French bread is delicious and fluffy with a crunchy golden crust. It’s soft and chewy textures and great flavors pair well with just about anything.
French bread is a delicious and fluffy white bread with a crunchy golden crust. It’s absolutely delicious with it’s soft and chewy textures and it has great flavors that pair well with just about anything. Eat it as-is with butter or turn it into a delicious meal with a great french bread recipe.
Homemade french bread gives you something else that storebought never will- the incredible smell of it baking. Seriously, I could go on and on about how fantastic the smell of a warm loaf of french bread is- it sure beats the smell of roses, that’s for sure!
When you make your own french bread you get to enjoy the smells from that first proof of the yeast all the way up until you take your last bite.
This french bread recipe is fairly simple but will require some effort on your part (as most yeast doughs do) thankfully if you have a stand mixer you can reduce the amount of time and physical effort that you need to do by having it do all of the dough kneading.
Kneading your french bread is the most crucial part because it helps to create that wonderful bread structure we want.
But, even though this recipe will take about a little over 2 hours from start to finish, it is so worth it for the experience. The fact that you get two loaves of delicious homemade french bread out of the deal isn’t bad either. 😉
How to Make French Bread
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. You can also use a large mixing bowl and do it by hand if you prefer.
- Add in the olive oil and 2 cups of water with your mixer on. Let it mix together for about 1 minute.
- Gradually add in the final cup of water and add in more if necessary. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but clean the sides and be sticky to the touch. If you add too much water, don’t worry! Just add a bit more flour to get it back to the right consistency.
- Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes with the mixer or for 8-10 minutes if you do it by hand. Continue until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don’t skimp on the kneading!
- Let the dough rise (covered, room temperature) in the same bowl you mixed it in for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and then form it into 2 loaves. Lightly roll the ends to create a tapered look for the french bread loaf.
- Place the loaves on a lined sheet pan.
- Let the dough rise for about 20 more minutes, or until it’s a little less than doubled.
- After the loaves have risen, use a very sharp knife to cut three slashes on the top of each loaf.
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF.
- Bake at this temperature for 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the internal temperature reads 200ºF.
Why is my French bread so dense?
There is a good chance that your French bread is dense because the ratio of flour to water was off. With yeast breads like this one requiring humidity to help the dough to bake properly, the ratio of wet to dry is pretty critical.
If you notice that your French bread is too dry, don’t be afraid to add in a little bit of water to get it to the correct consistency.
How do you tell if dough is kneaded enough?
If you touch your dough and it leaves a finger imprint that doesn’t fill, then you haven’t kneaded your dough long enough.
You want to be able to press a finger into your dough and have the dough spring back to fill in the finger spot as quickly as possible. So simply poke your dough to test it (easy enough, right?)
What happens if you don’t knead bread enough?
If you do not knead your dough enough then you will notice your loaf becomes flat. This is because it didn’t get to build the structure needed to support its own weight.
Underbaked bread will also collapse somewhat and become denser in texture so it’s important to make sure you properly baked your bread to rule out this possibility.
French Bread Recipe
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 1/4 cups water see note
- Mix flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer.
- Add the olive oil and 2 cups water with the mixer on. Let it mix together for a about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the final cup of water and add more if necessary. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but clean the sides and be sticky to the touch. If you add too much water, don’t worry! Just add a bit more flour to get it back to the right consistency.
- Knead 6-8 minutes in a mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don’t skimp on the kneading! This helps create the structure of the bread.
- Let the dough raise (covered, room temperature) in the same bowl you mixed it in for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Remove from bowl and form into 2 loaves. Lightly roll the ends to create a tapered look for the french bread loaf.
- Place on a lined sheet pan.
- Let rise for about 20 more minutes, or until a little less than doubled.
- After the loaves have risen, use a very sharp knife to cut three slashes in the top of each loaf.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and the internal temperature reads 200ºF.
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