The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do you make light and fluffy bread?

harmon2005's picture

How do you make light and fluffy bread?

I'm new to baking.  Recently tried to make a couple of sandwich breads but mine turns out fairly dense.  I even baked longer to see if that would help but I think it's the contents.  What's the key to making light fluffy breads?


demegrad's picture

Are you following a recipe or just trying to figure it out by memory or something you've done in the past.  My first thought is that you should just let it rise longer during the final rise.  The final rise will be affected by several things though, amount of yeast used, temperature, and time.  But if you think you're using an appriopriate amount of yeast and the room temperature isn't to cold, you probably just need to wait longer. 


harmon2005's picture

Well I've followed the recipe exactly but like I said I am new to this and I may have just kneaded too hard or something.  I had no problems rising since it doubled both times.  My bread is just a little more chewey then I'd like it to be.

Liam's picture

If you have a library or bookstore nearby, or if someone on this site has time to transcribe the recipe ( I don't right now)  Go to Rose Levy Berenbaum's  "the Bread Bible"  The Pullman loaf and Sandwhich loaf recipes are soft like little clouds in a loaf.  It's the bread Wonderbread wishes it were.

If you can wait for a day or two I'll get to it for you


Good luck


Liam's picture

Straight dough method

unbleached all purpose flour (KAF or Gold Medal or Pillsbury  4 cups (20.5 oz/585 gr)

dry whole milk             1/4 cup (1.5 oz/ 40 gr)

instant yeast                1 tbspn ( --   9.6 gr)

unsalted butter softened  6 tbspn  (3 oz/  85 gr)

water at room temp (70-90 deg F) 1 1/2 liquid cups (12.5 oz/ 354 gr)

honey                        2 tbspn   (1.5 oz/ 40 gr)

salt                            2 tsp  (-- 13.2 gr)


Mixer method

In a large mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, dry milk and yeast.  Add the butter and mix with the dough hook on low speed (#2 with Kitchenaid mixer)  then add the honey, water and salt.  When all the flour is moistened, raise the speed to medium (#4 Kitchenaid) and beat for 7 minutes.  The dough will be smooth, shiny and slightly sticky to the touch.  If the dough is not stiff, knead in a little flour.  If it is not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead it in.  It will weigh about 38.5 oz/1102 grams)

Hand method

Leave out 1/4 c flour.  Whisk flour, dry milk and yeast together.  Add the butter and with a wooden spoon or your hand, stir in the water, honey and salt until the flour is moistened.  Knead the dough in the bowl until is comes together, and then scrape it onto a lightly floured counter,  Knead for 5 minutes, enough to develop the gluten structure a little, add as little of the reserved flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking.  Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it.  At this point, it will be very sticky.  Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  This resting time will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.  Knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic.  It should still be tacky (sticky) enough to cling slightly to your fingers.  If the the dough is still very sticky however, add some of the remaining flour or a little extra.  It should weigh 38.5 oz or 1102 grams

Both methods

Shape the dough and let it rise.  On a lightly floured counter, shape the dough into a football.  Flour the top and cover it with plastic wrap.  Allow it to relax for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the plastic wrap and gently deflate the dough, using your fingertips to spread it into a rectangle about 10 inches by 8 inches.  Flour the counter as necessary to prevent sticking.

Give the dough one business-letter turn, then press or roll it out again to about 12 inches by 5 inches and shape it into a 16 inch long loaf.  Set it in the prepared greased pan ( a long sandwich loaf pan).  Grease the top of the loaf. Leave in a warm place, draped with plastic.  Allow it to rise until doubled about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  when the dough is pressed with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.

PREHEAT THE OVEN to 425 degrees F at least 30 minutes before baking.  Have an oven shelf at the lowest level (DO NOT USE AN OVEN STONE)

Bake the bread by gently placing the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the loaf around to encourage even browning and continue to bake for 30 minutes until deeply browned.  If the bread seems to be getting too brown, tent with foil.

Cool bread by tipping loaf onto a rack, to let it cool.  Cover with a tea towel if you wish

Note if not using the dry milk, you can replace I cup of the water with 1 cup of milk, scalded (brought just under the boil and cooled to lukewarm.



I have left out the instructions for a Pain de Mie pan, if you need them I will include them, but this makes a really nice  soft sandwich loaf.

Good luck and cheers


Jan Gibson's picture
Jan Gibson

I just want to thank Liam for posting this answer to the question and including a recipe....I tried it yesterday and for the first time in my entire life I managed to make a PERFECT loaf like I would buy in the shops. Now I see the previous attempts called for the main rising to be done first....then knocking back ...shaping and putting in the oven....this bread is heavy and chewy and lasted a day at best......Liam's recipe asked for the final rising to take the longest time that by the time I placed it in the looked the right size already.....result....perfect white bread that ..when sliced...flops over like the store bought bread....Thank you

gusgallows's picture

I am definitely going to try this when I get the chance. A lot of the reason home bread makers wind up with dense bread is also because they try to bake like they would in a bakery. The problem is, bread flour is a very high-protein flour. If you are cooking at 900 degrees it will rise sufficiently in the oven. Most homes aren't equipped with an oven like that though so they have to cook it at much lower temperatures. I found that if you mix your bread flour with a lower protein flour, like cake flour, you can get much lighter bread from your basic home oven.  If your recipe calls for 3 and a quarter cups of bread flour, just do 2 cups and then ad a 1 and a quarter cups of cake flour. Cake flour is found in the same section of the grocery store, but it is usually in a box rather than the traditional paper sack container. Let it rise longer for the final rise, but the density of the bread is amazingly lower with the lighter flour. Found this especially true for Pizza crusts.

julie burns's picture
julie burns

Thanks for this recipe.Made one loaf so halfed ingredients.

Came out fine very soft,better than the usual dense

loaf i make. Was eaten as soon out of oven.

Will make again.

Regards J:))

kellu's picture

liam, if you are still following this thread, do you happen to have the directions for shaping the loaf for a Pain de Mie pan?  thanks

sphealey's picture

The Bob's Red Mill Potato Bread mix turns out light and fluffy whether we bake it in the breadmaker, in pans, or as a shaped loaf on the stone. You might want to buy one of those and then try to duplicate it.


As far as I can see, it is a basic white bread loaf with some potato flour (usually 1 to 2 tbsp for a 1-1/2 lb loaf is plenty) and a bit of dried buttermilk (instant dried milk would probably do about the same).



Baking Soda's picture
Baking Soda

I know I am from Europe and therefore biased ;) but I really wish that cup measurements would least in baking. Whenever I buy a new book I have to "feel" my way with the writer. I can make a cup of flour weigh anything between 135-150 grams (scoop, spoon, sift). And that is only cups, I am not talking differences in US/European flours.

When you say you get your dough doubled easily, maybe you should look into the shaping of your bread. When you roll out the dough (or flatten it enthousiastically) you tend to knock all the gasses out as Jim says and that leaves you with a very fine crumb. After first rise, just push gently with the palm of your hands, then fold like you would make a businessletter, create surface tension. This leaves the bread with enough air to rise again and form a nice open crumb.

Baking Soda

spideywomanrg's picture

The secret is in the shortening or the lard.  It makes your bread soft and fluffy.  I did an experiment on flour tortillas or fry jack from Belize.  Both turned out dense.  I added butter, since I'm out of shortening or lard.  Oh, golly, it's so soft! But I think with lard or shortening, it would be better.

To back this up, I watched a movie called "Love's Journey", a Christian movie. This girl, Missie, now grown, made biscuits, but they were too hard.  The indian lady came by to visit her new neighbor, with a bucket of something.  Missie told Miriam to come in and served her the biscuit.  Miriam was unable to take a bite out of that hard biscuit and she pushed the bucket to Missie and said, "That's the secret to soft biscuits..." then she opened the lid and Missie threw up because she was pregnant.

Miriam laughed and understood her condition and then Missie said, "It's no wonder my husband won't eat my biscuits!" 

It's because there's no shortening or lard in the biscuit! It's the same for every tortilla, bread, fry jacks, etc.  Add the shortening, then you will get your soft bread!

jbaudo's picture

When I first started making bread I did exactly what the recipes said and they never came out fantastic.  Now I do a combination of my favorite loaf recipes and the no knead slow rise ones.  I mix the dough the night before and only add about 1 teaspoon of yeast per loaf.  I knead it if I feel like it but usually let the mixer do most of the work.  I  put the dough in an oiled bowl covered and leave it on the table overnight until the morning.  Many recipes say to refrigerate it but then you have to wait for it to come to room temp before making the loaves (and I use a stainless steel bowl and it stays cold for hours after its been in the fridge).  Punch down the dough very gently (I use my knuckles) and fold it the way the video on this site shows.  There is a really good one that I watched showing how to shape loaves.  I will try to find it.  Many people here have said  not to do the punching down, just to do the folds but I have found that with sandwich bread it is very important to get the big uneven air bubbles out (which are so revered in artisian breads) because the sandwich fillings fall through them! (we eat lots of PB&J)

Also to get very soft fluffy bread the dough needs to be almost sticky and a bit hard to handle.  The more moisture the lighter the bread will be.  As one other poster said, it is very hard to measure using cups because there is so much room for error.  It is very easy to put too much using a measuring cup.  Use a scale to measure your flour until you get an idea how the dough should feel.  Most of my loaf recipes call for approximately 1 pound of flour per loaf - so if the recipe doesn't give weight you can use this as a guide.  It would be better to put less flour (you can always add a bit more while mixing)  but putting too much would make your loaf dense.

The kind of flour you use makes a huge difference too.  I have tried to use 100% whole wheat flour and my family never really loved it.  Some brands were better than others but the loaves always had a heavy tasting quality that no one liked.  Now I use 50/50 bread flour and whole wheat.  They seem to like this best.  The long rise also helps mellow the flavor of the WW. I use king arthur flour mostly.  Sometimes I will buy other brands when they are on sale - but I only buy non brominated non bleached flours.

I wouldn't worry too much about what kind of fat you use (as long as you use some - don't skip the fat), I have used olive oil, canola, coconut, butter and they don't seem to make a difference.  I would never use crisco because it is so bad for the heart.  Lard is usually hydrogenated too so I have never used that either. 

Practice makes perfect so keep trying.  My first loaves weren't great either!  But now I can't keep bread in the house - it gets eaten too fast.


Jan Gibson's picture
Jan Gibson

Thank you Jennifer for your tips on making softer bread...I used Liam's recipe and followed your advice also....had the two documents side by side as I worked.....I must admit ..Liam's recipe was the first to tell me to use fat of any kind....and I think that is why I was really making more of a foccacia than a sandwich loaf....In our stores in South Africa they sell a premixed dough that is normally used to fry a type of doughnut....I used it to make a loaf and it was again very hard and heavy. I think reading all the posts on this thread, I finally understand after all these years..what makes the difference in a good bread.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to the thread.


Jan x

jbaudo's picture

I found the video link.  I don't love the rolling part (the last shaping step) but as long as you can get the general shape and the dough nice and tight then your loaf will be fine.


Broc's picture

Fully agreed!



100percentwholegrain's picture

Hi there,

The above ideas sound very helpful.  I've had great results for sandwich bread with a recipe using home ground hard white spring wheat.  I make it using a Bosch kitchen machine and it only has to rise once, so I knead, shape, and bake.  You can check out this raspberry pastry recipe using soft white wheat if you want to get an idea of the texture: whole wheat bread 

Don't give up - you'll find something that works, and you'll love it!

Debbe1's picture

Light and Fluffy Sandwich Bread

Makes 1 Loaf


      3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

      1 tablespoon sugar

      1 tablespoon honey

      1 cup water

      1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

      3 cups all purpose flour

      1/4 cup powdered milk

      1/4 cup instant potato flakes

      1 tablespoon lecithin

      1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast


  1. Add ingredients in order given for your bread machine
  2. Select dough cycle.
  3. When done, take out dough and on a floured surface, shape into loaf (work it as little as possible) and place in greased loaf pan..
  4. Let rise in a warm place for approximately 40-60 minutes until doubled in size.
  5. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. 
  6. Brush the top of the bread with butter, when it comes out of the oven.
  7. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
cherryadia's picture

I tried the recipe Liam shared above (the Bread Bible Pullman loaf sandwich bread recipe) with 6 Tbsps of sunflower oil (because I didn't have any butter and I live in a small town in Korea where I have to drive to a big grocery store to get butter), but followed everything to the tee. 

The only problem was with my oven. I have what Korean people call a "smart oven," which claimes to be a convection oven. But I really don't think it is a real convection oven because I can never bake cookies. They come out as rock hard charcoals no matter what I do. I use my mini oven and the cookies and brownies come out wonderfully soft, chewy, moist.... But I have used this "smart oven" to bake Peter Reinhart's ciabatta bread (from his Artisan Breads Every Day book) with a bit of tweaking with oven temperature and baking time.

So, I followed the recipe Liam shared and I set the temperature as 200 degree Celsius, set the time as 50 minutes...

And after 25 minutes of baking, it started smelling like something was burning...!!!!

I followed my intuition and took the bread out.... Cooled it a bit and sliced it... And it was wonderful, soft, fluffy inside! The outside is a bit burned, very hard, but the inside was saved.

Can't get used to this stupid oven... I miss mine at home back in Canada.... *Sigh*

But great recipe! Thank you for sharing it, Liam!!

Mells's picture

Hi, I just want to thank Liam for the amazing recipe! I baked it and for the first time in my entire life, I made the perfect bread ever!

But the only problem is that I don't know why my dough is smooth and elastic. Is this a good thing? I don't know, cause the recipe calls for it to be sticky and hard to handle. I don't know what went wrong. 

And another question, can I not put any flour when I'm kneading? Ps/,  the dough isn't sticky at all. Cuz, everybody said that putting too much flour will make the loaf too dense.

Do anybody knows the answers to these?

Yennie's picture

Hi Mells,

I think maybe maybe it is due to the high gluten content of your flour used? Did you cover the dough with damp cloth during the rise?

What is the protein content (per 100g) of your flour?


chylld's picture

almost 5 years ago liam's post, doubt he reads this thread anymore but THANK YOU anyway. had done a few loaves but none to a 100% acceptable standard; this recipe was so simple and the dough rose so easily by itself without providing any extra heat or moisture.

i halved the ingredients and baked for 20+20 minutes but next time i'll try 15+15. too easy

Yennie's picture

my first awesome non dense bread

I have done it bun shaped and then bread tin loaf shaped; perfect (for me) every time!

Anyone have comments on this: commercial white bread is like having more small and consistent bubbles crumbs whereas this formula have irregular and fluffffffffff crumbs. 

Due to the flour and kneading style?

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Often the crumb is the result of dough conditioners regulated by the government. Not the sort of thing you are interested in using. But smaller holes can be achieved,I believe, by kneading and shaping. Somebody else will be better able to answer how. 

Yennie's picture

Thanks David . Make sense totally. I always see 'dough conditoner' etc in the leaves ingredients list.

enjoy baking!!!