French Bread

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This French Bread is one of our favorite yeasted breads and it’s straightforward to replicate — we’ve got a video tutorial and step-by-step photos to help you along the process! This bread has a light and soft crumb with a delicious crusty outside.

Got the bread bug? Once you start making homemade bread it’s hard to stop! Try our no-knead Focaccia, our overnight No-Knead Bread, or this Honey Whole Wheat Bread next!

Image of a slice of the French bread

French Bread Recipe

Growing up, we almost always had a loaf of French Bread in our home. We’d tear off pieces for a snack, repurpose it into French Bread Pizza, or dip in a big bowl of soup.

Buying French bread is convenient and relatively inexpensive, but trust me when I say nothing beats homemade French bread! And this recipe has very little hands-on time. In fact, it’s quicker and easier than most bread recipes. And we’ve got all the tools to help you be successful on your first try — a video tutorial, plenty of notes, and step-by-step photos!

How Is French Bread Different From Regular Bread?

French Bread is longer and narrower than regular White Bread. It also has a more crust exterior with a light, chewy, and soft crumb inside.

Image of the flour and salt being added to the stand mixer

French Bread Ingredients

  • Warm water. We want to provide an ideal environment for yeast — see “quick tip” below.
  • Yeast. It provides the leavening for the dough causing it to rise and expand. 
  • Flour. We use plain, all-purpose white flour here. Bread flour could be used if desired.
  • Honey. Honey helps the yeast to grow nicely and adds a very subtle sweetness to the French Bread.
  • Salt. It adds flavor and without it, the bread will taste bland and flat. Salt is also important to the bread’s structure. It tightens the gluten structure and helps control the pace of yeast fermentation.
  • Olive oil. Oil helps the dough rise and develops the finished bread’s flavor — yes, even a small amount makes a difference.
  • Butter. We rub salted butter on the loaf right out of the oven which gives it a lovely flavor and a sweeter, softer crust.

QUICK TIP

How to tell when your water is at the right temperature? Use the wrist test! Drizzle a few drops of the warmed water onto the inside of your wrist. If it is warm and comfy for you, it will be perfect for the yeast. If it is not warm and instead feels hot, it will be too hot for the yeast. Too cold and the yeast will simply remain dormant.

Process shots of the French Bread-- images of the yeast, warm water, honey; rising; oil being added to the mixture

Let’s Chat Yeast

Proofing the yeast shows us if the yeast is still alive and active (yeast is a living organism). We have tested and included directions for both active dry yeast and instant yeast in this recipe — either will work and both have been tested.

I find it very helpful to make sure you can see that the yeast has been activated before moving on to the next steps. If the yeast doesn’t activate, the French Bread won’t rise nicely.

  • When activated, yeast will grow, get foamy and appear creamy.
  • Why didn’t my yeast activate? If the yeast doesn’t prove, this can be because the yeast is old (dead), the water was too hot, or the water/environment is too cold. If the water/environment is too cold, the yeast might wake up but release a substance that hinders the formation of gluten in the bread.

Process shots-- images of the dough being rolled into a ball and then being placed in a bowl to rise

More On Flour

Measuring flour can greatly vary from person to person. If you have a food scale, I highly recommend pulling it out for the measurement. Too little flour and the dough will be too wet and dough too sticky; too much and the bread will be overly dense. No food scale? Make sure to completely fill up the measuring cup, then level the top off with the back of a butter knife. 

Even still, the amount of flour you add to the dough can vary based on humidity, altitude, etc. so it’s best to add slowly, watching for these cues:

Flour visual cues:

  • Dough should gather around the paddle attachment.
  • Dough should be slightly sticky, but smooth and tacky. When you touch it, your finger should not stick to the dough

QUICK TIP

Add flour slowly– you can always add more, but you can’t take it away! Resist the urge to add too much additional flour as this will take away from the softness of the dough yielding a dense loaf.

Process shots of French Bread-- images of the dough being sprinkled with flour and it being rolled out and then the dough being rolled up tightly

French Bread Making Tools

While none of the below tools are essential, they sure make the job a lot easier (and more fun!):

  • Dough scraper and/or a sturdy rubber spatula are great for scraping the sides and transferring dough from surface to bowl.
  • Parchment paper is important for even browning –especially on the bottom crust. Be sure you’re using parchment paper– not foil or wax paper. Wax paper will melt in the oven! (We love these sheets of parchment paper for ease!)
  • A lamé is a nice way to create the slits across the top of the bread. A sharp paring knife will also do the trick well.
  • A stand mixer is invaluable when making French Bread!
  • We love these flour sack towels for covering the dough as it rises
  • A flexible measuring tape helps ensure the dimensions of the dough are on track. 

Process shots-- images of the dough being placed on parchment paper to let it rise

How To Make French Bread (Tips)

  • As soon as the French Bread is in the oven, toss 5-6 ice cubes onto the floor of the oven. This creates the steam you’d get from a steamer oven and makes a big difference to the crust of the bread. We’ve tried it without the ice cubes and they were missed!

Process shots of the French Bread before and after being baked and rubbed with butter

What To Do With French Bread

  • Enjoy it warm! My kids would tell you: eat it in 10 minutes! It’s impressive how quickly they can down a loaf! And honestly, it’s best the same day it’s made anyways. 🙂 
  • Re-purpose it into a delicious meal. Ever heard of French bread pizza? It’s a fun type of “pizza” using split French Bread as the crust and it’s a hit with kids and adults! Try one of these variations: French Bread Taco Pizza or Margherita French Bread Pizza.
  • Serve alongside a meal. This bread is spectacular alongside this One-Pot Spaghetti or Spaghetti Bolognese and a big Caesar Salad!
  • Make a quick dinner melt. Use this bread for these Tuna Melts or Chicken Melts. Any open-faced sandwich is great with this bread (be sure to toast/broil it first!) Another great use: on top of French Onion Soup!
  • Re-purpose stale leftovers. If you have leftovers that have become stale or hard, use them in a Bread Pudding Recipe or French toast casserole, or make homemade croutons or breadcrumbs with it. 

Up close overhead image of the bread fresh out of the oven

STORAGE

How To Store French Bread

This bread is best on days one and two. On the first day, leave it out, uncovered, with the cut side down on a cutting board. (This keeps the crust crisp without the inside drying out.) After the first day, store the bread in an airtight container or bag. It does lose its crispy texture being stored this way, but it’s still great after being toasted!

How to freeze French Bread: Slice bread and individually wrap each slice. Place wrapped slices in an airtight bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Take bread slices straight from the freezer into the toaster. Toast and enjoy!

Overhead image of the French Bread freshly cut

Soups to Prepare Alongside This French Bread

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French Bread

5 from 1 vote
This French Bread is one of our favorite yeasted breads and it's straightforward to make -- we've got a video tutorial and step-by-step photos to help you along the process! This bread has a light and soft crumb with a delicious crusty outside.
Print Recipe

French Bread

5 from 1 vote
This French Bread is one of our favorite yeasted breads and it's straightforward to make -- we've got a video tutorial and step-by-step photos to help you along the process! This bread has a light and soft crumb with a delicious crusty outside.
Course Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword french bread, french bread recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rising Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 15 slices
Calories 75kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $3.12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast instant OR active
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 cups white, all-purpose flour (plus more for dough and rolling!) (Note 2)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for greasing bowl)
  • 5-6 ice cubes (Note 3)
  • Optional: butter (salted preferred), for topping loaf

Instructions

  • QUICK TIP: It may be helpful to watch the tutorial video in this recipe post before starting!
    FLOUR AND SALT: In a stand mixer add 2 cups (260g) flour and 1-1/2 tsp. salt. Mix with a rubber spatula to combine.
  • YEAST: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup warm water (Note 1), 1-1/2 tsp. yeast, and 2 tsp. honey and let sit 5-10 minutes (It should look creamy/foamy after 5 minutes (see photo). If not, your yeast is dead and you'll need to begin again. (Either the yeast is dead or the water was too hot.)
  • DOUGH: Use a rubber spatula to scrape every bit of the yeast mixture into the stand mixer on top of the flour. Pour in 1 tbsp olive oil. Add paddle attachment to the stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined. (Read Note 3.) While the dough is mixing, slowly add in more flour, starting with 1/2 cup (65g) and then (only if needed) adding another 1/4 cup (30g) *just* until dough gathers around the paddle attachment and stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Dough should be smooth and a little sticky, but not overly sticky. If you press your finger in the dough it will give a little resistance, but should not stick into the dough (see video). Add flour slowly, taking care not to add too much flour; it will make the bread tough (and we'll add more as we roll it out). Once dough has gathered around the dough hook, knead it for 3 minutes at medium speed.
  • 1ST RISE: Sprinkle out 1 tbsp flour on a clean work surface. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the dough from bowl to the flour (it should be a bit sticky). Sprinkle on 1 more tbsp of flour right on top of the ball of dough. Tap your hands in flour then use your hands to knead the dough just a few times shaping it into a round ball and pinching the bottom underneath. To the stand mixer bowl, drizzle in 1 tsp. olive oil. Place the round ball of dough into the bowl and turn to coat in oil leaving seam-side down. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, 30 minutes to an hour. If it isn't rising after 30 minutes, move somewhere warmer (the environment should be around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C).
  • 2ND RISE: Sprinkle 1 more tbsp flour on a clean work surface. Dump risen dough right on top. Sprinkle 1 more tbsp flour on top. Use a rolling pin to smooth the dough to a large and even rectangle; about 15 inches by 12 inches (38cm x 30cm). Grab the rectangle of dough and flip it onto the other side. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Use your hands to turn in each end of the cylinder, pinching the seams closed and shaping underneath the dough. Carefully lift the cylinder of dough, and keeping seam-side down, add to a parchment paper-lined (Note 4) sheet pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, 30 minutes to an hour.
  • BAKE: Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Then, during the rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Make 5 diagonal slits across the top of the loaf with a pairing knife or lamé. Working quickly, place the pan into the fully heated oven and drop 5-6 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven (really -- just chuck 'em in!). Close the oven quickly. Bake for 18-28 minutes or until deeply golden brown all over. If you rap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow. (If browning too fast, cover with foil and reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • ENJOY: Remove from oven and let stand on a sheet pan. Grab a stick of butter, unwrap and rub across the loaf to melt butter on top using about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Let cool for 15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before slicing and serving. (Steam is still cooking the insides, so resist the urge to cut in immediately!) Enjoy! Storing bread -- see Note 5.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Water temperature: Drizzle a few drops of the warmed water onto the inside of your wrist. If it is warm and comfy for you, it will be perfect for the yeast. If it is not warm and instead feels hot, it will be too hot for the yeast. Too cold and the yeast will simply remain dormant.
Note 2: Flour: It's tricky to give an exact flour measurement for bread as measuring flour can greatly vary from person to person. If you have a food scale, I highly recommend pulling it out for the measurement. Too little flour and the dough will be too wet/sticky; too much and the bread will be overly dense. No food scale? Make sure to completely fill up the measuring cup then level the top off with the back of a table knife. Even still, the amount of flour you add to the dough can vary based on humidity, altitude, etc. so it's best to add flour gradually watching for these cues:
Flour visual cues:
  • Dough should gather around the paddle attachment instead of sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  • Dough will be slightly sticky, but ultimately smooth and tacky. When you touch it, your finger should face a little resistance but shouldn't stick in the dough
  • Add flour slowly-- you can always add more, but you can't take it away! Resist the urge to add too much additional flour as this will take away from the softness of the dough. Also, keep in mind we are adding more flour as we roll out the dough (4 extra tablespoons) so better to err on the side of less flour than more.
Note 3: Ice cubes: Adding ice cubes to the oven floor replicates the steam you'd get from a steamer oven and makes a big difference to the crust of the bread (adds that classic crispness to the crust). We've tried it without the ice cubes and they were missed!
Note 4: Parchment paper: Be sure you're using parchment paper-- not foil or wax paper. Wax paper will melt in the oven! Without parchment paper, the bottom crust is too tough.
Note 5: Storage: This bread is best on days one and two. On the first day, leave it out, uncovered, with the cut side down on a cutting board (this keeps the crust crisp without the inside drying out). After the first day, store the bread in an airtight container or bag. It does lose its crispy texture being stored this way, but it's still great after being toasted! How to freeze French Bread: Slice bread and individually wrap each slice. Place wrapped slices in an airtight bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Take bread slices straight from the freezer into the toaster. Toast and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.1g | Protein: 1.9g | Fat: 1.1g | Sodium: 156.2mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.8g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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