Easy French Bread! Enough said! This recipe gives you a perfect loaf of golden, soft, chewy french bread! What more could you need in life? (Maybe a warm bowl of soup or big ol’ dish of pasta to eat with it!)
I LOVE CARBS! I have said it before, and I will say it again- I LOVE CARBS! Breads, pastas, potatoes are my loves! So the fact that I can make a loaf of french bread, at home, that is easy (practically no fail!), is my dream come true!
When I say you this bread is easy, I am not joking! It really is fail proof! Never have I had it not turn out. It always makes the perfect loaf of bread! I also love that this recipe gives you one loaf of bread- not 2, not 4, like most recipes out there. We cannot eat 2 loaves of french bread before it goes bad and I don’t like freezing it, so this recipe makes 1 loaf which is perfect for us- but you can double it if needed!
Don’t let yeast dough intimidate you! I will give you some pretty good photos to track your bread making skills! You will be able to see what it means when people say “proof your yeast” or “activate you yeast, making sure it gets foamy and bubbly”! Also, you will see just how much flour you need! The yeast and the flour seem to be what makes or breaks yeast dough recipes! So follow along!
Making bread of any sort can be intimidating, but fear no more! Grab your yeast, some warm water, sugar, flour and salt. You will need some olive oil or canola oil for rubbing on the dough after it is made, so grab that too!
In a mixer, using your paddle attachment, you will add your sugar and warm water to the mixing bowl!
NOTE: You can use your hands. If you use your hands it will take a lot more work because you have to knead the dough (the mixer does this for me)!
Next, add in your yeast. Give it a little stir with a spoon. Then let it sit for at least 5 minutes. This is where “activate or proof your yeast” comes into play, and when people say “let it get foamy and bubbly” this is where the magic happens!
Once the yeast is activated/proofed/foamy/bubbly, add your salt and 2 cups of flour. Let the mixer do its thing on about medium speed. (Start out at a slower speed so the flour doesn’t flip out of the bowl when it starts to mix).
The dough should start to come together at this point, but it may still be sticking to the bowl. We want it to come away from the bowl, but still be slightly sticky (but not where it sticks in giant clumps to your fingers).
This is the part that can freak people out! How much is too much flour? When do I know I have enough?
The bowl will almost be clean as the dough mixes when it has enough flour! Add 1/4 cup more flour if needed, and mix some more! Keep adding 1/4 cup more as needed- you should not ever need more than 3 cups total flour! (I usually only use 2 to 2 1/4 cups).
Let the dough mix on a higher speed for 3-4 minutes. This will knead it for you, saving you from having to do it! The dough should be soft and smooth and you know it is done mixing/kneading.
Let it REST!
Make a ball out of the dough.
Take 1/2 teaspoon of oil and rub it on the dough ball. Set it back in the bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Rolling out The French Bread
After the dough has rested, lightly flour your counter. Take the dough and roll it out, making a 9×16-ish rectangle and about 1/4 inch thick! The measurement does not need to be accurate. The longer the rectangle is the longer and skinnier your loaf will be, the shorter the rectangle, the fatter and thicker your bread will be.
Roll the dough into a long roll (lengthwise). Tuck in the ends so they are rounded, and not showing the roll (or don’t if you don’t care).
Place the rolled dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, or greased baking sheet. Cover with the same clean kitchen towel and let raise for 4-5 minutes to an hour.
How do you know if it has raised enough? The bread dough should at least double in size if not more.
Cut slits in the top using a sharp knife (a little baking/cooking spray or oil on the knife helps it not stick) or kitchen shears. (This is optional, and not necessary- it just makes the bread look like traditional french bread). Make sure you cut shallow cuts in the bread, not too deep!
Baking the bread
In the oven it goes! It will bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown!
Rub the hot fresh loaf with butter, if desired!
Slice your bread and enjoy!
I store any leftover bread (this rarely occurs) in a zip top bag!
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Easy French Bread
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 to 3 cups flour *you will start by adding only 2 cups
- 1/2 tsp canola or olive oil *to be rubbed on dough for resting, after it is made
- In a mixer, using the paddle attachment, add your sugar and warm water to the mixing bowl.
- Add your yeast to the warm water and sugar. Give it a little stir and then let it sit for at least 5 minutes. This will give the yeast time to proof/activate and it will get foamy and bubbly. See the blog post above for photos.
- Add the salt and 2 cups of flour. Start the mixer on low speed and let the flour start to mix in. Adjust the speed to medium-high once the flour is mixed in well so the dough can start to mix and knead.
- The dough should start pulling away from the bowl. If it isn't pulling away, add 1/4 cup more flour to the dough and let it mix again. You will know it has enough flour added, when the dough pulls pretty cleanly away from the bowl. The dough should be sticky when touched but not stick to your fingers. See blog post above for photos. If you need to add more flour, do so adding only a little at a time. You should not exceed more than 3 cups total flour. I use usually 2 to 2 1/4 cups.
- Once the dough is pulling away from the bowl as it mixes, let it continue to mix for 3-4 minutes. This will knead the dough for you. You will know it is done mixing/kneading when the dough is soft and smooth.
- Roll the dough into a ball. Rub 1/2 tsp oil on it. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- While the dough rests, preheat your oven to 400° and cover your baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease your baking sheet.
- After the dough has rested, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 9×16- ish rectangle. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. The measurement is not really important. Just note that the longer the rectangle is the longer and skinnier your loaf of bread will be. If the rectangle is shorter, than your bread loaf will be shorter and fatter/thicker!
- Roll the rectangle into a loaf, lengthwise. Tuck the ends in making them rounded.
- Cover the loaf with the same clean kitchen towel and let raise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size (or more).
- Once the dough has doubled in size (if not more), using a knife or kitchen shears, cut slits in the top of the bread. (TIP: Spray the knife or cooking shears with cooking oil so it cuts smooth). DO NOT cut all the way down- just a shallow slice is all you need to get that traditional french bread look. (This is totally optional).
- In to the oven it goes! Bake the bread for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Take the bread out of the oven when it is done. Brush the top with butter if desired. Slice and serve!