Making this Easy French Bread will leave you feeling like a professional baker. The recipe couldn’t be easier to mix up. NO-MIXER needed for this one, and it uses simple pantry staple ingredients. The results rival any bakery French bread loaf out there. If you’re new to baking bread, this recipe is the perfect place to start. This Perfect Artisian Bread is also great for beginning bread makers and has been a reader favorite for years!
There’s something about making your own bread that deepens your connection to humanity as a whole, Past and Present. The surge in bread making during the pandemic wasn’t a coincidence. It turns out when things are topsy turvy and we feel uncertain we revert to the comfort of baking bread. Our souls are actually yearning to connect to something tangible and meaningful.
Pandemic or not you’ll love making this Easy French Bread for your friends and family. It’s a recipe you will turn to again and again. The recipe makes two loaves. You can eat one and share the other, or you can put the second one in the freezer to use on another day. This bread is perfect to eat along side a big bowl of your favorite soup.
My Favorite Soup Recipes
- Chicken and Mushroom Wild Rice Soup
- Sausage and Sweet Potato Tortellini Soup
- Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli Soup
- Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Thick and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
- Kale and Sausage Soup with Cannellini Beans
How to Make Easy French Bread
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Easy French Bread
What Kind of Yeast should I use when I make French Bread?
You can use active dry yeast or rapid rise yeast with this recipe. Just remember that when you use active dry yeast you need to let it sit in the water with a little sugar for 5-10 minutes so it can proof.
How do you make nice slit marks on the top of French Bread?
I use a small really sharp knife. If you want them to look really professional you can buy a special tool called a Bakers Bread Lame. Sometimes it can be hard to get a good slit with a regular knife.
What pan is best for Baking French Bread?
I just use my regular cookie sheets. I put two loaves on one pan. Sometimes they touch a little after they rise and bake, but if the bread is just for my family I don’t worry about it. I’m thinking of ordering some French Bread pans, though. They help ensure a nice shape to your bread.
Can I use this dough for pizza instead of French Bread?
Yes, this dough is actually very similar to a pizza dough recipe and would make a great option for a pizza crust. If you use it for pizza, you can form it into dough balls after getting it mixed up (whatever size you prefer) and let it sit at room temperature that way for 30-40 minutes before rolling out into a pizza. You can also put it in a loose plastic bag in the fridge for 4-8 hours to bake later. When ready to bake the pizzas, bake them at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Can I use whole wheat flour with this Easy French Bread Recipe?
You can use up to half wheat flour in this recipe, but it will change the flavor. If you are looking for a very authentic French Bread flavor you are going to want to stick with regular all-purpose flour.
- 2¼ cups warm water (temp of a baby's bath water)
- 2 tbsp yeast (can use active dry yeast or instant yeast)
- 2½ tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5½-6 cups all-purpose flour
- *Optional: 1 egg+1 tbsp water for an egg wash (this gives the bread a shiny finish as pictured...I don't do this unless I'm trying to impress someone, not worth wasting an egg if it's just for my family. 😉
- In a large plastic mixing bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar, allow to proof for 5-10 minutes or until yeast gets foamy and bubbly. If using instant yeast, you don't need to wait for it to proof.
- Next, add the salt and olive oil. Mix together with a fork and then add 2½ cups of flour. Mix really well with a fork or whisk, until there are no lumps of flour.
- Add three more cups of flour and stir it in with the fork. It will get very thick. Once you've stirred it as much as you can with the fork, use your hand to begin kneading the bread. You may need to occasionally sprinkle the dough with a small amount of flour to keep your hand from sticking to the dough. Try not to exceed adding more than ½ cup total as you sprinkle when needed.
- Knead by hand for about 5-6 minutes or until dough has a nice springy and smooth consistency.
- Form the dough into a ball at the bottom of your bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
- At this point, you can do one of two things. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes and knead it down and let it rise for 30 more minutes. Or, you can knead it down every 10-15 minutes for an hour. Both methods yield great results. It is also okay if you let it rise the whole hour before kneading down but the gluten will be broken down a little differently if you do it multiple times in the hour and the dough will have a less yeasty taste.
- Once you have reached an hour of total rise time you are ready to roll out the dough and form it into loaves.
- Divide the dough in half and roll one piece out into a 9x13 type shape. Follow the step-by-step pictures above to see how this is done. Once it is a 9x13 you roll it up and place it on a prepared baking sheet. (I use a silpat sprinkled with corn meal. You can use parchment paper or cooking spray as other options). There are also these cool French Bread Pans.
- Once the loaf is on the baking sheet take a sharp knife or a bread baker's lame and put slits on the top of the loaf. Repeat for second loaf.
- Cover the two loaves loosely with a hand towel or a piece of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You don't want the plastic to stick to the bread as it rises. If it sticks you risk the loaf deflating when you peel off the plastic wrap. Once covered allow bread to rise for 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you want to do an egg wash you do that right before baking. To do the egg wash you whisk together an egg and 1 tbsp of water. Use a pastry brush to very gently brush it onto the risen loaf.
- Bake bread for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees.
- **To give a nice crust to the outside of the bread you can place a small pan of hot water in the bottom of your oven or a few ice cubes. I usually use ice cubes. It's a great trick for adding steam to the beginning of the baking process.