Homemade French Bread

by Allison @ Alli 'n Son on March 20, 2011

I’m a bit obsessed with making bread. I’ve gone through three bread machines in less than 18 months. Yes, three. Finally, I just decided to stop buying them, since they obviously can’t keep up with my bread-consuming needs.

Also, I guess we eat a lot of bread.

I was hesitant to jump into making bread by hand after being spoiled by bread machines for so long. You can’t get much easier than dumping in a bunch of ingredients, pressing start, and walking away. But I was determined to live without a bread machines. Especially the ones that stop working partly through the cycle, leaving you with a mess of ingredients and no freshly baked bread for the week. Which is a sad, sad thing.

So I started out with a whole wheat bread recipe from a friend. Which was successful. I moved on to the most complicated French bread recipe I could find, which was not so successful. Then came sourdough. And of course rosemary foccacia. All very, very successful.

Finally, I tackled French bread again. I was bound and determined that it would not get the best of me. A slightly different recipe, a little bit easier, and less time waiting for it to rise.

French Bread

It was fantastic.

Plus, with this recipe you can make all sorts of variations. I made garlic French bread along with the traditional loaf. There are so many yummy things you can sprinkle in or on top of the loafs before baking. Plus, this recipe makes two large loafs, so you can experiment as you go, one traditional and one with cinnamon sugar perhaps.

My Sunday afternoons are often spent in the kitchen, making breads for the coming week. It does take a while. It’s not necessarily a lot of work, but there’s a lot of down time. Letting the dough rise, and rise again. Shaping it and letting it rise once more before finally baking. But that effort pays off nicely in the end.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve said good-bye forever to bread machines. Their ease just can’t compete with the end results of making bread by hand.

French Bread

French Bread

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Prep Time: 25 Min
Cook Time: 40 Min
Ready In: 2 Hrs 40 Min

  • 5-6 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt {sea salt is wonderful}
  • 2 cups warm water {110º F}
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water and melted butter, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. {Or knead in your mixer with the dough hook for 8 minutes on low-medium sped.} Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled {about 30 minutes to 1 hour}.

Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375º  F oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

Tips: For an even crispier crust, spray the loaves with water right before baking, then every 5 minutes for the first 10 minutes of baking.

Add-Ins: To make flavored bread, before rolling up the dough, add in the ingredients. The roll, sprinkle a little more on top, then continue on with the recipe.

  • Butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese for garlic bread
  • Butter, cinnamon and sugar for cinnamon roll bread
  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • Cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Meal Plan

Dinner

Monday: Leftover lasagna {The Pioneer Woman Cooks}
Tuesday: Enchilada Soup
Wednesday: Bacon-wrapped turkey
Thursday: Butternut Squash Soup
Friday: Homemade pizza on beer battered crust and homemade sauce {AllRecipes.com}
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Sourdough Waffles {King Arthur Flour}

Snacks

New Recipes to Try

Last week’s Sweet Tooth Friday linky is still active. Pop over and check out the 80+ recipes linked up and add your own. Get your recipes ready for this week’s Sweet Tooth Friday linky.

This post is proudly linked up to Mondays: Mouthwatering Mondays, Made By You Monday, Simply Share It, This Week’s Cravings, Tuesdays: Tuesdays and the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, It’s a Blog Party, Tip Junkie Wednesdays: Show and Tell, Works for Me Wednesday, Thursdays: Ultimate Recipe Swap, It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Chic & Craft Party Fridays: I’m Loving It, Foodie Friday, Grocery Cart Challenge, Friday Firsts, Food on Fridays, Friday Pot Luck, Walnut Avenue: Foodie Friday.

Related Posts:

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maggie March 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I am going to try this out. I have got to make bread more often since I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. I have made your Rosemary Foccacia bread and everyone loves it. Are any of your other recipes for bread here? Would love to try some others too!

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2 Marelie March 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

There is nothing better than making your own bread right in your own kitchen..perfect!

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3 Deb March 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I make all our bread products, too. I have a Bosch Universal and can make 6 loaves at a time in it. I LOVE this machine so much! Like, I would rescue it in a fire, I love it so much. I

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4 Michele March 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Looks divine! I’ve tried a few recipes for french bread but none that I would call my favorite. Your loaves turned out beautiful. Maybe I should keep practicing, cause I make our sandwich bread all the time. Oh, and I think I’ll add my cookies to your linky, I was out of town Friday when it went up.

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5 Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies March 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Great minds think alike. I just made this exact french bread last week too and loved it. Hope you’ve got a lot of butter to enjoy your bread with.

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6 Jessica March 21, 2011 at 6:55 am

THis bread looks out of this world amazing. I used to be so scared of yeast until about a year ago. Would love to give this a try- maybe this week alongside a nice big salad or pasta. Hope you had a great weekend. I was MIA on friday because we flew home to see my parents but I am back now and when I get a chance I will do my sweet tooth linky! Love ya

Jessica

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7 TheKitchenWitch March 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

I must say, anyone who makes their own bread is a rock star, in my book. I am afraid of yeast.

But nothing beats the smell of bread baking. Nothing.

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8 Paula March 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Good for you! This bread looks amazing and aren’t you proud that you did it all by hand :)

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9 carolinaheartstrings March 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

I would say you hit a home run with this bread. It looks fantastic.

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10 Pat March 21, 2011 at 10:26 am

Alli, I used to make French Bread all the time and lost the recipe. I will definitely try this! It looks marvelous. I’ve always felt that baking bread is like “therapy” for me.

xo
Pat

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11 mickey March 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

That is beautiful! Looks perfect!
mickey

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12 Micha @ Cookin' Mimi March 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

Homemade bread is the best. I’ve never owned a bread machine and up until a year and a half ago I didn’t even have a stand mixer so I had gotten quite adept at hand kneading the dough.

That French Bread looks awesome. I think I’ll try your recipe next time I make spaghetti.

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13 Judy March 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

You say you love making bread…I say I love eating bread and your bread looks extremely yummy!! I am your latest follower. I would love for you to come and check out my blog and follow me back at http://www.diybydesign.blogspot.com. Thanks so much.

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14 Bianca@Walnut Avenue March 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread…especially in your own home!!
This is PERFECT for my new weekly linky party – Foodie Friday! If you got a sec, please link up!

Found you on Blue Cricket Design!

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15 Kathy Detweiler March 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

I made this the other night and my husband and mother-in-law loved it.
Thanks for posting the recipe.

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16 Allison March 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I’m so glad that you liked it! Thanks for stopping back and letting me know.

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17 Dinner at Christina's March 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Wow you make it look so easy! Your loaves are gorgeous – just like at the store!

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18 Charlotte Later March 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

Wow, that looks great. I never made homemade bread until I bought a mixer that kneads dough. I blew through the Kitchen Aide mixer and now use a Bosch. There is just something about homemade bread.

I’ll be trying this for sure!

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19 sapir May 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm

looks so yummy! i will try to bake it :p

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20 Anna June 8, 2011 at 5:25 am

I just bought all the ingredients and I am on my way to the kitchen to start backing :) will let you know how it turned out…Hope my guest this evening will like it!

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21 David June 8, 2011 at 5:28 am

mmmm….It looks good I think I will surprise my wife tonight and cook her a romantic dinner. thanks :)

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22 Betty June 8, 2011 at 5:31 am

There is nothing better than making your own bread. I am going to try this out!

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23 Michal June 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

I loved you’r post. I will definitely try this recipe this weekend. Thank’s

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24 Karen September 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

AMAZING BREAD! Where does the Tbsp. melted butter fit in though? It’s on the ingredient list, but not mentioned in the directions. I didn’t use it and the bread is still delicious!

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25 Allison @ Alli 'n Son December 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm

It’s supposed to be added with the water. Sorry about that!

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26 Aaron December 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

I may be missing it but what is the 1 tablespoon of melted butter for that the recipe calls for?

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27 Allison @ Alli 'n Son December 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

It’s supposed to be added with the water. Sorry about that! Thanks for pointing it out.

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28 Julia March 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I found this recipe for French bread yesterday, and compared it with a couple of other sites/recipes. I mainly worked off of this one. I used a hand mixer for the initial 2C flour and the yeast mix, and then tried to do the rest of the flour with that mixer, with dough hooks, but only managed to get 4 1/2 C of flour into the mix total, before the mixer began struggling. (This is my first time ever making bread, so I was running blind.) Eventually, I did all the kneading by hand, rising, punching and shaping, rising some more….. I did all this in the early morning, after being up all night, and it was quite a while. I took advantage of the downtimes to shower and after kneading and shaping, cleaning up my kitchen. I did bake in a sad, somewhat weak GE gas oven (renting) for the whole 40 minutes. I was afraid to burn it, but worried it was not done. The color was good however, so I pulled it. It was not testable with a skewer or toothpick, as the water/egg white made it impenetrable. Thanks for posting, and my question is, what is the best way to test for doneness?

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29 Allison @ Alli 'n Son March 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I test by taping the bread, if it sounds hollow, it’s done. I’m glad that you enjoyed it, and that your first try turned out so well. Baking bread does take a lot of time, but it’s so worth it.

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30 Julia March 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Also, the loaves turned out beautiful, and husband was amazed. My daughter thought we got it from the store, and likes it, too. Not bad for first time. I’m going to try your Rosemary Foccacia soon… we’re growing rosemary this year.

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31 Linnea Jenkins May 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thank you so much! This is amazing bread. I’ve never made bread before and looked up several recipes. This recipe looked the best, very detailed and the numbers seem to add up. What a great success!

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32 Paolo August 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Just tried this recipe and it worked out perfectly. I followed it to the letter. I usually use a bread machine for all my bread and dough kneads (haha, get it?!) but decided to try a French Bread recipe from scratch by hand. This was perfect. Thank you! I have shared your link with my Facebook friends because I want others to see how much joy can be had in doing something like this.

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33 Jenn August 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Made this french bread today…. mmmmmm..mmmmmmm..it was so yummy! Thank you for sharing:0)

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34 Jayme October 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I made this for dinner last night, and it turned out great! I followed your recipe exactly and did one plain loaf and one rosemary/parmesan loaf. They were both fantastic. We made french toast out of the leftovers the next day for brunch – my toddler was begging for more! Thanks so much for posting this simple yet tasty recipe. Next time I am going to try to make garlic bread with it!

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35 Rachel November 13, 2012 at 4:48 am

I just made this and it was absolutely amazing! Best French bread I have ever had, and I got tons of compliments on it! Thanks so much for posting this! It’s easy, not too much waiting, and tastes and looks fantastic! Yummm :-)

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36 STEVE.GEORGE January 6, 2013 at 11:39 am

I tryed the french Bread it was the Best Ever Thank You

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37 lisa January 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I tried already for 3 times but didn’t come out good my french bread ,i don’t know how to make perfect is hard like a stone again maybe my yeast is not active already. I also put inside the slow crock pot to make it sure that its warm enough here as its winter here in Kentucky.
unlucky still day same,will maybe you can advice me what do thank you .

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38 Katie April 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Only make this if you’re prepared to put all store-bought french bread to shame. It’s so good! Now my family eats store-bought french bread begrudgingly, longing for the “Yummy homemade”. Now they’re spoiled. =)

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39 Theresa Van Driessche March 17, 2014 at 7:30 am

Made this recently and it is going in my recipe book to pass down to my family. It comes out perfect every time. I’m even getting requests to make it now!! Thanks for posting this recipe. It is a keeper!

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40 Rick April 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Thank you! I had a breadmaker back in the eighties. It made the house smell wonderful but the bread itself was never particularly good. I’ve experimented with flat breads but I don’t have much experience with french bread. Your recipe changes this. My only modification was to set a pan of water on the floor of my oven to moisten the air. The loaves came out as pictured above, tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Couldn’t ask for more. Thanks again.

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