French Bread: Easy Recipe

Vegan French BreadA quick post today on one of the easiest but also one of the best French breads you’ll ever have.

There are just four ingredients in this bread, if you don’t count the water: flour, yeast, salt and sugar. I don’t make this bread whole-grain because that would interfere with the deliciously soft texture which makes it a real treat. If you want a great whole-wheat French bread, try this recipe that I posted a while ago. It’s also delicious and you’ve got the additional nutrition punch. Or try this foolproof whole-wheat French bread recipe with step-by-step pictures— you can’t miss.

French BreadBut for a busy weekend day when I want great, fresh bread for dinner, the one I’m posting today’s an absolute winner.

Gotta go now, but a quick nudge to send in your recipes for It’s A Vegan World: British. The deadline is July 31. I know it’s a bit of a challenge, but hey– which true cook can resist a challenge? I’ve already got some great entries, but I really, really would love some more, so hurry please!
French Bread

French Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: French
Serves: Makes 2 loaves
  • 2½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp sugar (this feeds the yeast and helps it grow faster)
  • Mix the yeast, sugar and the water in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand five minutes until the yeast flowers or begins to froth.
  • Add to the bowl:
  • 3½ cups bread flour (can use all-purpose)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ tsp salt
  1. Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed five minutes until you have a slightly sticky dough.
  2. Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let it rise, covered, at room temperature 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide into two. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle a little flour to make it easier to work with.
  4. Using the palms of your hand, roll each half into a long rope, about 10-12 inches in length.
  5. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and scatter 1-2 tsp of cornmeal on it (to keep the bread from sticking)
  6. Place the two ropes side by side, with at least 5 inches between them, on the sheet.
  7. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1½ hours.
  8. Sprinkle some flour on the top of the loaves (this is decorative and therefore optional). With a very sharp blade, make 4-5 diagonal gashes along the length of each loaf.
  9. About half an hour before the loaves are fully risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone (or unglazed ceramic tiles) on a rack in the middle of the oven.
  10. Just before you place the bread in the pan, spray the inside of the oven with water.
  11. Place the baking sheet on the baking stone or tiles. Close the oven. Spray the sides of the oven again with water five minutes later. (The water ensures a crusty loaf)
  12. Bake for a total of 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden-brown.
  13. Cool on a rack before cutting.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Hi, This is the way I make French Bread,too! It’s so simple and oh so delicious…and fills the house with a wonderful fresh baked bread aroma!! Yours looks so good, I think I have to bake some French Bread right now!
    Peace, Stephanie
    PS I blogged about your Navratan Kurma…thanks!

  2. says

    Wow! Never knew it was so simple to make French bread. Will try it as soon as I come back from my vacation. No wait, i got to try the sandwich bread first but before that the ladi pav… You get my drift :)

  3. says

    Considering the short list of ingredients … and that awesome looking bread, am tempted to try this.
    Just a few questions Vaishali … 450 degrees C/F? Do we bake in the same temperature or do we decrease it? I don’t have any tiles … can I use my baking tray? And am afraid to spray water in my electric oven. :-(

  4. says

    Our French bread failed 😐 Wiating to reach that stage in peter Reinhart’s book ( we are on that challenge)

    So, I’m going to compare your recipe and that and mebbe make both! :) Yours looks gorgeous!

  5. says

    I like most breads, including French breads but this is one bread that has eluded me so far. I haven’t been able to get those lovely holes.
    Yours looks lovely, Vaishali.
    I haven’t given up yet. :)

  6. VeganJeri says

    Mine failed. It was flat! LOL I think I messed something up though. It tastes delicious and will be amazing sliced in half, toasted and topped with triple olive tapenade! :)

  7. says

    VeganJeri, you probably let it rise too long– any bread dough has a peak time after which the dough starts to sort of fall in on itself. Following rise times accurately is important.

  8. Carolyn says

    This was my first attempt at baking yeast bread ever. And it turned out perfectly! Crusty & delicious! Could not have been easier.
    My husband came home from work, saw the loaves, and thought I bought them. YES!
    I haven’t had such delicious bread since living in NY as a little girl. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  9. says

    I just discovered your blog and am I glad I did! This was my first attempt at making bread (EVER) and it turned out absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for this recipe and I really look forward to browsing your recipe page and trying some more!

  10. says

    Hi vaishali, this is my first attempt in making a bread.. halfway to it.. but the outcome does not look promising..
    I wanted to make a loaf hence halved the quantities of all ingredients.. However, after I add flour and other ingredients, the dough seemed too watery. I let it rest for 2 hours. Dough has risen but still too watery and sticky (I compared with your dough in step by step Whole grain bread recipe). I have now let it rest for 1.5 hrs as suggested, covering it with kitchen towel. But the dough is badly sticking to the towel. Where have I missed? Any idea why my dough is watery? If I halve the ingredients quantities, should the rising time for the dough should also be halved? Too many questions, but badly need the answers… Thanks a ton in advance

    • says

      Aparna, With 3 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water you should not get a sticky dough. Did you remember to halve the water when you halved the flour?
      You could add more flour to make your dough less sticky, but since your dough has already gone through the rise it could be too late. I’d advise starting over, and next time be really careful about measuring because that’s key with bread.
      And no, the rise time won’t halve if you halve the recipe. It remains the same.

  11. says

    Yes Vaishali. Looks like I have messed up with quantities. Will try again soon and let you know how it went. Thank you for the inputs. Appreciate it

  12. says

    I have never made bread before and I am now on the second batch of making your bread. Even my Mother in law loved the first batch! :-)
    It was so delicious and easy, thanks so much for the recipe!

  13. Anonymous says

    When do you make the gashes? A trivial question, since it’s for appearance only, but I tried last time when the loafs were about to go into the oven, and could tell it was going to smash them down too much if I tried then. Should I do it right after I roll both loafs out, before they begin to rise at all? Thanks!

    • says

      Make the gashes with a very sharp or serrated knife right before you put the loaves in the oven. Use a quick motion to make the cut and don’t use a dull knife or sawing motion because you’ll deflate the loaves.

  14. Anonymous says

    2nd attempt, crusty tasty bread but way too flat, what could I be doing wrong, I feel I’ve followed it to the letter both times now.

    • says

      Either the yeast you’re using is not active, or the water you’re adding is too hot. You might be letting it rise too long or too little.
      Finally, if you made gashes, did you deflate the bread at the time?

  15. says

    This is my first attempt at home made bread. I added the dry to the wet and only got about 2c flour in before I needed to knead it. I kneaded in another 1/2c but the dough was very dry. I decided not to add any more flour and let it rise. After rising, the dough was tough and gummy. It’s on its second rise now. Should I even bother cooking it with how tough it is?

    • says

      Are you baking in very dry weather? That could explain why you got only 2 cups of flour in. Since this is your first time baking bread, you likely don’t have a feel yet for how the dough should look and feel. I don’t know what you mean by gummy, especially since you’re saying it’s also tough, but if the dough rose that is a good sign.

  16. says

    terrific instructions! thank you so much — i am usually better at flatbreads than risen breads. but this one turned out beautifully! everybody raved when i sliced it up and made vegan garlic bread with homemade vegan ‘butter’. !

  17. taj says

    Just made this an it turned out pretty well! didn’t have a baking stone or tile. Need to get one for my next attempt. thanks!!

  18. Annette says

    Wow. I did everything wrong and it still turned out the be the best French bread I have ever eaten from anywhere. The bread is soft and the outside is perfectly crusty. I didn’t have enough ingredients so I halved everything; I got pulled in several directions and overshot the last rise time by hours and the rise had started to fall; forgot to cut the diagonal lines; and then I forgot to set the timer so I was guessing at how long it had been in the oven. Still: perfect bread. I’m back from the store now with all the ingredients I will need for a long time!

  19. Colin says

    Hi, All your bread recipes look wonderful! The only thing with this recipe is it doesn’t appear under your bread category. Also another issue I had with the mobile version of your site was I couldn’t see any search box. So the only way I found the this page on my mobile was a Google search. Thanks

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