This homemade french bread is crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. It’s easier to make than you think, and it has been a favorite at our house for over two decades.
Nothing beats a loaf of homemade bread, does it? You can serve this with spaghetti, lasagna, or any Italian meal. It also makes perfect garlic bread and french toast. So easy, so versatile.
When I had my second son, a good friend brought over a pot of soup and this french loaf bread. It was so good that I couldn’t stop eating it! I called her the very next day and got the recipe.
I’ve given it to dozens of neighbors over the years, and everyone raves over it.
What is french bread?
Traditional French bread is usually made with white flour, yeast, salt, water, and a bit of sugar. Authentic French bread has no added oils or fat. It is sometimes called a baguette, which literally means “a stick”, because it it a long, round loaf.
You can identify French bread by the slashes that are cut across the top crust. It is crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.
This recipe isn’t a truly authentic recipe, because I like to add oil to the dough. Not only does it result in a softer loaf, it increases the shelf life. But you can absolutely omit the oil if you prefer.
EASY FRENCH BREAD RECIPE
You just need simple ingredients for this crusty bread, and I bet you have them in your pantry. I will walk you through all the steps so you can learn how to make homemade French bread that rivals the bread at any bakery! Even beginning bakers can succeed with this recipe.
I have made it using both my Bosch and my Kitchenaid stand mixer, but often times I just use my hand mixer. So even if you don’t have fancy equipment, all you need is a large mixing bowl and a bit of muscle power. 🙂
BAKING FRENCH BREAD VIDEO
HOW TO MAKE FRENCH BREAD
- MAKE DOUGH – In a large bowl of a Kitchenaid or Bosch, combine water, sugar, yeast, salt, oil, and half of the flour. Beat until smooth using the dough hook. Gradually add enough flour till you have a smooth dough. Mix on low till dough is silky smooth and pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- LET RISE – Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. (Or transfer the dough to a another bowl that has been sprayed with non stick spray.) Let rise for an hour, or until at least doubled in bulk.
- FORM – Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a rectangle 13 inches long on a lightly floured surface. Roll up tightly and pinch together to seal. Place loaves on greased baking pan. Let rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- SLASH – Brush or spritz each loaf with water, and make several diagonal slashes across the top with a serrated knife.
- Bake bread in an oven that has been preheated to 375° for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Note – If using a hand mixer, after beating in half of the flour, you will need to stir in the remaining flour by hand, and knead the dough on a counter for 3-5 minutes.
STORAGE: Because this bread doesn’t call for much oil, it doesn’t keep as well as other yeast bread recipes. It will last a few days at room temperature, but it does start to dry out after a couple days.
To keep the crust crunchy, store it in a paper bag. For softer crust, store it in a plastic bag.
You can can double wrap the bread well and freeze it for up to two months.
PRO TIPS FOR BREAD:
- Make sure your yeast is fresh. If you aren’t sure, mix about a half teaspoon of yeast, a half teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 cup of warm (110-115°F) water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. If it gets bubbly and foamy, it’s great. If not, discard it and buy new yeast.
- The amount of flour you add to yeast breads will vary based on factors such as room temperature, humidity, and flour density. You have to go by feel of the dough instead of exact measurement.
- Sprinkle your greased baking sheet with cornmeal for a bottom crust similar to those at many bakeries.
- For an extra shiny, crunchy crust, you can brush the top of your bread dough with beaten egg white instead of water.
- If you don’t have a sharp serrated knife, you might want to invest in a bread lame for slashing. You can even make intricate designs for gorgeous loaves.
FRENCH BREAD VARIATIONS:
- For authentic French bread, omit the oil. The bread won’t keep as well, but it will still be mighty tasty.
- Instead of making two large loaves, you can divide the dough into fourths and make smaller loaves. You will need to decrease the baking time.
- Replace half of the white flour with freshly ground whole wheat flour. I like to add a bit of wheat gluten to help keep the bread soft and chewy.
- After brushing the loaves with water, sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
- For extra crisp crust and chewier bread, place a few ice cubes in a metal pan in the bottom of the oven. The steam will create great texture!
- For traditional long, skinny round loaves, use a French bread pan. Not only do the loaves hold their shape as they rise, the holes in the pan make the crust extra crunchy.
- For larger slash marks in the finished loaf, cut the slashes before the loaves rise.
It tastes fabulous warm from the oven, and it also makes great garlic bread. Sometimes I hide a loaf high up in the pantry for a day or two so I can use it to make French toast. Yum!
WAYS TO USE FRENCH BREAD
- You can’t beat it warm slathered with butter. Or toast a slice and add butter and jam. Oh my.
- Dip it into lasagna soup, Olive Garden gnocchi soup, or any of your favorite soups. Or use it as a side to just about any meal.
- Split it in half lengthwise and use it to make french bread pizza or stroganoff sandwiches.
- It works perfectly for my garlic bread grilled cheese.
- After it sits on the counter for 3-4 days and dries out a bit, it’s wonderful for french toast.
- And of course it makes amazing garlic bread! 🙂
MORE YUMMY BREAD RECIPES:
CLASSIC FRENCH BREAD RECIPE
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 Tbsp instant yeast (I use SAF brand.)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp canola oil (optional)
- 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour (approximately)
- In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Add salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Beat till smooth. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Cover dough and let it rise for an hour, punching it down if it reaches the top of the bowl.
- Divide dough in half. To form loaves, roll each half of the dough into a rectangle about 13 inches long. Then roll it up tightly lengthwise (like you would with cinnamon rolls, just without the cinnamon). Seal the edges by pinching together tightly
- Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place the loaves on the cookie sheet and let raise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with water and make diagonal slashes on top using a sharp serrated knife.
- Bake at 375° for about 25 minutes or till lightly browned. Brush tops with butter if desired.
If you are not using instant yeast, you will need to let the water, yeast, and sugar sit for 10 minutes until bubbly.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 293mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
When you discover how easy making homemade french bread can be, you may never want to buy store bought french bread again!