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Classic French Bread

This recipe makes the most beautiful loaves of bread imaginable: crunchy, toasty crust, soft, fluffy interior, and the perfect surface for jam, butter, peanut butter, cheese, or anything else you like with bread. It comes from the "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook, an old cookbook with a red-and-white checkered cover and vibrant photos. The only change I made to the recipe is adding sugar to help the yeast activate. So easy to make, such perfect results!


  • 2 packages or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (instant or active dry)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 warm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit or about 43 degrees Celsius)

  • 2 cups lukewarm water

  • 7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 egg white (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast, 1/2 warm water, and the sugar. Gently stir and set aside for five minutes.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the salt and 2 cups lukewarm water, then add 2 cups of the flour. Stir to combine, then add yeast mixture. Add 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour. Turn out on a lightly floured work surface, adding the final 1/2 cup flour (if needed) and knead for ten minutes. 

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise about an hour, or until doubled in size.

  4. Once it has risen, punch the dough down gently, then let it rise another 30 minutes.

  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two portions. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Set oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, about 190 degrees Celsius. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and optionally sprinkle lightly cornmeal.

  7. Flatten each portion into a rectangle, then roll each rectangle into a log, pinching shut. Place each log onto a prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to score the tops of the loaves diagonally, every 2 inches or so. Brush the tops with one egg white beaten with one tablespoon water, or just one tablespoon water. Bake for twenty minutes. 

  8. Remove the loaves to brush with egg white or water. Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice and eat! 


Don't want the bread to go bad?

Allow the bread to cool completely, then store in a plastic zip lock bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to defrost before eating, then slice and enjoy! 

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