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A Crusty French Bread Recipe (Mixed in a Bread Machine)

Do you love eating and smelling bread right out of the oven? Try this Crusty French Bread, mixed up in a bread machine for the best texture and baked in the oven for the best crust.

No bread machine? No worries. See alternate directions for using a stand mixer or making by hand in the recipe notes.

Have you ever given somebody a recipe and then, when they turn around and make it for you, you don’t even recognize it?

That’s what happened with this Crusty French Bread. I gave the recipe to my daughter-in-law, Amanda. Later, she baked it and served it to our family.

Here’s the crazy part…

I asked HER for the recipe thinking it was better than mine. How did that happen? Now she is famous in our family for this French bread.

two uncut loaves of French Bread on a cooling rack

This bread has a soft, compact crumb with a crispy crust when first removed from the oven. It is NOT a chewy kind of artisan bread with big holes in it.

Nope! Nothing too sophisticated. Just a fresher loaf of bread. Slice it for eating out of hand, smear garlic butter on it to accompany pasta, or make sandwiches with it (see below).

INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS

  • FLOUR: Bread flour is specified in the recipe and my preference. It will give you the best rise. My second choice would be King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s Unbleached All-Purpose Flour because of their higher protein content.

    Otherwise, go with any unbleached or bleached white flour you have on hand. It will still make a good loaf. This recipe is not written for whole wheat or a specialty flour. Results can be unpredictable.
  • WATER: I’m assuming you have water. However, there is a fabulous substitute some of my yogurt-making friends may want to use. Try the whey you drain off yogurt when making Greek yogurt. (This is not the same as protein whey.)
  • YEAST: Instant or bread-machine yeast (same thing) does not be dissolved. I use it in all my bread-machine recipes. If you only have active-dry yeast, see the recipe notes for how to substitute it for instant yeast.
  • SALT: Kosher salt is what I use in all my recipes. You can substitute table salt. Please don’t leave out the salt. It makes all the difference in the way your bread behaves and tastes.
Crusty French Bread (directions for a bread machine)

HOW TO SHAPE A LOAF OF FRENCH BREAD

Follow me. Start at the left top picture. If you aren’t happy with the shape on the first try, roll the dough in a ball and start over. Nobody will ever know. If you prefer, I have included a video showing this process.

Illustrated tutorial for rolling out French Bread

FAQ

How can I make the crust even crustier?


1. Spray the inside of your oven with water using a spray bottle when you first put your loaf into the oven.
2. Set a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf of your oven while the bread is cooking.

How do I keep the bread from sticking to the tray when I bake it?

Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. You could also spray the sheet with a product like Baker’s Joy that combines flour and oil.

Be careful when you’re glazing the loaf not to let it drip onto your baking sheet. It may “glue” your raw loaf to the baking sheet if you haven’t covered it as described above.

How can I tell if my bread is baked through?

When you insert a quick-read thermometer into the middle, the temperature should read 190˚ F. This is my favorite thermometer (paid link) if you don’t have one already. Anybody who cooks much will find multiple uses for this valuable kitchen tool.

USING CRUSTY FRENCH BREAD FOR SANDWICHES

Amanda recently made this bread for my mom’s birthday party. We used it to make sandwiches for beef au jus after my other daughter-in-law, Susie, introduced me to McCormick’s Au Jus Gravy mix. It’s a touch salty, but I forgive.

Beef Au Jus Sandwich on Crusty French bread

Place the browned beef roast in a slow cooker. Pour seasoning mixed with water (according to the package) over the meat and cook it on high for 5 hours or low for 8-9 hours. The result will be perfectly seasoned broth and fork-tender shreds of beef. Serve it with Crusty Bread Machine French Bread.


MORE BREAD MACHINE TIPS AND RECIPES:


WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

I’ve made this several times since I can’t find much bread in the grocery stores right now. It’s delicious. I’ve got one rising now so that I can make us some french bread pizzas tonight. I’ll be making this instead of buying bread even when the stores are stocked again. It’s so easy to make too. So happy I found this recipe.”

Jen

This has become my go-to french bread recipe. Comes out perfect every time and so simple!

Andrea

“I have made this a few times now and am IN LOVE!

I’ve tried to make it whole wheat, and it’s possible, but not nearly as good!

I think this is a recipe that simply needs to be left alone. It’s AWESOME exactly as it is.”

Steph

DO YOU NEED AN ENTREE TO GO WITH YOUR BREAD?


Pin the picture below to save for later.

storyboard showing how to roll-out dough

If you make this recipe and enjoy it, consider helping other readers and me by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required. Thank you for visiting! Paula

Crusty French Bread (Mixed in a Bread Machine)

Crusty French Bread (Mixed in a Bread Machine)

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes

This recipe is for a simple, crusty French bread you can mix up in your bread machine and bake in the oven for the freshest bread ever.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons shortening or butter
  • 3 cups (360 grams) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast

Glaze:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in the order listed. Start the dough cycle. After 5-10 minutes, lift the lid and check the dough. If the dough is too sticky (levels out), add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time. The dough should be a loose ball that sticks to the sides, then pulls away.
  2. When the dough cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Roll into an oval shape slightly longer than you want your final loaf to be (about 9 x 12 inches is what I do.)
  3. Starting from a long side, roll into a cylinder shape. Pinch seam together. Pinch ends together. Pull ends to reach seams and pinch together with the seam making a small rounded shape on each end. (This is difficult to describe. See the picture above or watch the video if you are confused.)
  4. Flip the loaf over and carefully place it onto a greased baking sheet or one covered with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until almost double.
  5. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Whisk egg white and water together for glaze. Brush over loaf.
  6. Using a sharp knife, (I use a serrated knife) or a single-edge razor blade, cut diagonal slashes about 2 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep across the top of the loaf.
  7. Bake loaf for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Bread should reach 190˚F in the middle when cooked through. I love this instant-read thermometer (paid link) if you don't have one.
  8. Remove to a cooling rack or slice and eat immediately.

Notes

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:


  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using the dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic about 5-10 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in recipe.
  • If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape r as indicated in recipe
  • Please note: If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape rolls.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 43Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 205mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

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Amy

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Oh, and a little typo to point out (wish I could private message you). Under FAQ’s: 1. “. . . when you first but your loaf in the oven . . . “

should be “put your loaf” :)

Amy

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

What an informative site you have put together! Thank you. One question. At the end of step 4 we are to let the shaped loaf rise until doubled in size. I’m a novice bread baker. Approximately how much time should I allocate for the loaf to double?

Paula

Sunday 24th of May 2020

Hi Amy,

Thanks for the typo correction. I ALWAYS appreciate those.

I generally allow about 45 minutes. It could be longer or shorter depending on the ambient temperature where the bread is rising. In the end, you have to judge by looking at the bread to know for sure that it's ready to bake.

My email is paula at saladinajar.com if you ever want to write me directly. I don't mind at all.

Karen

Friday 22nd of May 2020

I made this for the first time a few days ago and followed the recipe exactly, but the French Bread came out rock hard and burnt on top. Thankfully I'd already tried a number of recipes on this website, and found them all excellent, so I doubted this recipe could be so bad that it could really produce a loaf that came out like that. 425 degrees is Gas Mark 7 and in my oven at least seemed pretty hot for cooking bread, so I made it again today and reduced the temperature to Gas Mark 6 for the first 20 minutes and also followed the tip about placing a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf of the oven. The difference was dramatic and as if I'd followed a completely different recipe, even though I'd basically only changed the above small things. The loaf came out crusty on top and chewy throughout, and had a really great texture even to look at. I just thought I would post this in case anyone else has tried this recipe and had a similar result, which could obviouly be offputting if you haven't tried other recipes on this site, and might lead to you giving up on this recipe when it does actually produce a great loaf.

Paula

Friday 22nd of May 2020

Hi Karen, Thanks so much for sharing this information. So glad you tried again. Maybe it will help someone else with the same kind of oven.

Tia P Turner

Saturday 9th of May 2020

I made the French loaf just now, and substituted 1 cup of bread flour with spelt flour, it came out perfectly! I absolutely love your website, notes and recipes!

Paula

Saturday 9th of May 2020

Hi Tia,

It is so good to know the spelt flour worked in this recipe. Thank you for letting us know.

p.s. I made the correction and deleted your second comment. :-)

Gabriel

Saturday 9th of May 2020

I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. A question about the “dough cycle” and when to pull it out to shape. On my breadmaker, it stirs and kneads for 20 minutes, lets it rise for 20, then punches down, and then lets it rise for 50 more minutes. Should I take it out after that first 20 minute rise, or after the second 50 minute rise?

Thanks so much. I read through the comments, this recipe has a rich history!

Paula

Saturday 9th of May 2020

That's a good question, Gabriel. My intuition says you should let the dough cycle complete. 20 minutes is not near long enough for the first rise, so maybe the two together will be perfect. That is what I would try first. Happy Bread-Eating!