Over the past year, more of us than ever have tried our hand at making our own bread – but if you never got around to baking while in lockdown, it’s certainly not too late to start! Making your own bread from scratch is extremely satisfying, and the process of kneading dough can feel calming and therapeutic. Plus, flooding your home with the mouthwatering aroma of warm, freshly baked bread is just another bonus.
So whether you’ve made your own bread before and are looking for a new challenge, or you’re a baking beginner who’s just looking for inspiration, here are ten of the best bread recipes.
1. No-knead bread
If you’ve never made your own bread before and would like to start with something simple, you may want to try making no-knead bread. When The New York Times featured a recipe for no-knead bread back in 2007, the popularity of this type of bread rocketed, and now there are dozens of recipes to be found all over the internet. No-knead bread is made simply by mixing flour with yeast, salt and water, letting the dough sit for a set amount of hours until it rises, and then shaping it and baking it.
It really is as simple as it sounds, so if you’d like to have a go at making your own crusty loaf but want to start with something easy, no-knead bread may be for you. No-knead bread isn’t only fuss-free, but due to its slow rise, it’s also packed with flavour – and after baking it has a delightfully crisp crust.
This no-knead bread recipe from Tesco suggests mixing the dough the night before and letting it rest overnight, for maximum flavour and crunch. If you’d like to see no-knead bread being made, have a watch of the video below.
Another recipe that’s good for baking beginners is focaccia, as according to chef Nigel Slater, because a batch rarely fails it’s the ultimate “foolproof loaf”. Focaccia is flat Italian bread that’s oven-baked, and it’s similar to a thick, chewy pizza base. It’s delicious served as a side dish or a starter, but it’s also very tasty as a simple yet satisfying snack. Thanks to the addition of olive oil, the smell of baked focaccia is an intoxicatingly toasty, olive scent, and it’ll fill your home with mouth-watering aromas.
There are lots of different ingredients that can be added to focaccia, like garlic and tomatoes, but rosemary focaccia remains the ‘classic’ loaf for good reason. Not only does the addition of fresh rosemary add an aromatic taste and scent, but it also makes the bread look more impressive – and when you take your bread out of the oven, glistening with olive oil, sparkling with salt, and studded with rosemary, you may be tempted to devour it in one sitting!
This rosemary focaccia recipe from BBC Good Food is a great place to start your baking journey. Have a watch of Jamie Oliver’s video below to find out more about focaccia.
Over the past decade, bagels have boomed in popularity across the UK, though they’ve been popular in the US ever since they were brought to Manhattan by Jewish immigrants in the 1880s. But these days, you don’t need to head to New York to find the perfect bagel; you don’t even have to go to the shops! Though they do need to be briefly boiled before being baked, bagels are still pretty simple to make from scratch, and you don’t need to have much experience to bake bagels that are crisp on the outside and moreishly chewy on the inside.
Because bagel recipes use less water than other bread recipes, you create a firmer dough, which is easier to handle and shape – and it’s that firm dough that gives bagels their signature chewy texture. Bagels are also incredibly versatile: you can flavour them with garlic, sesame seeds, onion or caraway seeds, and they’re equally delicious if you add sweet flavours like blueberries and chocolate.
If you’d like to bake your own bagels, why not try this recipe from baking expert Paul Hollywood? To see what the bagel making process looks like, have a watch of the video below.
4. Banana bread
If you have a sweet tooth, why not try making a loaf of bread that feels a little bit more like a treat? When lockdown first began, half the UK seemed to don their aprons and have a go at making banana bread… and though it’s over a year later, we still think banana bread is one of the best baking recipes to start off with – as well as one of the most delicious, wholesome and comforting. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any overripe bananas you may have sitting in your fruit bowl!
There are lots of different banana bread recipes out there, some healthier, some more indulgent, and we’ve already shared the recipe for our ultimate banana loaf! However, banana bread can be easily adapted depending on what you have in your kitchen – and if you want to add your own twist, then why not think about adding nuts, chocolate chips, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or a swirl of peanut butter? Most banana bread recipes use eggs, but you can find many great vegan alternatives, like this recipe from The Baking Fairy.
To see how easy it is to make banana bread, have a watch of the video below.
With its signature tangy flavour, chewy texture and crisp crust, sourdough is arguably the most popular bread right now, and many of us love to eat it topped with avocado, underneath eggs, or simply in sandwiches. Because it’s so loved, sourdough bread is often the recipe aspiring bakers try first – but the reality is that sourdough is high-maintenance… memoirs have even been written about learning to master the perfect technique! However, while it’s probably not the best recipe to begin with, there’s no reason why you can’t bake perfect sourdough bread from home.
Sourdough is slow-fermented bread that doesn’t require commercial yeast to rise – but it does need a ‘sourdough starter’, which is made with a live fermented culture. Because it’s fermented, eating sourdough bread can have health-boosting properties and help improve gut health. If you’d like to read an informative guide to making sourdough bread, this guide by The Clever Carrot contains everything you need to know.
If you’d like to go straight to a recipe, check out this one by The Frugal Flexitarian, or watch the video below.
6. Gluten-free bread
If you’re gluten-free, you’re probably all too aware of how disappointing gluten-free bread can be. It can be overly dense, with a strangely gritty or stale consistency. The good news, however, is that gluten-free bread has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t bite into a soft and tasty slice of bread that’s chewy rather than crumbly, with a bakery-style crust. And the best news is that you can make it all yourself.
There are lots of different types of gluten-free bread recipes out there, but one of the best is The Guardian’s recipe for gluten-free multiseed molasses bread, which boasts the texture of a light Swedish rye bread, has the texture (and the healthiness) of crisp, toasty seeds, and has a soft, golden crumb.
If you prefer to make an artisan-style white bread, check out this great gluten-free recipe by The Loopy Whisk – or have a watch of the video below.
Flatbread is one of the most versatile types of bread around, and it’s also one of the simplest recipes to master. In a nutshell, flatbread is just flour and water mixed into a dough, rolled into balls, then rested, flattened and griddled. Pitta bread is probably the most widely known type of flatbread in the UK, though Lebanaese flatbread (Man’oushe Za’atar) has also become popular in more recent years. However, if you add oil to the dough, you can make everything from Indian rotis and chapatis, through to naan breads and tortillas!
If you’d like to have a go at making an Indian-style flatbread, check out this delicious peshwari roti recipe by Meera Sodha, which is packed with coconut, raisins and almonds. Jamie Oliver also has a recipe for garlic and herb flatbread, which uses a dash of yoghurt and is incredibly simple to make.
Alternatively, if you’d like to make tortillas, why not try this recipe from BBC Good Food? To see how easy it can be to make flatbread, have a watch of the video below.
8. Wholemeal bread
One of the healthiest types of bread around is wholemeal bread. Because it’s made from wholegrains that have been ground to a fine texture, wholemeal bread contains more fibre than white bread, which can improve digestive health. But not only that, eating more wholegrains can also aid weight loss, lower the risk of diabetes, and reduce the risk of heart disease. So, even if you don’t typically buy wholemeal bread, why not consider baking a loaf yourself?
There are all kinds of wholemeal bread recipes you can try. There are recipes that use wheat, rye and spelt flour, and recipes for wholemeal flatbreads, soda breads and classic loaves. Just check out all these tasty wholemeal bread recipes on BBC Good Food to get inspired!
If you’d like to make a classic wholemeal loaf, you can’t go wrong with this traditional recipe from Doves Farm. To find out more, check out Delia Smith’s video tutorial below.
9. French baguette
These days, the baguette is just as beloved in the UK as it is in France, and grabbing a baguette from a shop for a quick lunch is one of the most popular on-the-move meals. But with their satisfyingly crunchy crust and soft, fluffy interior, French baguettes are best savoured and enjoyed, and there’s nothing like biting into a warm, freshly baked baguette on a lazy weekend morning (though, they taste just as good on weekday mornings too!).
In spite of their rich, buttery taste, a traditional French baguette is made with only flour, water, yeast and salt, though the dough does require some gentle stretching and pulling. To find out more about the baguette making process, have a read of this article by Sainsbury’s, who tried out the technique used by traditional French bakery PAUL.
Alternatively, why not try Delia Smith’s recipe for French bread? For step-by-step instructions to making a baguette, you may want to watch the video below.
10. English muffins
Whether you like to eat them for breakfast, topped with eggs or avocado, or in the afternoon, smothered in butter and jam and with a cup of tea, English muffins are delightfully comforting. Their springy, chewy texture is very moreish, and more akin to a crumpet than traditional bread. Plus, just like crumpets, English muffins are delicious served savoury as well as sweet – so you can top them with your favourite foods and spreads and see which variations you like best!
Unlike other bread recipes, English muffins are cooked in a frying pan rather than an oven, and for this reason they only take 10-12 minutes to cook – so it’s perfect if you’re getting hungry watching them crisp up! Why not have a go at making Jamie Oliver’s recipe for fluffy English muffins, which uses polenta, lard and milk?
Alternatively, if you’re plant-based, it’s not tricky to make a dairy-free alternative; just check out this recipe from A Virtual Vegan. To see each stage of muffin making, why not have a watch of the video below?
Baking bread at home
Baking your own bread is just as relaxing as it is rewarding, and biting into a warm loaf you’ve made yourself, fresh out of the oven, is one of life’s unique yet simple pleasures! Plus, the smell of freshly baked bread filling your home is an instant pick-me-up! Whether it’s sourdough, bagels or a sweet bread, there’s a bread recipe for every mood and occasion, and the beauty of making your own bread is that the better you get, the more options open up to you – and you may find that baking bread inspires you to try out cake or pastry making, too.
To find out more about baking, you might want to read our article, 8 technical baking skills that you can learn at home.
Have you tried baking your own bread recently? Or are you tempted by any of these recipes? We’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to and see photos of your baked creations! Leave us a comment below, or share your photos and join the conversation over on the Rest Less community.