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Who knew homemade French bread could be so easy?! Skip the bakery and learn how to make your own crusty French bread loaves at home.

sliced homemade french bread

Remember when the pandemic first started and so many people hunkered down at home and used their free time to learn how to make their own bread? I was not one of those people. With three kids doing school at home, I had less time to tackle baking projects, not more! But now I’m ready to welcome in the new year by learning some new kitchen skills and one of the first I wanted to tackle was homemade French bread.

Easy French Bread Recipe from Scratch

sliced french bread on a wooden cutting board

Okay, so I have to confess—I thought making French bread would be complicated. Isn’t there a reason we pay a premium for it at the bakery?! Well, after giving it a try, I realize that I was so wrong. French bread from scratch is easy! 

And you know what else? It’s pretty fun too!

The process itself is a little bit…therapeutic? Maybe it’s the punching and shaping and kneading. But even better is the satisfaction you feel after you take your perfect French bread loaf out of the oven. It has a crusty outside and a soft inside that’s made for slathering with butter. Add your favorite soup (or try one of my favorites: Potato Soup) and you’ve got a simple, satisfying meal for a chilly winter day.

Ingredients

ingredients to make french bread
  • Active dry yeast – Remember, active dry yeast isn’t the same as instant. You can’t substitute one for the other!
  • Warm water – If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, just know that this feels warm to the touch, but not hot.
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Egg white
  • Cold water

How to Make French Bread

steps to make french bread

1. Proof the Yeast

Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until it’s foamy.

2. Make the Dough

Add the yeast mixture to a mixer bowl then add in the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Using the paddle attachment, blend until mixed well Turn it on to mix the dough ingredients; once they come together, stir in additional flour until a stiff dough forms.

3. Knead

Remove the paddle attachment and replace it with the dough hook. Turn your mixer back on and allow it to “knead” the dough for 5-8 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand until it feels smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. 

4. Let the Dough Rise

Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, turning the ball of dough once to coat the top with oil. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

5. Form the French Bread Loaves

Punch the dough down in the bowl, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a 16×2-1/2-inch loaf or two smaller loaves. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a greased baking sheet and place the loaf onto the cornmeal. Use a knife to make three diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf. Cover the unbaked loaf lightly with a towel and let it rise again for 30-60 minutes

6. Bake

Preheat your oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and cold water; brush this mixture onto the loaf. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the bread is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. 

7. Cool

Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool.

baked french bread on a wooden cutting board

Serving Suggestions

Here are some of my favorite ways to use French bread:

How to Store French Bread

Wrap your French bread well or store it in a brown paper bag, bakery-style. It will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. You can also freeze French bread for up to 3 months; just let it thaw at room temperature when you’re ready to use it.

FAQ

What is the difference between French bread and a baguette?

French bread is a wider loaf and while it has a crusty exterior, that crust isn’t quite as hard as that of a baguette. 

Is French bread the same as Italian bread?

It’s similar, but not quite the same! Italian bread is denser and the crust is more chewy, less crunchy. 

Is French bread dough supposed to be sticky?

No, it shouldn’t be very sticky. If it’s too sticky to work with, add a bit more flour.

Can you let French bread rise too much?

Yes, you can! Don’t leave it to rise longer than recommended in the recipe. This will give it a fermented, sour taste and affect its texture.

More Basic Recipes Every Cook Should Know

Easy Homemade French Bread

Who knew homemade French bread could be so easy?! Skip the bakery and learn how to make your own crusty French bread loaves at home.
3.50 from 2 votes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Kasey Schwartz
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients  

  • 1 package 1/4 ounce active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water 110° to 115°
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until it has begin to foam.
  • Add the yeast mixture to a mixer bowl then add in the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Using the paddle attachment, blend until mixed well.
  • Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  • Remove the paddle attachment and add the dough hook – allow to “knead” for 5-8 minutes.
  • Alternatively, turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Shape into a 16×2-1/2-in. loaf. Or you can shape into two smaller loaves.
  • Sprinkle cornmeal over a greased baking sheet; place loaf on baking sheet.
  • Make three diagonal cuts across the top. Cover lightly with a towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes
  • Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 375°.
  • Beat egg white and cold water; brush over dough.
  • Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Nutrition

Calories: 786kcal | Carbohydrates: 116g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Sodium: 1167mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 25g | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 5mg
Keyword: bread, french bread
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

Categories: , ,

About Kasey Schwartz

Hi, I’m Kasey, Founder of All Things Mamma – where I am dishing up family favorite recipes that are easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients. Plus – tips and tricks for living your best life!

Comments

  1. 2 stars
    I have no idea if the recipe is good or not because I can’t get the damn thing because there’s so many freaking ads on this page

  2. Susan Oren says:

    When do you add the foamy yeast mixture to the flour mixture in the stand mixture?

    1. Kasey Schwartz says:

      I just added that step in the directions – sorry I missed it before!

  3. Your steps call for sugar twice but the ingredients only once, may need clarification

    1. **To a mixer bowl, add oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Using the paddle attachment, blend until mixed well.
      Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.**
      That will be tough with only the oil as liquid. I think a step is missing. Maybe add flour mixture to water yeast mixture first?

      1. Kasey Schwartz says:

        I just added that step in the directions. Sorry I missed it!

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