The ingredients used in bread making are very simple. At its most basic, the only ingredients you need to make fresh bread are water, yeast, salt, and flour. That's it.

The same goes for equipment. While professional bakers need equipment such as mixers and steam-valve ovens, the truth is that with just an oven and a clean surface, you can easily make bread.

Below I've included a list of basic and not-so-basic ingredients and the role they play in making bread.


Flour gives texture, structure, and form to the bread. Flour is made from ground wheat, which contains two proteins, gutenin and gliadin, which combine with water to form gluten. When gluten and yeast meet, sugar fermentation occurs, and bubbles of carbon dioxide are produced. This is what allows bread dough to rise and stretch. Baking locks the shape of the gluten structures, which gives the bread its ultimate shape.

There are a bunch of different kinds of flours out there, and sometimes it's hard to know which to choose.

Bread flour is made from hard red spring wheat and has a higher protein (and thus gluten) content. It's best used in breads, believe it or not.

All-purpose flour contains a mixture of hard and soft wheat and is best used in cakes, cookies, and biscuits.

Whole wheat flour has a higher protein count than all-purpose or bread flour. It's best used in bread as well.


Water mixes with the flour to produce the gluten, which as we know is a key component in getting the bread to rise. Water also rehydrates the yeast and provides a binding substance for the three other dry ingredients.


I know it's gross, but yeast are single-celled organisms. They can do three things: eat sugars, produce gasses, and reproduce. They consume the sugars present in the bread dough and produce carbon dioxide, which allows the dough to rise. There are a few types of yeast: fresh, instant, and active dry.

Fresh, or cake, yeast is hard to come by and goes bad pretty fast. A lot of bakers say it's the best kind of yeast and that it enhances the flavor of the bread.

Instant yeast is yeast that does not need to be proofed and provides a much faster rise than fresh or active dry yeast. But you can't have it all: what you make up for in time, you lose in flavor.

Active dry yeast is dehydrated yeast that is inactive until it's added to water. It does take a bit longer for the dough to rise using active dry yeast than instant yeast, but the flavor is not compromised and, if you use it before the "use-by" date, there's almost no chance of it going bad.


Salt inhibits the growth of yeast and adds flavor to the bread. Without enough salt, the yeast would eat away at the dough until the gluten structures could no longer support themselves, and the dough would collapse. With too much salt, the dough wouldn't rise enough.