Master Yeast Dough Recipe & How to Proof Yeast

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This simple recipe for homemade bread dough is a much used family favorite! And it can be used for much more than just loaves of bread– try this as your base for cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, pizza crust, doughnuts, and more!

This simple recipe for homemade sandwich bread is a family favorite! Use it for sandwiches, french toast, or smother it with butter and eat it fresh and warm!

**Originally posted in June 2013.

I came to a startling realization over the weekend: I’ve been writing Something Swanky for almost 4 years, and have never posted many of the recipes most used in my home on a daily basis! I’m always so busy trying to bake up the “next big thing,” that I rarely step back to share some of the basic recipes that have been so foundational to all of the other recipes on this blog.

So I asked around a bit on Facebook, and after getting the green light from many of you, I’ve decided to spend the next few weeks or so posting my most loved basic recipes that I use all the time in my own kitchen for my family and friends.

I thought this bread would be a great place to start, because I use this dough for so many uses in my cooking and baking. Most often (besides baking bread), I use it for pizza crusts, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and dinner pockets. But more on that at the end! I’ll tell you all about the different recipes I’ve used it for and suggest some fun variations. Read on!

I don’t do much step-by-step here, but for some of these basic recipes I will. Just because I really want you to understand some of the key (simple) principles that lead to a recipe’s success.

The most important part about making any bread is in the yeast and how the dough rises. I’ve found that proofing my yeast has made all the difference in the world (and trust me, I’ve had my share of bread failures before I started doing it this way)! Proofing involves dissolving the yeast with sugar and sometimes oil (although this recipe doesn’t call for any oil).

Start by sprinkling 2 tablespoons of yeast over 2 1/2 cups of warm water– think of warm bath water, and it should be about perfect. I like to proof the yeast in a 4-cup measuring cup. It make it easier to measure out the honey… which is coming next.

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Drizzle the honey over the yeast until the water level reaches the 3 cup mark (a cheat to measuring the honey without the hassle of measuring it in a separate cup). This will gently push the yeast below the water, aiding in its activation.

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Let the yeast rest for about 5 minutes. You can go ahead and get the rest of the ingredients together in your stand mixer while you’re waiting. You’ll know it’s ready when everything looks nice and foamy. Like this:

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Pour the yeast water into the stand mixer with the flour, salt, and dry milk (you’ll have to scrape to get all of the honey out). Attach the bread hook and knead until dough starts to form, and then another 6 minutes beyond that. You can also do this part with a wooden spoon and your hands, but I really love using my stand mixer for this.

I usually stop kneading when the dough looks like this:

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Use well floured hands (and sometimes a pinch or two of flour into the bowl if you feel like the dough is still too sticky) and work the dough into a ball. Lift the dough and give it a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray underneath and around the sides of the bowl. Replace the dough, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise in a warm place (like the stove top over the pre-heating oven) until doubled in size. It should look something like this:

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Punch the dough down, and now it’s yours to do what you’d like with it!

You can, of course, bake it into two loaves of bread. And maybe even whip up a batch of honey butter to go with it, which is my absolute favorite way to eat homemade bread. Fresh out of the oven of course!

This simple recipe for homemade sandwich bread is a family favorite! Use it for sandwiches, french toast, or smother it with butter and eat it fresh and warm!

And don’t forget that there are so many ways to use this dough recipe beyond just loaf bread! Some of them include:

  • Cinnamon Swirl Bread – Divide the dough into two balls. Each of these will be one loaf. Roll each loaf out and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Drizzle 2 tbsp of melted butter over the cinnamon sugar (2 tbsp per loaf, so 4 tbsp total). Roll up the dough, like you would cinnamon rolls, but form into a loaf and place in bread pan to bake like normal.
  • Pizza Crust – This recipe makes 2 crusts. Divide the dough and roll each ball out into a circle to place on a pizza pan. Poke holes through out the crust before topping and baking.
  • Cinnamon Rolls –  recipe coming soon
  • Dinner Rolls – Divide dough into 20 even balls. Place dough balls into a baking dish side by side to bake. Brush with butter. Optional – mix into the dough: crushed garlic, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning!
  • Doughnuts – Roll dough out to approximately 1/4 inch thickness. Cut doughnuts. Let rise until doubled and then fry in hot oil.
  • Monkey Bread – Replace the canned biscuit dough in this Caramel Filled Monkey Bread recipe with balls of dough from this bread recipe (but half the bread recipe– as is, it make about 2-3 monkey bread recipes).
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This recipe has been much loved and used by my family. I hope you love it as much as we do!

This simple recipe for homemade sandwich bread is a family favorite! Use it for sandwiches, french toast, or smother it with butter and eat it fresh and warm!

Master Bread Dough Recipe

Yield: Enough for 2 Loaves of Bread or 20 Rolls

This simple recipe for homemade bread dough is a much used family favorite! And it can be used for much more than just loaves of bread-- try this as your base for cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, pizza crust, doughnuts, and more!


  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tbsp salt


Add the warm water to your mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top and add the honey. Let rest for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Add the flour, dry milk, and salt. Mix well until dough forms and is just barely pulling away from the sides of the bowl (I use the dough hook on my stand mixer to do this).

Cover and let rise until doubled. I place my bowl on a heating pad, and it only takes about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide it for use before second rise.

If you are making bread: divide the dough in two and shape each piece into a loaf. Place the dough into greased and lined loaf pans (I like to use a 9x5). Cover and let rise until doubled (again, I place my loaf pans on a heating pad to accelerate the process).

Bake at 365ºF for 30 minutes. Brush the tops with butter if desired.

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65 thoughts on “Master Yeast Dough Recipe & How to Proof Yeast”

  1. There’s nothing like homemade bread right out of the oven – and this looks like the perfect recipe! So great getting to meet you in Austin, Ashton! I brought my PicMonkey candy bag back for my little boy, so he now thinks you are the coolest person ever. 🙂

    • It was amazing to meet you too! Whew– and I’m super glad you took some of that candy back! I felt like that weekend was SO crazy!!

    • It IS so easy! It’s my mom’s recipe. I had been using a recipe that called for dough enhancer and extra vital wheat gluten– and it was DELICIOUS. But I hated adding that extra stuff (especially since I had to special order the dough enhancer). But this recipe is seriously just the simplest ingredients and just as good!

      • I never know when to freeze the dough… do you do it after the first rise or before? I want to make cinnamon rolls but a large batch so I want to freeze half of them for later. when the dough rises for the first time before you roll it out to put the yummy stuff in is that when you do it when it has raised once and then you roll it out and after you do the filling and roll it up you cut and freeze is this right? or do you let it rise twice and freeze? so confused sorry just want to do it right. thanks in advance for info.

  2. Whoa! This is so cool. I’ve got to try out this basic bread recipe! Also, I love that the post is name “Basically” Perfect Bread Dough (: I’m all for these puns.

  3. Ashton this bread looks so good! I love the use of the honey to proof your yeast! I am going to use this recipe the next time I make bread! Thanks for sharing and I had such a great time meeting you in Austin! You were so kind and a fun host at the PJ Party!!!!
    oh p.s. this is now pinned to my bread board!

  4. Um, basically perfect indeed, I have never made homemade bread (still trying to conquer my irrational fear of yeast–how can something so tiny be so TEMPERMENTAL?!) but this looks easy enough for even a klutz like me to figure out. Yum!!

    • It’s GREAT for sandwiches! Especially grilled ones, but it’s great not grilled too– which isn’t always the case with homemade breads! But this one seems to stay pretty soft for about a week!

  5. Looks delicious, i’m always looking for an easier way to do rolls, so i can’t wait to try it…..however, I don’t eat white bread, i’m wondering how this might work with just wheat flour?

  6. I decided to try your recipe as my first attemp at bread making. I followed it to a “t”. It turned out just a little dense and chewy. Do you have any suggestions/ insight as to what I missed? Maybe not letting it rise enou or over kneading? I appreciate any advice:)
    Also, LOVE your site! Am going to try cinnamon rolls next….so much for loosing all by post baby weight….evil carbs!

    • I haven’t found over-kneading to be a problem yet. In fact, that usually helps! It’s super important to let it rise to double TWICE (once in the bowl and then once in the pan). It’s also important not to over-flour it. The dough should still be a little sticky– like you can see in the picture where I’m pulling the dough. Hmm…. does that help at all?

      • Yes it does. I toor got to mention I did half whole wheat flour…which makes for a more dense bread in my opinion anyway. I’m going to try this again in the next week and really let it double in size. Thank you and have a very happy 4th of July next week!!!!

  7. I love your site and I am in the middle of making this delicious recipe, but in roll form. Everything is EXACTLY the same except dough is in roll shape instead of bread shape right? Sounds like a dumb question but I just want to be sure I did everything I should’ve!

    • Also, one more quick question 🙂 if I wanted to freeze the dough to make pizza dough or cinnamon rolls later, would you recommend this and how would you do it? Thanks so much!!

      • I’ve never frozen the dough, so I can’t recommend it. I have refrigerated it overnight for the second rising. It does ok, but I like it better when I do both the rises and bake it same day 🙂

  8. Is there anything I can use in place of honey for this recipe? Honey is getting SO expensive, so I don’t purchase it often. Thanks 🙂

  9. Thank you for sharing this remarkably simple dough recipe! I’ve used it many times for pizza & calzone dough. I’ve only ever used sugar in place of the honey, liquid milk instead of dry and hand mixed and kneaded. Though I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing that for bread =). This recipe (even with those substitutions) is still excellent for pizza and the like. Thanks again!

  10. Hello! I am planning on making this recipe this week and I have a quick question – What is the purpose of the dry milk and is there a substitution for it? I know I will never use the powdered milk for anything else, so I really don’t want to waste the money on a whole box for such a small amount. Can I leave it out altogether? Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  11. Hi, I just tried your bread recipe and I added the 1 tbsp salt like it said but it tastes way too salty. Is this really the correct amount of salt? Is there a way to fix the saltiness of the bread while it’s still in dough form? Thanks

    • Yes, this is the correct amount and is necessary in the recipe. I’m really surprised to hear this, because I can’t taste any salt at all in this recipe, and we eat it several times a week!

  12. Oh my gosh. I just made this yesterday. I made one loaf shape and one round. I left the loaf plain. The round one I brushed on melted garlic butter, then sprinkled a tiny amount of sea salt on top. My house smelled like a bakery. Thai is by far the best bread recipe I have made. I have tried 3 recipes of yours so far. And every one was a winner. I am searching for my next one today.

  13. Oh my gosh. I just made this bread yesterday. I made one in a loaf pan. And one round. I brushed the round one with melted garlic butter and sprinkled the top with sea salt. My whole house smelled like a bakery. This by far is the best bread recipe I have ever made. I have made 3 of your recipes so far. And every one was amazing. Today I am looking for number4.

  14. Thank you for sharing this, looks delicious! Did you get a chance to post the cinnamon bun part of the recipe yet? I’d love to try it too. Thanks again!

  15. Hi! I made this bread last weekend and it is delicious! And already gone! I’m wanting to make it again today. I just had a question…When you make multiple loaves at a time do you freeze the others? I made 2 loaves last time and the second seemed to get a little stale towards the end. And also how do you store it? On the counter or in the fridge?

    • I always just store on the counter top, and I’ve never frozen the bread or the dough. Our loaves are usually gone within a few days (we almost always eat an entire one warm out of the oven!!), so I’ve never had to deal with it getting stale. But one thing you could do is use a dough enhancer. That will keep it fresh a little longer!

  16. What speed do you use to knead your bread? I have tried several speeds, but haven’t had much consistent luck on one yet. Can’t wait to try this!

  17. I love this recipe and have used it a couple of times to make cinnamon scrolls and bread. However I’m finding it quite sweet (due to the honey) which I love for the scrolls but I’d like to try a savoury version with some cheese and herbs rippled through it. Do you think I could put a little less in or substitute it for a bit of sugar instead?

    • You don’t need to remove any sugar 🙂 It’s necessary for the chemistry behind the rising and baking, but the sweet won’t come through if you’re incorporating other savory flavors!

  18. I’ve baked bread for years and have tried this recipe a couple times – it comes out with a good taste and texture, but a space almost always forms in the top 1/3 of the loaf, like a long bubble in the interior of the bread running most of the way through it end to end.  I suspect it is actually a collapse of the crumb below the space, because on one occasion the top fell. Any thoughts?  

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