Bread. No food provides as much nourishment and comfort, particularly in trying times. Legendary chef Jacques Pepin has stated that, if he had a choice, his last meal on Earth would be "good bread and good butter," and we think it's hard to disagree. (Even for people who are gluten-free! Don't worry, we've got you covered!)
And while making quick breads, like scones, banana bread, and muffins, can provide all the satisfaction of producing homemade baked goods without need for much expertise or a huge investment of time, there's something particularly gratifying about the multi-stage labor of love that is making a yeasted bread—the proofing, the kneading, the rise (and, often, the other rise), the anticipation as the toasty smell of baking fills your kitchen. It's frequently a more complicated undertaking, to be sure, but it doesn't have to be difficult, and the rewards are well worth it.
(Especially if you find yourself with a lot of time at home on your hands!)
If you're new to baking yeast breads, you'll want to first read our primer on different varieties of yeast and their behaviors. Then start yourself off easy with a few no-knead bread recipes, like an addictive roasted-garlic or olive-rosemary focaccia. After a little experimenting, you'll be all set to tackle a loaf of crusty white bread, a batch of buttery Parker House rolls, and even homemade bagels. Here are 17 yeast bread recipes to help you make your weekends a little warmer and cozier, and give you a nice sense of accomplishment besides.
This classic, all-purpose loaf is a natural starting point for your adventures in bread-making. It's made with just four ingredients—flour, water, salt, and yeast—which allows you to really focus on the technique. Instant, active dry, and fresh yeast all work here, but the amount that you need depends on the one you choose, so pay close attention to labels if you're out shopping.
Want to ease yourself slowly into the world of yeasted breads? This no-knead bread swaps out a lot of the work in favor of adding time. Rather than kneading the ingredients by hand or with a mixer, you'll simply let the dough sit for several days so it can develop gluten on its own, producing a chewy, fluffy loaf.
If you're interesting in making a loaf of whole wheat bread for sandwiches, this is the recipe you want. The trick to making 100% whole-wheat bread that's as light and fluffy as a white loaf is an autolyse, in which the flour is left to hydrate fully for about two and a half hours. After that, all you need is a food processor to knead the dough, and the result is a hearty, chewy loaf perfect for sandwiches.
This is just your standard loaf of white bread, with pumpkin purée used in place of the water. The result is as beautiful as it is delicious to eat. Use it as you would white bread, but it's particularly delicious when used for grilled cheese sandwiches. Also, note that you don't have to make a loaf; you can use the recipe to make 12 dinner rolls instead.
Being gluten-intolerant doesn't mean you have to settle for poor imitations of bread. This homemade potato bread is 100% gluten-free, thanks to a blend of cornstarch, tapioca starch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, nonfat milk powder, potato flour, and xanthan gum. (The same blend can be used as a one-to-one substitute for all-purpose flour in any recipe you'd like.) Mashed cooked potatoes incorporated into the dough contribute extra flavor as well as ample hydration.
Challah is a great bread to make at home—not only is it relatively easy, you can make it extra rich and tender by using more egg yolks than commercial bakers do. The trickiest part is arguably braiding the dough, but go slowly and follow our video guide, and you'll be fine. This recipe makes two loaves; we highly recommend saving the second to make a stellar challah French toast.
Whether you're making a Pueblan-style cemita, a Roosevelt Avenue–style version, or just a hamburger, a fresh bun is one of the best ways to improve your sandwich. And buns don't come much better than the egg-enriched, brioche-like cemita, with its sweet and savory flavor and dense yet light crumb that can stand up to as many toppings as you throw at it. Here, we substitute heavy cream for the traditional combination of milk and lard, streamlining the recipe.
Calling something the best dinner roll is a strong statement, but if you like your rolls with a substantial crust worthy of gravy-soaked mashed potatoes come Thanksgiving, this is the recipe for you. Light and fluffy inside, these rolls get a crackly, crispy exterior thanks to an extra step of boiling the portioned dough, just as we would do for bagels.
I have a special place in my heart for soft, buttery Parker House rolls, and ours come out extra fluffy due to one surprise secret ingredient: instant mashed potato flakes. To make the dough, use milk that's warm but not hot—about 30 seconds in the microwave should do the trick.
Vegetarians, look away—these may appear to be simple sandwich rolls, but they come with a couple decidedly un-vegetarian twists, making them great for piling with cold cuts or leftover roast beef. We brush the rolls with rendered beef fat, leaving them infused with a delicious meatiness, and we bake thin slices of salami into the bottom of each one for added flavor and crispy texture. Instant yeast—our preferred yeast for most recipes—is the easiest, quickest option here.
Plan these light, tender, buttery biscuits for your next weekend brunch—they require overnight proofing, but will be ready to bake up first thing in the morning. Because they're leavened with yeast instead of baking powder, they feel a bit more like dinner rolls than classic biscuits, perfect for stuffing with butter and jelly or slices of fried ham. A bit of baking soda adds to their flavor and helps them brown better.
The best bagels tend to stay that way for a very short time—just an hour after they've come out of the oven, they've already lost much of their appeal. Our recipe, though, uses a Japanese technique called yukone to make bagels that stay crisp for days after baking. The technique involves precooking some of the flour and water into a gelatinized paste, which helps improve browning and moisture retention. If you're craving variation, try out our toasty cinnamon raisin bagels, or repurpose some of your bagel batch to make the ultimate grown-up after-school snack—homemade Bagel Bites.
For these hearty, fluffy English muffins, we let the dough rise twice, with the second rise lasting at least overnight, allowing them to develop perfect texture with minimal kneading. The long rises mean this isn't a quick recipe, but almost all of the time required is hands-off. We cook the muffins entirely on the stovetop—the high heat leaves them with crisp crusts and lots of those precious nooks and crannies.
Fluffy, chewy pita breads with real pockets, ready for splitting and filling with your own falafel and hummus, can be yours—and they're much easier than you'd think. The keys to getting the pitas to puff properly are rolling them thin (no more than a quarter inch) and setting them on a preheated baking stone or baking steel in a very hot oven to rapidly create steam.
Not only can you skip the kneading for this focaccia, you don't even need to stretch it out to fill the pan—the combination of a well-hydrated dough and a well-greased pan means you can count on gravity to do all the work. You can top focaccia pretty much however you'd like; here, we go with a mixture of briny olives, crunchy pistachios, and heady rosemary.
This recipe puts a garlic-bread twist on our no-knead focaccia. To maximize the central flavor, we incorporate garlic two ways, pushing roasted cloves straight into the dough before baking and brushing the loaf with garlic butter after it comes out of the oven. If you find the base of the bread isn't quite crispy enough, just place the skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes to allow it to finish cooking.
Similar to focaccia, but way more fun, trapizzini are like a mashup of pizza bianca and a crispy sandwich roll. While the bread is good enough to be eaten all by itself, ideally you'll make a slit in each square and stuff it with something delicious, like meatballs or tender sautéd broccoli rabe. But they're also excellent vehicles for leftovers of any kind, from sliced roasted meat (with cheese!) to leftover stir-fried vegetables (with cheese!).
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