Thursday, January 17, 2013

Easy French Bread [Recipe]



Here is a keeper for your recipe collection.  I-- love-- it.  It's actually not specifically a French bread recipe, but I often use it to make French loaves. 

This is a basic bread recipe that can be used as a base for just about every type of bread you want to make.  Tweak it by adding whole wheat flour to make it whole wheat, or oats, nuts, or seeds for a little texture.  Just make sure you add your "Extras" to the water before you start adding the flour to stiffen it up.

Pretty much, if you learn to make this, you've learned the basics of bread making, just like that.  Easy peasy. 

Here's how you do it!


Easy French Bread
Makes 2 large loaves
Preparation time:  3 hours, start to finish, including rising times

1/2 c. lukewarm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. (or 1 pkg.) dry active yeast
2 c. lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
Approx. 5+ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. cold water, to glaze

In a large drinking glass or measuring pitcher, combine the 1/2 c. lukewarm water with 1/2 tsp. sugar and dry active yeast.  Stir to combine and let this rest about 10 minutes, till risen and bubbly.

Note:  Careful not to use hot water!  If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and you'll have to start again.  Allowing the yeast to rise in the cup, separate from the rest of the ingredients, is to test the yeast and make sure it's rising well.  This prevents wasting your other ingredients, should you have to start again.






While the yeast is rising, combine the rest of the water, salt, sugar, and oil in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixture.  Add the risen yeast mixture and about 2 cups of flour.  Stir to combine.  If you're mixing the bread by hand, continue adding flour in small amounts until the mixture is difficult to combine by stirring.



Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a work surface generously dusted with flour and knead, adding flour, until the mixture forms a smooth soft dough.  If using an electric mixer, add flour in small amounts, and scrape the dough off of the sides of the bowl often.  When the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl on its own, it should be ready-- The consistency should be stiff, spongy, and slightly sticky.  If you've never made bread before, I recommend kneading it by hand until you learn, by experience, what the consistency should feel like. 


Turn the dough into a greased mixing bowl and cover with plastic.  Let this rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.


Note:  You can test the dough by sticking your finger into it.  If the indentation bounces back, it needs to rise some more-- if it remains, it is done.

Grease your hands with a little oil, punch the dough down, and divide into 2 sections.  Roll the dough into long loaves, folding the dough and pinching it underneath to make it smooth.  Using a sharp knife (I like to use a serrated knife), score 3 slits in the dough about 1/4" deep.  Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 35 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp. cold water, and brush on top of the loaves.  You can sprinkle black pepper, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds on top of the glaze for decor at this point.  Let the loaves rise, uncovered this time, 10 minutes more.



Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Cool on wire racks.



Tip:  This recipe makes a soft crust.  If you want a crusty loaf, brush the loaves with water before baking instead of the egg glaze.
 

Like all homemade bread, this is delicious served warm with butter.  Mm-hm.

 

Back next week!  But in the meantime I'd like to ask:  What's your favorite kind of bread?

--Naomi

**EDIT:  Check Out This twist on this bread... Delicious!

57 comments:

  1. Light or marble rye!

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  2. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing it!
    I can't wait to try making it!
    Hmmm... I don't really have a favorite kind of bread, but I guess its brown or white. xD

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  3. I just made it, turned out great! It's HUGE! My favorite kind of bread is zuchini or multigrain :)

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  4. I really like multigrain French - I modified this and it wasy absolutely scrumptious!!!

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  5. I am making this now! I can't wait! Thanks for sharing!! I love French bread!
    ~ Allie K

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  6. Hi, I noticed your recipe calls for a 1/2 tsp sugar but in the instructions you say to add a 1/2 tsp of salt to the yeast... can you tell me which is correct?
    Thanks!
    Tricia

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow, I'm glad you noticed that! That was a typo (which I will fix in a second); it should be 1/2 tsp. sugar with your yeast. The yeast could rise on its own, but the sugar "Feeds it" to help it rise faster.

      All the best!

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    2. Thanks so much! I'm new to bread making & this recipe is a HIT! I've made it multiple times now & everyone loves it!

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  7. Can you refrigerate this dough after the first rise?

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    1. Yes, you can; I don't usually, but I have done that before and it works fine.

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    2. After frozen, how do you bake it?

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  8. My favorite is Anadama. I make french bread but my recipe does not rise good. I wanted to try a different one. Thanks.

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  9. I haven't met a bread I didn't like! Two of my favs are marble rye and cheese.

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  10. I'm making this rightvnow! I haven't made homemade bread in a long time! In one of the loafs im puttin crasins, dried buleberrie, and chocolate chips! Can't wait to try it :-D

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  11. Oooh, I'll definitely have to give this recipe a try thierry marx video

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  12. Can you tell me why your bread is round shaped and mine is half moon shaped?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure what you mean by "Half moon shaped," but it might have to do with how well the edges are sealed underneath the loaves. I usually spend a minute tucking the dough under and shaping the loaves to look just how I want them-- but sometimes, if I haven't done it tightly enough, the dough kind of lifts up and looks different when it's done rising.

      Regardless, it shouldn't make a difference to the taste! Hope your bread is delicious, and thanks for your comment!

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  13. Thank you, it was very well explained!

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  14. I tried to make this and failed miserably, my dough was way to sticky I had to use like three ties the amount of flour you specified ): idk what I did wrong but it just looks like a total mess. And to top it off, I'm pregnant, so my husband came to me crying over mangled dough lol

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    1. Aw, this makes me sad! Here's a tip for next time: Sometimes the dough is really sticky when it doesn't need more flour, so the best thing to do when that happens is to put a bit of oil on the surface you're kneading on, then set the dough on that, put another little bit of oil on top of the dough, and then turn a bowl upside down over top of the whole thing. Let this rest for 5 minutes, and then start kneading again-- the dough should be nice and smooth after that.

      Really sorry to hear that it didn't turn out for you! I hope you don't feel like you can't do it, though-- sometimes it just takes a couple of tries. All the best! You can do it! :)

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  15. Really sad; I just deleted a very nice, anonymous comment on this post by accident. If you, the commenter, read this-- Thank you for your comment. I would bring it back to life if I could, but... I don't know how. :(

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  16. I absolutely can not wait to try this for Easter dinner tomorrow! It's also my dad's birthday and he and I both had some teeth removal done a couple of days ago and this is DEFINITELY something him and I will both be able to eat, as long as I make it right! haha! Thank you!

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  17. The only bread I've ever made is Pillsbury from a can. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and would really like to give it a try. Thank you for the great tutorial. It's giving me the courage to attempt to make bread.

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  18. I've never made bread and I'm confused by this part: folding the dough and pinching it underneath to make it smooth. Help???

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    1. What this means is that, if you were kneading the dough, you would be folding the dough (kind of in half) toward you, kneading a couple of times, and then turning the dough and folding it again. This would keep the "folded side" of the dough smooth, and the rough side where it meets at your palms.

      In this case, I have mixed the dough in a mixer, so to smooth it, I just folded it over (like I would for kneading) and then pinched the rough edge underneath so that the dough is smooth on top. The loaves are also made by shaping the dough so that the rough edge is underneath and then the top is smooth - That's a little different, since you want to shape them a certain way, but that's the general idea of what you're going for.

      You'll get the hang of this as you practice - but no worries if it's rough when it rises; it shouldn't make a difference in the finished product. Even the bread can be baked looking a little rough; it's still the same stuff in the end!

      Hope this helps - and all the best!

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  19. Thanks for the recipe! I just made these (my first ever attempt to bake bread)and they smell and taste so good!

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  20. How do you prep the pan? Do you use your floured surface to form them?

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    Replies
    1. My preference is to use non-stick pans, lightly dusted with flour. If your pans tend to stick, you can either lightly flour the pan or grease it with regular cooking spray - Both should work just as well.

      All the best!

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  21. I love your site and going to give this a whirl for dinner... so nice to have someone really show steps that helps when you are not certain on things... Your a blessing thank you again for the recipe. :)

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  22. I can't wait to try this recipe. I never made bread before. always buying fresh baked bread. I love onion rolls too. Thank you Naomi

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  23. Made this bread & it turned out fantastic! I've always wanted to bake bread but was so afraid to try. All I can say is never give up trying! This recipe is so easy to follow & is a great hit at the dinner table! My family loves when I bake this bread with our italian dishes! In fact they have asked me to bake this bread alone just because & we eat it with a delicious bread oil! Thanks for sharing! I have passed your recipe & blog on :)

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  24. This is a very good & easy french bread recipe.

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  25. I am making this now! Ive been trying a lot of different bread recipes im excited to see how it turns out!! I always freeze my bread atvthe point it would gobin the oven, other recipes have alway turned out great! That way I can do all my cooking on the weekend and have fresh bread during the week. :-)

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    1. Great idea! I'd love to hear how it turns out. Thanks for the comment!

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  26. This recipe was delicious! I have been learning how to make bread on my own, through recipes, for about two years now. It takes alot of determination & courage to try new recipes for the first time! But I must say, this recipe is one of the best I have tried so far! Easy to understand instructions, photos are a plus, & simple ingredients! Delicious bread doesn't have to be complicated! Thank you for sharing. I will pass this on to others who want to try making bread :)

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  27. Ok so i made the bread according to recipe, after I formed the loaves and set them to rise again they got wider rather then taller resulting in bread that looked squished. Any idea what I did wrong?

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  28. The second time I let it rise it rose out instead of up. Any suggestions?

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    1. Hey Kelsey - Often when the bread is in a very warm room, or if there is a lot of sugar in the dough, it is more apt to rise a lot, and then it does kind of spread out as it rises (happens to me all the time). To avoid this, you can bake it a little sooner (when it looks done), or just be careful about the temperature of the environment or the sugar content in the dough.

      All the best! I hope this helps.

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  29. hello i need help.at the recipe for french bread what is 1/2 c. lukewarm water;grams or ml;tyvm

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    1. Hey there!

      You can check out http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking/ for a conversions chart - All the best!

      --Naomi

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    2. iw lappa, "c." stands for "cup", so, 1/2 c. means 1/2 cup of water.

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  30. i went to make french bread but became 3 breads so 2rrow i will make no 3 but 6 pieces.my cousin-aunt and my famiy love this bread,ty for the recipe

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  31. i made this recipe and was amazing my family and my relatives love this bread

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  32. I have this bread in the oven right now, and it looks and smells fabulous!
    I am also a foodie blogger, and I love what I have read so far of your blog. :) Yummy food! I love baking but am not the food photographer you are. :) I have an itsy bitsy camera that is a little less than amazing. ;)
    I would love to follow you/get to know you better. Do you have an instagram?

    My blog is:
    www.recipeshappen.com
    Facebook:
    www.facebook.com/recipeshappen
    Instagram:
    www.instagram.com/BonnieBerindean

    I read your bio - I was homeschooled, too, and #5 of 6. :) I am married now and we live in Toledo.

    Bonnie

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  33. Just threw a batch together and it is rising in the bowl. Extremely easy to put together. Did it all by hand because I wanted to simplify the process as much as possible. Having the whole family over for a spaghetti dinner tonight and didn't want to run out to the store just for french bread! I've made many batches of bread......If this tastes as good as it looks and feels so far....... I'll never buy french bread again! Thanks for the recipe.
    Sandy

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  34. This is really a great recipe. Everyone enjoyed including some fuzzy grandchildren. Making today for the second time - will make half into a sandwich loaf and the rest into crusty rolls for our steak dinner tonight.

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  35. This was the first time that I have ever made bread from scratch, so I was a little intimidated. However, this recipe was so easy to follow and the bread came out wonderful - everyone loved it!! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  36. I'm so happy I stumbled upon this recipe. Having never made homemade bread I found this recipe, and made it for a big family breakfast. I took it out the oven and placed it on the table and all my loafs were gone! Everyone LOVED it. I had comment that it was better them store brought breads, and because I took the time to made I think it made everyone that much appreciative. Thank you so much for the recipe. Easy to follow instructions made my bread a success!

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  37. My bread is rising (I hope) as I write. I have never had a lot of luck with bread. It always seems doughy. I did this one in a mixer as its the first time. I will learn manually once I have some reasonable success. I am wondering why it can be so nice and crunchy on the outside but still doughy inside? It sounded right........not this one but the last bread I made. I am following you now so I can get some more recipes and hints. Thank you so much.

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    1. Awesome, glad to hear this Janice! I'd love to hear how your bread turns out-- All the best!

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  38. I have made this bread about 4 times now and it doesn't rise much during the second rise. Do you have any tips?

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    1. Hi there!

      Keeping the bread in a warm place will help it rise better. Sometimes if your environment is very cool, it will take longer to rise than otherwise.

      All the best!

      --Naomi

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  39. I cut the recipe in half and used my bread maker to prepare the dough. I also chose organic flour, olive oil and sugar and kosher salt. It turned out delicious! It's a keeper for sure. Have you tried with whole wheat flour? Thank you.

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    1. Hi Marcia!

      YES, this is a basic bread recipe that can be adapted for pretty much any addition you want to make - If you use ALL whole wheat flour, the bread will be much heavier. If you use only about 1 cup per loaf of whole wheat flour and the rest white, however, the bread will still be a wheat bread taste with a fluffy texture.

      I often also add oats, nuts, or other things like that to the dough - It comes out great. Glad you've had success with this recipe!

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