Classic and Crusty French Bread

Two baguettes of French spread with a ramekin of butter
Easy French Bread.

The Spruce

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Rise Time: 105 mins
  • Servings: 20 servings
  • Yields: 2 loaves
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
27 Calories
1g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 307mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 1g
Calcium 12mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

French bread is a classic dinner bread. Whether it's served in a basket with butter or olive oil before dinner, alongside the meal, or used to make garlic bread, stuffed sandwiches, or French bread pizza, everyone loves French bread.

Its famous crust is made by baking the loaves at 400 F for the first five minutes and then misting the loaves with water. The oven temperature is then dropped to 350 F and the bread bakes for another 25 minutes. The result is a deliciously crusty and fluffy bread that pairs well with every meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (95 F to 110 F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/2 cups bread flour (approximately)
  • Optional: 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
  • Optional: sesame seeds or poppy seeds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy french bread
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  2. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir until dissolved.

    Bowl with water and yeast.
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  3. Mix in flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed.

    Mix in flour
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  4. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead it for about 8 minutes.

    Turn dough out on floured board
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  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and flip the dough over so that all of the dough including the dough top is lightly greased. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour or until double in size.

    Put dough in a greased bowl
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  6. Punch down the dough.

    Punch down the dough
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  7. Give the dough a quick 2-minute knead.

    Give dough a quick knead
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  8. Divide the dough into 2 equal halves. Shape each half into a long loaf.

    Divide dough into equal halves
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  9. Place loaves onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make about 5 diagonal slits, 3/4-inch deep, into the top of each loaf.

    Place loaves onto lightly greased baking sheet
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  10. Cover loaves and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.

    Cover loaves
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  11. While the dough is proofing again, heat the oven to 400 F.

  12. Optional: Brush the loaves with beaten egg white for a shiny crust, and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

    Brush loaves with egg white
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  13. Bake at 400 F for 5 minutes.

  14. Remove loaves from oven and use a mister to lightly spray the tops of loaves with cold water.

    Remove loaves from oven
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  15. Turn oven down to 350 F and bake loaves for another 25 minutes or until done.

  16. Remove loaves from baking sheet and let cool on a rack.

    Remove loaves from baking sheet
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  17. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • Keep yeast stored in an airtight container and in the refrigerator. Heat, moisture, and air kills the yeast and prevents bread dough from rising.
  • Store flour properly to keep it from spoiling.
  • Bread flour has a higher amount of gluten than all-purpose flour. This means that bread made with bread flour will rise higher than bread made with all-purpose flour. You can make your own bread flour by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten to each cup of all-purpose flour you use in your bread recipe.
  • Add a cup of raisins or dried cranberries to the bread dough for a lightly sweet bread.
  • Brush loaves with milk instead of egg white before baking to produce a darker crust.