Easy French Bread Recipe

There are so many reasons to love bread, right? But there are so many more reasons to love homemade bread! If the smell alone isn't enough, just watching a pat of butter melt into a slice of fresh-from-the-oven bread is the clincher. Recipe developer and wellness coach Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe for easy French bread and says, "Homemade bread is actually so much easier to make than most people think and you only need a few ingredients." Hahn goes on to say, "There are some simple steps and wait times with making bread, but it's perfect on a day when you're going to be home anyway." Hahn shares that you don't need to own a stand mixer for this recipe. You only need about 5 minutes of muscle time when you knead the bread and after that, the yeast does the rest.

Gather the ingredients for easy French bread

If you do any baking at all then these ingredients are probably right in your pantry and you can dive right into the bread making. If not, grab some active dry yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, and all-purpose flour. Hahn says that the yeast is the key ingredient that can make or break your bread. If you aren't sure how long your packet of yeast has been sitting in your pantry, it might be time to pick up a new supply. If the yeast is no longer active your bread won't rise and you won't be smelling fresh bread in the oven anytime soon. You might have an expiration on your package but if you just aren't sure and want to test it out you can add a teaspoon to a cup of lukewarm water along with 1 teaspoon of sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes. If it gets bubbly, your yeast is alive and you are good to go.

Activate the yeast and add the rest of the ingredients

So as we have discussed yeast is pretty important so let's get going with it. Add the warm water to a large bowl. Hahn says, "You are going for the temperature of a baby's bathwater. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast." Now add the yeast and the sugar. Stir it well and then let it sit for 10 minutes. Once it is bubbly, add the salt and olive oil and stir with a whisk. Then add half of the flour and once that is incorporated add 3 ½ more cups. The remaining flour will be used during the kneading process

Knead the dough

By now your dough is too thick to stir, so plop it out onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with flour and begin kneading. You will want to add flour as you go to keep the dough smooth. Hahn says, "As soon as it becomes sticky, just add more flour and continue kneading." In about 5 minutes you should have a smooth, round ball of dough. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with a dishtowel, and let it sit for an hour. You can put it in your unheated oven as a nice warm spot for the dough to rise.

Prep the dough for baking

When your dough has rested for an hour, divide it in half. Roll out each half into a 9-inch by 13-inch rectangle then roll up the dough to form a 13-inch loaf. Place each loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then take a sharp knife and make about 10 slits on the top of each loaf. Cover the loaves with a damp dishtowel and let them sit for 30 minutes. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 425 F.

Bake and serve the loaves

Before popping the loaves into the oven, add about 10-15 ice cubes to an oven-safe dish and place on the bottom rack of your oven. "This will create some steam while your bread is cooking and helps the bread expand," Hahn shares. Cook the bread for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Try and resist the urge to devour a few pieces before waiting for it to cool for at least 15 minutes. Then slice it up and serve. This French bread will complement just about any meal. We think it pairs well with this cheesy chicken spaghetti casserole recipe or this honey lime salmon recipe. It's best to store the leftover bread in a Ziploc on the counter and it will stay soft and delicious for about 3 days.

Easy French Bread Recipe
4.8 from 9 ratings
Learn how to make this easy French bread recipe that only requires a few ingredients and is simple to make.
Prep Time
2
hours
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
2
Loaves
bread and butter
Total time: 2.25 hours
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 ¼ cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Directions
  1. Add the warm water to a large bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes. It should turn bubbly on the top.
  2. Add the salt and olive oil and stir well with a whisk. Then add 2 ½ cups of flour and mix until that is combined well. Add 3 cups more flour and keep stirring with a whisk until it is too thick to work with. Turn the dough onto a flat surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth. As you knead, add in more flour to keep your hands from sticking to the dough.
  3. Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let it sit for an hour in a warm place.
  4. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 9-inch by 13-inch size. With the dough sitting horizontally in front of you, roll it up to form a long loaf. Place the rolled loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Take a sharp knife and make about 10 small, thin slits on the top of each loaf.
  5. Cover the loaves with a damp dish towel and let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  6. Add 10 to 15 ice cubes to a baking dish and place on the bottom rack of your oven. Place the baking sheet with the 2 loaves on the top rack and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the loaves are browned.
  7. Remove the loaves from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 314
Total Fat 3.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 60.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
Total Sugars 2.7 g
Sodium 316.1 mg
Protein 8.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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