French bread is a staple for all sorts of yummy foods, like pastas, soups, and salads, where it can be used to absorb delicious juices or as a delightful added taste with butter and olive oil.
The luxury of baking French bread is adding your own finishing touches to your final product and getting to enjoy it fresh out of the oven.
Try this easy French bread recipe to create the perfect staple for all your favorite dishes.
French Bread Recipe
- 1 ¼ cup water (80-90 degrees temp)
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
First, pour the 1 ½ tsp. of active dry yeast and 2 tsp. sugar into a large bowl. Then stir in warm water. Mix the contents to dissolve both the sugar and active dry yeast.
When the mixture is liquidated, incorporate the salt and 3 ½ cups of flour. Try mixing in 3 cups at first. You want soft dough that is not too sticky. Add more flour until you get this consistency.
Lightly flour your cooking area (either a clean kitchen counter or flat surface). Place your dough onto the surface and begin kneading.
Continue to knead for around eight minutes until the dough is smooth and malleable. You want the dough to be workable, so if it’s too stiff, add in more water to even it out.
Rising and Shaping the Dough
Lightly grease your bowl with oil or a non-stick cooking spray, such as Pam.
Allow your dough to rise by putting it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a large kitchen towel or plastic wrap and wait for the dough to rise. This will take about an hour.
Once the dough has risen, it will have doubled in size. Place it onto your cooking surface and then press or punch it out until it is flat.
Divide the dough in halves of around 10 inch by 8 inch rectangles, or the size of a cooking tray. These rectangles will be your loaves.
Now it’s time to shape them! Start by folding the bottom third up and the top third over. This will give you three layers of dough in one rectangle loaf.
Press the dough down with your fingers to mend all three layers together. Repeat this process for the next loaf.
Create seams at the ends of the loaves. Pinch the ends and pull them down. To seal them, you can moisten your finger with water and dab on the pinched ends.
Moistened dough will ensure the loaves do not unroll while they are baking.
Preheating and Prepping the Loaves
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you’re waiting for your oven to heat up, you can prepare an egg wash for your French bread. This will give your loaves a shiny finish in the end.
To make the egg wash: just add 1 whole egg and 1 tbsp. of water to a small bowl. Beat the egg and water then mix in a dash of salt.
Scoring the Top
Apply the egg wash by brushing it across the top of the loaves. Then score the top of the loaves, using a serrated knife to make diagonal slashes across the loaves.
This procedure will give your French bread a nice, shiny finish.
Baking French Bread
Bake the bread for about 20-25 minutes. Check that the bread is a light golden brown color and feels hollow. You can lightly knock it with a utensil to test this out.
Avoid soggy bread bottoms and skip using the warm oven racks or baking tray.
Place the bread onto wire racks to cool for about ten minutes.
Making French Bread Rolls
If you prefer dinner rolls, perhaps you would opt to enjoy French bread rolls instead.
To make simple French bread rolls, apply the same methods used in the quick French bread recipe except rather than shaping your dough into two 10 inch by 8 inch rectangles, you divide the dough into equal pieces.
Form the balls by rounding them in your hands to make perfect rolls.
Next, grease a 9 by 13-inch pan, or top the pan with parchment paper. Place the balls of dough, making sure they are spaced at least one inch apart.
Wrap the pan with plastic and wait about an hour for the rolls to rise. They should puff up and double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Instead of using egg wash, wait until the rolls are cooked to brush with butter.
Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, checking to see if they are light brown and cooked all the way through. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately brush the rolls with butter.
Here’s a video showing the process of baking french bread rolls.
The best part about homemade baking is that you can formulate the ingredients to your liking.
Explore the many options for your quick French bread recipe, such as creating a chewier consistency or making your bread whole wheat or even gluten-free.