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Overhead photo of homemade french bread loaf on a dark background

Easy Crusty French Bread

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf (about 6 servings) 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Easy dutch oven bread ready in just a few hours – no overnight rise needed.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (9 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (4 grams) (use honey if you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (300 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (360 grams) plus extra for dusting  (see recipe notes)

Instructions

MIX THE DOUGH & FIRST RISE (1 HOUR):

  1. Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.
  3. Add kosher salt and flour to bowl. Mix with your hands or a sturdy spatula, or mix on low speed with your stand mixer until all flour is incorporated and dough has just started to pull away from the sides of the bowl. For best results, mix until no dry bits of flour remain. Please note: This is a relatively slack (wet) dough, so it may seem a bit shaggy and sticky at this point. Don’t worry – it will become more smooth and elastic as we go!
  4. Lightly flour all sides of your dough (don’t mix the flour in – it’s just to keep the dough from sticking!) and turn it over inside the mixing bowl to coat with flour on all sides. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise on the counter for about 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.

SHAPE THE DOUGH & FINAL RISE (30 MIN):

  1. When dough has risen, lightly flour a large cutting board.
  2. Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the cutting board. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN – you want to keep all those nice air bubbles intact so you have an airy, delicious loaf of bread. (Note: If the dough is sticking to the bowl a little bit, wet your hand with a bit of cold water and gently separate the dough from the bowl to get it all out).
  3. Sprinkle a bit of flour across the top of the dough, then begin shaping it into a round loaf. Pull each corner of the dough in towards the center (like you’re folding an envelope) and repeat until the dough feels tight and begins to resist your folds. Flip the dough over and tap it into a round loaf. Watch the video(s) above to see exactly how we do this!
  4. Flour a proofing basket or a medium bowl and place your loaf into it seam-side down. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes or so while you preheat the oven.

HEAT THE OVEN :

  1. While bread is rising, place an empty dutch oven (with the lid on) in your oven and heat to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

BAKE!

  1. When the oven is hot, you’re ready to go! Use oven mitts to pull the dutch oven out and remove the lid.
  2. Lay a piece of parchment paper down on your counter or cutting board (optional – it makes transferring the bread easier!)
  3. Tip your bread dough gently out of the proofing basket onto the parchment paper. Make sure the seam side is up this time – this is what will create those beautiful cracks on top of the bread!
  4. VERY CAREFULLY (without burning yourself!) use the sides of the parchment to lift the bread up and place it into the hot Dutch oven.
  5. Put your oven mitts back on, place the dutch oven lid back on the pot, and slide the whole thing back into your hot oven.
  6. Cook bread for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from your dutch oven. The bread should be taller, crusty, and very lightly browned. Continue cooking the bread, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes more until the bread has deepened in color and you have a beautiful brown crust.
  8. When bread is done, use oven mitts to pull the pot out of your oven.
  9. Use a long spatula or the corners of your parchment paper to lift the bread out of the dutch oven and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.
  10. Slice, slather with butter, and enjoy!

Notes

How to measure flour: If you have a kitchen scale, please use it! Measuring by weight is MUCH more accurate than measuring by volume (with cups) and will give you more consistent bread. That being said, you can certainly make great bread without a kitchen scale! To measure flour in cups: If you measure flour by dipping your cup straight into the bag or bin and shaking off the excess, plan to use about 2 1/2 cups of flour. If you measure by stirring the flour with a spoon or scoop before scooping it into a measuring cup and leveling it off, plan to use about 3 cups of flour. You can always add more flour if you need to – just be aware that this is a relatively slack (wet) dough, so it will be a bit shaggy and sticky at first (but it will smooth out and become more elastic as it rises and again as you shape it!)

If you prefer a thicker, denser dough, or if you’re nervous about shaping a wetter dough, use only one cup (235g) of water. The crumb will be a bit more dense and less airy, but it will still taste great!

Equipment. We recommend a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven for best results. Le Creuset and Staub are our favorites, but Marquette Castings and Lodge also make solid options that are more budget-friendly. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, see this post for alternative baking methods (you can still make great bread without fancy equipment!) Please make sure that your Dutch oven is fitted with a metal (rather than plastic) knob on its lid for best results. We use this 8.5-inch proofing basket, but an 8- or 9-inch banneton or medium-sized mixing bowl also work well for the final rise.

PLEASE READ THE POST ABOVE FOR OUR COMPLETE FAQs, TIPS, AND ADVICE. We’ve gotten so many amazing questions from you – we wanted to be sure to answer as many as we can as thoroughly as we can, but if we put our answers here in the recipe it would make it very annoying to print. Please check the FAQ section in the post above if you have a question or run into a problem!

Keywords: dutch oven, baking, artisan