James Beard's Basic Home-Style Bread

Total Time
5hrs 45mins
Prep 45 mins
Cook 5 hrs

"Beard on Bread" was one of the very first cookbooks I ever purchased. I found his recipes to be quite reliable. This recipe uses less yeast than you might think is needed - the slower rise helps develop the taste of the bread. Beard describes this as a quite light bread, rather fine in texture and much enjoyed when fresh with a generous spreading of butter and preserves. Also popular for sandwiches and toast. Please note the amount of salt - Beard tended to salt a bit heavily, but I am posting as he wrote it. Posting this in response to a request.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Add the yeast to 1/2 cup of the warm milk, along with 2 tbl sugar, and stir well until the yeast in completely dissolved. Allow the yeast to proof.
  2. Place the remaining milk, butter and salt in a bowl. (Beard liked a lot of salt, and I would use less). Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, with a wooden spoon.
  3. After the third cup, add the yeast mixture. Continue stirring in flour until the mixture is rather firm, which should take about 4 to 5 cups.
  4. Remove the dough to a floured board and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until it is supple, satiny and no longer sticky.
  5. Butter a bowl and place the dough in it, turning to coat all sides with the fat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  6. Deflate the dough by punching firmly two or three times, return to the floured board, and knead 4 to 5 minutes more.
  7. Divide into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in well-buttered 9x5x3 in loaf tins, cover, and let rise again until doubled in bulk.
  8. Slash the loaves with a sharp knife and brush with lightly beaten egg white or water.
  9. Bake in a 400 deg. oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped with the knuckles.
  10. Remove the loaves from the pans and put them back in the oven a few minutes longer to become crisped.


Most Helpful

No better white bread recipe. You can use powdered dry milk instead of fresh whole milk. It works fine. I do a hearty kneading by hand after kneading with the dough hook on the KitchenAid.

Gwynedd May 10, 2015

Wonderful recipe! Loved the texture! I used about half the salt called for and probably could have taken the loaves out of the oven after 35 mins. This bread smells amazing while baking. I had to try a slice that was still warm from the oven and I'm having a hard time leaving it alone. I'm planning on serving it with soup tomorrow, so I need to stay out of it!! I'm thinking this would be a terrific sandwich bread.Thanks for sharing the keeper recipe.

Lucky in Bayview March 07, 2015

This was a real pleasure for DH this morning as he's been asking for a loaf of "plain white bread" for awhile, poor guy. I made half the recipe for 1 loaf and did the mixing in the bread machine but baked it in the oven. I did need to add a bit more water but that is very common for me and I think we just have dry flour in this area. The end result was a good basic white bread with a very nice texture. duonyte, DH say's Thank You. :D

Annacia October 13, 2013

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