How to Make Dough | Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Bread | Savory

Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe

By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 1st, 2017
4.82 from 16 votes
4.82 from 16 votes

This foolproof Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe can be used for practically ANYTHING!

Yield: 1 loaf, 1 pizza, or 12 to 15 rolls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast. All opinions provided are my own. Thanks for supporting me in working with brands I love, to bring you new recipes and giveaways!

I have been counting down the days until I could share this recipe with you. It’s one of those recipes that I think will become such a staple part of your repertoire you might even memorize it!

I actually reached out to my favorite brand of baker’s yeast, Red Star Yeast, to see if they’d like to partner with me to bring you today’s recipe, challenge, and giveaway. There’s so much fun inside this one post so be sure to read through it all so you don’t miss a thing.

This foolproof Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe can be used for practically ANYTHING! Cinnamon rolls, bread rolls, sandwich bread, pizza, or whatever your heart desires.

Baking with yeast can be intimidating and confusing, which is I am obsessed with Red Star’s Platinum Yeast. Just take a look at these photos. Look how beautifully tall, fluffy, and wonderful everything looks! This yeast takes the worry out of baking homemade bread.

My ultimate simple dough recipe can be used to make anything, even fluffy cinnamon rolls! Tons of baking tips, make ahead advice, and yeast tricks included.

It’s made with dough enhancers that strengthen and improve your dough, and even increase oven spring (hello, cinnamon rolls that look like they’re from a professional bakery!). I find this gives you a little room to learn, experiment, and explore working with yeast without worrying about messing anything up.

There are a TON of tips, tricks, directions, and useful bread baking information in this post. But before we get to that I wanted to share the best part about this partnership with Red Star Yeast.

We’re challenging you to get into the kitchen and whip up a batch of this dough to make whatever your heart desires (instructions for various ways to use this dough are below). Even if you’ve never made bread before, or have only worked with yeast a few times, this recipe is basically foolproof! Promise.

Ultimate foolproof simple dough recipe that can be used to make ANYTHING!

Yeast Tips

Working with Dough

Tip #1: Don’t add too much extra flour. The amount of flour you need to bring the dough together into a smooth, elastic, and cohesive ball will depend on your kitchen environment. If the dough is tacky, or even a little sticky, don’t worry. It will absorb moisture as it rests and rises.

It’s better for the dough to be a little sticky at the beginning than it is to add so much extra flour you create dense and unappealing bread. If your dough is impossibly sticky and not coming together, add additional flour just 1 tablespoon at a time.

Tip #2: Dough is like a living organism and the conditions in your kitchen (such as the humidity and temperature) can affect how it grows. Every dough recipe is basically a set of guidelines. Follow the sensory indications provided to make the dough work in your environment. It may require slightly more or less flour than the recipe states, and more or less time to rise or bake.

Tip #3: The dough is done rising when it passes the ripe test. After the first rise, it should be about doubled in size. Use a clear bowl or container to more easily gauge how much the dough has grown. To see if it’s raised enough to proceed, insert two fingers about a knuckle into the dough. If indentations remain once you remove your fingers, it’s ready to go. If not, it needs to rise longer until the indentations remain.

After the second rise, gently press one finger into the dough. If the indentation remains, it’s ready to be baked!

What if I don’t have a stand mixer, can I make this by hand?

Of course! Simple combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until a shaggy mass forms then move to a work surface to knead by hand. It may take a few minutes longer by hand to get the dough smooth and elastic, depending on your size and strength. You can learn how to knead dough by hand completely here.

I can’t find Red Star Platinum Yeast!

Click here to see where Red Star Platinum Yeast is sold near you. Because this yeast basically makes this recipe “foolproof,” I highly recommend seeking it out. If you can’t locate it, you can also use the same amount of quick rise yeast or active dry yeast, though that may take longer to rise.

Why didn’t my yeast proof?

Your yeast may be old, and has become dead/inactive. For steps for testing if your yeast is fresh, check out my free Beginner’s Quick Guide to Bread. 

Can I use a bread machine to mix and rise the dough?

That should work just fine!

This foolproof Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe can be used for practically ANYTHING! Cinnamon rolls, bread rolls, sandwich bread, pizza, or whatever your heart desires.

How To Use This Recipe

Below I’ve outlined some basic and fun uses for this dough. The basic printable recipe is at the bottom of this post. It’s so incredibly versatile, so feel free to get creative!

That’s why I’m hosting a challenge to encourage you to have fun with this ultimate simple dough recipe!

Cinnamon Rolls

Make the dough through the first rise as stated in the recipe below.

Combine the following for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Roll the dough out into a 9 by 15-inch rectangle. Spread the filling mixture all over, leaving a ½-inch border at the far edge. Roll the dough up tightly then press the seam to seal. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the ends off, and then slice 11 to 12 equal pieces. Place in two greased pie pans or a rectangular baking dish.

Loosely cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until puffy. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Combine 3 tablespoons heavy cream with 1 cup powdered sugar the drizzle all over the warm rolls. Serve!

Note: You could even use the same technique for the cinnamon rolls above, but with a savory filling of cream cheese, bacon, and green onions.

Sandwich Bread

After the dough has doubled in size for the first rise, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into an 8-inch log and place into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 ½-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s domed about 1 inch above the edge of the pan.

Bake the bread in a 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it’s light golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Pizza

After the dough has doubled in size for the first rise, roll it out into about a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Brush with olive oil before adding your sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Bake on a preheated pizza stone, or on a flat baking tray, at 450°F for about 10 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Dinner Rolls

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. After the dough has risen for the first time, punch down. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball and place in the prepared pan. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Lightly cover and let rise until puffy and doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with more melted butter, if desired. Serve warm. If you’d like to make beautifully shaped rolls, check out my post on 5 Ways to Shape Bread Rolls.

Note: I love to throw in shredded cheese, garlic, or herbs to the dough for extra flavor.

This foolproof Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe can be used for practically ANYTHING! Cinnamon rolls, bread rolls, sandwich bread, pizza, or whatever your heart desires.

Make Ahead Options

Fridge

Option 1
Refrigerate the dough after kneading in a container wrapped in plastic wrap or in a ziptop bag. Leave room for the dough to rise (it will still happen even in the colder environment).

In this case, the overnight refrigeration is the first rise so once you’re ready to proceed with the recipe remove the dough from the fridge, punch it down, and allow it to rest and warm to room temperature before shaping, about 30 minutes. The final rise after shaping may be longer because the dough is still cool.

Option 2
Refrigerate the dough after it has risen for the first time and been shaped. Cover the loaves or rolls tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Loosen the plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until an indentation made with your finger into the dough remains. Proceed with the recipe.

Freezer

Option 1 (Unbaked)
Wrap and freeze the dough after it has risen for the first time for up to 2 months.

Loosen the plastic wrap and defrost at room temperature before shaping.

Option 2 (Parbake)
Bake for half the specified baking time, or until the bread begins to hold its own shape. Remove from the oven, cool completely, then wrap well in plastic wrap and tin foil. Refrigerate overnight or store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature then bake for the remaining time from the recipe in the oven (label the time and temperature on the bread before storing). Feel free to wrap and freeze bread rolls individually to bake off as many as needed.

Option 3 (Already baked)
Completely baked and cooled whole loaves or rolls can be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature, then refresh in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

4.82 from 16 votes

How to make
Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe

Yield: 1 loaf, 1 pizza, or 12 to 15 rolls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
This foolproof Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe can be used for practically ANYTHING!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) RED STAR Platinum yeast
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar OR honey
  • 3 3/4 cups (476 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together the milk, water, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy and dissolved. Add in the egg and sugar, stirring to combine.
  2. Add in half the flour, stirring until absorbed. Add in the salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the remaining flour until combined. Increase speed to medium low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and place inside a greased mixing bowl. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Punch the dough down. Now the dough is ready to be shaped and used as you wish. If making any rolls or loaves, allow the dough to rise again after being shaped until it’s puffy, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, before baking.
Course : Side Dish
Cuisine : American

Photos by Constance Higley.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Sri Durga — September 15, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    This was a fantastic recipe for a beginner baker. I’ve been terrified of baking breads for as long as I can remember.

    For this recipe, I used bread flour and increased the water to 1/2 cup instead. Everything else remained the same.

    It was a high hydration dough (similar to some pizza doughs I’ve made a long time ago) but it gave such a gorgeous sandwich loaf. Soft and spongy in the middle and it was so delicious toasted with butter. My husband came back for seconds and that is saying A LOT!

  2. #
    Dee — June 1, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    Was looking for a basic dough recipe. Made this vegan by using all water and eliminating the egg. Worked out well.

    Made dinner rolls. And made cinnamon buns and used vegan butter and coconut milk for the cream.

    You can make pretty much anything with 5 basic ingredients. Water, flour, sugar, salt, yeast.

    Thank you for the recipe.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 1, 2022 at 1:51 pm

      So happy you found what works for you, Dee! Happy baking 🙂

  3. #
    Donna Antongiovanni — February 17, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    This recipe looks great. What temperature is ‘lukewarm’. Thanks.

    • #
      Emily — February 22, 2022 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Donna! There isn’t technically a set standard temp for lukewarm water. We consider lukewarm water to be about 95°F-100°F. You want the water to be warmer than your body temperature, but not hot. Like when feeding a baby. More details can be found in this article by Spruce Eats. I hope that helps!

  4. #
    James — February 11, 2022 at 7:37 am

    Can I use any flour for this recipe

    • #
      Emily — February 11, 2022 at 10:02 am

      Hi James! This recipe was created using all-purpose flour. We haven’t experimented with other flours, but you’re welcome to! Just know that the outcome will be different. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try 🙂

  5. #
    Patti — October 3, 2021 at 5:05 am

    This my go-to recipe for basic dough I have made bread, buns, cinnamon rolls and pizza dough all more than once and it’s fantastic! I don’t have the brand of yeast where I live so I just used whatever I have on hand. Making bread was one of the things I learned during the first lockdown and a year and a half later, I am still making it!

    • #
      Emily — October 4, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      That’s so awesome to hear, Patti! So glad you love this recipe 🙂

  6. #
    Karen L — July 8, 2021 at 5:48 am

    This is now my go to dough recipe to make cinnamon rolls. I made them last Sunday
    Morning. They were so light and fluffy.
    Thank you Tessa for this recipe.

    • #
      Tessa — July 8, 2021 at 2:17 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that, Karen!

  7. #
    Ryan Ricklin — June 19, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    What do you mix the milk water and yeast? What’s the milks property in all this?

    • #
      Tessa — June 21, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      I’m unsure of your question, do you mean what do you mix the milk, water, and yeast in? A bowl of a stand mixer, or if you don’t have a stand mixer, check out the pink tip box above the recipe 🙂 Milk helps create breads which are richer in flavor with a softer crust and velvety texture. Hope that answers your questions!

  8. #
    Debbie B Brett — May 9, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Have a Zojirushi small bread machine.
    Can u change your recipe to small 1lb
    Loaf
    Thanks

    • #
      Tessa — May 10, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      I’m sorry, I haven’t used that type of bread machine before! I wouldn’t know how to adjust the recipe.

  9. #
    Seham Nabil — March 16, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Tessa,
    I put warm milk ,warm water and yeast and it doesn’t foam!! Can you help me?

    • #
      Tessa — March 17, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Oh no! It sounds like your yeast may be too old and has become inactive. I would recommend checking out my free Beginner’s Quick Guide to Bread Guide where I share tips for working with yeast: https://handletheheat.com/bread-cheatsheet. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • #
        Jennifer — November 12, 2022 at 5:33 am

        I have the same issue, even went and bought new yeast

        • #
          Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — November 14, 2022 at 12:08 pm

          Hi Jennifer! Sometimes yeast won’t froth in this situation if the water/milk you’re using is too hot (this kills the yeast) or too cold (this will take forever). You can also try adding a pinch of sugar to this mixture, to help activate the yeast and give it a jump-start, if it’s still being sluggish. I hope that helps!

  10. #
    Ma.Shela Flores — February 27, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    I made your recipe and I love it.
    it makes me fun doing it.
    thank you so much for sharing with us your recipe,.more power

  11. #
    Phillip Marker — December 13, 2020 at 7:35 am

    Extremely versatile. I now have made it several times and have never been disappointed

    • #
      Tessa — December 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      So glad to hear that!

  12. #
    M sree latha — October 14, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    What can we use instead of egg because I am a vegeterian

    • #
      Dee — June 1, 2022 at 12:20 pm

      Hi, I made this vegan, just replaced the milk with water and eliminated the egg. Turned out great? You could try coconut milk if you want? It’s fun to experiment.

  13. #
    eric — August 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    your recipe is not simple at all this is not a recipe for a guy that can barely boil water, thanks but it seems too much for me, please dont call it simple.

  14. #
    Brooke — August 19, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe! Is the dough freezable? I would love to be able to make it in advance and just stick it in the freezer to use later. Thanks in advance!

  15. #
    Jessica Griffin — July 23, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    My dough was wet and sticky. I followed the steps, it never got right

  16. #
    Kate — July 13, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Can I use bread flour instead of all purpose flour?

  17. #
    Desreal — May 13, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Is there anything for like, a breakfast???

  18. #
    Sharon — April 30, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Can I make up the cinnamon buns and then put them in the refrigerator overnight before baking in the morning?

  19. #
    Sonia — April 29, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Do I have to use a mixer? Can I make the dough by hand?

  20. #
    Sonia — April 29, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Can I make this by hand instead of a mixer?

  21. #
    Tracy — April 18, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Hi a Tessa I just was wondering with you cheese and garlic buns i want to make larger ones for hamburgers or sandwiches but I am unsure of how long to bake or size would you be able to help me
    Thank you Tracy

  22. #
    Rob — April 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    I really wanted to save this but it’s aggravating because the ad is constantly on there and you can’t get rid of it. I’ll find another recipe

  23. #
    rashed — April 15, 2020 at 7:58 am

    how long do you put it in the oven for and, what degree

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