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Crusty French Bread Recipe

There’s nothing like a good loaf (or two!) of crusty, chewy French bread at the dinner table.  This recipe results in a beautifully browned and crisp crust, with a soft and chewy center.  

french bread recipe, homemade bread, loaf bread

Crusty French Bread Recipe

A few years ago, I started making my own bread with a passion. I think my bread baking obsession was fueled by the arctic air in Minnesota… baking bread is wonderfully therapeutic when staying indoors.

My favorite bread experiments include Homemade Bagels (totally not as scary as I’d feared) and mall-like Soft Pretzels.

My family devours  tasty dinner breads like this fantastic Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread and Better Than O.G. Breadsticks.

I’ve made this Crusty French Bread a few times, and it’s always worth every bite.  If you’re in the market for making your house smell like a bakery and putting the most tasty loaf of French Bread on the dinner table, we’ve got you.

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French Bread made easy

Store bought dinner rolls are often on the menu in a pinch.  But if you really want to make your carb-lovers happy, make a loaf of this easy Crusty French Bread.

Yeah, but the yeast.  Have no fear.

Because this recipe contains no heavy flours or add-ins, it rises super well.  So well, in fact, that you can literally watch the dough ballooning right in front of your eyes as you go about your other tasks. 

As long as your house is at least at moderate room temperature, this baby will rise beautifully and fast. If your house is cold, choose the warmest space in your home to rest the dough. 

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How to Make Your Own French Bread

First, make the dough, which consists of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water. Just 4 basic ingredients and water; stir it well until it becomes a play-dough-like consistency that’s smooth and elastic with only slight tackiness. Cover the dough and place it in the warmest part of your house. If there’s a small room that keeps warm air in, that’s your space.

I personally like to turn my oven on warm mode, turn it off (don’t forget that part,) and place the bowl of covered dough in it for rapid and consistent rising.

Drafts are not your friend when it comes to yeast bread, so be sure the space is not drafty at all.

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After 30 minutes or so, start checking to see if your dough has doubled in size.  The instructions say 30-60 minutes, but the actual time for rising truly depends on your room temperature. If the dough is placed in a warm place, it will rise to double the size much sooner, so start checking at 30 minutes.

This is probably the only time the word punch is appropriately associated with solid food. Punch that dough down and shape your loaves.

Give your shaped loaves 30 minutes (or less, if space is warmer) to double in size again. Your unbaked loaves should now appear twice as puffy as they did when you first shaped them.

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Once the your unbaked loaves have risen, bake them uncovered on the lower-middle rack for about 25 minutes.

Golden, crusty homemade bread is about to emerge from your very own oven and wow everyone at the table.

Feel free to show off those gorgeous loaves and take all the photos before slicing, and definitely before anyone in the family sees you with them. Once they catch you with this freshly baked bread, they’ll be grabbing for their share.

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This Crusty French Bread is perfect for dunking into hot soup like this one.

It’s also amazing with a slather of butter and straight into your mouth.

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If you have leftovers, simply wrap the bread tightly in foil and leave at room temp. Reheat in oven the next day for another meal of bready deliciousness.

Wrap any leftover bread tightly in foil and freeze. Frozen bread in foil can be reheated straight from freezer to over or toaster oven.

I’m thinking I’ll make several loaves, wrap ’em up, and freeze.  It would be awesome to just toss them in the oven for freshly baked bread on any weeknight.  

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Try These Fluffy Pancakes, Too:

Crusty French Bread Recipe

4.84 from 30 ratings
This Crusty French Bread is perfect for any meal. It's an easy, fail-proof recipe that allows for quick rise times, and results in a wonderfully crispy exterior and chewy interior. Great for dunking in soup or slathering butter onto.
Prep Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Servings: 18

Ingredients  

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 .25 oz packages active dry yeast (be sure it's fresh!)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 TB white sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups water at 110F
  • 1 TB cornmeal
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 TB water

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Hand-whisk until well combined. Gradually stir in the warm water (test the temperature with thermometer to ensure it's right around 110F) and stir until a dough forms. The consistency should be roughly like play-dough, not too sticky but easily forms into a smooth/elastic dough ball. Add 1 TB water at a time as needed to gain that consistency.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead dough 10 minutes. Shape into a ball, place into a well-oiled bowl, and turn dough to lightly coat in oil. Cover bowl tightly with cling wrap and place bowl in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, 30-60 minutes.
  • Gently punch dough down and divide in half. Place on lightly floured surface, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Roll each half into approx. 14x9 inch rectangle. Roll rectangle up lengthwise, moisten edges with water, and pinch tightly to seal. Taper and seal ends.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with cornmeal. Place loaves seam side down on sheet. Cut diagonal slits into loves on top, about 1/4 inch deep. Brush loaves with egg/water mixture. Gently lay cling wrap over loaves and place in a draft-free warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F with rack on lower middle position. Place a large pan of water on lowest rack.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Brush again with egg/water mixture. Bake another 10 minutes or until bread looks done. Let loaves rest at room temp at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 26.6g | Protein: 3.4g | Fat: 0.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 132.1mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 0.4g
Course: Bread
Cuisine: French American
Method: baking

Did you make this?

Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

Here are our other awesome bread recipes:

1.  Better than O.G. Breadsticks.  Yeah, Olive Garden is known for one thing — the garlic breadsticks.  But wait until you try these easy homemade ones.  They will knock your socks off.  No restaurant breadsticks will compare after this!

Better than Olive Garden Breadsticks 10

2.  Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread.  This bread is the bomb.  It’s so chewy soft in the center, with a flavorful exterior crust…this is one of those things you want to gobble up the minute it emerges from the oven.

Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread

3.  Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread.  So, you’re low on time and still want delicious bread straight out of the oven.  This one takes almost no time at all and yields a mouthwatering bread.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

4.  I know this isn’t bread, but it’s fab for dunking bread into!  Our almost famous Homemade Chicken (or turkey, after Thanksgiving!) Noodle Soup.  It is the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of lapping up.

Turkey/Chicken Noodle Soup

5.  While we’re at it, let’s drool over this delicious Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  Perfect next to that homemade bread of yours.

butternut squash soup 2

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Recipe Rating




101 comments

    • Dawnde
    • 5 stars

    I made it for Thanksgiving. Everyone loved it! People just kept saying they couldn’t believe it was homemade and my mom even said, “you should sell this! Everyone would buy it!” Thanks for the recipe.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, so glad you all loved it! 🙂

    • Deborah
    • 5 stars

    I cut the recipe in half as I cook for myself and hubby. Divided the dough into eight equal parts. Made french rolls and followed your baking instructions
    . These were the best ever! We both enjoyed them immensely.

    • Mark
    • 3 stars

    The bread went together well, rose well and browned nicely. The problem I had was the texture. Rather than having a nice chewy bread, it was more cake like. Any ideas?

    • jan richards
    • 5 stars

    A really good bread but did you really mean to knead for 10 minutes? I didn’t do that and mine turned out great. Just seems like a long time to knead.

      • Amy Dong

      Jan, sounds like you were able to get away with less elbow grease…awesome!

    • Yvonne
    • 5 stars

    Beyond fantastic! Was very easy. My husband raved and raved, and raved!

    • Whitney

    What if I don’t have any cornmeal for the bottom? Is there any other way that will still turn out ok?

      • chewoutloud

      Whitney, you can forgo the cornmeal and remove baked bread carefully after a bit of cool time. Enjoy!

    • Katie
    • 5 stars

    I’ve experimented with Brad making in 2020, but this recipe is THE BEST! Followed the recipe exactly, but used my dough hook! Everyone loved it! Making it again today for dippy bread with my chachurie board!!! Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, Katie! 🙂

    • Janet V Ross

    How do I share this with my friends on Facebook ?

      • chewoutloud

      Janet, at the top of this article, you should find the FB logo/button. Click on it, and the link should appear on your FB page 🙂

    • Barb P
    • 5 stars

    Made this today. Super easy and delicious! It was very light. Great taste. Wouldn’t change a thing

      • chewoutloud

      Thank you, Barb! Happy continued baking! 🙂

    • Pam

    We LOVE the Crusty French Bread recipe. If I double it should we get 4 loaves or just 2 giant loaves? I am new at bread making, so maybe this is a silly question….

      • chewoutloud

      Not silly at all, Pam! You should get 4 even sized loaves. Enjoy!

    • Mary Bunker
    • 5 stars

    Perfect every time

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Mary 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Kristin

    Question: After shaping the dough, it did not rise again… What did I do wrong:(

      • chewoutloud

      Sorry to hear that, Kristin. There are several things that can affect the rise…the first couple that come to mind are: yeast needs to be super fresh in order to “activate” and the dough needs a draft-free/warm space to rise in. If you still have questions, feel free to email me.

    • Robin Leach

    I’ve made this recipe twice with no alterations and both times turned out perfectly baked loaves. Definitely a keeper!

      • chewoutloud

      That’s fantastic, Robin! Yay!! 🙂

    • Julie
    • 5 stars

    I love this bread! Except I did bake it an extra 10 minutes at 400 degrees to get that beautiful color.

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, Julie!!

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