There is nothing like the fragrance of fresh homemade bread in the kitchen. This basic country white bread recipe is so easy to make that you will never buy bread again.
This post may contain affiliate links - I may receive a commission if you purchase from the links.
This is a classic white bread recipe that I make time after time. It makes two loaves of the most delicious white bread perfect for morning toast and lunchtime sandwiches.
It took some practice before I succeeded in making bread. I had many failed loaves, but finally understood how the ingredients work together to make a loaf of bread. With more experience, I even learned how the dough should look and feel. If you have had difficulty making bread, it may help to review the tips here:
Tips for Making Homemade White Bread
You only need a few basic ingredients to succeed in making this homemade country white bread: flour, water, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, and butter.
Bread Flour: Use a good-quality bread flour for your bread making. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. Higher protein produces more gluten leading to a nice elastic dough that turns out light and chewy when baked. Bread flour also absorbs more liquid, which helps the dough hold its shape as it rises.
The quality of the flour matters when making. I have not had good luck with generic store brands. My favorite flour for baking is King Arthur, and their unbleached bread flour has never let me down.
Warm Water: Most tap water is fine for making bread. However, if your water has an odor or is extremely soft or hard, consider using bottled water. Water that is very soft can make bread dough soft and sticky. Water that is very hard slows the fermentation making the bread dough tough.
Use warm water to wake up the yeast. The water should be between 105-115˚F. If the liquid is too hot, you will kill the yeast.
Whole Milk: Bread dough made with milk will be softer than traditional dough. The lactose in the milk will make the crust nice and dark. The milk fat will give the bread a longer shelf life.
Yeast: Yeast plays many roles in developing bread dough into a fluffy loaf. Yeast is living organisms that convert sugars into carbon dioxide, ethanol, flavor molecules, and energy. Carbon dioxide is formed as the dough rises. Ethanol is formed and reacts to the heat in the oven to gas creating the bubbles in the bread. Yeast also aids in the development and strength of the gluten in the dough.
Dried yeast is probably the most confusing part of making bread because there are a number of choices in the supermarket baking section.
- Active Dry Yeast is a granular yeast that remains dormant until it is activated by dissolving it in warm water before using.
- Instant yeast is similar to active dry yeast, but it is made up of smaller particles that dissolve quickly. Instant yeast doesn’t have to be activated in warm water before adding to your recipe. Instead, it can be mixed into the dry ingredients with the same result. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise yeast, quick-rise yeast, bread machine yeast, and SAF instant yeast.
Kosher Salt: Salt provides flavor, gives the gluten strength, and helps maintains yeast activity. Kosher salt is easy to measure and doesn’t have additives that table salt may have.
Unsalted Butter: Butter not only adds flavor to the bread, but other benefits include a higher rise, crispy crust, tender texture, and longer shelf life.
Helpful kitchen equipment for bread making:
- Kitchen aid mixer to do the mixing and kneading for you
- Digital thermometer to check the liquids to make sure they are not too hot to kill the yeast
- Kitchen scale to weigh the flour: Flour can be tricky to measure when using cups because flour condenses when you handle it. Use a kitchen scale for better accuracy
- Bread pans to bake your loaves of bread: Two 9×5 or 8×4-inch bread pans, or two 9-inch round cake pans. Personally, I like using round cake pans. The round loaves are much easier to store. One loaf fits into a one-gallon zipper bag. We keep one loaf out for fresh eating, and freeze the second loaf.
- Cooling racks to help airflow as the bread is cooling after baking.
How to Make Country White Bread
Step 1: Add the milk, sugar, salt, and butter to a small saucepan
Heat on low, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves. (If using a microwave, heat on high for about 60 seconds.) Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to lukewarm (between 105-115˚F).
Step 2: Activate the yeast
Add the active dry yeast to the warm water. Let the yeast dissolve and become foamy.
Step 3: Combine the liquids and begin adding flour
Add the milk mixture, yeast mixture, and 4 1/2 cups (540gm) of flour to the mixing bowl. Turn on the mixer to low speed to combine the ingredients, about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes.
Step 4: Knead the bread dough
Continue to knead on low speed for 7 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will be slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time and knead further.
Step 5: Let the bread dough rise
Coat a clean bowl with olive oil. Roughly shape the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Flip the dough over to oil the other side.
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Step 6: Form the loaves
Once the bread dough has risen, punch it down, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Oil two 9×5 or 8×4 inch bread pans, or two 9-inch round cake pans well with olive oil.
Personally, I like using round cake pans. The loaves are round and much easier to store. One loaf fits into a one-gallon zipper bag. We keep one loaf out for fresh eating, and freeze the second loaf.
Divide dough in half and shape each half into a pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Step 7: Bake the bread
Preheat your oven to 400˚F when your dough is almost finished rising.
Bake in a preheated oven until done, remove the loaves from the pans, and cool on a wire rack.
Homemade Country White Bread
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cup warm water (between 105-115˚F)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
- 5-6 cups unbleached bread flour (600-720gm)
- extra virgin olive oil for oiling
- extra flour for kneading and dusting if needed
To make the bread dough:
- Add the milk, sugar, salt, and butter to a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves. If using a microwave, heat on high for about 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to lukewarm (about 105°F to 115°F).
- Attach the mixing bowl and the dough hook to the mixer. Add the yeast to the warm water. Let the yeast dissolve and become foamy.
- Add the yeast mixture, warm milk mixture, and 4 1/2 (540gm) of flour to the bowl. Turn on the mixer to low speed to combine the ingredients for about 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to the hook and pulls away from the sides of bowl, about 3 minutes.
- Continue to knead on low speed for 7 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will be slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough is extremely sticky, add more flour one tablespoon at a time.
Rising and shaping the loaves:
- Coat a clean bowl with olive oil. Roughly shape the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Flip the dough over to oil the other side.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let the bread dough rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Once the bread dough has risen, punch it down, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Oil two 9x5 or 8x4 inch bread pans, or two 9-inch round cake pans well with olive oil.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a pan. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 400˚F when your dough is almost finished rising.
- Bake the bread in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done. Remove the bread from the pans and cool on a wire rack.