Homemade French Bread: So Simple, So Addictive

french bread recipe

French bread comes from the store, right?

Did you know that I was approximately 22 years old before it occurred to me that a person could make their own french bread?

Yeah, for real…

I had it in my head that you simply had to schedule a trip to the store to grab a loaf or two of French bread if you wanted to serve it with your spaghetti or lasagna that evening.

So imagine my surprise, back at the beginning of my read food journey, when I came across a recipe for perfectly chew French bread. And it was even BETTER than the store-bought stuff. Oh. My. Word.

(I’m telling ya– if it’s possible for someone like me to learn how to enjoy whole foods and cook from scratch, then ANYONE can!)

I love making bread of all kinds, but this French bread recipe is one of my absolute favorites.

With only five ingredients, you’ll pretty much look like a rockstar when you serve a loaf of this gorgeous French bread alongside a bowl of homemade tomato soup or spaghetti.

Easy Homemade French Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (80-90 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons sucanat (or sugar will work in a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour *see note below
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Instructions:

Place the yeast and sucanat in a large bowl and stir in the warm water until everything is dissolved. Add in the salt, then stir in as much flour as you can. You might not need the full amount, or you may need more– it just depends. You are looking to create a soft, pliable dough that isn’t too sticky.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Risen and ready to go

Risen and ready to go

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow it to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Plop the risen dough back out on your counter top and divide in half. Roll each half into a rectangular shape (it does NOT need to be perfect. Look to make the shape about 10″ by 8″. However– I will repeat– it does NOT need to be perfect.)

Roll up the rectangle starting with a long side. Pinch the ends of the loaf to seal and shape in a “log.” If your seam doesn’t want to stick down, you might need to dip your finger in a bit of water and moisten the dough to encourage it to adhere. Otherwise, it’ll try to unroll during the baking process.

Ready for second rise

Ready for second rise

Grease a pizza stone or stoneware baking sheet and place the loaves on it to rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare an egg wash by beating one egg with one tablespoon of water. (The egg wash is optional– however– it gives the loaves a lovely, shiny brown finish)

Ready to pop into the oven

Ready to pop into the oven

Right before you pop the loaves into the oven, brush the tops with the egg wash and make 4 diagonal slashes across the top using a sharp, serrated knife.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on wire racks before serving.

Serve warm with lots of butter.

Kitchen Notes:

  • You can really go with whatever type of flour you like here. Feel free to use whole wheat or half wheat, half white. I generally use unbleached white, and sometimes I’ll throw in whatever freshly ground wheat flour I  have hanging out in my fridge. For a chewier bread, try adding 1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the yeast/sucanat mixture at the beginning. I have no experience in trying this recipe with gluten-free flours– so I have no idea if that would be successful or not.
  • I have never tried preparing this recipe using the “soaked grains” method. Feel free to try it out.
  • You could totally make this recipe in your mixer if you have something like a Kitchenaid or Bosch. However, I’ve found that I prefer making my bread by hand. I just need to have my hands in the dough in order to know if it’s right or not. ;)
  • If you have a large family, you might want to double the recipe. It’s enough for my little family, but the loaves aren’t huge.
  • I supposed you don’t *have* to use stoneware to bake this bread, but I sure recommend it. I think my stones are some of my most-loved kitchen tools. Couldn’t live without ‘em.

french bread recipe

I was also going to add that if you have some left the next day, it makes a great garlic bread. Just slather some butter on top and sprinkle on garlic powder and parmesan cheese before sticking it into the broiler.

But let’s be honest… there probably won’t be any left the next day. ;)

Easy Homemade French Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (80-90 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons sucanat (sugar will work)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Instructions

  1. Place yeast and sucanat in large bowl
  2. Stir in warm water until everything dissolves
  3. Add salt, and stir in as much flour as you can to create a soft, pliable dough that isn't too sticky
  4. Knead on a lightly floured surface 6-8 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic
  5. Return dough to bowl and cover with kitchen towel
  6. Allow to rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size
  7. Plop risen dough back on counter top and divide in half
  8. Roll each half into a rectangular shape of about 10" by 8"
  9. Roll up rectangle starting with a long side
  10. Pinch ends to seal and shape into a "log"
  11. If seam doesn't stick, use wet fingers to moisten dough until it adheres
  12. Grease pizza stone or stoneware baking sheet and place loaves on it to rise another 30 minutes
  13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees,
  14. Optional: to give loaves a shiny brown finish prepare an egg wash by beating one egg with one tablespoon of water
  15. Right before you pop loaves in oven, brush tops with egg wash and make 4 diagonal slashes across top using sharp, serrated knife
  16. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown
  17. Allow to cool on wire racks before serving
  18. Serve warm with lots of butter
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/04/easy-homemade-french-bread.html

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Comments

  1. I use a similar recipe for making sandwich loaves! :) Instead of the long loaf, I plop mine into bread/loaf pans and cook that way. For those who want a softer crust, the moment the bread comes out of the oven, take a stick of butter and just slide it over the top once to coat. You end up with this lovely soft but slightly chewy top crust that slices like a dream. ;)

    • Oh yeah… Love the butter idea!

      • Are yall sure about the temp of the water….in my experience the water had to be about 100 to 105 to activiate.????

    • I do the same thing with my french bread too! :) I love the soft crust it gives! Sometimes, to change things up a bit, I will sprinkle some shredded cheese & herbs (and maybe a little garlic) on the rectangle before I roll it up. It goes SO well with stew & it looks pretty when you slice it!

    • Can an organic sugar substitute like Agave Nectar be used instead?

      • Sucanat is unrefined whole sugar (and they do sell organic), and it is much better for you than sugar that is refined. 2 teaspoons throughout the whole bread is not a lot anyway. But most agave on the market is made through a highly chemical process from the starch (similar to corn) and actually has even more fructose than corn, so I’d not recommend using it.

    • Found this recipe yesterday cause my mom couldn’t get me her recipe for French bread on time. Was amazing. My husband loved it! Will be making this recipe often. Thank you!!!

  2. I use a similar recipe but I leave off the sugar, making it only 4 ingredients. It takes a little longer to rise, but it’s so worth it!!

  3. YUM! I love fresh baked bread and this one looks like an easy treat I could pull together in a pinch :) Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Any changes to temp/time if using a regular cookie sheet? I don’t have any sort of stoneware to bake on. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  5. I love french bread, but have never attempted it before. I really only have one everyday bread recipe that I use, but this looks really good! I would love for you to share it at what i am eating http://www.townsend-house.com/2013/04/what-i-am-eating-homemade-coconut-milk.html

  6. I can’t wait to try this with some Einkorn wheat flour!!!!

  7. Wow, that seemed easy enough .. definitely have to give it a try now.

  8. I’m thinking this would make AWESOME french toast! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  9. This recipe seems much more simpler than others I’ve tried in the past….which is why I haven’t made french bread in over a year. I’ll be trying your recipe this weekend. Thanks!

  10. Would a cast iron griddle work as well as a pizza stone?

  11. Yummm!!!!
    Was looking at your pizza stone right now on Amazon . . . . .Does it really work well? Have you used it awhile with good results ? The reviews on there are not so hot. . . . .
    Was thinking of going to Lowe’s and getting some tiles or something. . . . I SO want a baking stone :)

    • Try Pampered Chef. My mom has a lot of stone bakeware from them and they are great! They are a little pricey – which is why I don’t have any – but they work awesome!

    • Ugh– thanks for pointing that out. I have a “generic” brand circular stone, and a Pampered Chef square stone. I wanted to link to one on Amazon, but didn’t realize that that particular one was getting bad reviews. There are definitely other ones on Amazon, so I’d look around first. ;)

      • Just buy a Pampered Chef one, there are things you get what you pay for and seriously, they really aren’t that much when you break down how often you use it and what a great product it is. I’d rather pay a few dollars more for quality, than not much for junk!

  12. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been trying out bread recipes like crazy but this one looks extremely successful through it’s simplicity! Thanks again.

  13. Saw your Facebook post & couldn’t comment there. Just wanted to say that I think you’re awesome and I have so much respect for you to stand up for what you believe in. I hope that everyone’s comments are sliding off your back and you realize how great you are. Thanks for staying true to yourself.

    • Jenny- Your comment means so much! Thank you! It’s been a long afternoon– I’ve been attacked, cussed at, and berated… But I’m still glad I posted it. :)

      • Me too. :) Wisdom from my daughter’s Veggie Tales DVD: You never have to be afraid to do what’s right. As someone who’s a ‘convert’, it DOES make a difference when people aren’t afraid to tell others about stuff like that. You”re a blessing.

  14. Yup. Felt like a rockstar last night cuz of this recipe. Had to do it on a cookie sheet and it was still fine. I put a shallow pan of water in the bottom of my oven as I typically would when I bake bread and preheated to 50 degrees higher and turned the oven down to correct temp just the moment before I slid it in. I’ve read this helps the temp not drop too low at the start of baking, allowing for maximum rise before the loaves start to harden. I love love love your blog and appreciate the info you share! Blessings to you!

    • Wahoo! I’ve tried the pan-of-water trick, but never the deal about preheating the oven hotter– it totally makes sense though! Definitely gonna implement that next time I make this recipe. Thanks for the tip!

  15. Great alternative to rolls with our Saturday soup.
    Just cooking the second batch now :)
    I did three sticks from each batch to fit on the tray better and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I also added a small amount of olive oil (1tablespoon) and had a mix of white flour and spelt for the second batch.Will see how it goes.

  16. I have a similar recipe. The only real difference is that I use honey instead of sugar or other sweeteners. I try to get local, raw honey in wherever I can.

  17. Hi Jill,
    I tried this recipe not long ago, and it turned out as a bit of a disaster. I live across the Pond and my world revolves around the metric system, thus silly little me thought you actually meant the oven temperature in CELSIUS so I turned it up to max (220 C or about 428 F…), thinking that I’ll just leave it in a little longer than you recommended, since my oven can’t do 375 degrees… Uh-oh! So yep, 25 minutes later there was a dark, dark brown, hard loaf of bread sitting in my British oven! :-)

    However, even before popping the bread in the over, something must have been already wrong with my measurements as although I converted your cups of water and sugar into metric measurements, my dough ended up being extremely sticky even after I added DOUBLE the amount of flour you recommended. So my dough ended up kind of flattening out on the rack before I put it into my scorching hot oven.

    Learning from my mistakes, I would really like to give this another go so I wondered if you could advise what an actual cup means in your world and if your teaspoon is the “smaller” spoon – ya know, teaspoon vs. tablespoon kinda thing….? Thanks in advance!

    • Oh dear– that doesn’t sound so good! My cup measures are 8 oz– although I usually just add flour until it looks and feels right. And yes, my teaspoon is the small one. :) Hope your next attempt is better!

    • A cup is 8 oz or 250 ml, a teaspoon is 5 ml, a tablespoon is 15 ml.
      375 F is about 190 C

  18. Can you divide it into two loaves and freeze one? My dough is rising right now and I’m excited to try!

  19. Jan Easter says:

    A friend of mine used to make slings for bakers to let their french bread dough to rise in. It was basically a cotton duck long sling. They would let their dough rise in it to get the french bread shape.

  20. Wondering if anyone has tried using regular table salt instead of sea salt as i don’t have any on hand.

  21. Amazing recipe! Just now I have thrown it in the oven and I can’t wait to use it to top my French Onion Soup tonight! To God be the glory forever!!!!

  22. Yum! Just made these! They’re delightful. I have to say though – do NOT oil your pizza stone! You may ruin it :( I just greased some tin foil to put the bread on for the second rise and then put the foil/baguettes on a preheated pizza stone. Worked like a charm!

    • Ooh… good to know- I’ve oiled mine in the past without trouble, but I supposed I’ll stop! glad you enjoyed the bread!

    • I don’t use oil on my stone at all. I’ve had excellent success using corn meal on the stone. Just make sure you have a even coating and allow room for the bread to expand as it bakes. Haven’t had a loaf stick yet! :)

  23. jessica says:

    Im making this right now. Can’t wait for it to be finished!!!

  24. Christin says:

    You should try baking bread from natural wild yeast starter (my starter is over 200 years old passed through generations from Sicily, so neat!). Without getting into all the amazing science the basic gist is that it breaks down the wheat (through fermentation) which actually allows it to be digested properly by our bodies…in addition to actually being good for us. The only way to achieve a healthy bread is by using a starter and allowing your bread to ferment and rise for at least ten hours. Modern bread, using man-made dried, rapid rise yeast (whether you are buying it or making it) is a long term death sentence. Rapid rise yeast was created merely to pump out more loaves of bread at a faster pace to make more money and deterioration of health became the side-effect. Great book on wild yeast is called The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast. I’ve browsed through your blog and it definitely seems you’re about natural, sustainable etc, so maybe you would be interested in reading up on it!

  25. I’m trying this recipe now! it looks awesome, I’m hoping mine comes out the same (:
    I was just wondering how i would go about making it a garlic bread to be pared with spaghetti right away?
    is there any certain way that comes out better?

    • Hey Lori-
      My garlic bread is pretty basic– I butter slices of bread, and then sprinkle a tiny bit of garlic powder, and then some Parmesan cheese on top. Stick it under the broiler for a few minutes until it’s golden brown. Yum!

  26. You mentioned that the type of flour , white or wheat, doesn’t make a difference. I was wondering, however, if you’re referring to All Purpose or Bread flour? That usually does make a difference. I was assuming you meant Bread flour, but I didn’t want to try the recipe without being 100% certain..

  27. Hannah Whitten says:

    Just made this. Everyone loved it. I didn’t split the dough, just made one big loaf and it turned out fine. Next time I will double the recipe and do two loaves so that I can have one for snacking on the next day.

  28. HEY!! I am so happy I found this ! I am working on my second go at the bread. I added garlic and cheese last time…big hit! Tonight its garlic, basil, and onion bread to go with alfredo pasta and salad!

  29. Lance Paqua says:

    The recipe you have here is pretty close to the one I use but you should try something I do that I actually stumbled on by mistake…on the beginning when you are dissolving the yeast in the correct temperate water…instead of sugar or anything else the using maple syrup!.. I don’t know why it works but itALWAYS seems to proof perfect and finished product is so soft and fluffy. Also when dissolving the yeast just dissolve the yeast,syrup, water, and maybe 1/2-3/4 cup flour then whisk it. Let that sit for10 minutes and you will see it grow and fluff out and you will know its gonna be HAPPY dough.. I mean is there anything better than HAPPY dough?? After it has sat for10 minutesthen add remaining ingredients and proceed as directed. Hope this works for someone ..

  30. Mmmm. I just made this bread (at three am!) due to an intense bread craving. Perfect! I paired it with a reduced balsamic vinegar paired with brown sugar and some spices to give the balsamic a faux aged taste and syrup consistency. Perfect pair! We ate half the first loaf just out of the oven, so hot it was burning our mouths. Tasty.

  31. Ursula brown says:

    yummy….. best recipe yet. going to make it into smaller rolls for beef dip next time.

  32. I just have to say how much I love the “print” button on your recipes. This make it so much easier for me to use your wonderful recipes. I’ve been searching high and low for an easy and delicious French bread recipe the last couple of days. I have now printed this one and it will definitely become a recipe I depend on. THANKS!

  33. Just baked this – we have 2 gorgeous loaves with a crunchy crust and soft, chewy interior – perfect for our carrot ginger soup.
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe – good wishes from Edmonton (:

  34. Off to the kitchen to make this immediately, I already have the spaghetti sauce brewing, so it will fit in with my supper great tonight. Thanks for the simple recipe!

  35. I notice you have the loaves rising on the pizza stone, so the stone doesn’t get preheated. I followed the directions the first time, and my bread was undercooked on the bottom and very dark on top. Probably because it takes the pizza stone so long to heat up.

    I’m making 8 loaves using this recipe for Thanksgiving today, and I plan on preheating the stone and transferring the loaves to the hot stone just before it goes in the oven. I think reducing the oven temperature would also work fine, though.

    Anyway, this is a really lovely, delicious bread. Thanks!

  36. I’ve made this bread at least three times in the past few weeks since finding this recipe and every time I make it I feel like a total rock star! I just made a double batch yesterday, made the loaves into rolls and froze a dozen so I have fresh, homemade bread within reach at all times! Thanks for making homemade bread look so easy!

  37. Stephanie P. says:

    I have never in my life baked a successful loaf of bread before trying this recipe but I did try it and guess what?! It came out awesome!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202321516313759&set=a.3531935231548.149135.1667298397&type=1&theater

  38. Just made this today and how easy it was… And the bread was amazing in taste… My family loved it.

  39. I have made this several(10+) times winner every single time. I dont use a baking stone I put parchment on the sheet. I have also used this for pizza pies. Roll i out, put in pie plate,layer with toppings, pull hanging dough over and pinch it closed. Awesome!(http://coeurdelamaison.blogspot.com/2013/10/layered-pizza-pie.html)
    Thanks for sharing…

  40. If you want your French bread crusty you put a dish of water in the oven during the preheating. That gives it that characteristic crunch.

  41. Mine ended up looking more like baguettes than French bread because I must have rolled it out thinner than required. Still delicious! Thank you.

  42. Do you think spelt flour would work?? Thanks!

  43. Made this last night and love it! Thanks for sharing :) I tried to share via FB but the button isn’t working. Just letting you know. :) I pinned it though :)

  44. my bread turned out terrible. it did not rise at all. i used yeast that was fresh, i used plain flower. what did i do wrong???

    • Was your water possibly too HOT rather than warm when you attempted to dissolve your yeast? That will definitely kill the yeast … no rising, no matter how fresh it was.

  45. Made this tonight without a second thought. Bread was perfect. Eating it right now. Sooooooooo darn good. Great recipe!

  46. So i tried this again and found what i did wrong. my water was twice as hot as it should have been. i never checked the temperature until today. my french bread turned out AWESOME!!!!
    family loved it. thank you so very much for this simple but great bread.

  47. Danielle Schumacher says:

    Does anyone know if this can be done in a bread machine on the dough cycle?

  48. Made this tonight it was fantastic!!!!!

  49. I need to try this! I’ve always been very comfortable in the kitchen except my Achilles heel is yeast breads. Maybe I haven’t been trying the right recipes, and maybe I’ve given up too quickly!

  50. 1. Never grease or oil a pizza stone
    2. Always put a stone in a cold oven and preheat the two together. Use cornmeal on the stone to keep from sticking
    3. Let rise on a parchment paper and put on the stone removing 1/2 way througj the cook.
    4. Put a pan on the ravk under the stone and add a cup of hot water when putting the bread in to help steam the crust

  51. Hi Jill – Just a quick Thank You!!! I have had the worst time making bread since we moved to Utah – the altitude adjustments were killing this southern girl from back east.

    Anyway, I made it today and my Italian husband literally stood at the stove with a stick of butter and ate 3/4 of a loaf before it was even cool enough for a sane person to touch.

    Tomorrow I am using your biscuit recipe to make a southern version of meat pies for a church luncheon…wish me luck.

    Thanks!!!

  52. I made this bread, but only got as far as allowing it to rise before I realized my yeast must not have activated because it didn’t rise at all. Could it be that the water needs to be between 100-115 degrees?

  53. Homemade Baker says:

    I have tried to make bread to go with my soups or spaghetti but none of the ones I’ve ever made have actually tasted like the French bread I know and love. I also hadn’t come across such and easy recipe either. I think this recipe will definitely be a keeper for me. I could eat a whole loaf by myself in one sitting and feel good that it does not contain all the added doubtful ingredients that the store bought version has. (Not that I really do eat a whole loaf…because I force myself to stop). Thanks for sharing it. ; )

  54. Liane Keady says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. It is so straightforward to make and the bread is so delicious – lovely and light inside with a super crust on top. I have tried other French bread recipes but have never had this success before. I will definitely be making it again.

  55. Okay, we are just now cutting out ALL processed foods from our diet. We’ve always eaten fairly well, but decided to go ahead and make the jump to get all of those chemical preservatives and natural flavorings. Anyway, I was under the impression that white flour, even unbleached, was considered a refined type of food and not whole foods since they remove the most nutritious part of the wheat during that processing.

    Can you weigh in on this for me? Everything is very confusing and I am trying hard to figure it out! Especially since you seem to agree that refined sugar is not a whole food…what makes the white, refined flour okay? Does it go through less of a process than the sugar?

    Please note: I LOVE your blog and I am not in any way trying to argue with you about what is or isn’t whole foods. I am genuinely trying to understand and I hope that comes through in this comment :)

  56. MrsJennyK says:

    This is a great recipe and super easy. I bake all my own bread, so I know from good bread recipes! I made half the recipe because I just needed enough for one meal for two adults and two toddlers. I hate kneading, so I do it in the food processor. I also buy bulk yeast that I know is good and I keep it in the freezer so I never bother to proof. I put all of the dry ingredients into the food processor and let it mix for about 10-15 seconds. Then I slowly pour in the warm water while it’s running. When the dough looks “right” to me (usually when it starts to pull away from the sides and form a ball) I stop the water and let it run for about 2 minutes. I check the dough by touching it. If it needs more Kneading I run the processor for another minute or so. Everything after that is as normal. Just a little shortcut for ya!

  57. made this tonight. it was a big hit!!! next time im going to try it in the bread amchine

  58. I love this bread!!! I have NEVER made homemade bread and this was simple and easy and fun!!! I’m so glad I found this recipe. Last night I made it for the third time and decided to cut it into three instead of two. I rolled out and rolled up each piece, then BRAIDED them together. Just before sticking the braid in the oven, I did the egg-wash and sprinkled on just a tiny bit of coarse ground sea salt from my grinder. It was amazing!!! The perfect complement to our brisket & veggies!!! Mmmmm!!!

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