New to Yeast Breads? Start here!

March 11, 2012 · 39 comments

in Appetizer/Side, Bread/Baking, Recipe, Vegetarian

Detailed instructions to follow skyscraper step-by-step picture guide.

Step by Step Bread

Time for some fun stuff.  How to make yeast bread!  I post a lot of bread recipes, but some people have an aversion to making breads with yeast. I’m here to help you overcome that fear.  I’m your navigator for the yeast bread world.  Coming clean, I haven’t been to any sort of school for baking, but I love making yummy breads and I do it a lot.  We’ll start by talking about the different ingredients in bread, then move on to the recipe with step by step pictures, and then I’ll have the recipe without pictures for people that prefer that.  Ready?  Ok, here we go.

What goes into a yeast bread?

Flour.  For your first loaf of bread, just use all-purpose flour.  It’s easy to find and easy to use.  Flour is the foundation of your bread and contains gluten which is the main protein of bread.  It gives bread its texture and strength.  When you knead your bread, they become long strands that trap the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast.  The baking process solidifies these strands.

Water.  Water mixes all the other ingredients together.  It makes your bread uniform.

Yeast.  This ingredient is alive.  To test to make sure your yeast is good, you can add a little bit of sugar and some of your yeast into a glass of warm water and mix it up.  After a few minutes you should see bubbles starting to form.  That means your yeast is alive and eating the sugar to produce carbon dioxide.  Yeast is what you have to be most careful with in bread.  The water you use with yeast should always be warm (like your bath water).  If the water is too cold or hot for your bath, it’s too cold or hot for yeast.

Salt.  Salt adds the flavor you want in your bread and makes it so the yeast does not produce too much carbon dioxide.  Your loaf would have huge holes and probably collapse without salt.

Those are the four ingredients you MUST have in your bread for it to work.  The following are all optional.

Sugar/honey.  Sugars will make your bread have a darker crust and will also sweeten your bread.

Butter/milk/eggs.  Yum.  Who doesn’t love butter?  In addition to making your bread tasty, it will also soften your bread.  The same for milk and eggs.  If you want your bread to have a softer crust, use some milk in place of water.  The fats from these ingredients also make your bread last a little longer.  They keep the moisture in your bread so that you can store it without it going stale.



1 package (1/4 oz or 2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

4 tbsp melted butter plus 2 tbsp for brushing on later

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

5 cups (plus some if necessary) flour

Picture Instructions:

Combine the yeast and warm water.  Mix until the yeast is dissolved.  Let sit until a few bubbles appear.

Add the sugar, salt, egg, milk, and butter.

Slowly add the flour mixing after each cup is added.  You can mix at first with a spoon, but when it gets too stiff you will have to mix with your hands.

This is an example of dough that is too wet.  It sticks to your fingers.  If this happens to you, add more flour until it is no longer sticky.  If your dough is too dry, it will feel very hard and be difficult to manipulate.  If this happens to you, add more water until the dough becomes soft.

This dough is just right.  It does not stick to my fingers, it springs back when I push down, and it is soft enough to knead.

Knead the dough until the dough is soft (about 10 minutes).  Kneading is pretty easy.  Use this video to help.  When you press your fingers in the dough, the indents should stay.  This is how you will know you are done kneading.


Pour a little oil into a large mixing bowl.  Spread it around using a paper towel.  Place your dough in the bowl and turn it over to ensure that all sides of the dough are oiled.  Cover with a towel or loosely place the lid on and let rise in a warm area (like your microwave above your stove) for about an hour to an hour and a half.  This does not need to be super precise, so don’t worry.

The dough should at least double in size.

After the dough has risen, knock it back (punch it).


Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 16 equal pieces.

 Shape each piece into a ball.  I do this by tucking the sides under and then twisting the bottoms.  You can also roll it into a ball if you want.  If your dough was dry, cover the pieces you are not working on with a damp towel.

Place the rolls on a lightly oiled cooking sheet.  Let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes (the picture above is before they have risen).   Again, if your rolls were dry, cover with a damp towel.  Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Brush the tops with melted butter.

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes or until they are a beautiful brown color.  You can also test to see if they are done by removing one from the oven and sticking a knife in the bottom and examining it.  If the insides are still dough-y, then place back in the oven and bake for longer.

 Wasn’t that easy?  I told you that you could do it!


Regular style recipe:

Printable Version


1 package (1/4 oz or 2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

4 tbsp melted butter plus 2 tbsp for brushing on later

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

5 cups (plus some if necessary) flour

Active time: 30 minutes

Inactive time: 2 hours

Servings: 16 dinner rolls

Cooking Instructions:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Let stand until the mixture begins to bubble.  Add the salt, sugar, butter, and eggs and mix.  Slowly add the flour while mixing.  Continue to add flour until the dough is no longer sticky and is very pliable.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic.  Place in an oiled bowl and turn over to light coat the dough entirely in oil.  Cover loosely and let rise in a warm spot for 1 to 1-1/2 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 pieces of equal size.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Place on a lightly oiled cooking sheet and allow to rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Brush the 2 tbsp of melted butter on the tops.  Place the rolls in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on cooling racks for a few minutes.  Enjoy with soup, pasta, or whatever you’re having for dinner!


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