“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”– Michael Pollan
Traditional French Bread only has four ingredients: Flour, Yeast, Water, Salt.
To enhance flavor, my recipe has Six ingredients. The additions are honey and butter, because you can’t go wrong with honey and butter.
French Bread is delicious on its own – slathered in butter and garlic, served alongside Spaghetti. As the main component of Bread Pudding, or sliced for Maple Shaker Bread, Bruschetta, or Toast with Eggs. These French style loaves are so tasty, they won’t last long in your home!
This recipe makes two loaves
2 cups Warm Water (105° to 110°)
4 ½ tsp Dry Active Yeast (two packets)
4 Tbsp Honey (Brown Sugar or Maple Syrup also work well)
4 Tbsp Melted Butter
3 tsp Salt
6 to 6 ½ Cups Unbleached AP Flour (Do not use Bread Flour for this recipe)
Mixing and Fermentation
Melt 4 tablespoons butter, and set aside to cool.
Measure out 2 cups warm water into large bowl.
Sprinkle yeast over top of water, and let sit for 10 minutes. You will know the yeast is active when it looks foamy.
Stir in honey, melted butter, and 3 cups flour.
With a wooden spoon, mix vigorously until flour is well blended and the dough is tacky.
Let rest, covered with a tea towel, for 20 minutes. This preferment is called the Autolyse phase.
Stir in salt and enough remaining flour, one cup at a time, so that the dough is now soft, but manageable.
Turn out dough onto floured surface.
Using your hands and a dough scraper (if you have one) begin to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until smooth. Careful not to add in too much flour.
Place dough in a buttered bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a tea towel, and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Shaping and Proofing
Once your dough has doubled its size, punch down, and remove from bowl onto work surface.
Divide the dough in half.
Begin shaping one half of the dough, by pounding out with your fist into the shape of a rough rectangle.
Grab the nearest to you side of the dough, and roll away from you three-quarters of the way up, like you are rolling cinnamon rolls.
Grab the furthest from you side of the dough and wrap it over. Seal by pinching along the seam.
Fold the edges in and pinch to seal the seam.
Using the flat edge of your palm, pound the loaf down from left to right.
Holding both hands in the center of the loaf, one on top of the other, begin to roll them away from each other, lengthening the loaf.
Do the same with the remaining half of dough.
Place both shaped loaves on a board covered with a generously floured tea towel, with a pitch down the middle, to help the bread rise.
Move board to warm area to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Once bread has risen to double in size, gently transfer each loaf to a buttered baking sheet.
With a sharp knife or razor blade, add three gashes, from the top of the loaf, to the bottom.
Transfer baking sheet to oven, reduce oven temperature to 375°, and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
The scent of fresh bread baking in the oven is a wonderful and inviting aroma. Known to calm nerves and evoke delight. Try to bake a good bread recipe at least once a week.
Did you enjoy this recipe? Have questions?
Simply ask in the comments below, or reach out to me on Social Media, through Facebook and Instagram.