Created from only flour, yeast, salt, and water, French bread is served with every entrée at a classic French restaurant. Getting authentically baked French bread is difficult in the United States, but you can try your hand at creating your own with this classic recipe for French bread.
If you go out to dinner in an expensive French restaurant, one thing you are sure to enjoy is the taste and texture of the fresh French bread that comes along with your tasty entree. Made of just a few simple ingredients, French bread is a favorite bread to accompany hearty soups and stews in the winter. Additionally, you can make leftover bread into a breakfast favorite, French toast.
However, if you visit France and spend some time with the people there, you may be surprised to learn that almost nobody bakes bread in their own homes. In fact, most French cookbooks omit recipes for French bread entirely!
French Bread Recipe
- Electric Mixer
- Large bowl
- Sharp knife
- Baking Pan
- 4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 package Yeast
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Room Temperature Water
- Oil for greasing the bowl and pan
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, stir together the flour, yeast, and salt.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the water.
- Turn on the mixer to the knead setting and allow it to run for about three or four minutes.
- After the time passes, check the dough and see if it is balling up in the bowl or if it’s still sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- If it is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add about a fourth of a cup of extra flour.
- Restart the mixer and let it run for about eight more minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Push the dough ball to the side of the mixer bowl and pour about two tablespoons of oil along the side of the dough ball.
- Roll the dough ball around to coat the ball on all surfaces.
- Cover the mixing bowl with a clean dish towel and set it in a warm place to rise for about two hours. The dough should be about doubled in size by the time it has risen.
- Prepare your baking sheet by taking a large cookie sheet and pouring about two tablespoons of cooking oil on its surface.
- Use a paper towel or your fingers to spread the oil all over the surface of the baking sheet to cover it with oil.
- Punch down the dough and remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
- Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into two pieces.
- Take each piece of dough and roll it out into a long log shape. Taper the ends so each loaf has slightly pointy ends.
- Place the dough logs on the baking pan at least four inches apart.
- If you want your loaves to rise higher rather than wider, you can wrap a piece of aluminum foil around each loaf. Tear off two strips of aluminum foil about three inches wide. Double the foil over and fold it in half.
- Spray it with cooking spray or wipe it with the oily paper towel that you used to grease your pan.
- Wrap it around the outer edges of the French bread loaves to give the bread support as it rises.
- Remove the foil after about 30 minutes of rising time. This is not necessary if you’re not overly concerned about the shape of your bread loaves.
- Cover the bread loaves with a clean dish towel and let them rise for about an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Place a cake pan containing two cups of water on the bottom rack of the oven. This will create a cloud of steam in the oven that gives French bread that authentic chewy crust that it is famous for.
- Using a very sharp knife, slash the tops of the bread loaves in three or four places.
- Bake the bread for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the bread is lightly browned.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.