This simple homemade French Bread starts with the basics: yeast, water, flour and salt. The baguettes turn out soft and fluffy on the inside, nice and crunchy on the outside. You’ll need a little patience but learning how to make French Bread at home actually requires very little effort!
Video Tutorial for Simple Homemade French Bread
I have blogged about french bread before; I even posted this recipe which I named Perfect Vegan French Bread. That recipe doesn’t take as long to make and stays moist and fresh longer because of the added Earth Balance buttery spread. It’s really delicious and great especially for dry climates. However, this Simple Homemade French Bread gets closer to the real thing found at bakeries. The crust is much…well, crustier. Like other homemade and bakery breads with no additives, it should be eaten fresh in a day or two. But even if you end up with leftovers, you can make them into croutons, top French onion soup, or make French toast! That’s what I imagine anyway; – I never have leftovers!
Once you get the hang of this recipe, you may find yourself just making it while you do other stuff. The actual “active” time to this recipe is maybe 15 minutes. The rest of the time is waiting for the bread to rise, three times! The wait is worth it though.
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons traditional or instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour (plus extra flour for kneading)
Make the French bread dough
- Combine water with yeast and let bloom for 10 minutes. It will become foamy and you'll see some bubbling live yeast action. If you do not, consult my guide for Troubleshooting Yeast.
- Add a half cup of flour and salt to the yeast mixture and whisk together until smooth.
- Add two more cups of flour and stir together until the dough comes together.
- Using clean hands, knead the dough into a ball. You may do this right in the bowl or turn it out to a floured surface. It may be stiff; just work it until it's a cohesive ball.
- Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover and let rest for 15. This lets the gluten in the flour relax, making it easier to knead.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Ideally you would knead this for 10 to 20 minutes. I normally just do 10 but a longer knead time will develop the gluten giving you a more beautiful texture on the inside and letting the dough rise higher, faster.
First & Second Rise (Proofing the Dough)
- Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rise for in a draft-free, warm location for one hour or until the dough has doubled in size. A good place for this is in the oven with just the oven light on.
- Punch down the dough and knead again for a few minutes.
- Place the dough back in the bowl to rise for a second time. Again, let it rise for one hour or until doubled in size in a warm location.
Shape loaves and Final Rise (Final Proof)
- Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down and divide the dough into equal pieces. You can make two large loaves or four smaller loaves.
- Shape them into long loaf shapes and place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Cover the loaves with a damp, lint-free cloth and let rise for 45 minutes or until the loaves have doubled in size.
- Place a metal baking pan on the bottom rack in your oven. DO NOT USE GLASS. Place the second rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 450 F (232 C).
Bake the French Bread
- Prepare a spray bottle with water and, separately, a cup of cool or room temperature water.
- When the oven is hot, remove the cloth from the dough carefully. If the dough sticks to the cloth, drip some water on top of the cloth to help it release.
- Make slashes on the top of the loaves, either a few diagonally across the loaves or one slash down the length.
- When the oven is well-heated, place the loaves on the middle rack and quickly pour the cup of water in the baking pan below and close the oven door. Be careful as there will be steam.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the loaves from the oven and cool them on a wire rack. The tops of the loaves should be golden brown and they should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Wait at least a half hour before slicing.
Due to variations in flour, humidity and the like, you may require a little more or less flour. Go by feel and aim for a soft dough.
Due to variations in oven and home temperatures, you may require more or less time in the oven. Go by appearance and remove your loaves when the tops are golden brown and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
If you have any trouble with getting your yeast to bloom (get foamy and looks active) or with your dough rising slowly or not at all, please see my guide for Troubleshooting Yeast and Bread Dough.
The metal pan placed below the baking bread is to create steam once you pour water into it. Stay well back to be safe. DO NOT USE GLASS or any container that can break from suddenly changing temperatures.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 532mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.