This recipe for how to make simple fluffy french bread is my go-to bread recipe. It’s easy, makes one soft loaf and is easily doubled to make for a crowd.
Originally published September 17, 2017.
Everyone needs a recipe for how to make simple fluffy french bread. There’s nothing like fresh from the oven warm bread to have with Sunday dinner. Especially with some melty butter. Mmmm. Maybe a little garlic and Italian seasoning.
I worked at a bakery for three years during college, and it was easily my favorite job. It was there I learned to knead two loaves at the same time, roll out rolls with two hands, and appreciate the smell of baking bread. And of course, learn how to make french bread.
Tips for perfect fluffy french bread:
- Make time for two rises! Rising time is key for soft, fluffy bread.
- Stiffer dough for a taller loaf. If the dough is too sticky, 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.
The trick with EVERY bread recipe is to give the dough enough time to rise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to make bread only to be rushed at the end, not giving it enough time to rise and it turns out dense and flat. Bread rising speeds up during the second rise, so it’s important for the texture of the bread to rise twice. Double in size is the rule of thumb for most recipes.
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 at the bakery. Roll the dough out flat and roll tightly lengthwise, kind of like a bedroll or a sleeping bag.
There are a few tricks like preheating the oven for a few minutes that help, but it really makes a difference when you put in the time for rising. If there are leftovers, I like to use them to make Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding the next day, or turn them into croutons or breadcrumbs for something like meatloaf.
The reason I like this recipe so much is that it makes a reasonably large loaf, and it’s easily doubled to make two loaves if I’m making it for the family. 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! 💪🏻
Fluffy French Bread
This recipe for Fluffy French Bread is my go-to bread recipe. It makes one loaf and is easily doubled to make for a crowd.
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon white granulated sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg beaten for top of bread
- In bowl of stand mixer, 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.
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.
Notes: Placing dough in the oven and preheating it to 200 F and then shutting the oven off and propping the door open with a wooden spoon can decrease rising time by 15-20 minutes on either rise.