This is my easy soft fluffy french bread recipe, it makes one loaf but is easily doubled for a crowd. It's crusty and golden on the outside and so soft and chewy inside.
This recipe is AMAZING. It is definitely my most used bread recipe. It pairs wonderfully well with pasta, like my savory Pumpkin Pasta!
Originally published September 17, 2017.
Classic French Bread Recipe
Everyone needs a classic homemade french bread recipe. There's nothing like fresh from the oven warm bread to have with dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast! One of my favorite things to make with leftover french bread is Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding. And eat it for breakfast.
I worked at a bakery for three years, and it was easily my favorite job. It was there I learned to knead two loaves at the same time, roll out dinner rolls with two hands, and appreciate the smell of baking bread. And of course, learn how to make french bread.
How to make soft french bread
- Proof yeast. Mix together warm water (90-110 F), sugar, and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.
- Mix and let dough rise. In a stand mixer (or large bowl if making by hand) measure in salt, oil, flour and add the yeast mixture last. Mix 3-5 minutes in mixer or knead 5-7 minutes by hand until dough is smooth. Place in greased bowl, cover with dish towel and let rise 45 min or until doubled in size.
- Shape and let rise again. Roll dough out with a rolling pin and then roll lengthwise using the "sleeping bag" method, shown below. Place on baking sheet and rise 45-60 min, until almost doubled in size.
- Bake. Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice top of loaf 5-7 times with sharp knife about .25 inch deep. This helps the loaf expand while baking. Bake for 20-25 min, and don't forget to brush a beaten egg on the loaf the last few minutes for that divine golden crispy crust!
Tips for soft fluffy french bread:
- Make time for two rises! Rising time is key for soft, fluffy bread. Double in size is the rule of thumb for most bread recipes.
- Stiffer dough for a taller loaf. If the dough is too sticky and wet, it spreads flat as it rises.
- Roll the dough into a loaf shape using a "sleeping bag" rolling method. This tightens up the outside of the loaf nicely, so the edges don't spread too much during the second rise.
- Use a beaten egg brushed on the outside of the loaf for a crusty, golden brown outside. No need to use the whole egg, just make sure the tops and sides of the loaf are brushed.
You can speed up the rising process by turning the oven on for a minute or two, and then turning it off and placing the dough inside to rise in the warm (but NOT hot) oven. Although this speeds the rising process, the most flavorful bread comes from dough that ferments (or rises) longer. If you watch The Great British Baking Show and have heard of Paul Hollywood, a professional baker, you know he says this multiple times.
To get a taller loaf, make sure that the dough is not too elastic. This is a stiffer dough, not sticky at all. Kneading time of 5-7 minutes and a little extra flour helps to get the right consistency. The technique I use I learned working at the bakery. Roll the dough out flat with a rolling pin, then roll tightly lengthwise, kind of like a bedroll or a sleeping bag. Gentle pressure only, pulling the dough too tight will rip it and damage the gluten strands.
The reason I like this recipe so much is that it makes a reasonably large loaf of french bread, and it's easily doubled to make two loaves if I'm making it for company. I usually make two loaves anyway, because I could eat slice after slice. IT'S THAT GOOD.
How to make french bread without a stand mixer:
Simply follow the recipe using a medium sized mixing bowl and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. This recipe is for thick dough, you'll need your bread muscles for sure! 💪🏻
What to serve with french bread
Freezer Instructions for french bread
If you have any leftovers or if you doubled the recipe and have 2 loaves, you can wrap loaves (completely cooled) in saran wrap or tinfoil, place in a ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Soft Fluffy French Bread
- 1 cup warm water approx 90-110 degrees F.
- 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon white granulated sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 2½ to 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten for top of bread
- In bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand), combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5-7 minutes or until foamy.
- Mix in salt, oil, and 2 cups flour on low speed until combined. Add half cup flour at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and is only slightly sticky. Mix on low to medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or hand knead 5-7 min.
- Place dough in greased bowl and let rise for 45 minutes at room temperature, it should be almost double in size. Roll out into a 9X13 inch rectangle and then roll tightly up into a long roll, about 2-3 inches high and 13 inches long.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare a baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Place the roll of dough on baking sheet and slice slits in top of bread 2-3 inches apart, and about ¼ inch deep. Let rise one hour, or until about doubled in size.
- Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, top should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Brush egg onto top of loaf and bake for another 2-3 minutes. This gives the outside of the loaf a nice shine and a little crunch.
I love this made several times always good. Do you think that I could make it in a loaf pan for a soft sandwich bread?
Good question! I haven’t used it for sandwich bread because it tends to bake with a crispy crust.
The recipe I have used for white bread and like is this : https://iwashyoudry.com/easy-homemade-bread-recipe/
The same ingredients, but different quantities give it a bit of a different texture.
Great recipe. Easy to follow. Never made before and came out nice first try. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful bread recipe! I made this several times for garlic bread and it comes out super nice every time! My family love this one so much!
Absolutely fabulous! My first time making any type of bread. Just follow the directions as is!
This bread recipe is magnificent! I cannot accurately describe the heavenly contrast between the crispy (not hard) crust to the pillow-soft interior. This loaf allowed me to experience a truly transcendent garlic bread moment. Thank you for this recipe.
Those moments are so precious! Homemade bread can do that. Thank you so much!!
This recipe is great! I'm a beginner bread maker, and this turned out wonderful. Can you shape these into rolls instead of a loaf?
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I have never used this recipe for dinner rolls, they would turn out too crispy on the outside for me. I prefer to use enriched dough with butter, eggs and milk for rolls so they are soft.
Hey there, I tried this and my dough didn't rise at all. I tried to follow the recipe exactly - any ideas what I might have done wrong?
Hi Alicia, I have two guesses: your yeast may have been old, or was proofed in water that was too hot and killed the yeast.
Can I make this the day ahead and bake it the next day?
Hi Linda, you can but it would need to be stored in the fridge to retard the yeast. I have not tested this recipe prepared ahead and refrigerated and cannot give you accurate rising and baking time.
Do you recommend using a dough hook or paddle for stand mixer?
Hi Angel, I use a dough hook for bread dough.
Do you still have 2 rises if you use instant yeast or is it only 1?
I always make time for 2 rises regardless of yeast type. The structure of the bread is better. It may take less time for the dough to double in size with instant yeast and no yeast proofing would be required.
I need to put water under while bake the bread ? Or bake without water ?
Without. The only bread I have baked with water is bagels.
Tried for ages to find a good French bread recipe and this one finally nails it. Absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe.
You're so welcome Brian! So glad you enjoyed it.
What type of oil?
I use vegetable or olive oil, but other neutral oils would work as well.
If I wanted to double the recipe, do I add 2 packets of instant yeast or leave it at one?
Hi Melissa, you could add 2 packets and be alright.
Hi! Can I use a hand mixer? I do not have a stand mixer and I have arthritis in my hands.
Hi Cindy, a hand mixer with a dough hook attachment may work. The dough for this bread is pretty thick however, and you would need to work the dough with your hands at the end, and to shape it into a loaf as well. I have not used a hand mixer and am unsure how well it would work since the dough is rather thick.
I really really loved this recipe! However I do have a question about the egg part. I beat one egg and used some of it to brush over the top (not all of it because there was a lot and it started pooling at the base of the bread) and cooked it for the recommended time. I even left it in a bit longer because it looks funny and I wanted to make sure it got crisp and hard. However that didn’t happen. It actually seemed like the bread crust got softer because it had felt hard when I tapped on it before this step to make sure it sounded hallow. I’m sure I’m missing something about this step but I can’t figure out what
Hi Alexandria, I only use part of the beaten egg as well, only enough to lightly brush the top and sides of the loaf. Too much egg can make the bread soft on the outside. It also helps to make sure the egg is well beaten and there aren’t a lot of clumps of yolk or egg white left.
Hope that helps!
To make bread crispy- only use egg white, mixed with about 1 tblsp water. Brush on top of dough, then bake for 1/2 time, and brush on again, to bake for reminding time. To make crust chewy, use milk instead of water. (And you could use whole egg, not just egg white).
Hello. I just wanted to clarify the sleeping bag rolling method. Do you roll the dough up like a cinnamon roll basically? And leave it seam side down?
Hi Tina, yes exactly like cinnamon rolls, and yes seam side down. 👍🏻
I love it! I’ve been looking for an easy, tasty French bread, and this is it. Thank you! It is delish.
You’re so welcome Michelle. I’m glad you enjoy it as much as we do!
Can you use bread flour instead of all purpose?
Hi Sandy, you can absolutely use bread flour instead of all purpose.
Question - after you set the rolled out dough on parchment paper for the second rise, do you cover it with anything or is it just out in the open?
And actually even for the first rise while in the greased bowl - is it covered or in the open?
I prefer to cover the dough to prevent a skin from forming on the dough.
For the first rise I cover with plastic wrap in a greased bowl, and for the second rise I usually cover it with a clean dish towel.
This is ABSOLUTELY THE BEST bread recipe!
My wife and I are in love with how the bread turns out. It's light and fluffy on the inside yet a little bit crispy on the outside. We make two loaves out of one recipe and two recipes at a time. We also add a little bit of Trader Joe's "Everything Bagel but the Bagel" blend to the dough before the second rise for an irresistible flavor. Thanks for posting this recipe!
You can see pictures in this link https://photos.app.goo.gl/YAAWbNMfkKPxBw969
You’re so welcome Francis! I LOVE that bagel seasoning, I use it as a topping on a lot of my breads! I’m so glad you enjoy it and came back to share. It made my day!
The first loaf of yeast Ed bread I’ve ever made. My dough was a little sticky, but that is inexperience.
Kneaded by hand about 7 minutes.
Best bread I’ve ever eaten. Seriously I ate 1/2 the loaf and the bread is still warm.
Thank you for a clear, easy to follow recipe and the added info on how to make it without a stand mixer.
I searched for a long time to find a recipe for ONE load of french bread. I was quite disappointed when I read "stand mixer." And no instructions for those without a "stand mixer."
Hi Joanne, I used to make this without a stand mixer all the time before I owned one, I just followed the recipe and mixed the ingredients in a mixing bowl until combined and then kneaded by hand 5-7 minutes on a floured work surface.
The whole family loves this bread.
Its the first yeast recipe that has worked for me.
What if I wanted to add garlic?
I’m so happy you guys loved it! I have added garlic in the past to it and it’s delicious! I add one teaspoon of garlic powder when I’m in the mood as it’s mixing.
Any adjustments if you are using instant yeast?
the rule of thumb is to reduce the quantity of instant yeast by 25% when substituting for active yeast. So instead of 2 teaspoons of active yeast, use 1.5 teaspoons of instant yeast. Some helpful tips to remember are that you can add instant yeast directly into all of the bread ingredients, just remember to keep the yeast away from directly touching the salt, as it inhibits yeast growth.
Hope that helps!
Amazing recipe! Tastes amazing!
This bread came out AMAZING! I’m not able to go to Walmart to get french bread for my husbands work lunch with the virus going around. So I’m very thankful I found this recipe! It works great for a big sandwich, thank you! 🙂
Wonderful! I haven’t used it for sandwiches but it’s so soft that it would work great. I’m glad you guys enjoyed it too. ☺️
I’d really like to try this, but I don’t have a stand mixer. What method would you use to blend the Ingredients by hand or with a hand mixer?
I’ve made it by hand many times! I mix in a bowl until the ingredients are combined, then knead by hand 5-8 minutes.
Great fluffy bread. Kids loved it!
Kids can be the hardest to please, I’m so glad they enjoyed it!
Excellent bread. Crisp outside, soft inside.
So glad you liked it Ash. 💜