Easy Homemade French Bread

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About: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to my classroom (when appropriate) where I teach 6-12th grade English, Social Studies, and S...

I love baking and I really love fresh bread. One of the reasons I really like this recipe is because you don't need to have a starter/poolish/or biga made ahead of time. Many bread recipes start with a water and flour mixture that is set aside for a day or so to add deeper flavor to the bread. This recipe already has a lot of flavor, though you should play with the amount of salt to match your preferences.

It's a great addition to any meal, paired with cheese, or just a little butter.

Step 1: BoM

This recipe makes 1 large loaf. You can easily double or triple to make more loaves.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast

1-2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water

Egg Wash

1 egg

1-1/2 teaspoons water

Step 2: Mix

Add all of the ingredients (except the last two, egg white and tsp of water) to your stand mixer and mix on low until all ingredients are well incorporated. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can do this by hand.

As I don't have a flour sifter, I like to measure my flour out on a scale to make sure I'm getting the right amount of flour and don't use too much. Too much flour can result in a denser bread with little to no air pockets.

Step 3: Knead

On a low setting, use the dough hook to knead the dough until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides. About 5-8 minutes. You'll know the dough has been kneaded enough when it is smooth, elastic and not sticky.

Step 4: First Rise

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Make sure to place the bowl in a warm area.

When the dough has doubled, remove the cover and gently deflate. A lot of directions will say to punch down the dough, releasing gases inside, but I find turning it out onto your surface is good enough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and let rest 10-15 minutes.

Step 5: Shape

Shape dough into a log. You can use warm water to help any seams you create to stick together better.

Place on baking sheet or in baguette pan. If using a cookie sheet you can add a thin layer of cornmeal for the log to rest on.

Take a very sharp knife (or kitchen scissors) and make several diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf, about 1/4" deep. Doing this before the second rise prevents the dough from falling in and becoming more dense.

Step 6: Second Rise

After the dough is shaped, cover and let rise until the size has doubled.

Preheat oven to 375. If you want a crispy crust, you can place a cast iron pan in the oven, beneath the rack you'll put the bread on.

Step 7: Bake

Mix egg white and water together and then brush over the top of the loaf.

Put the loaf into the oven and add cold water to the cast iron pan.

About 20 minutes in, you can add an extra egg wash layer to the bread and add more water to the cast iron pan. The steam created from the water hitting the pan will give you a crispy crust.

Bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

Step 8: Rest

When the bread is a nice golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190-200, remove from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

Another way to test the bread for doneness is to remove it from the oven and tap the bottom. If the bread is done it will sound hollow, if it doesn't put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

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    6 Discussions

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    dbauman

    Question 7 months ago

    Is the egg and 1.5 teaspoons of water for the topping or does that go into the whole mix? The instructions say to add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, so I'm not sure on that. Thanks!

    2 answers
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    Not_Tashadbauman

    Answer 7 months ago

    Just fixed that! Thank you! The egg and 1.5 tsp of water is the egg wash, it doesn't go into the bread dough.

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    dbaumanNot_Tasha

    Reply 7 months ago

    Great, thank you for clarifying that! I'll give it a try this weekend.

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    Stippy-The-Magnificent

    Question 7 months ago

    Hi, you say a package of active yeast, how much is in a package? I have a tin and would need to measure it out. I'm excited to try your recipe!

    2 answers
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    An individual sized package is usually about .25oz. 2 1/4 teaspoons equal the same amount. Let me know how it goes :)