This is my favorite recipe for homemade French bread that rivals anything you'd get from the store. It's so easy to make with minimal hands-on time and just a few simple ingredients.
Nothing beats homemade bread and this French bread recipe is one of my all-time favorites. The bread is incredibly soft on the inside and perfectly crisp and chewy on the outside. It's perfect for sandwiches, serving with soups, or for making french toast.
How to Make French Bread:
- Active dry yeast: 4 and ½ tsp. (2 standard packets)
- Warm water: Lukewarm - not hot. Warm water activates the yeast, but if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, or if it's too warm the yeast won't get activated. It should be between 100-110°F. If you don't have a thermometer, just check with your finger, it should feel slightly warmer than room temperature and not hot.
- Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast which helps activate it.
- Olive oil: Just a little bit for added flavor and moisture.
- Salt: Crucial for flavor.
- Bread flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. This is what gives the bread it's classic chewy texture. If you don't have bread flour, you can use all-purpose as well, just be aware that the bread will be softer and less chewy.
- 1 egg, beaten: For the egg wash.
Make the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, and olive oil. Let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast dissolves and gets a little foamy. Add in the flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. Knead by hand or in the stand mixer for 5 minutes. The dough is ready when it bounces back when gently pressed in.
Rise: Form the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. About 60-90 minutes.
How to Shape French Bread:
Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface use a rolling pin to roll out each half into an 8 x 17" rectangle.
Use your hands to roll up each rectangle tightly into a long and skinny loaf. Crimp the edge to seal.
Place each loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30-45 minutes.
Scoring the bread: Cutting slits in the bread is a process called scoring, the purpose of which is to allow air to escape when the bread bakes and prevent large pockets of air from forming on the surface. Use a very sharp knife to cut diagonal slits in the loaves going about ¼" deep.
Egg wash: Brushing the loaves with an egg wash helps the exterior become golden brown and crispy. In a small bowl beat 1 egg and use a pastry brush to brush the tops and sides of each loaf.
Bake in a 400° oven for 17-20 minutes until golden brown.
Cover and store at room temperature. Homemade bread is best enjoyed within 1-2 days.
More Bread Recipes:
- Rosemary Focaccia Bread
- Zucchini Bread
- Skillet Cornbread
- Braided Easter Bread
- Cream Cheese Swirl Pumpkin Bread
- 4 and ½ tsp. active dry yeast , 2 standard packets
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1 egg, for egg wash
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the yeast, warm water, sugar, and olive oil. Let sit for a few minutes to dissolve until slightly foamy.
- Add in the salt and bread flour and mix until a dough forms. If using a stand mixer: Knead the dough on high until it is coming off of the sides of the bowl. It should bounce back when gently pressed in. If kneading by hand: Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Lightly coat your hands with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Knead by hand until the dough bounces back when gently pressed in.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Divide the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface use a rolling pin to roll each half out into an 8 x 17" rectangle. Use your hands to roll up each rectangle tightly into a long and skinny loaf. Crimp the edges to seal.
- Place each loaf onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Score the bread: Use a very sharp to cut several diagonal slits in the bread, going ¼" deep.
- Egg wash: Use a pastry brush to brush each loaf with a beaten egg.
- Bake: Preheat oven to 400°F and bake the loaves for 17-20 minutes, until the outside is hardened and golden brown.
- Keep bread covered at room temperature and enjoy within 1-2 days.
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