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4.25 from 4 votes

French Bread

Course: Bread
Cuisine: French
Author: Vaishali Honawar


  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 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:
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt


  • Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed five minutes until you have a slightly sticky dough.
  • Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let it rise, covered, at room temperature 2 hours.
  • 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.
  • Using the palms of your hand, roll each half into a long rope, about 10-12 inches in length.
  • Lightly grease a large baking sheet and scatter 1-2 tsp of cornmeal on it (to keep the bread from sticking)
  • Place the two ropes side by side, with at least 5 inches between them, on the sheet.
  • Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Just before you place the bread in the pan, spray the inside of the oven with water.
  • 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)
  • Bake for a total of 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden-brown.
  • Cool on a rack before cutting.