How to make the perfect loaf of bread

Updated February 21, 2017

Baking the perfect loaf of bread requires a bit of time and effort, but the end result of delicious, fresh bread that costs far less than you'd pay at the bakery or supermarket is well worth the wait. When you bake your own bread, most of the time spent is waiting for the dough to rise, so you can do other things while you wait. The recipe calls for simple ingredients you probably already have at home.

Place 3 cups of flour and 2 tsp of yeast into the mixing bowl. Stir to incorporate.

Add the salt to the flour and yeast mixture. Don't add the salt to the mixture until you've stirred together the flour and yeast. If salt directly contacts yeast, it will kill it.

Pour in the water and stir the flour mixture until a dough forms. The dough will be slightly sticky, but should hold together on its own.

Rub a few teaspoons of oil onto the counter top or other work surface. Take the dough out of the bowl, onto the counter.

Knead the dough on the counter for 10 minutes. Fold the dough in half, then push down on the fold with the heel of your hand. Continue folding and pushing on the dough until becomes smooth and elastic.

Wipe out the mixing bowl, then lightly coat it with oil. Set the kneaded dough inside it. Cover with a towel or cling film and let the dough rise for two hours at room temperature

Place risen dough your work surface again. Shape it into an 8-inch by 10-inch rectangle, then fold the rectangle as you would a letter. Set the dough back in the bowl, recover and let rise for another hour, until doubled.

Take dough out of the bowl again and shape into a rectangle. Roll the rectangle into a log shape.

Coat the bread loaf pan with a thin film of oil and set the log-shaped dough in it. Cover with the towel or cling film and let rise until the dough extends above the loaf pan by about 1/2 inch, or for about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 246 degrees C while the shaped bread rises. Put a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven, if you have one. You can also use an inverted baking tray or a cast iron skillet, turned upside down.

Bake the bread for 25 minutes. It will turn golden brown and sound hollow when tapped when it's cooked through. If you have a thermometer, the bread should have an internal temperature of 93.3 degrees C.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant (rapid-rise) yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
  • Oil for kneading
  • Towel or cling film
  • Bread loaf pan
  • Baking stone (optional)
  • Instant read thermometer (optional)
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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.