Table of Contents
- Why this recipe works.
- Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
- Here’s how to make this recipe.
- These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
- Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
- You'll love these other bread recipes.
- Watch how to make this recipe.
- Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
- Easy French Bread Recipe
While bread may seem like an overwhelming recipe to bake, this easy French bread can be made by anyone. With a light and delicious interior crumb texture, this bread can be used for anything that comes to mind: sandwiches, toast, stuffing, croutons, open-faced pizzas, and more. This is truly a versatile recipe that you’ll want to have in your repertoire!
Why this recipe works.
Choosing to make bread is a big deal. There are many ways to purchase bread quickly, and some of it is pretty good. Making bread at home means you want to hone a craft and produce a loaf that has superior flavor and texture while choosing the ingredients that are used for quality. Easy french bread is a great beginner bread. This is not a traditional french baguette. This is an American-style french bread. The ingredients are pantry staples, all-purpose flour, salt, water, butter, and instant yeast. The key is kneading and working the dough to develop flavor and gluten. This dough is forgiving and easily becomes smooth. Once risen and shaped the loaves are brushed with an egg wash for color and baked to perfection.
Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
- Salt imparts flavor into the bread itself. Flour alone does not have much flavor, so the salt adds flavor to the recipe. Salt also helps tighten the gluten strands in the dough and create a stronger texture.
- Butter adds richness to the dough and imparts additional flavor to the bread. The small amount of butter helps tenderize the dough for a soft interior.
- Instant yeast does not need to be bloomed in water for it to be activated. Unlike traditional active yeast, instant yeast skips the blooming process and instead works when liquid is added along with all other ingredients.
- All-purpose flour is a pantry staple. The flour will create a strong texture but still gives the right soft interior.
Here’s how to make this recipe.
- Mix together the wet ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, salt, butter, and boiling water. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes while the hot water melts the butter and sugar. Then give the mixture a stir to make sure everything is dissolved. When the mixture is between 100°F and 110°F, it is ready for the next step.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix. To the warm liquid, add all of the flour except for one cup. Then add in the yeast right over the top of the flour. See the note below regarding the difference between instant yeast and active yeast. Place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Begin mixing the dough, slowly at first, then increasing the speed once the flour has been worked into a cohesive mixture. After the dough has been kneaded for three to five minutes, begin adding in the remaining cup of flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Note: If using active yeast, reserve ½ cup of warm water and let the yeast bloom in this before adding it to the flour mixture. This should only take a few minutes (around five) for the blooming to occur. Once the yeast is foaming, it should be ready.
- Knead the dough by hand. When the dough clings almost entirely to the dough hook, turn off the mixer, and remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Sprinkle your board (workspace) lightly with some flour, and remove the dough from the bowl. Begin kneading the dough by rolling it back on itself, pushing it forward with the heel of your hand, then turning it and repeating the process. Continue kneading the dough until it is no longer sticking to the countertop.
- Let the dough rise. In a large glass bowl, drizzle in some flavor-free oil and work it around the sides of the bowl with your hand. Then add in the kneaded dough with the nice side facing down into the bowl, then flip it over so that side is covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place it in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
- Roll out the dough. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down by turning it over on itself. Remove it from the bowl and divide it into two equal dough balls. Add some additional flour to your board, take one of the dough balls, and roll it out into a rectangle until it measures 10 inches by 13 inches. Then begin rolling up the dough, starting with the long side and tightly rolling it back on itself. Once rolled, find the seam and pinch it together. With the ends, roll them back on themselves and pinch them as well. If the dough seems a bit sticky at this point, simply put some flour down on the board and roll the dough in it to lightly coat the exterior. Repeat this process for the second ball of dough.
- Finish up the dough. Place each loaf of dough on its own parchment-lined baking sheet. Take a beaten egg and brush it all over the top and sides of each loaf. Optionally, sprinkle the top with some sesame seeds. To finish, add five relief cuts along the top of the loaf, slicing with a serrated knife approximately ½-inch deep into the dough. Place the loaves back in a warm place and give them a second rise.
- Bake the bread. Once the loaves have risen for a second time, place them in the preheated 375°F oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature reads between 195°F and 200°F. Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
- Yeast needs the correct temperature to work correctly. Ensure the boiling water, butter, and sugar mixture is between 100°F and 110°F before adding the yeast. If the liquid is hotter than 110°F, it could kill the yeast, preventing the bread from rising correctly.
- When mixing the dough in the stand mixer (or by hand), do not be worried if it is sticky. The stickiness is exactly what should occur as the dough develops gluten. Reserving the final cup of flour and adding it slowly after the dough has been mixed allows for a certain level of control depending on your kitchen’s circumstances (humidity level, elevation).
- When letting the dough rise, use a glass bowl. This way, you’ll be able to see what is transpiring in the bowl without removing the cloth on top or moving the bowl itself.
- To achieve the perfect warm place for my dough, I turn my oven on the lowest setting for two or three minutes until it has begun to heat and has an internal temperature somewhere between 85°F and 95°F. Then I turn it off and stick the unrisen dough inside. This will provide a lightly warm space in which the dough can double in size faster than it would simply sitting on the countertop.
- While rolling out the dough, if it seems to be springing back, simply let it rest for five minutes. If it is resisting being rolled out, it is not ready, and letting it rest will allow the gluten to rest.
- Let the bread cool on a wire cooling rack so that air can pass along the bottom of each loaf. This will prevent the bottom of the bread from trapping in heat and becoming soggy, wrinkled, and slumped.
Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
Yes, the dough can be made by hand. The amount of time to knead will vary but can be easily executed.
Partially. It can be difficult to achieve the correct texture when using 100% whole wheat flour. In this recipe, you can substitute up to 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour without too much effect on the texture. Any more than this, and the texture will begin to change noticeably.
Yes, the dough can be shaped into smaller individual loaves or medium-sized ones. The rising time and baking will change accordingly, though.
Yes, this is the perfect bread to make and freeze so that the loaves can last for longer. I prefer to slice the loaf before freezing to make removing the amount desired as easy as possible.
You’ll love these other bread recipes.
Watch how to make this recipe.
Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
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Easy French Bread
- 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 ½ cups boiling water
- 6-7 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) instant yeast
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, salt, butter, and boiling water. Allow the butter to melt and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.2 tbsp white granulated sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 ½ cups boiling water
- When the mixture has cooled off to 100°F-110°F, add 6 cups of flour and the instant yeast. Using the dough hook on the mixer, knead the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes.6-7 cups all-purpose flour, 2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) instant yeast
- After the dough has kneaded, stop the mixer and check the dough. If it is shaggy and sticking to the sides of the bowl, add ¼ cup of the reserved flour. Work the flour into the dough for 2-3 minutes and check again, adding more flour as needed.
- When the dough starts to clear the sides of the mixing bowl and cling to the dough hook, remove it from the mixer. Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour on the counter and knead the dough, pushing it away, then folding it back on itself, and repeating the process. The dough should slightly stick to the counter when sitting but easily become smooth when being kneaded.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and cover. Set the bowl in a warm place, such as an oven that has been warmed to 100°F and turned off. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Split into two even amounts. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 10-inch by 13-inch rectangle. Roll the dough up lengthwise, like rolling cinnamon rolls or a jelly roll. Pinch the seam tightly as well as the ends to seal. Set the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet pan with the seam side down and the pinched ends placed underneath the loaf. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl until smooth. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using. Use a sharp knife to make five diagonal ½-inch deep cuts in each loaf. Place the loaves in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Also, preheat the oven to 375°F.1 large egg, 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
- Once the dough has risen, place the loaves in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the bread is a deep golden color on the top and bottom. If using an instant-read thermometer, the center of the bread should read 200°F once baked. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing.