This easy (and we mean EASY!) homemade French bread recipe is sure to be a hit! Homemade dutch oven bread that”s readyin just a few hours – no overnight rise. Crispy crust on the outside and soft, airy bread on the inside! Vegetarian.
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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS BREAD. ⬆⬆⬆⬇⬇⬇
What you need to know about this crusty bread:
It”s ready in under three hours. No overnight rise necessary!It”s ultra-forgiving. Read through ALL of our recipe notes for best results!YOU CAN MAKE THIS BREAD ⬇⬇⬇. I PROMISE.
The basic order of operations for this artisan bread:
The instructions may look a little long, but they”reall basically just notes on technique – so don”t let the number of steps intimidate you!
After a couple of adventures with this bread, you”ll be able to throw it together in your sleep.
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Mix the dough (10 minutes) This is a very slack dough (also known as a wet or sticky dough) – it won”t form a ball or be immediately elastic like some recipes you might be used to! The dough will be shaggy and somewhat sticky, but it will smooth out as the gluten develops while it rises and again when it”s time to shape.Let the dough rise (1 hour) Kick back, relax, and let your dough do it”s thing!Shape the dough (5 minutes) Lightly flour a cutting board, tip the dough out, and gently form it into a round loaf (watch the videos below to see exactly how we do this!)Let the dough rise one final time (30 minutes) When your dough is shaped, pop it into a medium-sized bowl or proofing basket to rise for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven. Let the bread cool, slice, and enjoy!
If you”re serious about homemade bread, you may enjoy using a proofing basket (it”s one of my favorite kitchen tools!) to help the bread keep its shape while it rises. You also end up with beautiful flour rings on the crust! We like to use an 8- to 9-inch proofing basket for a single loaf of bread.
If you don”t have a proofing basket, no worries! Just use a medium-sized (8- or 9-inch diameter) mixing bowl to let the bread do its final rise before you bake it. Flour the bowl well to prevent sticking!
The crackly brown crust here is theresult of baking this bread in a Dutch oven. By keeping the lid on while the bread bakes, you create a nice steamy atmosphere inside the pot – and the steam is what gives the bread that crispy, magical crust. (Read more about the importance of steam in bread baking here!)
HOMEMADE BREAD FAQ
This section is LONG – but we wanted to cover the most frequent questions we get! Feel free to skip right to the recipe, but please do utilize this section if you run into questions while you”re baking. For additional training videos, tips, and recipes, check out Everyday Artisan Bread!
Can I use rapid rise or instant yeast for this recipe? Yes – just reduce the amount of yeast to 1 ½ teaspoons (about 25% less than we use with Active Dry Yeast).
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Can I double this recipe? Yes – double everything except the yeast in this recipe for best results*. After the first rise, divide the dough in half and form two loaves (our preference) or form one large loaf. If you bake a large loaf, you will likely need to extend the bake time and it may not cook quite as evenly – just keep an eye on it and use your best judgment! (*the converter in the recipe card below may tell you to double the yeast as well, but you really don”t need to. We just can”t figure out how to turn the converter off *facepalm*)How should I store this bread? Store half-loaves cut-side down on a cutting board on the counter for up to 24 hours (no need to cover!) to keep the crust crispy and the interior moist. Store sliced bread in an airtight container in the freezer for 3-4 months (toast it up as needed!) or in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days. Freeze a full loaf by wrapping the bread in plastic wrap and popping into the freezer for 3-4 months, then defrost on the counter for a few hours when you”re ready to eat (we prefer to avoid plastic, but haven”t found a better alternative for this yet – bee”s wrap just doesn”t do as good of a job here!)Can I make this bread with whole wheat flour? Yes! We recommend substituting no more than 50% whole wheat flour for best results. Why don”t you transfer the dough to an oiled bowl during the first rise? We don”t find it”s necessary to add this extra step with this quick recipe, and we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. We just let the dough rise right in the mixing bowl and then run our hands under cold water to coax the dough out without sticking when it”s time to tip the dough onto the cutting board. You can absolutely transfer the mixed dough to a lightly oiled bowl for its first rise if you like! A previous version of this recipe had you add a dusting of flour during this first rise; we omitted this step in later revisions to simplify the instructions.What is the hydration of this loaf? If you”re familiar with baker”s percentages, this bread is about 75% hydration by weight as written.