Bread Recipes with Heart and Soul — Easy Loaves for Everyone

Honey Bran Challah, mellow, rustic bread that’s perfect to toast. Just one of many simple, straight dough bread recipes to start your baking adventure.


If you’re reading this now (pandemic time) some of you might not have yeast and very little flour.

Look online for yeast at healthfood stores and bread supply places or even locally at a bakery wholesaler in your city. They might insist you buy $100 or so of flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla, etc. but they often will accept cash orders from ‘common folks’.

You can also try making biscuits or soda bread — both of which use baking powder and baking soda. It’s not the same but it is bready stuff.

Then you can start a sourdough starter. Once it’s mature, about 1/4 cup starter in the recipes below, instead of yeast, might work out (and give the breads a longer rise).

Onto the breads!

Sometimes you need things kinder, gentler and simpler. Straight dough breads, as opposed to sourdough breads, are just the thing. Here’s a quartet of breads for relaxing baking sessions. Did I mention you can use your bread machine to make the dough for these recipes (but bake in your regular oven).

Choose from Boston Brown Bread, Butter Crescent Rolls, a Honey Bran Challah or a superb Greek Olive Oil bread that’s perfect for grilled cheese or tomato sandwiches.


Marcy Goldman
Master Baker, Cookbook Author

Greek Olive Oil Bread

This is the bread I make every other day for my own family. It is simple, tasteful and tasty and as good fresh, as it is a few days later (if it lasts that long!). It is a perfect sandwich bread or morning toast bread. It makes a huge, crusty, deep amber hued country loaf that just begs for a fresh pot of homemade soup to go with it. I prefer this baked just before supper or as an after school, ‘welcome home’ bread. There is no better perfume that of this baked bread.

2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
5–7 cups bread flour

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixer bowl, hand whisk the water and yeast and and whisk in the sugar, salt, oil, and blend briefly. Stir in 4 cups of the flour and blend with a wood spoon. Then, attach the dough hook and knead, on slowest speed of mixer, to make a smooth dough, adding in remaining flour, as required, to make a soft, bouncy dough, about 8 minutes.

Insert the mixing bowl into a large plastic bag and let the dough rise until almost doubled in size, 45–60 minutes.

Gentle deflate the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a large ball. Place on the baking sheet. Insert entire baking sheet into a large plastic bag and let rise until almost doubled in bulk about 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the bread on the lower rack of oven, score with 2–3 knife marks and dust with flour. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F and bake until well browned another 20–30 minutes.

Cool bread a few minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

Makes one large bread.

New England Brown Bread
Traditionally, Boston Brown Bread is a steamy affair but no one steams bread these days. My version has all the rustic, good tastes of the original but with an oven baked method. For a darker bread, increase the spices and use only molasses, instead of honey and/or maple syrup. Nothing is more comforting than this bread on a nippy spring (or fall) day.

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup stoneground cornmeal
¾ cup warm buttermilk (see if you need more)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch ginger
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line three one pound coffee cans (emptied and cleaned) with waxed parchment paper and leave a 1 1/2 inch extension of paper beyond rim of cans. Or, line two 8 by 4 inch loaf pans or three 7 inch round layer pans with buttered parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, stir water and yeast together and let stand a minute. Then stir in cornmeal, buttermilk well, and then all of remaining ingredients. Stir 50 strokes (dough is more of a batter). Pour into prepared molds, spray tops with non-stick cooking spray. Let stand 20–30 minutes (tester — see how much batter molds can take to allow for rise but no overflow)

Bake until done, about 45 minutes (test for time)

Serve warm, hot, or cold, offer with honey, butter, or sweetened cream cheese, or plain, with homemade baked beans.

Real Butter Home Style Crescent Rolls

Who doesn’t love croissants? At hotel school, I was taught to distinguish between “croissants de boulangère” and “croissants de pâtissière”. The baker’s croissants recipe calls for yeast, in addition to milk, water, butter, salt and flour whereas pastry chef croissants are made without yeast, relying instead on the many layers of butter and dough to create flaky pockets. The moisture in the butter turns to steam in the hot oven and “explodes” to form the pockets. All good things but few home bakers opt to make real French styled, rolled-in butter, croissants. They take time and expertise and intimate more than a few pros. Truth is, many bakeshops use machines to fashion those croissants. But…iIf you like that taste and look, want Pillsbury Dough-boy easy but home-made great taste, this little butter crescent roll is just the thing. The trick is a rich, butter dough and then, an ingenious method of shaving thin sheets of butter off the block, using a cheese slicer to create the butter ‘roll-in’. It imitates the French approach but using Canck/Yankee expediency. A perk of being a New World, new century baker! Incidentally, note the use of all-purpose flour (for tenderness) and bread flour (for a bit of chew).

Buttery Crescent Rolls

1 cup warm water
5 ½ teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1/4 cup or 2 ounces unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2–4 cups bread flour

Butter Roll-in
1 cup unsalted butter, in shavings or thin slices (cheese a cheese slicer)

Finishing Touches
Egg wash, 1 egg, pinch salt, sugar and 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds, optional

Stack one of the baking sheet n top of another one (so it is doubled up for baking on the bottom most rack). Line the top sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl of a mixer, hand whisk the water and yeast together and let stand 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, butter, sugar, salt and all-purpose flour. Add in some of the bread flour and mix, and then attach the dough hook to knead, and knead, 8–10 minutes, on slowest speed of mixer, to make a soft, bouncy dough, adding in more flour, as required.

Remove the dough hook from the mixer. Spray the dough with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the entire mixer, bowl and all, with a clear, large plastic bag. Let dough rise unti almost doubled, 45–60 minutes. Gently deflate the dough on a floured work surface and let stand. Cover for 10 minutes.

Roll dough out into a circle of 12 inches in diameter. Using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut into 10–12 wedges. Using a cheese slicer, shave thin slices of butter off the butter block. Arrange the butter slices all over the dough.

Starting at the outside edge, roll each section up into a snug crescent roll. Arrange the rolls on each prepared baking sheet, leaving 2–3 inches between them. Brush the rolls generously with the egg wash. Dust on sesame seeds if you like.

Cover the rolls with a clear, large plastic bag. Let rise until almost doubled, 30–45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place rolls in oven, reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake rolls until browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool somewhat before serving. These freeze very well.

Makes 10–12

Honey Kissed Bran Challah

Bran Honey Challah
A recent quiet dinner at a friend’s house is behind this new challah mischief. Everything that was served (with undue apologies — seriously –it’s the company that counts) bought-out but delicious (which goes to show you) foods — spicy salmon, baked lentils with cumin, wild rice, vegetable soup and this amazing challah — a gentle, brown bread which was a honey challah totally stuffed with bran. The result is a nutritious and wholesome challah that is lovely fresh and better toasted.

1 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons instant yeast
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup bran flakes (not the cereal, real bran)
2 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup whole-wheat flour
3–4 cups, or more, white bread flour

Finishing Touches
Egg wash
Bran or oatmeal flakes

In a mixer bowl, briskly stir together water and yeast. Then blend in eggs, oil, honey, bran flakes, salt, whole-wheat flour and 1–2 cups of the white flour. Mix and then knead, adding in more white flour as required to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5–8 minutes.

Remove dough hook and place a plastic bag over entire mixer. Let rise until almost doubled in size.

Stack two baking sheets together and line the top one with parchment paper.
On a floured board, gently deflate the dough. Divide in three ropes or lengths. Braid into a braided challah or make into three balls and place the three in a largely loaf pan, that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Brush with egg wash and dust with bran. Cover with a large plastic bag and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45–60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until bread is firm to the touch and gently browned, about 40 minutes.

Makes one large loaf




Bespoke baking, sublime cuisine and food musings from village baker and cookbook author Marcy Goldman

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Marcy Goldman

Marcy Goldman

Cookbook Author, Master Baker, Writer, contributer to Costco Connection, Washington Post, Huffington Post, PBS Next Avenue. Find me at

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