I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I decided to start this blog is because I made a loaf of bread that looked insanely photogenic, tasted delicious, and was a hit across the board. It was a loaf of Japanese Milk Bread, which I made again for the blog. I’ve also made other kinds of bread, like these Garlic-Herb Dinner Rolls and the Rosemary Bread Bowls I made to go along with some stew. But, I realized something.
I’ve been running this blog for just under a year now, and I’ve never posted a recipe for just bread. It’s always been something like bread bowls or rolls, and never just a plain loaf of bread.
So, today, I thought I’d go ahead and make some bread. A plain, simple French Bread loaf.
I worry a lot about bread. It’s simple to make, but it has a lot of different ways it can come out wrong, and trust me; I’ve run into them all. What if it’s not cooked all the way through and ends up doughy in the center? What if it’s not fluffy and ends up like chewing rubber? What if it’s too dry or too salty? Well, I don’t want to let anxiety keep me from making bread, so I did it.
Here’s a sneak peek at next week’s post, to see what I did with the bread:
I made one “mistake” with this bread recipe. That is, I didn’t roll the bread out as long as I should have to make true classic loafs. They’re shaped more like Italian bread loaves, large around and not as long. That’s fine, though; I adjusted the cooking time and they came out fine. I wanted wider slices anyway. If you want yours to be longer and thinner, just cut down the cooking time by a couple minutes to make sure you don’t overcook it.
Simple Homemade French Bread Loaves
- Stand Mixer
- Mixing Bowl
- Baking Sheet
- Silicone Baking Mat
- Pastry Brush
- 2 Cups Warm Water 105-115°F, use a thermometer to get it right.
- 1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
- 2½ Tsp Sugar
- 5 Cups All-Purpose Flour Plus extra for kneading.
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Olive Oil
- 1 Egg Separated; you only need the white.
Proof the Yeast
- Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast together. Set it aside and let it start to wake up. If your water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and you'll need to start over. If it's too cold, you'll need more time to let it wake up. You're looking for it to start to foam, which will take around 5 minutes.
Make the Dough
- In your mixer's bowl, add 2 cups of flour and the salt and stir.
- Add in the water/yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, start mixing on low-medium speed (whatever works best for you.)
- Start adding the remaining flour while mixing, about ¼-½ cup at a time, to incorporate it. Continue adding flour until the flour is gone, and add a bit more if the dough is too sticky.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough ball out and knead by hand for a few minutes. This gives you a feel for how well-incorporated the dough is and whether or not you need more flour.
- Lightly coat the dough with olive oil, put it in a mixing bowl, cover it with a clean towel, and let it rise. This will take around 30 minutes, but may be more or less depending on how warm and humid your kitchen is. Look for it to double in size.
- Turn the dough ball back out and divide it in half.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each dough half into a rectangle slightly longer than you want your loaves.
- Roll the rectangle up into a loaf shape. Tuck in the edges and pinch them to form the rounded tips of the loaf.
- Using your knife, make 2-3 diagonoal slits across the top of the dough. These help with expansion as the dough bakes. Don't cut too deep!
- Put your loaves on a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper beneath them. Cover your loaves and let them rise again, for about 60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F
- Lightly beat the egg white, and brush it over the top of your loaves.
- Bake your loaves for 27-30 minutes. If they're longer and thinner than mine, reduce this time. You're looking for an internal temperature of 190°F, if you have a thermometer to check.
- Remove your finished loaves, let them cool slightly, and enjoy!