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 homemade 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 perfectly chewy French bread recipe. 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.
Homemade French Bread Recipe
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- 1 1/4 cup warm water (80-90 degrees)
- 2 teaspoons sucanat (where to buy) (regular sugar will work too)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (where to buy)
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour *see note below
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (where to buy)
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.
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.
Grease a pizza stone (where to buy) 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)
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.
- 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 mixer 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 pizza stones are some of my most-loved kitchen tools. Couldn’t live without ‘em.
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.