Homemade bread is one of the food items I think is most worth making yourself some of the time. It is a little time consuming and not always possible, but it is like nothing else when eaten fresh out of the oven. This French bread recipe is so versatile. You can serve it with any meal as a side, or use it to make garlic bread, sandwiches or paninis.
If you are new to baking bread and want some tips and tricks, check out my post on sandwich bread for a tutorial. This bread has only a few simple ingredients – water, flour, sugar, salt, yeast and oil. It comes out super soft and is delicious warm with butter. We ate it with crab stew (recipe coming soon) and it was perfect for sopping up the stew broth.
I like to sprinkle some kosher salt over the top of the bread before baking. It adds a nice little pop of salt when you eat a slice. You can freeze this bread in whole loaves, or in sliced and then defrost at room temp. Let me know if you have questions on baking bread, I am happy to answer any.
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- Heat oven to 375 and line the backs of two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Add all the bread ingredients to a stand mixer and mix on medium low until the dough comes together into a cohesive mass and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. If the dough seems dry, add a few tbsp of water. If the dough is too wet and gloopy, add a bit of flour at a time until it comes together. It should start out sticky and stuck to the sides, and come together as you knead it. You want a decently moist and soft dough so your bread won't be dry.
- Once the dough is smooth, turn off the mixer and cover with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then turn to mixer back on for 10 seconds. Repeat this 5 times.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and cut into two equal pieces.
- Flatten each piece into a rough rectangle using your hands then bring each long edge into the center and press them down. Finally, fold the long edges together and seal them. You can watch youtube on how to shape a batard or bread loaf to see how this is done.
- Sprinkle a little corn meal onto the parchment lined sheets and place one loaf on each, seam side down. Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. The bread is ready when a greased fingertip pressed into the dough leaves a indentation that doesn't bounce back. Slice 3 lines in a top with a bread lame or sharp knife.
- Place into the oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes, rotating pan half way through. The bread should be nicely golden brown and at least 197 internally. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.