How to Make Bread (without a Bread Machine)




Introduction: How to Make Bread (without a Bread Machine)

About: Ask me questions. I know the answers.

This is an easy, basic recipe for bread that does not require much skill.

There are many ways to make bread and this is one of them (and in my opinion, a very simple way). Remember, bread making is not an exact science.

Step 1: What You'll Need

You will need:
  • Yeast - 2 Tbsp
  • Hot-ish* water - 2 cups
  • Bread flour - 5 cups total, 2 for the sponge and 3 for later. (NOT regular flour)
  • Sugar - 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt - 2 tsp.
  • Oil - 2 Tbsp.
  • 3 loaf pans
  • Quick-read thermometer
  • Oven pre-heated to 375

*Hot-ish means between 95 and 115 degrees F. much colder and it won't activate, much warmer and it will kill the little guys.

Step 2: Make the Sponge

This recipe uses what I call a "sponge." The sponge will activate the yeast and get things started; getting the yeast warm, happy, and ready to go

Start by mixing the hot water and the flour. Then, add 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, 2 Tbsp. yeast, and 2 tsp. salt.

Let this sit for about 8 or 10 minutes. Assuming your water was hot enough, it should be nice and bubbly.

Step 3: Add Some Flour and Knead It

Now you need to add about 3 more cups of flour. I added a little less this time, it really depends on the humidity and how exact your measurements were in the sponge step.

Once it gets too tough to stir, flip it onto a clean floured surface. Now, knead away, adding flour as you do so.
Knead the dough for 8 or 9 minutes. As my Mother says, it should be the texture of your earlobe when it's done kneading.

When you finish this part put it back in the bowl and cover it with a slightly damp towel.

Step 4: Let It Rise...

let the dough rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes to an hour. the dough should be about doubled in size by the time it's finished.

Step 5: Into the Pans

Punch the dough down (Yes, punch it. Beat the heck out of it. Just don't make a mess), then divide it into 3 parts. Spray the pans and put the dough in. Let it rise again in the pans (covered) until it looks like the second picture.

Step 6: Into the Oven

Preheat your oven to 375 F and put the loaves in.
Bake them for about 25 minutes. Your quick read thermometer should read between 180 and 190 degrees. Pull the loaves out and place them on their sides on a rack, after a few seconds slide them out of the pans and onto the rack. Let them cool.

Step 7: Eat!

Eat it! Share it! etc.!

You can do a lot with this recipe...

...You can add nuts, roll it out and add cinnamon and raisins for cinnamon-swirl bread, add your favorite spices, etc. Add sweet potatoes, chunks of cheese, pieces of ham, or whatever suites you. Be creative! It's your recipe  to experiment with and make your own, have fun with it!

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328 Discussions

done as flax seed rolls topped with steel cut oats.


should be able to, you will need to google how to adapt recipes for whole wheat if you want to be on the safe side. i believe you adjust how much yeast you put in, but im not sure.

There is no sweat in using yeast at cold temperatures. there is no need to "activate" it at all.

In fact bread proved in the fridge overnight develops more flavour than bread proved quickly. Unless the yeast is dead (unlikely) it will do it's job, even at low temperatures.

If you buy fresh yeast and don't use it all you can freeze it for many weeks and still use it once defrosted.

1 reply

that means your yeast jar was fresh and just opened! within 6 months this becomes even more important to 'activate' the yeast before using- i can tell you this from expiriance. my yeast jar is reaching 6 month age and now won't rise at all unless proofed with warm liquid.

A few minor tweaks to your recipe. First you do not need hot water, warm or room temp water will do just fine and it helps keep the rise at a slower pace. Remember time is our friend when making bread, but before cooking the dough heat is our enemy. Second you should not add the salt right away when making your polish / sponge, the salt should be added after you mix everything together and let your dough rest for 20 minutes for the gluten form and bond then add the salt and mix again. Third don't look for doubled in size rather test you dough to see when it has finished rising, poke it with two fingers if the dough pushes back it is still rising, if the dough stays indented it has finished rising and if it falls it was over proofed. Forth and just as a different way of kneading, I knead in three steps each have a 10 minute break in between, I fold the dough ten times and place it in an oiled bowl folded side down, each time I knead I flip it over and knead from the bottom. after the last knead I give it 40 to 50 min to rise "when it tests right when poked" then form into loafs or what ever you are making and let rise until it tests as ready to bake. hope this helps. Note salt is a yeast killer but also adds to the flavor of bread. That is why we delay putting the salt in!

2 replies

I am sorry to contradict you just a little, but salt does not kill yeast. They will function just fine even with some salt.

if you put half salt and half yeast in water the yeast will die. its a chemical reaction. delaying gives the yeast time to grow before adding the salt that will slow it. that is what he means by yeast killer.


2 years ago

The texture of my bread turns out so different depending on which method I use when making bread, I can't figure out why. When I use my bread machine, it turns out soft and lasts days, even a little more than a week, remaining soft. When I make it handmade, I use my KitchenAid to mix it as I can't, my loaf turns out tall and soft, the texture is great, but by day 2 or 3 it starts to get dense. I can't figure out why and it's frustrating as my bread machine is getting old. The bread sticks inside the pan, even after I use non stick spray inside, and the model is no longer made.

1 reply

first, if it changes density it means you are overmixing the gluten. gluten is the glue that holds bread together, and if you overmix it it makes it too strongly held together and actually breaks it. try mixing it LESS, it shouldn't be much of an issue before you add flour, but after that you want it kneeded, but not turned into glue!

for the bread machine pan, try 'seasoning' it like a cast iron. remove all plastic peices (thats possible right?), so it can go in the oven? then spray with oil and bake at low temperature for an hour. if you can't remove the pieces try just spraying the inside w/oil and running the machine w/no bread in it. remove the little stirring peices. after that scrub it out with a new scrubby, but do NOT use soap. from this point on do NOT use soap. scrub with hot water and a scrubby. otherwise you have to re-season again after using soap.

most new cast iron must be seasoned at least 2x before using first time or everything sticks terribly. a well seasoned cast iron never has sticking issues. you still have to use oil each time tho.

i love cast iron ;)

On my thirteenth birthday, I will be using my money to buy ingredients for this very recipe! hoping it works out!

2 replies

This was the sweetest thing I've ever read. I would've totally given you an early birthday donation 2 years ago.

LOL. If you are real, you are awesome. Reading your comment really made me laugh, in a good way. You most definitely take the cake (or shall I say 'bread' lol) for the strangest birthday wish ever. But you still have to make it! Strange is good. I hope I didn't discourage you. I am going to try this recipe as well. Make sure you do it too! I wish the best in making the birthday bread lol. One day, this will make for a good story for yourself lol . You'll see.

i'm new to the diy breadmaking, in fact any kind of break making lol. my question is what is bread flour. i don't recall seeing that at my local grocery store. all i know is self rising , all purpose flour. can one of those be used? thanks for any advice :)

4 replies

You can use all purpose flour. It will work just fine. Bread flour is just a different blend of the wheats. If you find some, give it a try. You may like bread made with bread flour better but AP flour will work ok, just don't use self-rising. (Don't ask how I know LOL)

LOL! Think maybe I tried self-rising once?

I mean that would be my guess :D did you basically have the bread blow out the top of your bread pans?