Classic and Crusty French Bread

Loaves of French bread sprinkled with sesame seeds, partially sliced

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 105 mins
Total: 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Yield: 2 loaves
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
142 Calories
1g Fat
29g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 142
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 42mg 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, presented alongside a meal, or used to make garlic bread, stuffed sandwiches, or French bread pizza, a freshly baked loaf of French bread is always welcome. French bread has a long and narrow shape with rounded edges; the most common type of French bread is a baguette, which means "stick." By law in France, French bread cannot contain any fat such as butter or oil.

This bread is known for its crust, which 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.


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"Making bread at home is much simpler than you may think, and I think this recipe is a great place to start! With adding some misted water on the top of the bread, you can get a crusty bread with a soft inside for a classic loaf." —Tracy Wilk

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 cups warm water, 95 F to 110 F

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 5 1/2 cups bread flour, as needed

  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten, optional

  • 1 ounce sesame seeds, or poppy seeds, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic French bread recipe gathered

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  2. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir until dissolved.

    Yeast being dissolved in a bowl with water

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  3. Mix in the bread flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed.

    Soft homogenous dough in a bowl

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

    Dough ball on a lightly floured wooden board

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

    Dough with a lightly greased surface in a bowl

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  6. Punch down the dough.

    Dough punched down in the bowl

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

    Smooth round dough ball on a lightly floured wooden board

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

    Dough ball divided into equal halves

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  9. Place the loaves on a lightly greased baking sheet. Make about 5 diagonal slits, 3/4 inch deep, into the top of each loaf.

    Loaves with horizontal slashes on a baking sheet

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  10. Cover loaves with a clean towel or greased plastic wrap and let them rise for 45 minutes or until double in size. Heat the oven to 400 F.

    Loaves on baking sheet covered with a dish towel

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  11. If you'd like, brush the loaves with the beaten egg white for a shiny crust, and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake at 400 F for 5 minutes.

    Loaves sprinkled with sesame seeds on baking sheet

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  12. Remove the loaves from the oven and use a mister or spray bottle to lightly spray the tops of the loaves with cold water. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake the loaves for another 25 minutes or until done.

    Pale partially baked loaves on baking sheet

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  13. Remove the loaves from the baking sheet and let them cool on a rack.

    Loaves of browned French bread cooling on a wire rack

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  • Keep yeast stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Heat, moisture, and air kill the yeast and prevent 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.
  • Brush loaves with milk instead of egg white before baking to produce a darker crust.