Do you love eating and smelling bread right out of the oven? This is a great recipe to build your confidence if you are a beginning bread baker.
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.
What you can expect:
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 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 use spring water for all my bread. If you don’t have any, tap water is fine.
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 need to be dissolved. I use it in all my bread-machine recipes.
You can now substitute active dry yeast without dissolving it first. Just be aware that it may be a little slower on the uptake. Allow more time for rising. Adding an additional 1/4 teaspoon of yeast will help.
- SALT: Use table salt or sea salt. If you substitute Kosher salt, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon.
Please don’t leave out the salt. It makes all the difference in the way your bread behaves and tastes.
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.
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.
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.
Another option is to sprinkle cornmeal or semolina flour on your baking sheet to make it non-stick.
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.
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.
Our Fave Sandwich with Crusty French Bread
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.
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
- Bread Machine Ciabatta: Advanced bread makers are going to love the challenge to make this bread.
- Crusty Round Bread (made in a bread machine): Start with a biga to make this incredibly flavorful loaf.
- Really Crusty Rolls | A Bread Machine Recipe: A secret ingredient in the glaze makes these rolls very crusty,
- How To Use a Bread Machine to Make Fabulous Bread: More tips for using your bread machine to make really good bread you’ll be proud to serve.
- Six Bread Machine Secrets You Need to Know
“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 French Bread?
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- 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
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 425˚F. Whisk egg white and water together for glaze. Brush over loaf.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove to a cooling rack or slice and eat immediately.
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: You can substitute active dry yeast for instant or bread machine yeast. There is no longer any need to dissolve it. Be aware that it may be a little slower acting than instant yeast, but it'll get there.
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Spring Chef Cooling Rack - Baking Rack - Heavy Duty, 100% Stainless Steel, Oven Safe, 12 x 17 Inches Fits Half Sheet Cookie Pan
HONGLIDA 18-inch Wood Rolling Pin for Baking, Non-stick Pastry Dough Roller without Handles┃Perfect Gifts for Bakers.
AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Bowl Scraper/Chopper
Polder Safe-Serve Instant Read Kitchen Thermometer with Torch, Red
Fleischmann's Yeast for Bread Machines, 4-ounce Jars (Pack of 1)
Zojirushi BB-PDC20BA Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker, 2 lb. loaf of Bread, Stainless Steel/Black
King Arthur Flour Unbleached Bread Flour, 5 Pound (Packaging May Vary)
AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat - 2-Pack
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