Crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside, this is the perfect French bread. All you need to make freshly baked homemade French bread is a bread machine and your oven!
What’s better than a warm piece of homemade bread, fresh from the oven? NOTHING. Especially when you dip it into fagioli soup at the end of a busy Sunday. The smell of rising and baking bread is almost as good as eating it… in fact, that’s one of my favorite things about this French bread– our apartment smells freaking amazing now.
Nick bought me a bread machine several years ago for a Christmas present. Yes, he’s the kind of husband who buys his wife kitchen appliances for birthdays/holidays… and I am fully appreciative of that. It’ll stay in our pantry, unused for a couple months, until I remember it and pull it back out to make bread.
My bread machine has a handy “dough” version. You put in all the ingredients (in this case, water, flour, sugar, salt and yeast) and press a button, and 1 1/2 hours later you have dough! It looks like this:
After you take it out of the bread machine, you place it in a glass bowl and let it rise for 30 minutes.
Then, you roll it out on a floured surface and slice it into two rectangles:
Then, you’ll roll it up from the long side, inwards, making sure to press out any air pockets. With a sharp knife, make a slit length-wise. This helps keep the baguettes from splitting when they’re rising and baking. These go onto a baking sheet and covered again with a soft towel, and left in a warm place to rise for another 40 minutes.
They should double or triple in size! It may seem like a lot of work, but you’re really only doing actual work for about 10 minutes. The bread is doing the work the rest of the time. After the second rising session, it’s time to bake.
Before baking, you want to brush the loaves with egg yolk. This helps give the outside of the bread a crispy crust and makes it a nice golden brown color.
Into the oven they go! I like to bake them for about 25 minutes because I know Nick likes the crust to be really chewy.
And you’re done! Out of the oven comes golden, crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside homemade French bread. It tastes even BETTER than store-bought or restaurant bread. There’s just something about making bread from scratch that changes the way it tastes.
We’ve been using the bread for French dip sandwiches– a chuck roast that I dump in the instant pot along with beef broth, herbs and spices and it turns into pulled brisket-like beef. I slice the bread into sub-size pieces, load them up with beef and provolone, and brush a butter/kosher salt/garlic powder mixture on the top slice and bake at 400 for about ten minutes. Nick says its probably his all-time favorite meal. I’ll have to put the French dip meat recipe on the blog asap!
I made this bread again yesterday and we had pasta fagioli soup for dinner, and it was perfect sliced into small pieces and dunked into the tomato and beef broth. Delicious!
Here’s the recipe for Homemade French Bread:
Homemade French Bread
Crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside, this is the perfect French bread. All you need to make freshly baked French bread at home is a bread machine and your oven!
- 1 cup warm water (between 115-120 degrees F)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
- 1 egg yolk
- splash of water
Place the water, flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a bread machine pan in the order recommended by your manufacturer. Make sure the salt, water and yeast are not touching. Select the dough cycle, and press start.
When the cycle has completed, take out the dough and place it in a greased glass bowl, turning it to coat all sides.
Cover with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place (I like my oven with the light on) for 30 minutes, or until it has doubled. Dough is ready if indention remains when touched.
Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13x9 rectangle. Cut dough in half, and roll each rectangle up length wise, making sure to press out any air pockets. Roll to gently taper the end.
Place 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Make a deep slash vertically on each loaf with a sharp knife. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the egg yolk + water in a small bowl and brush over each loaf. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.