Wondering how to make french bread? I’m sure you’re looking for easy bread recipes to try your hand at first. If you want to get international with your baking, this homemade French bread recipe is for you. Get this recipe and use these baking tips and make a batch of homemade French bread to serve your whole family!
French Bread Recipe | How to Make French Bread
Can we all agree on something? Baking bread is intimidating, especially if your idea of “baking” involves heating a pizza using your oven. (Don’t worry, there’s no shame in that!) And with the convenience of today’s supermarkets and abundance of bakeries, baking bread at home is quickly becoming a lost art.
There is something about homemade bread that can’t be replicated by anything you can buy at the store though: your satisfaction in your own skill as you take that first warm and wonderfully crispy bite. And the heavenly aroma that wafts through your kitchen is something that I promise you’ll crave, especially once you see how uncomplicated it is to bake bread for yourself.
So are you ready, home slice? Here are the ingredients you’re going to knead for today’s French bread recipe!
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup warm water
And let’s not forget the kitchen supplies you’ll be using as well:
- parchment paper
- a baking stone or flat oven sheet
- a sharp knife
Prep Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
In a separate small bowl, combine the yeast with 1/4 cup of the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes, until the water appears cloudy.
Combine the salt and 1 3/4 cups of the bread flour into a large bowl, then mix in the rest of the water gradually with a large spoon. Add the yeast water and mix until it’s hard to stir.
Turn the lump of dough out of the bowl and onto a well-floured surface. Remember how I left out 1/4 cup of the bread flour? You’ll be incorporating that into the dough gradually while kneading!
Sprinkle a bit (1 Tbsp.) of bread flour onto your dough, then fold the dough in half and away from you. (It should look like a taco shell from your viewpoint.) Press firmly along the edges of the ‘taco shell’ with the ball of your palm.
Flip the shell on its side so that one of the corners is now facing you. Add another 1 Tbsp. of bread flour on top. Fold the corner away from you and press again along the edges of the fold with your palm. I found it helpful to place one hand on top of the other to make sure I was applying enough kneading force.
Repeat these steps for 5-10 minutes, incorporating a bit of flour at a time until the dough feels silky and doesn’t readily stick to your hands while still feeling slightly moist. You may not use all of the flour you’ve set aside–that’s okay! And if you need a little more flour than the recipe suggests don’t be afraid to use it. Humidity and altitude can definitely alter the dough’s consistency.
Take opposite edges of the dough and tuck them underneath, creating a round top surface (like a parachute). Continue to tuck the edges underneath until the dough no longer has edges.
Place the dough ball in a well-oiled bowl and roll the ball along the oiled edges. This will ensure that your dough won’t stick to any of the bowl’s surfaces while rising.
Place a dishtowel over the bowl and find a nice, warm place for the dough to rise. Let it sit for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Don’t worry, it’s okay to peek!
Wow, that dough has definitely gotten a lot bigger since the last time we checked! Press the center of the dough with your fist until you’ve deflated the dough, then take it out of the bowl.
Stretch the dough until you’ve made a rectangle that’s around a foot long in length. Don’t worry if it’s uneven–we’ll be rounding it out! Now place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pinch the edges together.
Take your hand and form a straight line, like you’re chopping something with it. “Chop” your hand along the pinched seam, making sure to press with enough force to smooth out the seam.
Take either side of the dough and pinch along the length of the center, similar to before. This time, make sure to pinch either end of the dough into the center seam as well. Doing so will allow the loaf to rise evenly along its length. Flip the dough so that the seam side is down, then transfer to parchment paper and over with a kitchen towel to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 450 F, and make sure your baking stone or pan is already in the oven. We need the bread to bake evenly, which means that the air and the surface it rests on need to be at the same temperature.
Uncover your nice, fluffy loaf and make a few very shallow cuts with your knife on the top of the loaf. Now it’s ready for baking! Slip another sheet pan or a pizza peel underneath your parchment paper and slide your loaf onto the pre-heated stone or pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know that the loaf is just about perfect when you smell that amazing freshly-baked bread scent–it is literally one of my favorite smells ever! Make sure to leave the oven light on so that you can check on the color of the bread as well. Try not to open the oven too often or you’ll disrupt the temperature that the bread needs to rise evenly.
Take your newly baked and amazing loaf of French bread out of the oven. Allow the bread to cool until it’s warm to the touch–then feel free to slice away!
I recommend keeping the loaf in a sealed plastic bag to keep it from going stale–the crust will become soft, but can easily be toasted for a few minutes to regain its crunch. If you can’t finish the bread in 2-3 days, you can always freeze it (after sealing it in a plastic bag) for up to 6 months and enjoy it at your leisure.
The best part about making your own bread (other than eating it, of course) is the amount of pride you’ll feel when telling others you baked it yourself… and you deserve those warm and fuzzy feels! Like I said before, it’s not a complicated process–but it does require a little more elbow grease. Bask in the glow of your peers’ compliments on what a good baker you are, and have another slice of your hard-earned work. You’ve earned it!