Making easy homemade bread by hand.

Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread wafting through the house. Nothing.

I made yeast bread for years using the dough cycle on my bread machine. Then I decided I wanted to just make it by hand.

I discovered that not only was it actually really easy to do, but there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from making bread by hand.

Since it’s a great homesteading skill to have, I wanted to share this recipe with you. It’s adapted from a recipe in my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my grandma got me for Christmas when I was a young teenager.

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Why Make Homemade Bread?

I once told my brother-in-law that a sandwich made with store bought bread was just a snack. A sandwich made with homemade bread is a meal. It’s just a lot more satisfying.

A loaf of hand made yeast bread on a cutting board.

And since you’re cooking from scratch, you get to control the quality of the ingredients. And to a small extent, you get to control the ingredients themselves (like the amount of salt or sugar). Do be wary of going too far off a bread recipe until you’re really comfortable making it, though. Bread making is both an art, and a science.

And as I mentioned, it’s just so satisfying to pull a loaf of bread out of the oven and know that you made it. And it’s even more satisfying when you make it by hand. I feel like the simple act of mixing and kneading the dough builds a connection with our food, and helps us appreciate it more!

Homemade bread also makes a great hand-made gift. Especially paired with a home canned jar of jam!

What You Need To Get Started

Learning to bake bread is a great beginner homesteading goal. There’s no need for fancy machines to get started baking bread at home. In fact, if your kitchen is already well-stocked, the only thing you might not already have is a kitchen scale.

I am pretty adamant on this point. Bread baking is part science. You need to have accurate measurements of your ingredients–down to the gram.

Measuring cups are not going to cut it, so go ahead and invest in a kitchen scale like this one. They’re not too expensive, and it will save you a lot of headache of wondering why one loaf of bread was way too tough, and another was too sticky to knead properly.

A person holding a jar of yeast next to a bowl of flour on a scale.

You may want to use some measuring spoons for the yeast and salt if your scale won’t measure those small increments. But I’ll teach you my work-around so you don’t absolutely have to use them.

Aside from that you need a large mixing bowl and a spatula. Or honestly, a lot of times I just use a large serving spoon, because that’s what I’m dipping the flour out with anyways.

You’ll need something to cover your dough while it rises. I like to use cotton tea towels.

If you don’t have a bread pan, you can absolutely just place your shaped loaf on a baking tray. But if you want a nice sandwich shape, I like my cast iron bread pan.

And last, but not least, you’ll need a cooling rack to turn your bread out on. No one likes soggy bread crust, and this is how you prevent that after your bread is done baking.


Now that you have all your tools, it’s time to talk ingredients! At it’s most basic, bread is flour, yeast, and water. But I’ll be honest, I haven’t met the bread yet that was just those three ingredients that I enjoyed eating.

So while this recipe is simple, there’s a few more ingredients that make it taste like something you want to make once or twice every week.

  • Flour – preferably bread flour, but use all-purpose if that’s the only thing standing in the way between you and a loaf of homemade bread.
  • Yeast – I use instant yeast in this recipe. If I’m going to take the extra step of blooming my yeast before using it, I would just as soon make sourdough bread.
  • Sugar – The original recipe calls for brown sugar, and I find it to be an excellent choice for a sandwich bread, giving it some caramelized undertones. Sugar also helps feed the yeast.
  • Olive Oil – Enhances the taste and texture of the crumb. The original recipe may have called for melted butter, but I am lazy (says the person that enjoys making bread by hand) and would rather just grab my bottle of olive oil since it’s always in liquid form.
  • Salt – DO NOT SKIP SALT! No seriously, I’ve done this before and the bread was so bland. It was sad. In addition to being a flavor enhancer, salt also helps strengthen the structure of the gluten.
  • Water – These ingredients aren’t going to form a dough without a liquid. Water is by far the easiest and simplest. But I’ve also experimented with using milk or whey leftover from cheese or yogurt.

Put It Together

Bread has a reputation for taking a long time to make. But I have great news for you! Most of that time is hands off. You’re just waiting for the bread to rise–also called “proofing.”

To make the dough, I measure the flour, yeast, and sugar into my large mixing bowl. If you don’t “tare” the weight after you weigh your flour, you can weigh out the yeast without reaching for a teaspoon. Otherwise, use 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix those three together thoroughly.

Then add the olive oil, water, and salt. Again, you can add the salt after the water or the oil without using the tare function if you don’t want to use a measuring spoon.

Mix the dough until it all comes together. At the very end, I ditch the spoon or spatula and just use my hand. If it’s really refusing to incorporate all the flour, you can add a little extra water. But not more than a splash at a time.

Then I cover the dough and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before kneading. This makes kneading easier.

I like to start kneading in the bowl a few times with a wet hand, until it starts to stick to me. Then I turn it out onto a floured surface, and continue kneading until it’s a smooth ball.

This is where I don’t like giving a time-frame. The best thing you can do when you learn to make bread by hand is to learn to read your dough. This is where the art comes in.

It’ll feel awkward at first if you’re used to following recipes to a “T,” but that will go away with time and perseverance. And then you’ll have a new cooking skill that will help you with any bread recipe!

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, cover again and let it rise until double. In my house this usually takes an hour. But if it’s colder, it will take longer, and that’s ok. I once made this recipe with water that was straight from the refrigerator and every proofing step took about twice as long as usual, but the loaf still turned out fine!

Has your dough doubled? Time to turn it out on the counter. Notice, I’m not saying a floured surface. At this point you want to avoid adding any more flour.

A loaf of bread dough in a cast iron baking pan.

Use a scooping motion with your hands along the bottom of the dough and pull it towards you to build tension on the surface. Turn the dough, and move it away from you and repeat a couple of times until it has some nice tension. Then pull it towards you without turning it to create a loaf shape. This has become my favorite way to shape my loaf.

Plop your dough in a greased loaf pan or baking tray, cover again, and let rise until it’s just cleared the top of your pan. On a loaf pan, it should be not quite double in size again.

Preheat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit during the last part of the rise time so it’s ready to go. Then bake your loaf for 35 minutes.

Pull it out of the oven, remove it from the bread pan, and place it on a cooling rack. Let it cool for at least an hour before cutting. I know it’s tempting, but if you cut it while it’s still hot, the crumb will become gummy, and it won’t be as good. Try to be patient.

Once it’s cooled, all that’s left to do is slice and enjoy! We make sandwiches, toast, and just straight up bread and butter sometimes with this recipe.

Let me know if you try it! You can leave me a comment below, or tag me @ashleyrpinson on Instagram.

Easy Hand-Made Sandwich Bread Recipe


  • 350 grams bread flour
  • 8 grams yeast (about 2 tsp)
  • 25-40 grams brown sugar
  • 5 grams salt (about 3/4 tsp)
  • 20 grams olive oil
  • 230 grams water


  • Combine flour, yeast, and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Add salt, olive oil, and water to the dry ingredients, and mix until it forms a dough. You’ll need to use your hand toward the end to get it to all come together. If it’s too dry to completely come together, sprinkle just a little more water. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Knead on lightly floured surface until dough forms a ball, and when you poke it with your finger, it springs back some, but still has an indent.
  • Place dough in bowl, cover, and let rise until double, about an hour.
  • Shape loaf on counter, pulling dough towards you to create tension. Place in greased 8×4 loaf pan. Let rise 30-35 until dough has risen above the top of the pan slightly. Preheat oven to 375°F when the bread is about half risen.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until loaf is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting to avoid a gummy crumb.


  • I adapted this recipe from one in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my grandma got me as a teenager. I made a similar recipe in my bread machine for years before I decided to start making it by hand.
  • If you’re serious about bread making, you really do need a kitchen scale. Measuring cups just aren’t as accurate, and baking is as much science as it is art. I’ve included measurements in teaspoons for yeast and salt because some scales won’t measure that small of an amount.

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