French bread is basically a long loaf of white bread with a crispy crust. Americans love it, they use it for sandwiches, as part of a meal and, when dried out, as french toast. The French will tell you that what we are eating is not really French bread. In France, to be labelled French bread the product cannot have oils or other fats. Most Americans don’t care, they love what they know as French bread and don’t plan on changing.
Baking bread at home is one of life’s simple pleasures. Most bread recipes are quite basic and if you have a good quality stand mixer the kneading process is handled by the machine. Your home will smell wonderfully for hours and you will have a couple of loaves of delicious French bread to enjoy.
French Bread Ingredients
- 2 Tablespoons Yeast. Make sure your yeast is no more than 3 months old.
- 1/2 cup Warm Water
- 2 cups Hot Water
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Salt
- 1/3 cup Oil
- 6 1/2 cups Flour
- 1 Egg for brushing on bread
In a small bowl, dissolve your yeast in ½ cup warm water. Make sure that your water is warm (not too cold, not too hot). Let proof for 10 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine hot water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour and mix together. This is where you can use your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture to a bowl.
Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Watch for it to start pulling away from the bowl to know it’s ready. Once all of the flour is added, let sit for 10 minutes.
Separate your dough into 3 pieces. On a floured surface roll each piece into a 9×12 rectangle. Roll it up like a jelly roll. Shape into a french bread loaf and smooth out edges.
Place the dough on a greased baking sheet or a silicone mat, with the bread seam side down. Using a knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch thick in bread. Brush with your beaten egg.
Let dough rise uncovered for 30-40 minutes in a warm place.
Bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.
Make sure the bread is cooled before slicing. Air is the enemy of fresh bread so keep your loaf sealed. If you have any left after 4 or 5 days, leave out overnight to dry out and use for french toast.