If you’ve never made bread before, white bread is the easiest to start with. Once you’ve made a few loaves and gotten the hang of it, you can easily experiment with different flours for a variety of tastes.
This is the recipe I use in Yeast Bread Making 101 — an extremely detailed how-to with over 40 photos to guide you.
Makes 1 small loaf (10 slices) — make 1-1/2 batches for a full loaf in a 9 x 5 bread pan
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast (or 1 package)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt*
1 tablespoon canola oil or vegetable oil (optional)
around 2 cups white flour
*Without salt, the loaf will fall. Don’t omit or use a salt substitute.
Read 5 Tips for Baking Bread on a Boat for important keys to success.
Mix water, yeast, sugar, salt and 1/4 cup of the flour. Let sit for 10 minutes in a warm spot to proof.
Add oil (if using) and one cup of the flour. Mix well. Add remaining flour as needed to make stiff dough.
Knead final flour into dough, being careful not to add so much flour that dough become dry. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Put dough in oiled bowl and turn so that dough is completely coated with the oil.
Let rise until doubled, then punch dough down.
Let rise until doubled again, then form into loaf and place in greased pan. NOTE: you don’t have to bake this in a loaf pan — you can use a cookie sheet, casserole, cake pan or whatever, as long as the bread won’t overflow it when it rises.
Cover and let rise until almost doubled.
Preheat oven to 350, and bake 40 minutes. Bread is done when brown (slightly darker than just “golden”) — if you tap on the top with a finger, it will sound hollow when done.
Remove from oven when done. Remove from pan as soon as possible if you like a crunchy crust (if you leave the hot bread in the pan, steam will soften the crust where it’s in contact with the pan).
Allow to cool at least until you can touch it before slicing it (my husband has tougher hands than I do, so he gets to cut the first slices — we can never wait!).
If you have a bread knife or serrated knife, it won’t crush the loaf as much as a regular blade will. With any knife, use a gentle touch so as not to crush the loaf.