This easy soft French bread recipe is great to pair with soup, slice and toast, or for making your favorite sandwich. This French bread loaf is a homemade bread winner and oh, so good slathered with butter.
No time to knead? Try this delicious and easy no-knead bread!
Contributed by Shannon Stonger.
Making bread by hand, at home, with the simplest of ingredients doesn’t have to be complicated. And it doesn’t have to be tasteless or boring, either.
This tender homemade French bread ticks all of the boxes: It sits beautifully on the table next to homemade soup — like this creamy pumpkin soup. It cuts easily and butters nicely. It keeps for several days without losing its soft texture. And while it tastes better than the store-bought version, the ingredients in this easy French bread recipe are much, much easier to pronounce.
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Bread flour — The protein content in bread flour is higher than all-purpose flour. That higher protein means lots of gluten, which gives bread its stretch and elasticity.
Active Dry Yeast — This is the ingredient that gives the bread loft.
Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.
Sea Salt — Bread baked without salt is terribly bland, so be sure to include this staple ingredient!
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Making this Soft French Bread Recipe
Proof the yeast by combining the yeast and sugar with warm water. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes until it gets bubbly.
Add remaining ingredients and stir into a shaggy dough. Allow to rest for half an hour.
Making homemade bread is not difficult, but it does require a little bit of hands-on effort — literally. Stretching and folding the dough imparts air bubbles that will make the finished product light and airy.
If you do not wish to knead this recipe by hand, you can let a stand mixer do the work. In a mixer equipped with a dough hook, all ingredients are combined, process on low until dough comes together to form a ball and pull away from the side of the bowl. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your fingers.
Choose a warm location where your bread can rise. On a warm summer day, the countertop will suffice, but during the winter months, tucking it inside an oven that’s been pre-heated for a few minutes works, as does setting it near the wood stove.
Bake the French bread until golden brown. Cool on a rack and allow to cool before slicing.
This easy French bread recipe is destined to become a favorite at your place! It’s great to serve with soup and stew, perfect for garlic bread, and it can also be the base of this delicious Blueberry French Toast Casserole.
★ Did you make this easy French bread recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
- 2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons granulated organic cane sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water, divided, (around 100 degrees F)
- 2.5 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Combine 1/4 cup of the warm water with the dried yeast and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Allow to sit and "proof" for 5-10 minutes or until you see bubbles and signs of life in the yeast.
- Add the water, flour, and salt and mix until a rough dough forms. Wet your hands slightly and knead the dough for just 2-3 minutes or until a cohesive but still rustic feeling dough forms. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
- Return to the dough and perform a stretch-and-fold by folding each side of the dough onto the mass of dough. Looking down at the dough, imagine it as the face of a clock. Start at the 12 and stretch and pull that corner onto the mass of dough. Repeat with the 3, 6, and 9 edges respectively.
- Cover and allow to rise an additional 45 minutes and repeat stretch-and-folds. Cover and allow to rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
Forming the loaf
- Lightly flour a sheet of parchment or a clean work surface. Place the dough on the floured surface and stretch the dough into a rectangular loaf shape as you would a sandwich loaf. Stretch the long ends of the loaf and tuck them under the rectangular loaf. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Return to the loaf and stretch it out to a loaf 12-18" long by rolling it back and forth and elongating the dough. Either transfer the parchment to a baking sheet or transfer the dough to a greased baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with flour.
- Once the loaf is formed correctly, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes or until nearly doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees when the loaf has risen by 50%.
- Remove the towel or plastic wrap and, using a very sharp knife or razor, slash the dough diagonally in three to four places. Place bread in hot oven and bake 30-40 minutes or until browned nicely on the outside and baked through. You can test the loaf by turning it over and thumping the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is done.
- Move to a cooling rack; allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
This recipe makes a single loaf of French bread. To make multiple loaves, measure yeast for each loaf into a small bowl and begin the proofing process by adding warm water. Then measure flour for one loaf of bread into the mixer bowl along with the proofed yeast and remaining ingredients. Knead, then transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Put the next batch of ingredients right into the mixer bowl (there’s no need to wash that between loaves). Allow the dough to rise and bake multiple loaves at once.
If you do not wish to knead this recipe by hand, you can let the stand mixer do the work. In a mixer equipped with a dough hook, all ingredients are combined, process on low until dough comes together to form a ball and pull away from the side of the bowl. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your fingers.
This recipe will work with all-purpose flour, though the end result may have *slightly less chew.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 320mgCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 3g
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Originally published in May 2017; this post has been updated.