How to Make French Bread
There are few smells better than that of freshly baked bread, and knowing how to make French bread will cause your kitchen to smell just like the bakery down the street.

French bread, also known as a baguette, is largely recognizable for its long, thin shape, crusty exterior and soft interior. Although most associate the bread with the French culture, some believe it originated in Austria. One reason the bread has taken the world by storm is its versatility: It's perfect eaten alone, used for sandwiches, or thinly sliced for bruschetta. Plus, leftover bread can easily be turned into breadcrumbs.

One of the key components to making a successful loaf is good yeast. Whether you've just purchased the yeast or pulled it out of your cupboard, make sure it hasn't expired--if the yeast is old, it won't rise. For French bread, use active dry yeast, which is available in either 1/4-ounce packages or jars. Once opened, a jar of should be stored in the refrigerator.

Transcript
-Hi everyone, I'm Judith. Well, today, I'm very excited. We're making French bread. Home made French bread from scratch, how wonderful. So, what you'll need for this is 5-1/2 to 6 cups of all purpose flour, 2 packages of active dry yeast, 1-1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of warm water, cornmeal, 1 egg white slightly beaten, and 1 tablespoon of water. Now, contrary to what you might think, French bread is actually very, very easy to make. So, what we're gonna do first of all is get a large bowl and we're gonna add 2 cups of our flour into the bowl. So, in it goes. And to that, we're gonna add our yeast of course, which is gonna help the bread rise and our salt. Alright. Put all those ingredients in there. Now, to that, we're gonna add our water. And then with our electric mixer, we're gonna beat that for about 30 seconds. Make sure you scrape the sides of your bowl, get all that flour in there and we're gonna beat that on high now for about 3 minutes. Now, we're gonna stir in with our wooden spoon as much as-- of the remaining flour now as we can. So, let's get the rest of these and put it in until we get that doughy consistency that we want. Alright. So, 3 very simple ingredients to make the though for our bread and it's thickening up here as I'm stirring with that extra flour. Put a little bit more in until we use it all up. And that should become thick now. Really getting that though that we want. So, we can just about use our hands now. Let's get it down there. So, on a floured surface, let's flour up our surface a little with our extra flour, we're gonna start kneading. That's right. So, we're gonna get our arms going here and what we wanna do is you probably gonna need to knead for about 10 minutes to get it to that elastic doughy consistency that we want. So, let's get going. Get your muscles in there and we'll do some kneading. Alright. So, we've been kneading that for about 10 minutes and that is exactly how we want it now. Smooth, elastic, really nice consistency. Let's just roll in a bowl. And in a greased glass bowl here, we're gonna pop it in. Turn it once so that it gets greased once and then we're gonna leave that there covered in a warm place for about an hour to let that dough rise until it doubles in size. So, our French bread dough has been resting for an hour. And as you can see, that has risen, doubled in size, so that is looking good now. What we're gonna do is we just wanna punch it down like that. It should be nice and airy. Perfect. Alright. And then on a lightly floured surface, which we'll do right now, we're gonna take out the dough. Put it down on here. That is looking good, good consistency as you want. And all we're gonna do actually is just cut it in half and we're gonna cover that and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, on a slightly oiled baking sheet, we're just going to flour it with our cornflour like so and we'll set that aside. So, our dough has been resting for about 10 minutes. They've risen again, which is fantastic. Now, let's just get one of them and we want to roll this out now in about 15 to 10 inch rectangle. So, make sure your surface is nicely floured. Take your rolling pin and we'll get our muscles going and we'll roll that out. So now what we're gonna do is roll starting with the longest side and roll it in as best we can 'coz obviously it is still a little sticky. Gonna roll that up. Perfect. And we're just gonna pinch ends and make sure they're sealed. Seal them well. And we're gonna put that seam side down on our baking dish. Now, what we're gonna do is get our egg and water. Let them mix in together. And using our baste brush, we're just gonna put that over our dough. So, we're gonna do exactly the same thing with our other half of dough. So, we've rolled out both of our halves of French bread now. So, we're gonna leave that now for about 35 to 45 minutes until it's doubled in size. So, our 2 French breads have been resting for about 35 minutes. They've risen again absolutely splendidly. So now, before we put it in the oven, we have preheated our oven by the way to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you do that. And we're just going to get a sharp knife and form little slits inside, about a quarter inch thick in deep along our bread like so. 3 or 4 should do it. Same with the other one. Now, we wanna put that in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, we're then gonna baste it again with our eggy watery mixture and then bake again for a further 20 minutes then you can take it out the oven and let it cool. Alright. So, our French bread is out of the oven. They've been in there for about a total of 40 minutes. We just basted them with a little bit of that eggy watery mixture halfway through and that is looking beautiful. They should be a little hollow if you bang them a little, but yet soft inside. Perfect. Lovely golden brown on the top and that's it. You can serve that up with your favorite dish. That is how you make French bread.
What You'll Need
  • 5 1/2 - 6   cups all-purpose flour

  • 2   packages active dry yeast

  • 1 1/2  teaspoons salt

  • 2   cups warm water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F)

  •  Cornmeal

  • 1   egg white, slightly beaten

  • 1   tablespoon water


Step By Step
1
In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and salt. Add the warm water to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
2
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).
3
Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
4
Roll each portion of the dough into a 15x10-inch rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side; seal well. Pinch ends and pull slightly to taper. Place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl stir together egg white and water. Brush some of the egg white mixture over loaves. Let rise until nearly double in size (35 to 45 minutes).
5
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush again with some of the egg white mixture. Continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes more or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves (28 slices).


Variation
  • Baguettes: Prepare as above, except divide dough into 4 portions. Shape into balls. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease 2 baking sheets or 4 baguette pans; sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll each portion of the dough into a 14x5-inch to 16x5-inch rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side; seal well. Pinch ends and pull slightly to taper. Place seam side down on prepared baking sheets or baguette pans. Continue as directed, except reduce the second baking time to 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 baguettes (56 slices).
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