Crusty French Bread

Crusty French Bread

French bread is a light, crusty yeast bread made with water rather than milk.

60 min. prep time
15 servings
25525 Ratings

Ingredients

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115°F)
1 tablespoon sugar
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour
or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk

Directions

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl; stir in sugar. Let stand 45 minutes. Stir in 3 cups flour and salt; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place into greased bowl; turn greased-side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in size (about 1 1/2 hours). (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)

Punch down dough; divide into thirds. Shape each third into 15-inch loaf (baguette) or 5-inch round on greased baking sheets. Cover; let rise until double in size (about 30 minutes).

Heat oven to 400°F. Stir together egg and milk in small bowl; brush over top and sides of loaves. Make 5 diagonal slashes across top of each loaf with serrated knife. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets; cool on wire racks.

VARIATION:

Garlic Herb French Bread: Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves and 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic with the 3 cups flour.

Nutrition Facts (1 serving)

Calories: 175

Fat: 1g

Cholesterol: 15mg

Sodium: 430mg

Carbohydrates: 34g

Dietary Fiber: 1g

Protein: 6g

Recipe #7011©1995Land O'Lakes, Inc.

Recipe Comments & Reviews

This was a wonderful, easy recipe. I made the garlic herb variation and could not be more pleased. It had a nice crunchy crust and soft and delicious inside. We couldn't stop eating it. It is such fun to make bread and SO much easier than we have been led to believe. Well worth the time.
My new go-to bread recipe. The instructions were clear and well-written--thank you! Excellent bread with golden brown crusty crust. I add chia seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds for extra texture and nutritional benefit :)
Hello..greetings... I am a learner,and really like to learn how to make bread especially french bread...because I just love the simple taste... yet it is yummy...I have made your recipe and keep coming back to make it..but somehow the funny thing is that it does not rise upward it always go side ward..I followed every steps and the measurement of the ingredients...how come i cannot let it rise upward...what was wrong...Maybe i missed out something or lack of kneading? Thank you..recipe taste good...
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Mallory

Hi Reina, sorry to hear you're having some issues with this recipe. There are few reasons the bread could be rising to the sides. The loaf will not rise up a lot like a loaf of bread in a bread pan since it is a French bread. If the loaf isn’t formed correctly, for example the edges aren’t tucked tightly under the loaf, the bread may expand outwards (or sideways) instead. Or, the slashes in the bread could be too deep. Deep slashes may cause the bread to flatten out. Hope this helps!
Posted June 23, 2015
I love this simple recipe and wonderful bread but can I make it without so much salt?
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Mallory

Hi Paul, thanks for your question! Not only does salt provide flavor in bread, it actually gives strength to the gluten, letting it hold carbon dioxide. If salt is left out or not enough is added, the dough can be sticky in texture and the volume might be less than desired. Hope this helps - and happy baking!
Posted June 10, 2015
Made this recipe for casual company spaghetti supper. I made 2 large loaves and braided one of them. We are lucky there was any left for the meal as we descended like locusts on the hot fragrant bread as it came out of the oven. Soooooo good. Very easy to make just exactly as printed. Thank you for a new favorite bread recipe.
After reading the reviews on this recipe I ran up to the store to get the ingredients. The bread came out awesome. Believe me because every time I try to make bread it comes out like a rock. I made two loafs instead of three so they would be larger and I put a small pot with water on the lower rack of the oven while the loafs were baking. Everyone loved the bread including myself. I ate a half loaf while it was still warm. Thank you for making me look like I know what I'm doing. I highly recommend this recipe.
I have made this bread a couple times. My family loves it! Bread has a crackly crust and a nice airy crumb. This was a home run recipe! My bread finally came together as super light inside with a great crust. So excited - I want everyone to know it! I also make this by pre- mixing 1 cup water , 1 cup flour and a pinch yeast to make a starter. Let it sit multiple hours covered, then mix remaining ingredients in and follow recipe.
I made this yesterday and it was awesome! I also used a steam method with a pan of water and I occasionally opened the oven door and misted it with a water bottle. The crust was perfectly crunchy and the inside was perfect…not too dense and not too fluffy. I finally bought a Kitchen Aid stand stand mixer this year and have tried dozens of bread recipes with it as well as with a bread machine and this has the best overall texture of all of the recipes I have tried so far. I did add in some rosemary, but kept everything else the same. This recipe is now my go to recipe for bread! Thank you for sharing!
Made this "by the book," except my yeast proofed longer than I planned--I set it up and went grocery shopping the day before Easter--silly me, thinking I'd be back before 45 minutes was up, but regardless I'm very pleased with the result. There was no water bath as I do with cheesecakes, which others have referred to as the "steam method."

Final comments? I think I could have made 4-5 shorter demi-baguettes instead of 3 long fat ones. I enjoyed the heel of a loaf with some soft butter after they cooled for about 20 minutes. Crunchy, tasty crust, and soft yet lofty insides. Nice Bread!
I have made the bread 2 times and while it is good, I find that on the 2nd rise the dough spreads out and the bread is almost flat. what can I do to make the dough stay like a baguette? I don't want to put it in bread pan to keep the dough rising upward.
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Mallory

Hi Shirley, if your bread is spreading out, it could mean that there isn't enough flour in your mix. We'd suggest adding a bit more flour next time to help the bread retain its shape while rising. Happy baking!
Posted April 15, 2015
I"m an intermediate cook/baker but this is by far the best bread recipe I have found. I use the steam method with a heated pan in the oven. I can't keep my family away from this. Have to make a double batch and quick get some into the freezer before they eat it all. Nice hard crust and soft inside and great taste. During the winter I have my husband make a fire to help with the rise. Have not made it when he's not home--when I would resort to rising on top of a running dryer.
I would say I'm an intermediate bread baker and I've made my fair share of various breads - french, sandwich, whole wheat, challah - and I have to say that this is one of the best recipes I've used. I've done it a couple of times now...it's straight-forward, quick, easy and absolutely deeee-licious - great flavor and great texture and freezes and reheats like a champ - crusty and smooth just like it's meant to be. Throw a bit of corn meal on the baking sheet like the previous poster mentioned also adds a nice touch. Throw on a pat of good butter and a bit nice jam, brew yourself a bowl of cappuccino and you'll think you're in a Parisian cafe.
Why do the yeast, water, and sugar need to sit for 45 minutes?

Thank you
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Mallory

Hi Lily, adding the yeast to warm water and sugar helps to "feed" the yeast, which essentially brings it back to life. The active yeast then helps the bread to rise. Hope this helps - happy baking!
Posted March 04, 2015
This is a great recipe. For those complaining about the wetness, that's how French bread dough is. If the dough isn't wet, it won't be as airy and delicious. That's what makes French bread unique. It's messy without a stand mixer, but well worth it. I omitted the egg and milk mixture on top, because that want necessary, and used the pan steam method. Turned out perfect.
Awesome bread flavor!! Moist and soft inside. Crusty outside. I also added sprinkles of cornmeal to baking sheets and on top of loaves as they went into the oven. A tip I have is to put your egg and tablespoon of milk out on the counter as you assemble your ingredients. Then, the egg wash will reach room temp. and won't be cold and cause your loaves to deflate.
i use honey instead of sugar and eliminate a little fluid. Even adding 6 cups of flour it was still pretty wet (and messy). i separated the dough into 3 round loaves on baking sheets and bc the dough was wet, the 2d rise was more of a spread. the bread tasted good and cooked in the given time, but was a bit dense.
This is by far the best recipe I have tried. Just the perfect balance between fluffy and chewy. Sprinkled some sea salt, sesame seeds and poppy seeds on top. Biggest hit at the dinner party!
I was super stoked to try this recipe I used (for th very first time) Ivory Wheat Bread followed all thr steps and when I took it out of the oven it looked great but when I cut into it 5 mins later it was not cooked on the inside. Super bummed but gonna get the white flour and try again
I made this bread and it was the first bread recipe I've tried that was edible and perfect at the end! Lol. The texture on this bread was wonderful and I also used the steam method. ??
I chose this recipe because of the consistently high ratings. We made this french bread as part of a french themed stay-at-home date with my wife. It was so good, my wife and I ate an entire loaf that night. The date was a great success. Our kids knew we were making bread after they went to bed. They tried it in the morning, and I quote them, "this is the best bread ever", and "we should make this every day." I highly recommend this recipe.
Note: I used the steam method recommended by others. I put an all metal pan at the bottom of the stove to heat up while preheating, and added ~1 C of hot water when I put the loaves in the oven.
So simple ....

As advertised ... Delicious crust, tender inside .... makes a lot for as little flour as it too. I'm thinking i used closer to just 4 cups than the 5-5-1/2 cups, but didn't really measure the add-in bit. This is a keeper!
Hello everyone WHO already made this Bread b4. I have a question , can I make the dough at night & leave to proof in the fridge overnight ?
this turned out perfect! Not dry at all. Every other French loaf recipe I have tried failed. Not this one. I wouldn't change a thing about it! I am trying the variation right now, with the oregano basil and garlic. can hardly wait for it to rise.
Hi
I'm just printing this now and plan a couple of changes! 1) two eggs and four tablespoons or 1/4 c milk mix well and split! 2) put the first half in the activated yeast prior to adding the flour and salt mixture! ...This will give the bread loaf a good chance of seeing the second day and still be a "simple pleasure"! 3) when the oven is preheated (if you like the crusty in French Bread) take a 1/4 c warm tap water no more... throw it at your oven walls and hurry place bread in center shelf close the door! Steam is key! French bread ovens have steam injectors which do this so nice. a small metal bowl with a cup of water can also be inserted prior preheating . try and see! Enjoy drl
The texture was moist on inside and crunchy outside. - it was excellent. Recipe was easy but time consuming because of waiting for dough to rise. I used bread flour instead of all purpose. I'd recommend when you get to the 5th cup of flower, add it a little at a time just dough can be handled, otherwise the bread will come out too dry. I ended using about 4 3/4 cups of flower total. I'd also recommend cooking at the minimum time - you can always add more time if need be since all ovens vary. Mine took about 26 minutes.
Excellent. i followed the recipe and it came out great. This was the first time I made french bread and it came out great. My finicky 16 year old said it was awesome and I only get "awesome" ratings if they're "for real".
This bread recipe is great. The only thing I changed is that I used 2 tsp instant yeast instead of the packaged yeast.
This recipe is certainly worth trying. I was very impressed at the light, fluffy texture of the bread with the chewy, buttery crust. This recipe I have used to make my cinnamon raisin bread, just by adding the extra ingredients. Everyone loves it!

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