Homemade Soft Country Bread

Homemade Soft Country Bread

Homemade country bread takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, start to finish. No planning ahead or sourdough starter required!  This recipe makes two round, free-form loaves and is leavened with instant (quick) yeast.  Homemade bread doesn’t get any better, or easier than this!

I don’t believe there is anything better than homemade bread, fresh from the oven…with a thick smear of good butter, of course!  This is the homemade bread recipe to make when you’re looking for a something that is beginner-friendly or when you’re low on time but still want something to impress your loved ones.  It’s quick and basic, but oh-so-delicious.  It’s the bread recipe I make most often because it’s simple, foolproof, and makes a beautiful round loaf with a pillowy and soft center.  

In a little over two hours, you’ll be pulling homemade bread from your oven!  The simple dough comes together quickly and then rests for about 45 minutes (rise #1).  After shaping the two loaves, they’ll rise a second time, for about 30 minutes.  This recipe makes two round loaves, so you’ll have one for tonight’s dinner (hello perfect soup companion!) and one for a friend, or one to freeze for a future dinner. 

homemade soft country bread

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Flour – unbleached, all-purpose flour. You’ll start with 6 cups and may add an additional 1/4 cup depending on the humidity levels.  You’ll also dust a little extra on the loaves before baking.  See “mixing it up” below for whole-wheat variations.
  • Salt – One tablespoon might seem like a lot, but using enough salt is important to flavor the bread.
  • Milk – whole milk is preferred, but you can also substitute dairy-free varieties. Warm milk to between 100 and 110 degrees F. 
  • Water – warmed to between 100 and 110 degrees F.
  • Unsalted butter – A little melted butter is added to the dough for both flavor and tenderness. You can also substitute olive oil.
  • Honey – A little sweetness…it’s a subtle sweetness but it’s so delicious.  Save a little extra to serve with the bread.
  • Instant yeast – also known as quick yeast. You’ll use 1 package, or 2 1/4 teaspoons.  You can find it in the little packets or in a larger, glass jar in the baking aisle of your grocery store.  It should always be stored in the refrigerator.

How to make homemade soft country bread

1. Make Dough

Combine 6 cups of flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if mixing by hand) with a whisk.  

Combine the warm milk, warm water, melted butter, honey and yeast in a medium bowl.  

Turn the mixer to low and add the liquids slowly, using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon. Increase the mixer to medium speed as the dough starts to come together.  Mix with the dough hook (scraping down as needed) or knead on a smooth surface until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  If dough is still sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour in small amounts, trying not to incorporate too much flour. It could take up to 10 minutes to knead, either with the stand mixer or by hand.  You’ll know it’s ready when dough forms a soft and smooth ball.

2. First Rise

Remove the dough from the machine and form into a smooth round ball.  Place in a greased (with olive oil or butter) bowl or proofing container.  Turn the dough over to coat with the oil.  Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or lightly greased plastic wrap.  Place dough in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes). 

3. Second Rise

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces with a knife or bench scraper.  Portion each piece into desired shape (round an oval are both nice) and place on a baking sheet.  Or, place dough in loaf pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until almost doubled in size (about 30 minutes).  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Bake Bread!

Slash the top of the loaves with a razor blade or sharp knife and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  The interior of the loaf should be about 195 degrees F (Use an instant-read thermometer when it comes out of the oven and stick it directly into the center of the loaf to check the temperature). Remove the bread from the loaf pan or baking sheet and let it cool on a wire rack. 

5. Cool & Serve

Cool and slice, and serve with good (room temperature) butter and honey as well. 

homemade soft country bread recipe

Mixing Things Up

Wheat Country Loaf – Substitute up to 2 cups of whole wheat flour for (2 cups of) all-purpose flour and mix in as stated in the original recipe. 

homemade soft country bread recipe

How to freeze

If you have an extra loaf of bread, wrap well in plastic wrap, and then again in foil before placing in an air-tight ziplock bag in the freezer.  It will keep well, frozen, for up to 2 months.  Just thaw overnight on the counter and reheat thawed loaf on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. 

Can I use Active Dry Yeast?

You can substitute active dry yeast for the instant/quick yeast 1:1, but you will need to wait longer for the dough to double in size for both the first and the second rise times.  Instant or quick yeast is more finely granulated, so it works about 50 percent faster.

homemade soft country bread with a bowl of soup
homemade soft country bread recipe

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Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating! And of course, be sure to follow Lane Bakery on Instagramand don’t forget to tag me (@lane_bakery). I love cooking with you!

Homemade Country Bread

This recipe makes two round, free-form loaves and is leavened with instant (quick) yeast. Homemade bread doesn’t get any better, or easier than this!
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: dinner
Keyword: country bread, homemade country bread

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour plus up to 1/4 cup & more for work surface
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk at 100-110 degrees
  • 1 1/2 cups water at 100-110 degrees
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant (quick) yeast 1 envelope
  • butter for serving
  • honey for serving

Instructions

  • MAKE DOUGH: Combine 6 cups of flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if mixing by hand) with a whisk.  Combine the warm milk, warm water, melted butter, honey and yeast.  Turn the mixer to low and add the liquids slowly, using the dough hook attachment.  Increase the mixer to medium speed as the dough starts to come together.  Mix until the dough (scrape down as needed) becomes smooth and elastic.  If dough is still sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour in small amounts, trying not to incorporate too much flour. It could take up to 10 minutes to knead, either with the stand mixer or by hand.  You’ll know it’s ready when dough forms a soft and smooth ball.
  • FIRST RISE: Remove the dough from the machine and form into a smooth round ball.  Place in a greased (with olive oil or butter) bowl or proofing container.  Turn the dough over to coat with the oil.  Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or lightly greased plastic wrap.  Place dough in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes). 
  • SECOND RISE: Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces with a knife or bench scraper.  Portion each piece into desired shape and place on a baking sheet.  Or, place dough in loaf pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until almost doubled in size (about 30 minutes).  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • BAKE BREAD: Slash the top of the loaves with a razor blade or sharp knife and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  The interior of the loaf should be about 195 degrees F (Use an instant-read thermometer when it comes out of the oven and stick it directly into the center of the loaf to check the temperature).  Remove the bread from the pan, if using, and let it cool on a wire rack. 
  • COOL & SERVE: Cool and slice, and serve with good (room temperature) butter and honey as well. 

Notes

*You can substitute active dry yeast for the instant/quick yeast 1:1, but you will need to wait longer for the dough to double in size for both the first and the second rise times.  Instant or quick yeast is more finely granulated, so it works about 50 percent faster.
How to freeze: If you have an extra loaf of bread, wrap well in plastic wrap, and then again in foil before placing in an air-tight ziplock bag in the freezer.  It will keep well, frozen, for up to 2 months.  Just thaw overnight on the counter and reheat thawed loaf in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. 


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