Easy French Bread

A simple and delicious recipe for French bread made in the Dutch Oven– crisp crust, soft crumb, and perfect to serve with dinner.

This is the easiest bread recipe ever and is great for beginners.  I still make it all th time because it’s good, not just easy. This is a great place to start if you are brand new to bread making.  It rises easily and uses very few ingredients.

We love it sliced with butter or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

French bread in red dutch oven

Easy French Bread in a Dutch Oven

The easiest bread recipe you will ever make, but still an excellent loaf. 
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
rising time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Serving Size 12 pieces

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons instant yeast (SAF brand recommended)
  • cups water
  • pinch cornmeal for sprinkling on the parchment

Instructions 

  • Mix. Combine all ingredients by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine. If you use instant yeast, there is absolutely no need to proof it; you can combine everything at once. The dough should clear the sides or the bowl and be slightly sticky but not too hard to handle. Add a small amount of water or flour as needed.
    bread ingredients in stand mixer.
  • Knead. Knead the dough until soft, smooth, and elastic. You should be able to stretch the dough and see slightly translucent areas. This can take up to 5-10 minutes by machine for 15-20 minutes by hand.
    dough in stand mixer being kneaded.
  • First rise. Allow dough to rise, covered, in a warm place.  It will take about 60 minutes in a setting that is about 90 degrees.  You can use an oven that has been slightly warmed and then turned off or a sunny windowsill.
    dough in mixing bowl before and after rising.
  • Shape. After the dough has risen, remove from bowl and place on floured surface. Prepare your baking sheet or Dutch oven by laying down a piece of parchment and sprinkling cornmeal on the parchment sheet.  Shape the loaf by pinching the bottom until the top is smooth. Place the loaf on top of the parchment.
    shaping dough into bal land placing in dutch oven.
  • Second Rise. Cover the dough, either with heavily greased plastic wrap or the lid of your Dutch oven.  Allow the dough to rise again.  This will take another 45-60 minutes, in a warm place.  Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
    round dough in dutch oven before and after rising.
  • Slash and flour. Rub flour on top.  Slash with a very sharp knife.
    round dough being slashed and dusted with flour.
  • Bake. When sufficiently risen, bake. Bake for 35-40 minutes, with the lid on for the first 20 minutes. Remove and bake until golden brown and the internal temperature is at least 190℉. Cool on wire rack and serve warm or room temperature. .
    fully baked round french bread.

Notes

This recipe does not keep well at room temperature (will go stale the next day), but freezes very well.  Just wrap well to freeze, then defrost at room temperature a few hours and reheat briefly in a warm oven. Or just use it for toast or croutons on day 2.
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, there is a workaround!  Preheat a rimmed, metal baking sheet on a lower rack of your oven.  Before baking, pour 1 cup of water in to create steam.  This will mimick the humidity that the lidded Dutch oven creates.
Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

You’ll need the following for this french bread:

  • bread flour (just get some! you’ll never regret having bread flour on hand!)
  • salt
  • instant yeast (SAF brand recommended)
  • water
  • cornmeal for sprinkling on the parchment
  • Dutch Oven (if you don’t have one, no problem! Preheat a baking sheet in your oven and pour a cup of water in to create steam. This mimics the high humidity created by a Dutch Oven.)
round French bread in red Dutch Oven
  • dutch oven
  • stand mixer/bread machine (optional)
  • bowl
  • parchment paper

🥫 Storage instructions

Once the french bread has cooled, you can store it in a bag or container on the counter for a day or two. If you want to store it for longer, you can place it in the fridge or freezer.

🔍 FAQs

What is the difference between French bread and regular bread?

French bread is made with a higher ratio of flour to water, which results in a crisper crust and a softer crumb. It is also often baked in a Dutch oven, which gives it a nice crisp crust.

Can I make this bread in a different type of oven?

This recipe is specifically for the Dutch Oven, but you could try making it in a regular oven by baking it at a high temperature.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • When making french bread, it is important to use a high-quality flour. This will help to create a crisp crust and soft crumb
  • Dutch ovens are perfect for baking french bread, as they provide consistent heat and create a nice crust.
  • Make sure to score the bread before baking, so that it will expand properly in the oven.
  • The key is to make sure the oven is nice and hot before you put the dough in, and that you bake it for a long time to get a nice crispy crust.

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67 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Easy to make and tastes great! I brush the top with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds before making slash marks