Over the next weeks I will be sharing the BEST tried and true bread recipes. I love bread and so does my family but in order to make it to the “best of the best” list it has to have it ALL . . . aroma, flavor, texture. Trust me when I say this Artisan French Bread recipe is AWESOME. With only 5 ingredients . . . it’s so easy and fast you can make it TONIGHT!
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5 Ingredients are all you need!
Yup no joke, all you need to make this savory bread is active dry yeast, warm water, salt, sugar and bread flour. I bet you have all this in your pantry right now.
You can whip up this dough in 5 minutes and with just 90 minutes of rising time and 40 minutes of baking. Serve a fresh hot loaf of bread to your oh so appreciative family! . . . and watch them devour it in 2 minutes. Oh well that is what it was for Right!?
I will literally put this dough together in between home-school lessons, let it rise, form it over lunch, let it rise again and bake it for dinner. So fast, easy and delicious.
It is versitile!
This is the dough I use for pizza, calzones or Stromboli too. It has an excellent chew. It’s not too soft and can really hold up to lots of scrumptious sauce and hearty toppings.
To feel extra fancy, with no extra effort . . .
((That is MY kind of fancy by the way))
. . . bake a beautiful French Boule or “round loaf of crusty bread” .
You can form this bread into a loaf, long baguette or a pizza crust and just bake on a pizza stone or even a cookie sheet.
BUT . . . baking a rustic Boule in a dutch oven is my favorite and here is why —
The Dutch Oven method of baking bread
It is essential to have steam during the beginning of baking a loaf of bread. If you put bread into a hot dry oven, the crust sets immediately and doesn’t give the yeast a chance to make the bread rise.
Start the bread baking in the dutch oven with the heavy lid on to trap the steam and keep the crust soft longer.
This allows the loaf to get a beautiful rise. The heavy lid of the dutch oven traps the heat and steam inside and just make a beautiful loaf with a wonderful texture.
It is important to PREHEAT THE DUTCH OVEN WITH YOUR OVEN. . . Sorry to yell at you but this is VERY IMPORTANT.
This preheated dutch oven duplicates the constant direct heat of a professional bread oven.
You finish the loaf with the lid off to develop a beautiful brown, crispy scrumptious crust.
Dutch ovens can be expensive but you don’t really need a fancy-dancy or expensive one to make great bread. A heavy bottomed pot with a heavy good fitting lid, no matter the brand works! Here’s a beautiful one from Amazon with a really reasonable price point.
My favorite meals starring this french bread:
- French Bread Pizza: roll dough into a square or round, place on pizza stone and cover with favorite sauce and toppings. If you really want a flavor punch, brush the edges with melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic powder or Parmesan cheese. Bake HOT (500 degrees F) for 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of crust.
- Simple French Boule with a excellent quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.
- Baguette or French Loaf if you don’t have a dutch oven or even a loaf pan just form this dough into a long loaf and bake on a baking sheet. If you are not using a dutch oven, free-form your loaf on a baking sheet or place in loaf pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 mins or until golden brown.
- Garlic and Herb French Bread try adding garlic salt in place of regular salt in the recipe or add garlic powder and a tablespoon of basil, oregano or chives.
If you have never dunked fresh bread in oil and vinegar. OH MY WORD! you are not living. . . Get you some today. You’re welcome!
Or . . . just SLATHER it in butter or herby cream cheese. Pick your poison.
How to make it.
Add 2 cups warm (110-115 degree) water and sugar to a measuring pitcher. Mix together and sprinkle yeast on top of the sugar water mixture. Set aside to bloom while you prepare your mixer.
NOTE: I would never be without my KitchenAide Stand Mixer. It is by far my most used kitchen appliance and I LOVE it. If you don’t have one and want one . . . check this KitchenAide Mixer Amazon Link for a beautiful selection. They are a investment but so worth it. You can get so many attachments too. . . Meat grinder, pasta maker, cheese grater. So many kitchen appliance all in one unit. They are awesome!
If you don’t have a mixer right now, don’t worry . . . just replace mixing and folding by kneading by hand. Knead in a bowl until enough flour is worked in that it can be dumped on floured counter to continue kneading process. Its a bit slower but I find it very therapeutic.
In a stand mixer with bread hook attached, add 2 cups of bread flour with salt.
When yeast/water/sugar mixture appears to have bloomed or to be nice and bubbly, add it to the mixer.
Mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add another cup of flour and allow mixer to incorporate well. Add one more cup of flour and continue to mix.
You will add another 1/2 to up to 1 cup of flour GRADUALLY. You want to add just enough flour that the dough comes together in a ball and PULLS AWAY from the sides of the mixing bowl. The dough will feel smooth and slightly sticky but will hold together nicely.
Remove the dough ball from the bowl and tuck sides under until you forms a nice tight ball.
Drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil into the bowl. Add the dough ball back to the bowl, give it a flip to coat in oil.
Cover bowl and sit in warm place until doubled in size. Approximately 1 hour.
After dough has risen, punch down, remove from bowl flatten slightly on lightly floured surface and fold in half, then into half again.
Form dough into a nice tight ball by tucking sides under.
Place the dough ball on a sheet of parchment to rest and rise the last 30 minutes.
While dough is resting and rising, preheat oven to 500 Degrees F. If using a dutch oven place the dutch oven with lid inside to preheat along with the oven.
We are ready to bake!
When you are ready to bake use the parchment to pick up the loaf, set it inside the dutch oven and put LID ON.
Bake your loaf with the LID ON at 500 degrees for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes decrease oven temperature to 450 degrees F and REMOVE LID.
Continue to bake another 20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully crisp and golden brown.
Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and use the parchment to transfer loaf to cooling rack or cutting board. Wait until slightly cooled to slice.
It is irresistibly delicious so I understand if you just can’t wait!
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Leave a comment below: Are you a crispy crust lover or do you like a soft bread crust? I have a deliciously soft sandwich bread/roll recipe coming soon.
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- 2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
- 2 C. warm water (110-115 degrees F)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 4 1/2 - 5 C. bread flour
- Add 2 cups warm water and sugar to a measuring pitcher.
- Sprinkle yeast on top of the sugar water mixture. Set aside to bloom while you prepare your mixer.
- In a stand mixer with bread hook attached, add 2 cups of bread flour with salt.
- When yeast/water/sugar mixture appears to have bloomed or to be nice and bubbly, add it to the mixer.
- Mix on medium speed until incorporated.
- Add another cup of flour and allow mixer to incorporate well.
- Add one more cup of flour and continue to mix. You will add another 1/2 to up to 1 cup of flour GRADUALLY. You want to add just enough flour that the dough comes together in a ball and PULLS AWAY from the sides of the mixing bowl. - The dough will feel smooth and slightly sticky but will hold together nicely.
- Remove the dough ball from the bowl and drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil into the bowl. Add the dough ball back to the bowl, give it a flip to coat in oil.
- Cover bowl and sit in warm place until doubled in size. Approximately 1 hour.
- After dough has risen, punch down, remove from bowl flatten slightly fold in half, then again into half again.
- Form dough into a nice tight ball by tucking sides under.
- Place on sheet of parchment to rest and raise the last 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 500 Degrees F. If using a dutch oven place the oven with lid on inside to preheat along with the oven.
- When ready to bake, dust the top of the loaf with flour and score it to control expansion.
- Using the parchment to pick up the loaf, set it inside the dutch oven and put LID ON.
- Place in oven and bake with LID ON for 20 minutes.
- Decrease oven temperature to 450 degrees F and REMOVE LID, continuing to bake another 20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully crisp and golden brown.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and using the parchment transfer to cooling board.
- Wait until cooled to slice.
Try adding garlic salt in place of regular salt for a little extra flavor or a 1 tsp of garlic powder in addition to the salt.
If you are not using a dutch oven, free form your loaf on a baking sheet or place in loaf pan. Back at 400 degrees F for 20-25 mins or until golden brown.