VirginiaLynne has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.
Making Homemade Bread Faster and Easier
As a busy mom of 5, l love making homemade bread for my family and guests. After many years of using a variety of different bread recipes, I began to realize that the basic ingredients for many of them were the same. So I took my most basic roll recipe and tried it out on rolls, then calzones, and found it worked perfectly. Moreover, it was an easy recipe to memorize so I could easily pull out the ingredients and get it going while cooking something else or helping with math homework. Best of all, I could take one recipe and make two different things, a pizza for dinner and some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Hope it helps to make your busy days easier too!
What You Can Make With White Bread
- Cinnamon rolls
- Sticky Buns
- Savory pesto rolls
- Cheese rolls
- Pan or individual white rolls
- Pizza crust
- Pita Bread (Naan)
What Do You Think?
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
2 hours 30 min
2 loaves of bread
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar, (or honey)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water or milk
- 2 TB oil or butter
- Mix yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in small bowl and let set for 15 minutes until bubbles start forming.
- Put flour andt salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, 1 cup water and oil. Mix with a spoon until dough forms a ball.
- Knead dough: put flour on the counter or other flat surface. Put dough on flour and knead by pressing the heel of your hand into the dough and then folding it over. Keep on adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Knead about 5 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Grease a bowl with about 2 tea. margarine and place dough in the bowl. Turn dough over until it is all covered with margarine. Put a towel on top of the bowl and let set for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until it is about double in size.
- Punch down dough and let set for 5 minutes. Then form dough into loaves or other shapes. Let rise 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes for loaves.
Bread Making Tips
What I especially like about this all-purpose bread recipe (pun intended) is that I can start the dough before I have figured out what I'm actually going to make for dinner! Here are some tips on altering the recipe:
- Water vs. Milk: While you can vary this recipe by having eggs and milk used instead of the water, I have found that just using water makes the dough rise quicker and yields a nice light bread. Of course, you can also add wheat flour (or any other whole grain flour) as half of the flour in the dough if you want whole wheat bread.
- White or Wheat: Of course, you can also add wheat flour (or any other whole grain flour) as half of the flour in the dough if you want whole wheat bread.
- Using a Bread Machine: While I’ve given directions for mixing and kneading by hand, you can also add these ingredients to a bread dough machine and process on the dough cycle until done, then shape and bake. In fact, I use a bread machine more often than not.
- Two Loaves: This recipe yields one or two loaves depending on the size you want to make.I frequently double the recipe to make several different types of bread at once.
- Good For Gifts: I love having bread in the freezer to give out as a gift to a new neighbor, or as part of a meal for someone who has had a new baby or is ill.
- Bread Freezes Well: The bread freezes very well for several weeks if wrapped in foil or put in a Ziploc bag.
- Freezing the Dough: You can also freeze the dough after it has risen once. You can shape it into rolls or make any of the other types of bread below. To use frozen dough, take it out of the freezer and place it on a baking tray. Spray with no-stick cooking spray and put plastic wrap on top (just place it over the dough but don't wrap it around or dough can't rise). Let rise for 3-5 hours or until doubled, then bake as usual. To make the dough rise faster, pre-heat oven to 200 degrees then turn it off. Place a metal pan on the bottom rack of oven and half fill with boiling water. Put frozen bread or rolls on a baking pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray and put in the oven. The dough should rise and be ready to bake in about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns
- Roll out to a thin large rectangle.
- Melt ½ cup of margarine or butter and spread over the rectangle.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar on top (more if you want).Use white sugar for cinnamon rolls, brown sugar for sticky buns.
- On the cinnamon rolls, you will also need to sprinkle with cinnamon.
- You can add raisins if you want also.
- For sticky buns, you can add ½ cup of chopped nuts if you want.
- Starting on the long end, roll up the dough.
- Cut by using a piece of thread or string. Wrap the thread around the roll and pull tight until it cuts.
- Place rolls in a 13 by 9-inch pan.
- Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour on the counter or cover with saran wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until light brown and bubbly.
- If you want, you can frost with 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 TB. Water.
Savory Pesto or Cheese Rolls
You can follow the same directions above, but make a savory roll by spreading on homemade or store-bought pesto. I've used both basil-pine nut pesto and tomato-based herb pestos and they are both delicious. Alternatively, you can use butter and parmesan cheese and then sprinkle on herbs for a delicious cheese bread.
- Squeeze out balls of dough between your thumb and index finger.
- Balls should be about 2 inches in diameter.
- Place almost touching in a greased cake pan.
- Cover with a cloth and let rise for 1-2 hours.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until light brown.
- Melt 1/3 cup butter and brush over tops (Alternatively, if you want the rolls to be shiny, you can brush an egg beaten with a little water over the top before you bake them).
- Shape the same as pan rolls, but put on greased cookie sheet about 2-3 inches apart
- .Let rise and bake the same as for pan rolls.
- Lightly grease pan. Roll out dough to fit pan (for Chicago style, put cornmeal on the pan.
- Put on the sauce, cheese, and other toppings.
- You can bake right away or let rise for 30 min to 1 hour.
- You can also freeze and bake later.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
Pita Bread (Naan)
- Roll out balls of dough to about 8 inches in diameter.
- Put on greased baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise 1 hour until puffy.
- Here is the secret to making this bread have a pocket in the middle: Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.
- Check these carefully. They should be light brown when done.
- You can just eat this as flat bread or split down the middle and fill with sandwich fillings.
Note: Focaccia usually tastes better if you use olive oil in the recipe.
- Roll out dough into a rectangle and place on greased cookie sheet.
- Brush with olive oil. Use the tip of your finger to make dimples in the dough.
- You can place all sorts of things on top including any of the following: Parmesan cheese, chopped olives, sauteed onions, garlic, Italian herbs, herbs de province, and tomato slices.
- You also might like to sprinkle it with garlic salt.
- Bake at 350 for about 20 -30 minutes until light brown.
This is probably one of my favorite "go to" meals because everyone likes them and they can also be taken for lunch the next day.
- Divide the dough into 8-9 balls and roll each of these out (I do these one at a time usually).
- Put meat and cheese (or any other fillings like spinach or mushrooms) inside the circle of each dough and then fold them in half and press shut.
- You can let these rise for 1/2 hour or bake them right away until they are brown on top, usually about 20-30 minutes.
- Anything you'd put in a pizza can be used for fillings, but our favorites are leftover ham, hamburger, pork, or steak with some shredded cheese.
- Generally, I serve these with marinara or spaghetti sauce on top (or to dip).
Flavoring Your Bread
You can use this dough for any sort of bread and it is easy to double the recipe. Moreover, you can add other flavors by putting a variety of ingredients in the dough. Add these in with the flour. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Add any sort of spice like sage, rosemary, thyme (are you singing the song yet?), or use an Italian spice blend (1-2 teaspoons).
- Add about ½ cup of cheese to give flavor. Stronger cheeses like sharp or gouda taste best.
- Add 1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dates. You can also add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Add 1/2 cup nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachio or pecan. Adding nuts and dried fruit is also very tasty.
- Add in ½ cup of pesto or dried tomato pesto.
- Substitute up to ½ of the flour with oatmeal, wheat or other flours although the dough will be heavier and won’t rise quite so much.
Liza from USA on January 19, 2020:
Great set of bread and rolls. I love baking so much! Thank you for the tips and recipes!
kathrynsunga from Manila, Philippines on February 03, 2012:
Thanks for this great hub! I'll try this recipe next weekend.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on September 16, 2011:
Since it is still in the 90s here in Texas, I'm just dreaming about baking right now! I know I have a bunch of other pictures for this hub--I just need to find them!
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 16, 2011:
It's great that this recipe is so versatile! Like RTalloni, I have also been in the mood to do more baking and comfort food cooking now that it's getting colder.
RTalloni on September 16, 2011:
Mmmm, pesto rolls are a great idea! Love that you offer so many ways to use the dough. This is the best kind of fast food. :)
Voted up and bookmarked, as this change in our weather has me thinking about baking bread.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on September 15, 2011:
I actually have several books of different bread recipes, but I guess I'm sort of lazy--I end up using this one most of the time because it always works. I sometimes substitute milk for the water, or add an egg or more sugar for a sweeter dough, but generally I just use this one because it is easy to memorize!
Verlie Burroughs from Canada on September 15, 2011:
I like the way you put this together, the great basic bread recipe with all the different things you can do with it. Good work VirginiaLynne!