Nothing beats a loaf of crusty, chewy French bread at the dinner table. This recipe creates a beautifully browned and crisp crust, with a soft and chewy center that will leave you coming back for slice after slice.
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Why This Recipe Stands Out
- Easy Rise: If your house is at least moderate room temperature, you won’t need to fret about this loaf of goodness rising to the max. This recipe skips all of the heavy flour add-ins, so it rises super easily.
- Golden Texture: This loaf has a delicious golden texture to the crust.
- Easy Recipe: Anyone can make this recipe in their home kitchen, so there’s no need for a fancy bread maker or elaborate attachments.
- The Smells: Baked fresh, this recipe will fill your home with the warm, aromatic smell of perfectly baked homemade bread.
- Pantry Staples: Make this delicious loaf with staple pantry ingredients you probably already have.
- If you’re into experimenting with bread recipes, try making these amazing Homemade Bagels or mall-like Soft Pretzels as well.
This recipe comes together with just a short list of readily available ingredients. You might be surprised because of how flavorful it is, but the dough only has four ingredients plus water.
- All-purpose flour – Use your favorite all-purpose flour, no need for any bread flour in this recipe.
- Active dry yeast – A must for this dough to rise beautifully and double in size.
- Salt – A classic flavor enhancer that balances out the flavor profile.
- Sugar – Give this recipe a sweet element with granulated sugar.
- Water – Any tap water will do, but it needs to be 110°F to help the yeast rise properly.
- Cornmeal – Cornmeal prevents the bread from sticking to the pan by acting as a barrier layer.
- Egg white – A simple egg wash gives your French Bread the slightly shiny, beautifully golden exterior everyone will be hungry for.
- Combine. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and hand-whisk until combined. Stir in the warm water and stir until a dough forms roughly the consistency of play-dough.
- Knead. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough 10 minutes.
- Rise. Shape into a ball and place into a well-oiled bowl. Cover tightly with cling wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume.
- Shape. Gently punch dough down and divide in half. Place on a floured surface, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Roll each half into a rectangle. Roll rectangle up lengthwise, moisten edges with water, and pinch tightly to seal.
- Slit & Brush. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal before placing loaves seam side down. Cut diagonal slits on top, about 1/4 inch deep and brush top with egg/water mixture.
- Let rest. Lay cling wrap over loaves and place in a draft-free warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F and place a large pan of water on lowest rack.
- Bake: Bake 15 minutes. Brush again with egg/water mixture. Bake another 10 minutes or until bread looks done. Let loaves rest at room temp before enjoying.
Here are a few tips to help your bread turn out perfectly:
- Be sure to stir the main ingredients together well. If stirred properly, the dough should be similar to play dough consistency with just enough elastic but only slight tackiness.
- Once the dough is ready to rise, either place it in the warmest part of your house, or place your oven on warm mode, turn it off, and place the covered dough inside. The oven will allow your dough to rise rapidly, but consistently. Don’t forget to turn the oven off though, or you’ll accidentally cook the bread too soon.
- Use a bread lame or a razor-edged knife to create the classic slits on the top of your bread. A dull knife will deflate your bread.
What to Serve With French Bread
Soups and Stews
- Boeuf Bourguignon (French Beef Stew) – this might be our favorite way to serve up French bread, with this perfectly themed stew.
- Cioppino Recipe (Seafood Stew) – we love this hearty seafood stew, and the broth literally begs for a crusty bread to dip into it.
- Tuscan Style Beef Stew – this beef stew is absolutely scrumptious, and goes hand-in-hand with hearty homemade bread.
- Creamy Bruschetta Pasta – this one is super easy and boasts all the flavors you love in a good family pasta meal.
- 30-Minute Spaghetti Carbonara – this quick, simple pasta dish tastes like it came from a restaurant. All it needs is some fresh-out-of-the-oven bread.
- Perfect Pasta Primavera – this pasta dish loads up on healthy vegetables. Serve your fresh bread with butter on the side.
- Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto – this pasta salad literally is asking for some warm bread to go alongside of it.
- Peach Caprese Salad – during the few months peaches are in season, we adore this peach caprese, as it’s a flavorful spin on the classic.
- Tortellini Pasta Salad with Pesto Sauce, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella – yes, that’s a mouthful… but it’s also full of big flavors.
Commonly Asked Questions
French Bread has longer and thinner shape than regular bread. It’s characterized by a golden brown crust with the perfect crust. French Bread is generally heartier, yet softer in texture on the inside; French bread is often served alongside soups and salads.
If your crust isn’t turning out as golden as hoped for, you can try first to adjust the placement of your oven rack. Move it up or down to adjust the distance to the heating element. If that doesn’t work, you can also try turning up the oven by 25 degrees, although you’ll have to watch to ensure it’s not over-baked. Be sure not to skip the egg wash, as it’s essential for a perfectly golden top.
Yes, you can use instant yeast for bread. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, but if you only have instant yeast on hand, that will work too. Use the same amount of instant yeast as you would active dry yeast. If using instant yeast, note that the dough may double in size a lot sooner, so you may need to adjust the rise time.
You can definitely half this recipe if you only need one delicious loaf of French Bread instead of two. Split the recipe evenly in half and follow the same directions before enjoying the scrumptious result.
Baked French bread is easily frozen, with these directions: Let baked bread loaves cool completely at room temperature. Wrap each loaf airtight with tin foil. Place in freezer for up to 2-3 weeks. When ready to serve, place foil-wrapped frozen loaves in oven at 250F just until they’re warmed through, about 30 minutes or so.
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- 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, or place in a pre-warmed oven for more rapid rising.
- Gently punch dough down and divide in half. Place on lightly floured surface, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Roll each half into approx. 14×9 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.
- Top this warm, delicious French Bread with butter or your favorite jam and pair it with a heavenly soup like this Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
- If you prefer smaller French Bread loaves, you can split and shape this recipe into four smaller loaves instead of two, but you’ll need to watch them while they bake as baking time may vary depending on loaf size.
- If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ❤️
Nutrition (per serving)
More to Bake and Eat
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- Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread – This bread is simply wonderful. It’s so chewy and soft in the center, with a flavorful exterior crust. This is one of those loafs you want to devour the minute it emerges from the oven.
- 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 mouthwatering bread.