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The Best Soft French Bread

This soft and fluffy french bread is better than store-bought and so easy to make!

This soft and fluffy french bread is better than store-bought and so easy to make!

Is there anything better than fresh french bread, hot out of the oven? The smell, the crisp crust and the soft and fluffy inside… it’s enough to make my mouth water, just thinking about it. I remember years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest, having dinner at my best friend Cort’s house. I can’t remember what she cooked for dinner, but I remember that she made the most amazing, melt-in-your-mouth delicious french bread, and I couldn’t stop eating it. I’m going to blame it on my pregnancy (although it’s not like anything has changed since then…), but I just kept shoving slice after delicious slice into my mouth. I probably ate at least half a loaf by myself (sorry, Cort!). At the time, I was terrible at baking bread, and after that night I added “bake perfect bread like Cort” to my lifetime goals list. I asked Cort for her recipe, of course, but she bakes so much by feel and intuition that it was nearly impossible for me to replicate her bread.

Years passed, and I bought myself a stand mixer and learned how to make amazing bread, but french bread still eluded me. And then I stumbled across the recipe below, and reached french bread nirvana. It’s everything I could ever want in a french bread. The flavor and texture are spot on, and it’s the perfect bread side for soup night. It also makes delicious sandwiches, french toast, and even french bread pizza! I’ve made this recipe dozens of times, and it always comes out of the oven golden brown and perfect. It’s one of my favorites to bring when we have dinner with friends, and everyone is always surprised I made it myself, because it’s so perfect! (I’m a little surprised myself, to tell the truth.) You definitely need this recipe in your arsenal!

This soft and fluffy french bread is better than store-bought and so easy to make!

The Best Soft French Bread

2 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
5-6 cups flour
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 egg

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until foamy and bubbly. Add the salt, oil, and 3 cups of flour, and mix until smooth. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and doesn’t stick to your finger when tapped lightly. Let the dough rest ten minutes, then stir it down (I just turn my mixer on for a few seconds). Repeat four more times, stirring the dough down in between the rise intervals.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment or silicone and sprinkling with cornmeal. Divide the dough in half, then roll each half out into a rectangle that is approximately 9 inches by 13 inches. Starting at the long side, roll the dough up into a long cylinder. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with remaining dough. Cut 3-4 slashes in the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Cover lightly and let rise 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the surface of both loaves. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.

adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

This soft and fluffy french bread is better than store-bought and so easy to make!

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79 Comments

  1. It's not strictly necessary, but I like the little bit of crunch it adds to the bottom of the bread. If you don't have it, you can totally leave it out!

  2. Thank you! I was just thinking about how my mom would bring home soft French bread from the grocery store when we were kids and sit there and eat it while watching All My Children haha. Can't wait to try my hand at making it. Now if only I had a soap to watch…

    1. All My Children! What a great show! I watched with my grandmother! And we both LOVED Bread! I’ve searched and this recipe and picture looks amazing! Going to give it a try today for My grands! Won’t be the same without Erica, though! 🥲

  3. I always use all purpose, but you could definitely add some bread flour. I would probably use half and half, so you can get the chewiness of the bread flour but keep the softness of the all purpose flour.

  4. I tried tried the recipe but the bread was inedible I used bread flour and maybe 6 cups is too much it wouldn't stretch much What did I do wrong?

  5. Davey, without seeing your bread, I couldn't say for sure, but usually with bread the culprit is either bad yeast or too much flour. Did your yeast foam a lot in the first step? If it's not a yeast issue, you may have added too much flour. I add three cups at first, then add the additional flour a little at a time, being careful not to add too much. You want the dough to feel soft and smooth and only a little sticky, but it shouldn't be firm or inflexible.

  6. Oh so good No lie ! Easy as can be bread and a lot of fun to put together. Loved watching it bake on my stone with no paper. I did this bread all the while my grand daughter was taking her 1 & 1/2 hour nap believe it or not ! Baking time not included. Oh buy the way, my sweet grand daughters name is Willah

  7. After rolling the dough out in a rectangle, I sprinkled an 8oz bag of mozzerella cheese all over it and then rolled it up in a log.
    I’ve baked a lot of bread recipes and this by far was one of the best! SOOOO GOOD.

  8. I am a 100% bread novice. I made this recipe today (first time I have ever tried to make homemade bread, ever!) and might I say, it turned out surprisingly well! I was not doubting the recipe but rather my ability to actually do it. I think I used the wrong yeast and the bread is a little more dense than I thought because of it but it is mighty delicious, thanks so much for sharing it with this bread noob!

  9. I just sprinkle the yeast in first over the water, and then sprinkle the sugar on top. Some drops down, just walk away and wait 10 minutes! Also, an easy way to get the right temperature is to see what it feels like on your wrist. Kind of like baby bath water. If it's too hot for your skin, it's too hot for yeast.

  10. I had no parchment paper and I had to just use the cookie sheet.
    And my yeast is old because it did bubble but swish it with the spoon ,so now I'm waiting for it to cook and it came out really sticky and use a lot of four I hope my French bread turn out right.
    If not make it again.

  11. This is a fantastic recipe! I was skeptical to try it because I had not previously tried a recipe that requires you to rest the dough and blend for repeated cycles, and I had my doubts that it would rise after forming the loaves. My family and I were very pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I added 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary and a slight bit more olive oil. It was a hit. This is my new go-to French bread recipe. 5 stars!

  12. I just made this bread for dinner tonight and it was Amazing!!! I like a crispy bread so I put a pan of hot water in the oven with it and it was perfect!, Thank you so much!

  13. I made this bread several times but this time it didn’t rise like it did before, and yes the yeast foamed. Very disappointed.

  14. So, tell me what is the difference between French bread & Italian bread? Other than the direction of the slits, (3 diagonal for French & 1 long down the center for Italian) most recipes look the same.

  15. I'm a professional cook BUT a terrible Baker…I tried this and its awesome. To be fair it's not the hard and crusty from back home…but is better than what you get in a grocery store. I found if you cut and form into 7 inch baguettes they make perfect phillys…thanks for the recipe and I pass this site to the regulars that ask about our buns….but most of all thanks for the amazing reviews of our phillys…the bread is mentioned as much as our in house smoked cheese.

  16. Delicious!! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I didn’t do the egg wash but brushed garlic butter on when hot! So good! Have you ever used this recipe for bread sticks? Any advice? Think I might try breadsticks tomorrow!

  17. I saw this on another recipe and it works great with this recipe. When you roll it out, add about 4 oz mozzarella cheese, per loaf, and roll up. My family always ask for this bread.

  18. This is the first french bread recipe I tried and it is the last too. The bread is soft with a crusty outside. PERFECT! It is a lot of kneading but the results are amazing. The huge loaf stays soft and moist longer that store bought loaves (it stays fresh all week if it lasts that long.) Everybody who has tried it has claimed it to be the best ever!
    I use my KitchenAid for the first part but hand knead on the 10 minute punch downs. Also I cover mine with damp towel for the rise (it seems to make it better as I live in a dry climate.)
    Thank you for the recipe.

  19. Truly the BEST Soft French bread recipe! I wanted a soft, fluffy inside and this is the one! I also like a soft crust, so I brush the entire loaves with melted butter before rise. For my area, Baltimore, Maryland, I have to add an additional cup of flour for that amount for water. I use 3 cups all purpose and 4 cups of bread flour. I make one large French bread and a sandwich loaf…yes, it makes great sandwich loaves! Since it's just me and my husband, once the bread cools, I cut both in half and freeze 3 halves, or else we will eat a whole loaf in a day. Thanks for the great recipe!

  20. This has been my Go-To French bread recipe for several years. I frequently divide the dough into 12 loaves to make hoagie rolls. Cut the cooking time by 5 minutes. I only use 5 cups of flour and wind up with a sticky dough. Wet your hands for handling and flour your rolling surface.

  21. Made this recipe for the first time yesterday exactly as written. I may have to buy interest in a flour company. It was perfect! I’m not totally new to breadmaking but I am new to French bread. This was tasty, soft, light as a feather with a nice crust. It will be my favorite

  22. r What a wonderful recipe! I don’t have a stand mixer so I kneaded every 10 minutes, turned out perfectly. I’m an expert baker, so I had great expectations and boy, were they fulfilled. This is a new favorite.

  23. I used the mixer after 3 cups of flour( about 2 minutes) then added the rest of the flour and some just to make it a bit dryer(workable). I let it rise, covered, for 1 hr, then made the 2 loaves( I sprinkled mozzarella cheese), then let it rise again another hour. Perfect!

  24. Well its baking!
    Questions!!!
    1. Dough got quite moist and sicky between 3-4 repetition, but seemed ok by the last one?

    2. Dough was very elastic, rolling it out was a bit challenging and I had bubbles popping?

    3. While I tried to roll it into a cylinder, and did, I wasn't sure how to do the ends? Was I
    supposed to cut the ends and just tuck them under?

    4. When I separated the dough in half to roll out, I wondered if I couldn't have just slightly
    formed the dough, because it was already in a great shape other then when I cut it in half?

    Wish me luck! haven't baked in years but girlfriend made this and it was incredible!!!

  25. Oh man…..sooooooooo good. A very forgiving recipe (yes I may have added too little water in the beginning and added it later about half way through the kneading process). It was perfect. Family loved it. Question: Could the dough be made into loaf pans for sandwich bread?

  26. I actually did bake a batch in loaf pans and it worked GREAT! Baked it for the same 30 mins. but let it rise in the loaf pan about 30 mins longer than normal. It is now my go to bread recipe for sandwich bread too! Sooooo good

  27. The best soft french bread recipe of all times.
    I make this all the time and I always get 2 thumbs up and no leftovers.
    This is a must recipe to make!

  28. Did not turn our as expected. 1tblsp salt is far too much so I used two pinch of salt …it was enough. Will I use this recipe again? Unlikely.

  29. This bread was amazing! It was so delicious and turned out perfectly! I’m just getting into bread making and this really boosted my confidence. This went on my favorites list!

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