of you.
So if you’re ready to learn how to make bread, read on! (And don’t worry, you won’t need any special equipment to make this bread)
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What’s in the Bread Recipe?
The ingredients for this bread dough is simple. You’ll need:
- 7 cups flour (white, wheat, or mixed I like to use unbleached bread flour but any ordinary flour will do)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for kneading and covering your dough ball
- 4 cups warm water (more or less as needed)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
Additional items you will need to make bread dough:
- Measuring cups
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- Smaller mixing bowl (or extra-large measuring cup)
- Mixing spoon
- Bread pans
- Kitchen thermometer (optional)
Step #1: Mix Flour, Salt and Olive Oil
Put 7 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl.
Add a tablespoon of salt.
Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Mix ingredients together and set aside.
Step #2: Mix Water With Sugar and Yeast
Put 2 cups warm water in a separate bowl (I like to use a measuring cup/mixing bowl from Pampered Chef because it has a pourer. But anything will work). Water should be between 105-110 degrees to activate yeast. You can use a kitchen thermometer to make sure you have the right temp.
Add 3 1/2 teaspoons of dry active yeast.
Let that sit until it gets nice and foamy and starts to rise. It’ll look something like this:
Step #3 Mix Yeast and Water With Flour
Pour the water, yeast, and sugar into the flour in the large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together until it mixes dry and wet ingredients together. Add additional two cups of water until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. You may need a bit more water to reach the right consistency. It will be sticky at this point.
Step #4 Knead the Dough
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and begin kneading it. You can rub some olive oil on your hands and some on the dough to keep it from sticking to your hands. Try not to use too much flour when kneading because it will dry out your dough. That’s why the olive oil is used instead of just flour.
It doesn’t look so pretty at first, but keep working with it until you have a beautiful dough ball. You’ll know when you’ve got it right because it’ll be soft and pliable. It’ll be a dough ball and it won’t be so craggly anymore.
What a cute little dough ball.
It’s just sitting there. Contemplating its new life. Wondering what its purpose is.
Just pick up that introspective dough ball and put it in your mixing bowl. (I know things are getting weird. It’s late and the things I’m writing are amusing to me but may be regretful in the morning).
Leave the dough ball nestled in the mixing bowl. Pour a little olive oil on top, and place a damp tea towel over top.
Step #5 Just Let it Rise
Leave that dough in its sanctuary until it doubles in size. It’s super fun to watch it grow. Almost magical.
It’s growing but it isn’t ready yet.
That looks about right. You let it grow this much and then you punch it down. It’s called the school of hard knocks. (My writing professor in college hated personification but here we are).
Step #6 Put it in the Bread Pan
Add a little oil or cooking spray to keep the bread from sticking and put the dough in the pan. I’d say fill the pan about half way full.
Go ahead and let that rise again for a bit before putting it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 when the dough starts to rise enough.
Step #7 Put the Dough in the Oven
Put your dough in the oven and bake until golden brown and cooked the whole way through. Usually, this will take around 30-40 minutes. You can also check the temperature of the bread with a kitchen thermometer. Your bread should be about 190 degrees when ready.
And there it is. A beautiful little loaf. All ready to go out into the world and be somebody.
Recipe Instructions for How to Make Bread (Without Pictures)
4 cups warm water (more or less as needed)
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
7 cups flour (white, wheat, or mixed)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for kneading and covering your dough ball
Step 1: Pour two cups of warm water into a small mixing bowl. (Water should be between 105 and 110 degrees to activate the yeast.) Add ¼ cup of sugar and stir. Stir in dry active yeast and allow to sit until the yeast becomes foamy.
Step 2: Pour seven cups of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add salt and olive oil and stir together.
Step 3: Add the water, sugar, and yeast mixture to the flour. Begin mixing together. Add the additional two cups of warm water as needed. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water.
Step 4: On a lightly floured surface, begin to knead the dough. To keep the dough from sticking to you, rub a little oil on your hands. You can do this several times if necessary. You’ll want your final dough ball to be soft and pliable.
Step 5: Place your dough ball in a mixing bowl and rub a little oil on top. Cover bowl with a warm damp cloth and allow the dough to rise to at least double its original size.
Step 6: Punch down the dough and put it into a loaf pan. Rub a little oil around the pan to keep the loaf from sticking.
Step 7: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the dough rise again until it’s just above the top of the loaf pan. Bake in oven until golden brown and the bread reaches 190 degrees.
What Else Can You Make With Bread Dough?
Another thing I love about this recipe is you can use the dough to make other things besides bread. You can make homemade rolls, pizza dough, and stromboli. In fact, we have a pretty sweet guide to making pizza in a cast-iron skillet!
We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments. Let us know how bread making goes for you or any tips and tricks that you like to use when making bread!