Sure you can buy a loaf of French bread at the grocery store, but there’s just something about the heavenly aroma of homemade French bread wafting through the house that cannot be duplicated! This French bread doesn’t take much effort and it’s satisfying to know you made it yourself. Besides that, this French bread is delicious! It doesn’t require a bread machine or heavy duty mixer or any special equipment. It’s a great recipe for a beginning breadmaker! You will be so proud of yourself and your family won’t believe you made it!
Here’s what you will need to make one loaf (you can easily double the recipe if you need 2 loaves – which you might want to do, because it will probably get gobbled up!)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very warm water
1 package yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon brown sugar (you can use white sugar if you don’t have brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups flour, divided
Pour the warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Add the brown sugar and oil. Allow to set until the mixture turns bubbly and foamy (about 5 minutes.) Stir in half of the flour and the salt into the yeast mixture. Mix well using a wooden spoon. (It will look very goopy and sticky.)
Let rest 10 minutes. Stir and let rest another 10 minutes. Repeat 1 more time. Use a wooden spoon to stir in about 1/2 cup flour. Continue to stir in enough of the additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) until you have a soft, but not sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead about 30 strokes. If necessary, knead in additional flour until you have a soft dough. It should not be sticky. (At this point, if you let the dough sit for about 5 – 10 minutes, it will “relax” and be easier to roll out.) Now roll out the dough to form a 9 x 12″ rectangle. then roll it up starting on the long side. Pinch the seam to seal.
Then place seam side down onto large parchment lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray (if desired, you can sprinkle the parchment with cornmeal.) Cover the loaf with a clean towel and allow rise 30 minutes. (If you set the baking sheet on granite or marble counter tops, it won’t rise as quickly. There’s something about the granite and marble that keeps it too cool.) I actually like to turn on my oven to 350° for no more than 2 minutes and then turn the oven OFF. The oven will stay at just the right temperature to help the bread rise. (Some ovens have a bread proofing setting.)
After the loaf has risen, use a REALLY sharp knife to carefully cut 3 gashes diagonally across the top (about 1/2″ deep.) If the knife is dull, it will tear the dough and could cause your risen loaf to “deflate.” (I know this from experience – trust me!)
Brush the top and sides of the loaf lightly with an egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon water.) If desired, you can sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. Bake for 26-28 minutes at 400°. (I like to cover it with foil after about 15 minutes to avoid over-browning.)
Cool your beautiful loaf on a wire rack.
This is delicious made into garlic bread. Click HERE for instructions on how to make Roasted Garlic in the Crockpot. (When the garlic has cooled, stir some into softened butter.) Cut the loaf lengthwise and spread the roasted garlic spread onto the bread. Broil for a minute or two, just until golden. This, by the way, makes the most amazing garlic bread EVER!
If you have any leftover French bread, it makes terrific French toast!