Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe

Learn how to make this basic sweet yeast dough recipe. This dough can be used to make cinnamon rolls, raised doughnuts, soft dinner rolls, sticky buns, and much more! 

Sweet Yeast Dough Master Recipe- Baker Bettie

Today we are going to talk about a master recipe for sweet yeast dough. A recipe that can be used for all kinds of applications. Cinnamon rolls, raised doughnuts, dinner rolls, monkey bread, pull apart bread. The options are endless.

I like having good master recipes in my repertoire because this is how you can become creative as a baker. When you have a base that is solid you can add all kinds of variations. This is what I want people to understand about baking. Creativity is absolutely welcome!

A basic sweet yeast dough is a rich dough. Meaning that the dough has higher amounts of fat, sugar, and usually eggs compared to lean doughs. The reason this is important to know is that rich doughs create softer breads with a more tender crumb.

Fat acts to shorten gluten strands when mixed with flour and this creates and more tender bread. Ever wonder why how shortening got it’s name? Rich doughs are much easier to make in our home kitchens because lean doughs often need steam to form their crust and that is more difficult to create without a commercial oven.

To make this basic sweet yeast dough recipe, we are going to use the Modified Straight Dough Method. It is really just 4 simple steps. 1. Rehydrate the yeast. 2. Mix the fat, sugar, salt, and eggs together. 3. Add the liquid yeast mixture and the flour and knead. 4. Let the dough ferment.

I will break it down.

Step 1: Rehydrate the Yeast

I talked before in my article about how to make bagels, that yeast really likes 2 things: Warm temperatures and sugar.

In this step, we are going to warm the milk up to somewhere between 105ºF-110ºF. You don’t want the milk to get too hot because it will kill the yeast. It likes warm temperatures, not hot!

I usually do this in the microwave. I heat the milk in small bursts and check it. It usually takes about 60-90 seconds (depending on the starting temp) to get it to where I want it. You can also do this on the stove in a small sauce pan if you like. Just be careful of scorching it.

Once the milk is warm, sprinkle the active dry yeast over the milk. The warm temperature will wake it up and it will begin feeding on the sugars in the milk! You know it is ready when the mixture begins to look frothy.

This is also a way to know that your yeast is alive. If nothing happens in this stage it is a pretty good indicator that your bread will not rise late.

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe- Baker Bettie

Step 2: Mix the Fat, Sugar, Salt, and Eggs

In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together the softened butter cut into small pieces, the sugar, salt, and eggs. It does not need to be completely smooth here. The kneading process will take care of that.

I usually just do this with a wooden spoon in the mixing bowl and then put the bowl back in the stand mixer with the dough hook to get ready for kneading.

Step 3: Add the Liquid Yeast Mixture and the Flour and Knead

With the dough hook attachment on your mixer and the mixer on the lowest setting, pour in the liquid yeast mixture and slowly add in the flour. Increase the mixing speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes.

After this amount of kneading the dough will begin to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be very soft and sticky but should not be wet. If the dough is too wet, add more flour 1 TBSP at a time until the dough is soft but not wet.

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe- Baker Bettie

Step 4: Fermentation

Turn dough out into a clean bowl and cover with a towel or loosely with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place to rise. If you kitchen is very cold you can set the bowl in an oven that is off.

Allow the dough to rise to double in size. This should take about an hour and a half. Your dough is now ready to use!

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe- Baker Bettie

Don’t worry, I will have some posts coming up soon to use this basic sweet yeast dough recipe with! Those cinnamon rolls up there are a tease, but will be posted just in time for your weekend! I’m thinking about some real belgian waffles with this too. So many possibilities!

Yields 20

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe

2 hrPrep Time

2 hrTotal Time

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2/3 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz package or 2 1/4 tsp)
6 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
3 cups plust 2 TBSP all-purpose flour


  1. Warm the milk to 105-110ºF. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let it sit until it begins to get foamy. About 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg.
  3. Fit the mixing bowl onto the mixer with the dough hook. With the mixer on the lowest setting, pour in the milk/yeast mixture and the flour. Increase speed to medium and let the dough knead for about 5 minutes until it forms a soft sticky dough. The mixture will seem quite wet at first, but will form a smooth soft dough once kneaded in the mixer for the full time. If the mixture is too wet after kneading, add more flour 1 TBSP at a time until a soft but sticky dough forms.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl with a towel or loose plastic wrap over it and allow to rise to double in size. About 1 1/2 hours.

Tools I used for this recipe…