Rise to the Challenge: 7 Yeasted Bread Recipes Anyone Can Bake
Bread baking is all about perspective. You could go in being completely daunted by using yeast or lamenting the lengthy process of rising, resting, kneading, and baking. Or, you could look at it as a challenge worth conquering, as well as a task that gives you plenty of time to accomplish other little chores you’ve been putting off. Bread baking doesn’t have to be hard — you just need to know a few things going in.
Always read the directions carefully before starting, and don’t be put off by how wordy those directions are! It often comes down to techniques for kneading, tips on how to get the bread to rise, or directions stating to let the dough proof overnight. Second, acquaint yourself with a few tricks about using yeast. Joy of Baking has a good tutorial, and King Arthur Flour has a helpful lesson to prepare you for bread baking. Read enough so you feel comfortable, but don’t let all the information overwhelm you — it really is easier than it looks! Try one of these seven recipes to see that there is no need to fear kneading.
1. Hearth Bread
Starting off on the easy end is King Arthur Flour’s hearth bread. It’s a simple bread, with great step-by-step instructions that will encourage any bread-baking beginner to keep going. To add a little whole-wheat goodness into your bread, you can substitutes 2 cups of all-purpose for whole-wheat flour.
- 1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups warm water (not over 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 5½ to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- boiling water
Directions: Mix together the first four ingredients. Let this stand until the yeast, sugar, and salt are dissolved. Gradually add the flour to the liquid and mix thoroughly, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy, but don’t give up!)
Knead it by folding the far edge of the dough back over on itself toward you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.
Let it rise. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
Shape it by punching down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.
Bake it; lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and brush them with cold water. Place on rack in a cold oven with a roasting pan full of boiling water on the oven bottom. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch.
For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and devour!
2. Pretzel Hot Dog Buns
You’ve heard of pretzel sandwich buns, but what about pretzel hot dog buns? Jeff Mauro shared this recipe with Food Network, so now you, too, can serve your favorite franks in a salty, fluffy hot dog bun. The recipe makes 8 buns.
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 small cloves garlic, grated
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup bread flour
- ½ cup baking soda
- pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling
Directions: In a small saucepan, heat the milk, ½ cup water, sugar, and honey to 105 -110 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast blooms. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic and cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Combine the all-purpose flour and bread flour in a mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the blooming yeast, and then add in the melted butter and garlic mixture. Mix on medium speed until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic in texture and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes.
Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and form into a ball. Cut into 4 equal pieces, and then cut those in half to form 8 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball and place onto a prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and let rest in a warm place for 12 to 15 minutes.
Once rested, lightly dust your work surface again and roll the balls into 7-inch logs. Place onto the other prepared baking sheet, cover, place back in the warm spot, and let rest for an additional 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place one oven rack high and one low.
Line 2 more baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Using a slotted spatula, remove the logs and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the logs with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Then cut 3 diagonal slits on top of the bread, not too deep. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, rotating between the top and bottom racks of the oven halfway through the cooking.
The French know a thing or two about bread. Baguettes and croissants get the bulk of bakery glory, but soft, buttery brioche rolls are much more decadent and worth the effort required. Food 52 has a guide for how bake 2 loaves or 16 rolls of brioche in your own home.
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit
- ⅓ cup milk at 110 degrees Fahrenheit
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cool but pliable
- 2 tablespoons pearl sugar (optional)
Directions: Put the yeast, milk, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir gently to combine. Let sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt, then use the dough hook to stir the flour into the yeast mixture on low speed. Stop the mixer a few times and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. The dough will be very shaggy and dry. Add the eggs and sour cream or yogurt. Mix gently to combine, then add the sugar. Turn the mixer up to medium-low and mix until the dough forms a ball, about 4 minutes.
Turn the mixer back down to low and mix the butter into the dough in 2-tablespoon-sized chunks, beating until each piece is almost completely incorporated before adding the next piece. Make sure to take this step nice and slow to ensure that the dough is evenly mixed and kneaded. Stop periodically to pull the dough from the hook and scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. The dough will be very soft and billowy. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, continue to knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, 40 minutes to an hour. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times to release the air, then cover and transfer the bowl to the refrigerator. Check on the dough every half-hour or so and gently knead it in the bowl a few times until it is chilled and stops rising, about 2 hours. Let the dough rest at least overnight and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. When you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and, to make loaves, divide the dough into 2 pieces. Divide each piece into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Arrange the dough balls in two greased loaf pans.
To make individual brioches, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and gently roll each piece into a tight ball. For round brioches, place the dough balls into well-greased individual pans. For traditional brioche à tête, you’ll have to do a little more shaping. Flour the pinky side of your hand and place it about 1 inch from the top of the dough. Use the side of your hand and gently roll back and forth while cutting into the dough to make a little ball. The motion should be something like a very delicate, rolling karate chop. You should have a large ball on one side connected to a small ball on the other. Gently move the dough into the prepared tin, with the large part on the bottom. Use your finger to poke a hole in the middle of the large portion of dough and tuck the smaller ball into it. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
For loaves or individual brioches, let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the pans. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush the dough with a beaten egg. Sprinkle with the optional pearl sugar if desired. Bake loaves for 25 to 35 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Bake individual brioches for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Let the brioche cool in the pan (or pans) for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
4. Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread
The taste of caramel apples don’t have to be reserved for the fall — get a bite of the flavor combination with this pull-apart bread from Alaska from Scratch.
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2¾ cup all-purpose flour (plus ¼ cup or more, if needed)
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
Filling and glaze
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith recommended)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
Directions: To the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine warm water and yeast. In a microwave-safe dish, heat milk and butter together until butter is just melted, but not too hot. Add vanilla. Add flour, sugar, and salt on top of water/yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Turn mixer on low, add eggs, and stream in milk/butter mixture gradually until a soft dough forms. Add flour by the tablespoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Turn mixer up to medium speed and knead 3 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the filling. Set aside. Prepare your apples and melt butter just before the dough is done rising. Grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Turn risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle (roughly 12 by 24 inches, but it doesn’t need to be perfect). Dough will be rather thin. Brush dough with melted butter. Sprinkle the entire surface with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into equal-size, long strips. Sprinkle the first strip with one-sixth of the diced apples. Lay the next strip on top of the first strip. Sprinkle with apples and cover with another strip. Repeat until all the strips are stacked on top of each other. Cut the stacked strips into 4 to 6 equal stacks of squares (about 4 to 5 inches in size). Stack the squares vertically into prepared loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the bread on the middle rack of oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through (check center for doughiness). If the bread gets too brown on top before it is done cooking in the center, cover loosely with foil for the remainder of cooking time. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by adding the butter, brown sugar, and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Turn loaf out onto a rack with parchment paper underneath it. Drizzle the loaf with the warm caramel glaze. Best enjoyed the same day it is baked.
5. Pita Bread
- 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons bread flour
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 teaspoons active yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for rising
Directions: First, in a large bowl (whichever one you’ll be using to knead your dough with if you’re using a mixer), you’ll need to activate your yeast with the hot water (remember: not too hot, but not warm either — you don’t want to kill your yeast). Next, after the yeast begins to dissolve — about five minutes — add your sugar and mix.
Turning your mixer on to medium speed and using the dough hook attachment, add your salt and olive oil, and slowly begin adding the flour. (If you’re doing this all by hand, just mix with a spoon). Once a dough-like consistency forms, continue to knead for about 8 minutes on medium low (if by hand, on a very well-floured surface, begin kneading the dough for about 10 minutes).
Once dough is done kneading, remove from the bowl and lightly grease the ball of dough and the bowl with oil. Place dough back in bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 1-1½ hours (or until dough has doubled in size). After dough is done rising, divide it into about seven smaller balls of dough.
Roll each piece of dough out into a flat, tortilla-like shape using a rolling pin over a well-floured surface. I suggest rolling it to about one-sixth of an inch thick — mine was a little thicker, which produced very thick pita. However, it’s deceiving because it really rises a ton once it’s cooking. So depending on what you’re using this for (gyro, dipping, side) base your thickness off of that. You’ll know after the first one is done how to gauge.
Next, take a medium-size pan that can handle high heat and place on burner over medium high. Lightly grease pan with oil, making sure to wipe down excess with paper towel. Once hot enough, place your first pita on the pan and wait until bubbles form and the pita puffs up, about 1 minute. Flip the pita and do the same on the other side for about another minute or two. Remove, taste test to make sure it is the desired thickness you want, and then, if no changes to your dough are needed to be made (e.g., rolling them thinner), continue on your way! Serve warm.
6. Blueberry Bagels
Heather’s French Press is making bagels, and now you can, too. Your kitchen will fill with the scent of blueberries and bread baking together, and thankfully, these eight bagels only need 20 minutes in the oven!
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1¼ cups of warm water
- 3½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of blueberries (tossed in ¼ cup of flour)
Directions: Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ½ cup of warm water (let rest 5 minutes). Mix together the salt and the flour, making a well in the center. Add the yeast and the additional water to the flour. Gently fold in the berries, and knead until you have a soft and elastic dough (either by hand or using the dough hook of a stand mixer). Don’t worry — the dough will look quite purple.
Cover the dough and let rise until doubled (about 1½ hours). Divide the dough into 8 balls. Press into the center of each ball, forming a hole, and stretch to form the bagel shape. Let rest 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the bagels 1 or 2 at a time for 3-4 minutes (they will float to the top when ready). Place on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes.
7. Whole-Wheat English Muffins
Store-bought English muffins just won’t measure up after making The Comfort of Cooking‘s whole-wheat English muffins. You’ll get about 10 English muffins, which will keep for up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container.
- 1¾ cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 2¼ cups whole wheat flour
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- semolina flour or cornmeal, for dusting
Directions: In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter over medium heat until butter has just melted. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, lightly beat egg with a fork. Add whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and yeast. Add the milk-butter mixture and mix on low until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Mix on medium speed for an additional minute. Or, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and knead the dough briefly by hand, about 2-3 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1 inch thickness. Use a round cutter (approximately 3¾ inches) to cut English muffins, re-rolling the dough as needed. Place cut dough on a baking sheet dusted with semolina flour or cornmeal. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise for 20 minutes in a warm place — such as an oven preheated to 225 degrees, then turned off. After turning off the heat, place the dough in the oven. Remove after dough has risen.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat, cook muffins for 4-5 minutes per side, until bottoms are lightly golden brown. Place muffins on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Before serving, split and toast English muffins. Serve with butter and jam, or however you like them best.