Bagels only undergo one proofing, meaning they rise once instead of twice. Abigail Monti / Daily Nexus

So you’ve mastered cookies and quick loaves, and now you feel that you’re ready to try making your own bread. The world of breadmaking can be overwhelming for newbies, even those highly acquainted with baking desserts. First, there’s yeast to contend with, then kneading, then proofing! But there is nothing more heavenly than opening your oven door to get a whiff of yeasty wonderfulness. 

Where to start? Well, one of the perks of bread is that it hardly takes any ingredients. As long as you have flour, water, yeast and salt on hand, you can make dozens of bread variations. The most difficult ingredient is time — making bread can take the entire day split up into single steps over hours. While time-consuming, the steps are relatively easy for bakers of all skill levels. These five recipes are perfect for anyone ready to take their baking to the next level.

French bread

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe is the blog home to my favorite French bread recipe. It’s fluffy, delicious and can be made entirely by hand or with a kitchen mixer if desired. The mild flavor of French bread makes it incredibly versatile: I love using fresh-baked French bread for French toast, sandwiches and homemade croutons. 


Sally’s Baking Addiction baking blog is my trusted source for bagel recipes. Bagels are one of my favorite breads to make because they’re delicious and taste much better fresh than the store-bought variety. What you might not know is that bagels only undergo one proofing, meaning that they rise once instead of twice. This key difference means that you can make bagels in less than two hours! Personally, my favorite bagel toppings are sesame seeds, shredded cheddar cheese and everything-bagel seasoning.  

Pizza dough

My boyfriend and I use Sugar Spun Run’s pizza dough recipe at least once a week. This blog recipe calls for garlic powder and Italian seasoning, making it the perfect base for savory toppings. Pizza dough, like bagels, only takes one rise. And if you’ve ever made homemade pizza, you know that it takes the cake over Domino’s any day of the week. Get creative and turn homemade pizzas into date night! Or take a page out of Woodstock’s book: Skip the savory seasonings and slather your dough with butter, cinnamon sugar and cream cheese frosting. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


Focaccia is a great bread to convince others that you’re a more experienced baker than you actually are. To most people’s surprise, focaccia only takes one additional ingredient — olive oil — and doesn’t even need to be kneaded. However, it can be dressed up with dozens of tasty mix-ins, like olives, scallions, rosemary and tomatoes. Bon Appétit magazine’s recipe is a great place to start.

Cinnamon rolls

Out of all the bread variations, I probably make cinnamon rolls the most, and Sally’s Baking Recipes never fails. While cinnamon rolls are more complex than the first four breads listed above — they require an “enriched dough” made with other ingredients such as milk, butter, eggs and sugar — they’re so much better homemade than the kind sold in grocery stores. 

No matter where you choose to start, I promise you’ll be happy you did. After all, nothing tops freshly baked goods. Just make sure to hide them from your roommates — bagels hardly last 24 hours in my household. Or if you don’t mind sharing, a homemade batch of cinnamon rolls will definitely impress everyone at brunch. You’ll never want to buy premade bread again.

A version of this article appeared on p. 12 of the May 4, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.