Soft and fluffy white bread recipe - made with a simple white bread dough, this easy bread recipe makes two perfect loaves of white bread. The recipe uses simple ingredients and gives a light, soft bread that is perfect for slicing. Follow my step-by-step recipe and comprehensive guide to make the most amazing loaf of homemade bread.
Hi hi! I am just popping in with this super easy white bread recipe! This recipe makes two loaves of white bread, and uses my base white bread dough recipe. It is super easy to make, and is a great way to learn to bake bread if you are just getting started.
I love everything about this bread recipe - it is soft and fluffy, but the dough is still really easy to work with. The bread keeps for a few days and makes the most amazing toast, and the leftovers make the most amazing garlic bread. I often bake one loaf and then pop the other one in the freezer for another time.
I played around with multiple variations of this recipe, so check out the post for all my tips and tricks on how to make the best white bread loaf!
Super Simple White Bread Loaf
As a baking blogger, I have been posting all kinds of bread recipes for years now, but realised I still don't have just a good old basic white bread recipe. This is something we eat a lot at our house, and so I figured I needed to make a good base dough that was super versatile.
I wanted something that wasn't too fussy to make and used ingredients I already had in the house. We usually eat this fresh, but it does make the most amazing toast too - we often eat it with egg salad, or my Husband loves it toasted with Nutella.
It's just a super simple, solid recipe for white bread - we love it a lot and I hope that you do too.
Two Perfect Loaves of Bread
This white bread recipe makes two loaves of bread - I often throw one in the freezer or gift one. I figure that if you are going to go to the effort to make your own homemade bread, then you might as well get two loaves out of it - it isn't really any extra effort.
I have two of the same loaf pans that I use for this white bread loaf recipe, but you can really shape it to fit as you like - alternatively the dough recipe is identical to the one that I use for my Parker House Roll recipe, so you could divide the dough into two and shape half into a loaf and half into bread rolls to use for something else.
What is the best loaf pan to use to make bread?
I prefer to make this white bread recipe in a 1 lb loaf pan which is an 8.5"x4" / 22cmx12cm pan. You can use whatever size you have, but for me this makes a nice sized loaf.
If you use a pan that is a slightly different size, then the bread may come out a little shorter - it will still be really good, just a slightly different shape! I did try baking this all in one in a pullman pan and it got HUGE and almost ate my oven rack, so I want to try it in two smaller pullman pans and see how it goes.
How do you store loaves of baked bread?
This bread is best on the day that it is baked for eating fresh and for using for things like sandwiches, but the great thing about my white bread dough is that it makes bread that stays nice and soft for days thanks to the nice soft dough and the milk powder in the recipe.\
You can either store leftovers lightly wrapped, or in an airtight container at room temperature.
This may not be for everyone but I don't mind a slightly crunchy crust, so I often just store the bread cut side down on my chopping board and that creates enough of a seal that it stays nice and fresh.
You can store this bread at room temperature for up to 4 days - it may not be as fresh as when you first made it, but it will still make great toast!
Can Bread be frozen?
Yes! This White bread recipe freezes super well - just wrap it in plastic wrap well and then pop into a ziploc bag and then freeze. It will keep, well wrapped, for up to 3 months - when you are ready to use it, defrost at room temperature. I prefer to use bread that has been previously frozen for toast, or for making garlic bread.
You can also pre slice the bread before you freeze it if you want to keep it in the freezer to remove pieces to slice - I like to store slices in a ziploc bag.
What is the best way to refresh old bread?
I prefer to toast old bread to give it a bit more life, however you can also just quickly zap in the microwave to refresh the bread slightly.
If you want to refresh a whole loaf, you can pop it in the oven at 350°f / 180°c until it is warmed through - just keep an eye on the crust.
How to shape a loaf of bread for a loaf pan
This can definitely take a bit of practice, but once you get it sorted, you will be fine. Don't be afraid of dough shaping - worst case scenario your dough comes out a bit wonky and you know what to fix next time.
This works for any pan size - just make the initial rectangle about the same length as the pan is. Remember that it is ok for the dough to not be as long as the pan is when you just put it in after shaping - you can see by the pictures that it fills the pan.
Here is a step by step guide on how to shape dough into a loaf pan. This is just how I do it. If you have a way to shape a loaf of bread that works better for you, then go for it and use that instead!
Step One: DIVIDE. My white bread dough recipe makes enough for two loaves of white bread (or one loaf of white bread and a small batch of something else). You want to work with one piece of dough at a time, so divide the dough into two pieces.
This is where it can be helpful to know the weight of the mixing bowl that you were rising the bread dough in, so that you can weigh the whole thing and subtract the weight of the bowl to work out how big each piece needs to be. My recipe makes 850g dough, so you want to divide the dough into two pieces, each weighing 425g each. Remember if you have adjusted any ingredients or your eggs are heavier or lighter than mine etc this may differ but just make sure that they are approximately the right size.
Divide the dough into two pieces, and then shape each into a tight ball using a bench scraper. Use a lightly floured surface if you need to but try not to use too much additional flour so it doesn't get rolled up in the dough.
Rest the dough balls under a clean tea towel or turn a bowl upside down on them and leave for 10 minutes just to let the gluten relax a little.
Step Two: FLATTEN. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Lightly flour the dough ball, and then turn it over. Dough balls have two sides - the 'good' side and then the butt of the dough ball, which will not be as smooth from shaping it into a ball. You want the 'good' side on the bottom as this is going to be the outward facing side and you want the smooth side out.
If there are any big bubbles in the dough, pop them (see that one on the left of the dough that I should have popped with my fingers)
Flatten the dough into a rectangle using your hands - you want it to be about the width that your bread pan is long.
Step Three: FOLD. Fold the edges in - this gives you a nice clean end on the log of dough, rather than having to deal with little dough tails you have to tuck in afterward. I like to fold the sides in just a little bit and make sure that they are nicely sealed with my fingers.
Step Four: ROLL. This is where you shape the actual log of dough. I need to get another photo, but you can either work toward you or away from you - whatever feels best. I like to work away from myself. You are going to roll the dough up into a nice tight sausage shaped package here, and you want to make it nice and tight and make sure that there isn't any air trapped in the loaf so that you don't get weird bubbles (but it's not the end of the world if you do). The rolling stage is sort of a two step - you do an initial little roll to get started and make sure that it is well sealed, then roll the whole thing up.
Fold the bottom edge of the dough up about a third, and press it down with your fingertips to make sure that you have a good seal. Then continue rolling up the log of dough until you have a nice tight roll. Remember the dough is going to rise again here so don't be too worried about knocking out air.
Use the countertop to pull the log of dough toward you to create tension underneath to help seal the seam and to help smooth off the top of the dough. Tuck in any loose ends. The dough will look a bit shorter than the length of the pan.
Repeat with the other piece of dough. They are now ready to rise in a warm spot until you bake them - for me this usually takes about an hour but can be a little more or less time depending on the weather.
How to rise white bread loaves.
The rise on bread dough is a crucial step, particularly the second rise. You want to rise the dough so that the yeast still has enough energy in it to work in the oven to give you a nice, light, fluffy loaf of white bread.
Lightly cover the loaf pans with plastic wrap - do not make it too tight as you don't want the dough to rise up and get trapped in the plastic wrap. For a 1lb loaf pan which is what I used, a properly risen loaf will just peek over the edge of the pan, as you can see in the image below - this one was perfectly risen and ready to go into the oven.
How long does the second rise take?
This really depends on how warm your weather / kitchen is. If it is warmer, this may go a little quicker, as the dough will rise faster and you are also starting the second rise with warmer dough. Whereas if it is a bit cooler, then it may take a little longer.
The rise time is fully dependent on this, which is why it is important to keep an eye on your dough, and not just go by the time in the recipe. I use a dough proofer when I make bread now so that I can give you super accurate rising times, and I have it set to 22°c / 71°f.
At this temperature, the second rise on my bread loaves takes about an hour. I start to check them at the 50 minute mark to see how they are going. Remember that ovens can take a while to warm up properly too, so aim to preheat your oven about 20 minutes before you think the loaves will be ready to go into the oven.
If it is cold in your kitchen, you can do a few things to make a nice warm spot to proof your bread - either in the oven with a bowl of warm water or boiling water in the oven alongside or underneath it to make it nice and warm and steamy, or you can place it in the microwave alongside a mug of boiling water to do the same thing. Just make sure you do NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN with bread dough in there. I have done it and it is so, so sad.
How to tell when dough is risen
The best way to tell if your dough is properly risen is to give it a finger poke test. Once you have made a few loaves / worked with bread a bit, you get better at telling when it is ready to go into the oven - this step can be difficult to learn but you will get there!
Lightly flour your finger, and give the dough a gentle poke. If it is not ready to bake yet, the dough will spring back completely. If it is risen adequately, then your finger will leave an indentation that slowly springs back.
How do I know if my bread is overproofed?
Overproofed bread happens to the best of us, and it is sad when it happens! What happens when bread overproofs is that the yeast basically runs out of food before the bread gets into the oven, so it does not have any more energy to give, and the bread will collapse.
You can see in the images below - the loaf on the left is overproofed. In this case it was from testing the second rise in the fridge, but it can also happen if the dough is left too long at room temperature to rise.
When you do the finger poke test with over proofed dough it will collapse under your fingertips, and then it will not rise in the oven very much, and be flat and a bit more dense.
What happens if I over proof my dough?
Remember it is not the end of the world and it happens to everyone. The bread will still be edible, it might just not have the nicest texture. If I overproof bread I usually turn it into garlic bread or slice and toast to have alongside soup.
If you have over proofed the dough on the first rise, it is often possible to just deflate the dough and shape the loaves and then give them a second rise and see how it goes. However if you overproof on the second rise, there isn't as much you can do and you will just need to bake it and have slightly dense bread. It will still taste good and you know what to look for next time!
You can see in the pictures below the difference between an overproofed loaf (on the left) and a properly proofed on the right - these were made with the same quantity of dough, one was light and fluffy, and the other super dense.
Can I do the second rise in the fridge?
I get asked this all the time about if people can do the second rise in the fridge then bake, and I don't recommend it for a few reasons. However, I tested it just so I could really show you how I don't really recommend it. A long slow rise works best for bulk fermentation (where the dough is in one lump), rather than for the second rise.
It is far too easy to over proof dough on the second rise in the fridge, which is why I do not recommend it. Here is a breakdown of why:
- Way too easy to over proof. As I was saying, a cold rise in the fridge is too long for this recipe. It works great with a sourdough recipe, but for this recipe made with commercial yeast, it does not work.
- Ends up taking even longer to make. I know that working ahead of time is what a lot of people prefer, but if you do a room temperature first rise and then try and do the second rise in the fridge, you then still have to bring the loaf out and leave it to come to room temperature to be ok to bake, and this can take 2-3 hours, which is the same amount of time that it takes to rise dough that has had a cold first rise.
I do however recommend doing the first rise in the fridge if you would like, then shaping the dough and doing the second rise at room temperature. Remember if you start with cold dough it will still take about 2 - 2 ½ hours to rise depending on the temperature of your kitchen, but your risk of overproofing the dough is far less. If you want to make this dough ahead of time, do a cold rise first and a room temperature rise second. I break this down fully in my white bread dough post.
How to tell when bread is properly baked.
This white bread recipe takes about 25 minutes in the oven to bake. I like to bake mine until it is nice and golden brown, but if you want yours a little more on the pale side, you can cover the pan with foil partway through the baking process.
There are a few ways to make sure that your bread is totally baked through before removing it from the oven -
- The tap test - give the bread a little tap. It should sound slightly hollow.
- Rise - The bread will be evenly risen in the pan. This loaf bakes up fairly even on the top, so it should be nicely risen in the pan and will bounce back if you give it a little poke. It will also be pulling away from the edges slightly.
- Temperature. I often use this method when baking bread just to double check my internal temperature of my bread. If you measure bread with a digital thermometer, it will register at 190°f / 88°c when baked. This is an especially good way to check for doneness if you are new to baking bread - this is the sweet spot where the bread is baked but won't be too dry.
Make sure that you use these cues when testing if bread is baked. If your oven is running hot, it can make the exterior of the loaf look done before the inside is fully baked.
Because the dough is super soft, the edges of the loaf might collapse in a tiny bit - you can see this in photos. This is just from a lovely soft dough!
Do I have to use egg wash?
I like to finish my white bread loaves with egg wash before they go into the oven. This helps to give them a nice golden brown finish. However if you don't have a spare egg on hand, you can use milk or cream to brush on the bread - it just may not be as deeply golden brown!
I made this bread in New Zealand, and we have super yellow butter, eggs, etc. So when I bake, my bread comes out much more golden brown and yellow looking on the inside than if I had baked it in a country which didn't have the same quality of ingredients. If yours looks a little less yellow or golden than mine, that is all good!
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools and equipment do you use?
You can find a full list of the tools and equipment I use on my products page
Which pan did you use?
I baked this bread in a 1lb loaf pan - you can use whatever you have, but remember that the dimensions of the loaf may differ slightly if you do so.
For more homemade bread recipes, check out:
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Soft and fluffy white bread recipe - made with a simple white bread dough, this easy bread recipe makes two perfect loaves of white bread. The recipe uses simple ingredients and gives a light, soft bread that is perfect for slicing. Follow my step-by-step recipe to make the most amazing loaf of homemade bread.
- One batch of white bread dough, risen and ready to use (see dough post for rising options)
- Softened butter for greasing the loaf pans
- Egg wash - one egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
- Start with risen white bread dough. If you have chosen to do a cold first rise, you will need to leave the dough out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow it to soften slightly so that it is easier to work with.
- Grease two 1 lb loaf pans (8.5 x 4.5" / 22cm x 12.5cm) with softened butter.
- Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured, clean work surface. Divide it into two even pieces (the dough makes about 850g of dough so divide it into two 425g pieces).
- Shape each piece into a ball using a bench scraper and using the counter to create tension. Cover the pieces of bread dough with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape the dough into a loaf shape - turn the dough over so the 'good' side is facing down.
- Flatten the dough out using your hands into a rectangle about the width that your tin is long. For a 1lb loaf pan, this is about 20cm x 15cm (8x6"). Fold over a little of the short edges to form a rough square shape (this does not have to be exact). This helps to give you nice clean ends on your bread.
- Fold the top third of the dough down, and press with your fingers so that it sticks to the dough underneath - you want to form a gentle seal. Roll the rest of the dough down toward you as tightly as you can. Pull the sausage of bread against the counter to help seal the seam and make sure that the ends are nicely tucked in.
- Place the dough into the loaf pan carefully, seam side down. It will not completely touch the ends of the pan.
- Repeat the shaping process with the second piece of dough to form a second loaf.
- Cover the pans with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size and is nearing the top edge of the pan, about one hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen. To check the rise on the dough, lightly press it with a floured finger - if it is fully risen it will leave an indentation that slowly springs back. If you have started with a cold dough, this step will take 2-3 hours as you need to account for the dough warming up.
- While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 180°c / 350°f. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.
- When the loaves are risen, brush the surface of the dough with egg wash.
- Bake the white bread loaves for 25 to 30 minutes, until deeply golden brown. If you want to check the internal temperature, a fully baked loaf should register at 190°f / 88°c when probed with a digital thermometer.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes then turn out of the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Slice when cool. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Best eaten fresh on the day it is made, however leftovers are amazing either slightly warmed up, or lightly toasted.
A slightly larger loaf pan will work too - the loaf may just bake up slightly shorter. If you only have one loaf pan you can shape the other half of the dough into parker house rolls or rolls of your choice.
Keywords: bread, bread recipe, white bread recipe, easy bread recipe