Everyone needs a basic bread recipe in their back pocket, even those of us that live in high altitudes! A fluffy inside and a crusty bread-like outside make the perfect duo for this white sandwich bread recipe!
This fluffy bread with a golden crust is a staple that everyone should know how to make. It’s so versatile in that it can be used for grilled cheeses, PB&Js, and of course, classic toast with a touch of jam or butter.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: this is the first white bread recipe that I’ve made that hasn’t been a total fail since I’ve lived at a high altitude in Colorado! Other breads that I’ve tried to adjust and modify to fit the elevation just turned into a complete disaster. They either rose too quickly, collapsed in the oven, or were off in flavor and sweetness. This one, my friends, is not like those fails. This bread is THE recipe to use if you live in high altitudes! It rises perfectly, has the perfect balance of sweetness, and is so incredibly easy that even a complete beginner can’t mess it up (trust me, if I can make it, so can you!).
Since this recipe makes two loaves, I like to freeze one loaf to have on hand. It’s so cheap to make and really easy for beginners that have never made bread!
How to make bread in high altitudes:
One of my most important tips for making bread (or anything involving yeast for that matter) is to make sure your yeast is still active and hasn’t expired. If the yeast is dead the bread won’t rise properly. So make sure it gets foamy after 15 minutes when you add the water and sugar. Also, make sure to use lukewarm water (between 98-105 degrees F) for this step. Do NOT use water that is too hot since it will kill the yeast.
I’ve tested this recipe with both dry active yeast and instant yeast. Both types of yeast work, but if using dry active yeast, you will need to let it proof for 10-15 minutes as opposed to instant yeast which would only need 5 minutes of proofing.
Once you’ve verified that your yeast is still good, you can start making the dough. I highly, highly recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to help with kneading and getting an accurate structure. Not only that, but it’s also less intimidating to just dump your ingredients into a machine and let it do the work for you, especially if you’re a beginner in bread-making.
However, if you don’t have a stand mixer or dough hook attachment, you can knead the dough by hand. It’s just going to take a lot longer and will require some elbow grease. But if you stay with it and be patient, the bread should turn out.
Now, let’s talk about letting the dough rise. There is a fine line between allowing the dough to rise and letting it OVER-rise. I found that the sweet spot for elevations between 5,000-6,500 feet is around 45-55 minutes. Just keep an eye on the dough until it has doubled in size. That’s when you know the dough is finished rising.
Since my house is usually cold, I like to keep the dough covered with plastic wrap in the oven on the “proof” setting.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Each half will be shaped into a loaf for baking. There are plenty of ways you can do this, but here is my preferred method for shaping the dough into loaves:
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle and lightly press into it to remove air bubbles.
- Fold down the top portion of the dough and lightly press it to seal.
- Fold the upper two corners inwards toward the center.
- Roll down the top until you reach the end and press into a sealed seam. This will be the bottom of the loaf.
Your shaped dough might appear to be small at first, but don’t worry since the second rise will help the dough fill out the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm space (or use the “proof” setting on your oven) and allow it to rise for 40-45 minutes.
Your dough should double in size. See the before and after photo for a comparison.
This bread bakes best at 375 degrees F for approximately 30-40 minutes. Baking times are largely dependent on your oven, so I would check on your bread every few minutes after you hit the 30-minute mark. I like to leave the loaves in the oven so the crust turns into a pretzel bread-like texture. But don’t leave them in for too long or you will end up with burned loaves!
If you want to add a fancy design on top, do so before putting the bread in the oven. I made one loaf with diagonal cuts across and one loaf with no designs so you could see the difference.
To finish off the bread, brush the loaves with melted butter when they’re still warm to keep them soft and from drying out. Slice and slather with a touch of butter or jelly. Enjoy!
High altitude Bread FAQs
Here are some helpful tips and answers to frequently asked questions:
Should I use Instant Yeast or Dry Active Yeast?
I tested this recipe with both instant and dry active yeast. Both work, but the proofing times will be slightly different. For instant yeast, let the mixture proof for 5 minutes. For active dry yeast, let mixture proof for 10-15 minutes.
How Will I know When The Bread Is Done Baking?
This can be tricky to figure out if you’re not used to baking bread. The best and most accurate method is to use a food thermometer like this one that reads the internal temperature of the bread. After about 30 minutes of baking, you can stick the thermometer in the center of the loaf and remove it from the oven if the temperature reaches anywhere from 205-210 degrees F. But if you don’t have a food thermometer, check the bread after 30 minutes and every 4 minutes after that. Remove when the top is golden.
How to Keep this Bread from going Stale?
You have a few options for when it comes to storing this white bread. My preferred way is to double-wrap it in foil and keep it in a dark spot, like a pantry or cupboard. If you have a breadbox, that would be ideal.
The other method that you can use and one that is helpful for convenience factors is to freeze the loaf. Simply double-wrap the loaf in foil and transfer to a freezer-safe bag. All of the layers will help prevent freezer burn and keep the bread from drying out.
Looking for more high altitiude approved recipes?
High Altitude White Bread
- 2 1/4 tsp Instant Yeast (or dry active yeast. See notes)
- 1 tsp Granulated sugar
- 1 2/3 Cups Water (lukewarm, between 98-105°F)
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Room temperature or at least 65°F and cubed)
- 5 Cups Flour (Plus 1/2 cup for dusting on your surface)
- 1 Tbsp Butter (Melted for brushing warm loaves)
- In a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and half of the water. If using instant yeast, allow it to proof (sit) for 5 minutes. If using dry active yeast, allow the mixture to proof for 10-15 minutes until foamy.
- Add in the remaining water, honey, salt, cubed butter, and 4 1/2 cups of flour. Turn the stand mixer on low and knead the dough for 3 minutes, gradually adding in 1/4 cup of flour until you use the entire 5 cups. (You may need to add a few extra tablespoons of flour depending on the moisture level of your environment.) Continue to knead for at least 5 minutes. The dough should be somewhat smooth and not too sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with butter. Cover with plastic wrap that is also greased with butter and place in a warm, draft-free area (use the "proof" setting on your oven for best results). Leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes.
- Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, pour it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half and roll out each section into a rectangle, lightly pressing into it to remove air bubbles. Fold the two upper corners in towards the center, fold the top inward, and start rolling the dough into a loaf (see process photos of shaping the dough above).
- Place the shaped dough into a loaf pan greased with butter. Cover with plastic wrap also greased with butter and allow it to rise in a warm place again for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pans and bake the loaves for 30 minutes. Use a food thermometer to check if the internal temperature of the loaves has reached between 205-210 degrees, or check the loaves every 4 minutes after the 30-minute mark. Remove when the tops are golden.
- Brush the tops of the warm loaves with butter to keep soft. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- If you would like to make this but don’t live at high altitudes, simply dial back the flour to 4 cups and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Either instant or dry active yeast can be used to make this bread. If using instant yeast, proof for 5 minutes. If using active dry yeast, proof for 10-15 minutes or when foamy.
- This recipe can be halved to make one loaf.
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