Cookbook:French Bread

French Bread
CategoryBread recipes
Yield2 loaves
Time3–4 hours

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Ingredient Count Volume[note 1] Weight Baker's %
Active dry yeast [note 2] 2 packages 14.4 g 1.59%
Warm water (about 110°F) ½ cup 118.5 g 13.08%
Salt 1 tablespoon 18 g 1.99%
Lukewarm water 2 cups 474 g 52.30%
Flour 7–7½ cups 937.5 100%
Egg white 1 ea. 33 g 3.64%
Corn meal
Total n/a n/a 1595.4 g 170.18%


  1. In a small bowl, soften yeast in warm water.
  2. Combine salt and lukewarm water in large bowl. Beat in 2 cups flour.
  3. Blend in yeast, and stir in enough flour to make stiff dough.
  4. Turn out dough on floured surface. Knead 10 to 15 minutes, working in last of flour (you may want to do this with a heavy duty electric mixer with dough hooks).
  5. Form into a ball and put in greased bowl, turning to grease top, then cover with a cloth.
  6. Let rise until doubled (a finger impression should stay), about an hour, depending on temperature.
  7. Punch down dough, turn out on floured surface, and divide in half.
  8. Cover dough and rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Shape each half of dough into a 5 x 12-inch rectangle.
  10. Roll up each portion tightly, starting on the long side, sealing as you roll, tapering if you like.
  11. Place each loaf diagonally, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal.
  12. Use a floured sharp knife or razor blade to make ¼-inch slashes diagonally in the tops of the loaves.
  13. Beat egg white until foamy, adding a tablespoon of water. Brush top and sides of loaves with egg mixture.
  14. Cover with damp cloth, not touching loaves (drape cloth over inverted glasses). Let loaves rise until doubled, 60–75 minutes.
  15. Turn on oven to preheat to 375°F.
  16. Bake until light brown, about 20 minutes.
  17. Brush loaves with egg mixture again. Bake another 15–20 minutes, or until done.
  18. Cool on wire racks.

Notes, tips, and variations

  • To get a rapid initial rise, use water about 130–135°F, pour into bowl with yeast mixed with initial flour and salt, and start mixing.
  • All rising should be in a warm place, like near the refrigerator.
  • A baking stone, ceramic brick, or even an iron skillet or griddle preheated in the oven (to place the baking sheet on) will give a good "spring" or quick rise when the loaves are first placed in the oven.
  • For even crispier crust, brush each time with plain water.

Conversion notes

  1. Weight conversions from USDA National Nutrient Database. Original recipe text and ingredient order preserved. 7.25 cups flour presumed as all purpose. Egg size presumed as large.
  2. This amount of yeast will result in a perceptible yeast flavor. To reduce this flavor, it is recommend to use no more than 1.05% active dry yeast, although you can expect fermentation time to increase somewhat. Further reductions will result in less yeast flavor and longer bulk fermentation times.