Mom’s Easy French Bread Recipe

Soft, pillowy, and chewy on the middle with a just-crunchy-enough crust, my favorite French bread recipe is made with simple ingredients and comes out incredible every time.

It’s a flexible recipe that can be used in so many different ways, making it a hit for any family or someone looking to stretch ingredients!

slices of french bread on metal serving tray with red and white checkered towel

 

Easy Homemade French Bread

I have been wanting to share this super-easy French bread recipe for a while now! It’s so good, with a soft, chewy texture on the inside and the perfectly crusty, golden-brown outside. If you’ve ever made my pizza dough or breadsticks, then you’re not in for much of a surprise! Yep, this recipe uses the EXACT same ingredients as those do, and it makes the best homemade French bread ever!

This is such a fun and seemingly fancy recipe, but it takes way less effort or expertise than you’d expect. If you’re just getting into baking your own bread, this is an ideal starter recipe because it’s hard to mess up! My biggest piece of advice is to just be sure you knead the dough long enough (6 to 10 minutes) because this is what really makes the bread soft and tender. Have fun and enjoy the comforting smell of freshly baked bread!

What Is French Bread?

French bread is a long, lean loaf of bread and is known for its cylindrical shape, crusty exterior, and soft, chewy insides.

collage image of how to make homemade french bread

French Bread Ingredients:

French bread ingredients are simple pantry staples and may even be things you already have!

Warm water: Water that’s warm will activate the yeast so that it helps the dough rise.

Instant yeast: Instant yeast is a quick-acting yeast that works wonders in rising bread dough.

Sugar: Sugar adds a little bit of a sweetness factor, but not too much.

Olive oil: Olive oil makes the bread extra moist and gives it a nice earthy flavor.

All-purpose flour or bread flour: Both types of flour will work well in this recipe.

Plus an egg wash made of 1 egg white + 1 tablespoon of water if you want it to look extra beautiful!

two loaves of french bread on parchment paper

How to Make French Bread:

French bread is super simple to make, just a bit time consuming as you let the dough rise!

  1. Add the water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil to a large bowl.
  2. Add one cup of flour, and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and mix through. Add flour until you can’t mix it by hand very well.
  3. Knead dough by hand until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed, about 6 to 10 minutes of kneading.
  4. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Gently remove the dough from the pan.
  6. Divide the dough in half.
  7. Gently roll it into a log that is 12 to 14 inches long.
  8. Place the first log on one side of a baking sheet.
  9. Repeat with the second loaf, and add to other side of the baking sheet.
  10. Cover the baking sheet with a towel; allow to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes or so.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  12. Mix egg wash and gently brush it over the top of the bread.
  13. Use a sharp knife to slash the top every 2 inches on a diagonal right before you put it in the oven.
  14. Place in the hot oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven; transfer the loaves to wire rack to cool.
  16. Store extra bread once it is fully cooled in a sealed container or plastic baggie. It makes great French toast and French bread pizza.

How to Slash French Bread:

After the dough is shaped into bread loaves and has set on the baking sheet for 45 minutes to rise again, take a sharp knife and slash the top every 2 inches on a diagonal right before putting it in the oven.

How to Get a Golden Crust:

An egg wash will get the crust nice and shiny and golden. To make an egg wash, whisk together 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon of water. Gently brush the wash over top the shaped, risen bread dough, right before slashing and placing in the oven.

loaf of a french bread with red and white checkered towel

Tips for the Best Homemade French Bread:

  • Don’t use too warm of water when making dough: If the water is very hot, it will kill the yeast instead of activating it, resulting in dough that doesn’t rise and bread that is dense and thick.
  • Knead the dough long enough: Make sure you knead the dough for 6 to 10 minutes to be sure it is the softest, most tender texture when baked.
  • Use an egg wash: The egg wash isn’t required but it DOES make the bread extra beautiful, shiny, and golden.

How to Use French Bread:

You can use French bread in a variety of ways! Eat it plain with butter, honey, jam, or fruit butters. Or use it as mini-pizzas, slicing pieces and topping with your favorite pizza toppings. You can always use it as a side with soup, sandwiches, bruschetta, or French toast, too!

How to Store French Bread:

After French bread is totally cool, store it in a plastic, zipper-topped bag in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. You can enjoy it cold, at room temperature, or reheated in the oven or a toaster.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I Freeze French Bread?

Yes! French bread (and most breads) freezes very well. Store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using!

How Do I Soften French Bread?

For French bread that’s hardened, you can sprinkle it with a tablespoon (or less) of water, wrap it in foil, and heat it in the oven at 300 degrees F. for 10 to 15 minutes. The water will incorporate moisture back into the loaf.

two loaves of french bread with slices of bread on tray with red checkered towel

 

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french bread pin

My Favorite French Bread Recipe


  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 loaves of bread 1x

Description

Soft, pillowy, and chewy on the middle with a just-crunchy-enough crust, my favorite French bread recipe is made with simple ingredients and comes out incredible every time.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • Egg wash made from 1 egg white + 1 tablespoon water, optional

Instructions

  1. Add the water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil to a large bowl. Allow mixture to stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Add one cup of flour, and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and mix through. Mix by hand for 1 or 2 minutes. The dough should be the consistency of cake batter. Add another cup of flour and mix until well combined. Add flour until you can’t mix it by hand very well.
  3. Sprinkle some flour on your table and turn the dough onto the table. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed. This should take 6 to 10 minutes of kneading. You can also do this part in a stand mixer if you have one. The kneading is really important when it comes to making the bread really soft and tender, so don’t be skimpy on this step.
  4. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Gently remove the dough from the pan (no need to punch is down or squish it too much).
  6. Divide the dough in half. Gently roll it into a log that is 12 to 14 inches long. Place the first log on one side of a baking sheet. Use your hands to gently reshape the loaf and tuck the ends as needed. I like to tuck in the loaf with two hands right at the base of the loaf close to the pan.
  7. Repeat with the second loaf, and have it fit on the other side of the baking sheet.
  8. Cover the baking sheet with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes or so. The dough will be puffy.
  9. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. If you are using the egg wash, mix it together and gently brush it over the top of the bread. I like to use it! It makes the top shiny and the color really nice.
  11. Use a sharp knife to slash the top every 2 inches on a diagonal right before you put it in the oven.
  12. Place in the hot oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown.
  13. Remove from the oven, and transfer the loaves from the pan onto a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
  14. Store extra bread once it is fully cooled in a sealed container or plastic baggie. It makes great French toast and French bread pizza.

Notes

  • Most flexible recipe ever! I love this recipe. Feel free to half the recipe if needed for 1 loaf instead of 2.
  • Spoiler alert: these are the same ingredients from my mom that we make pizza AND bread sticks AND French bread from! So if you’ve made either of those, you are basically a pro at this recipe already too!
  • Category: yeast bread
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American
Nutrition Information: YIELD: 16
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210.6 Fat: 4.3g Cholesterol: 11.6mg Sodium: 297.9mg Carbohydrates: 36.9g Sugars: 9g Protein: 5.5g Vitamin A: 5µg Vitamin C: 0mg

Keywords: how to make french bread, easy french bread recipe, french bread, french bread recipe, homemade french bread

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Megheritage@gmail.com
Megheritage@gmail.com

Hi! So after the first rise, do you flour counter to roll loaves? Also, do you place directly on baking sheet or use parchment/silpat or spray with oil? Lastly, cover with floured towel or regular towel or plastic wrap? Sorry, new to bread making…

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.