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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


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 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. You can now substitute active dry yeast without dissolving it first. Just be aware that it may be a little slower on the uptake but it will get there. Allow more time for rising.
  • 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

Click here to sign up for a FREE 6-day Quick-Start email course: “Make Fabulous Bread with Your Bread Machine.”

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.

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.

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.


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.

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


Testimonials

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?


Pin the picture below to save for later.

storyboard showing how to roll-out dough



Did you try 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.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

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: 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.

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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Kim

Sunday 12th of July 2020

I love this recipe, but I have question. The bread rises beautifully until I make the slashes. Then it collapses completely, no matter how lightly I try to do it. Any suggestions?

Kim

Sunday 19th of July 2020

@Paula,

Thanks for the suggestions.

Paula

Sunday 12th of July 2020

Hi Kim,

Two thoughts: What are you using to make the slashes? A razor sharp edge works best. Be careful not to tear it with a dull knife.

Secondly, perhaps the bread has risen too long when you slash it. It may fall a little, but it should bounce right back when you put the bread in the oven and it starts to bake. Next time, you might try letting it rise a little less on the second proof. I don't know if it's really warm where you live but that would definitely make your bread rise faster than normal.

Joann

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

I have been looking for a good French bread recipe. This is the best. Only thing I did...put down a little cornmeal before placing on baking pan. Thanks for including the 190 degree temp. Was perfect.

Paula

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

Joann,

I'm so glad you wrote. I usually sprinkle a little semolina which has the same effect as cornmeal. Been meaning to add that to the recipe which I will do right now. Happy Bread-Eating!

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.