What goes better with a hot winter meal than a loaf of homemade french bread with a crispy crust and soft, chewy insides!
I have been working on this french bread recipe for a while now. I was specifically trying for a chewy, somewhat crunchy crust with a soft, chewy inside. I’ve made this recipe 5 or 6 times now and it has been quickly devoured each time. French bread isn’t any harder than any other bread to make. You just need to know a few tricks which if you read on I will share with you! We will be eating this beautiful homemade french bread tonight with my Clam Chowder! Perfect meal for a chilly evening. Would also be great with my Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup or my Simple Potato Bacon Soup!
To start out, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in your mixing bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the yeast get foamy. Add the oil, salt and flour. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook to mix this up, but you can mix this up by hand too. After all the flour is mixed in, knead at a medium speed for 5 minutes, or by hand for 10 minutes. This dough should still be a bit sticky, but not so sticky you can’t form it into a ball. Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has some flour sprinkled in the bottom. Cover the bowl with saran wrap on a dish towel. Place is a warm place to rise. Now over the next hour, about every 10 minutes or so, knead the dough in the bowl about 3 times. This is going to create that chewy french bread crust. Now it doesn’t have to be exactly every ten minutes, but you need to have kneaded the dough at least 4 times over that hour. After the hour just let the dough rise until doubled. This should take about 30 minutes.
Here is the pretty risen dough.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Set one half aside. Roll the first half of the dough out into a rectangle about 10 inches by 7 inches. Roll up the dough lengthwise and pinch the seams shut. Once rolled up and pinched shut my dough roll was about 12 inches long. Repeat with the other half of dough.
Place the dough rolls on a french bread pan or a regular baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. As you can see I am using a french bread pan. I love my french bread pan. It makes it so my loaves of french bread come out nice and rounded. It is just like the ones bakeries use to make french bread, just smaller for a home oven. You can buy them from kitchen specialty stores. I think mine was $17 or $18 and totally worth every penny. If you bake your french bread on a regular baking sheet it will be fine, just not as round. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled. This will be about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven while dough is rising.
At this point I start telling whoever is around how pretty my doubled homemade french bread dough looks. I mean just look at them! So pretty!! Anyway, once your loaves have doubled, use a sharp serrated knife to slash the tops in diagonals across the tops. Put them in the oven and just before you close the oven door throw a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the oven door. This will not damage your oven. It will create a bunch of steam that will make that crusty french bread crust.
Bake your homemade french bread for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is golden brown like above. Cool 10 minutes at least before slicing and serving!
- 2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 2 Tbs Active Dry Yeast
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 tsp Salt
- 6 Cups All Purpose Flour
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. (You can make this bread by hand too, it will just take some muscle). Let stand about 5 minutes until foamy.
Mix in the oil, salt, and flour using a dough hook. Once all the flour is mixed in, knead at a medium speed for 5 minutes (10 minutes by hand). Cover dough with a dish towel and set in a warm place.
Over the next hour, knead the dough about 3 times approximately every 10 minutes. It doesn't have to be exactly every 10 minutes, just make sure to have kneaded the dough at least 4 times over the next hour.
After that hour let the dough rise until doubled. This will take about 30 minutes.
Dump dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half.
Roll the first half out into a rectangle about 10 inches by 7 inches. Roll up lengthwise and pinch the seams shut. Place on a french bread pan or a regular baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Repeat with other half of dough.
Cover the french bread loaves and set in a warm place to rise until doubled. When the dough is rising preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Using a sharp serrated knife, slash the tops of the doubled loaves making 3 or 4 diagonal cuts.
Place the bread in the preheated oven. Just before closing the oven door throw a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of your oven and shut the door quickly.
Bake the french bread 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.