Crusty French Bread Recipe

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

This rustic crusty French bread loaf is legit. Read on to learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches  as you slice into it. Underneath that amazing crust, you’ll discover a soft spongy center. It’s the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. I literally ate 1/4 of the loaf in one day all by ‘ma self and buttered every slice (no regrets), and it makes a pretty large loaf!

This dough takes time but requires very little attention from you. The active time is probably 30 minutes max. If you have a free afternoon, you can make a classic upscale bakery quality French loaf that will impress anyone who sinks their teeth into it. I first learned to make this crispy bread from Bruno’s Kitchen – Bruno is French and he sure knows his French Bread! P.S. If you’re looking for a bread you can make on the fly, check out our No knead artisan bread recipe here (also quite good!). 

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

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Ingredients for Crusty French Bread:

1 3/4 cups warm water (90˚ to 100˚F)
1/2 tsp molasses
2 1/3 cups (290 grams) unbleached bread flour, *measured correctly
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, *measured correctly
1 1/4 tsp (1/2 packet) instant yeast (quick rise)
2 tsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
All-purpose Flour and semolina flour for dusting

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

*To measure flour correctly, fluff it up then spoon it into measuring cups and scrape off the top for an exact measure.

*Watch our easy video tutorial on how to measure correctly”

How to Make Crusty French Bread:

1. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand), Whisk together 1 3/4 cups warm water and 1/2 tsp molasses until dissolved.

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

2. In a large glass or plastic bowl, whisk together 2 1/3 cups bread flour, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp yeast and 2 tsp salt. Add water mixture to the flour mixture and mix until you have a single mass of dough. Using a dough hook or clean hands, knead dough 4 minutes. Dough should be soft and feel sticky to the touch but should not stick to clean and dry finger tips. If your dough is too sticky after kneading, add more flour a tablespoon at a time.

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

3. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (69-75˚F) for 4 hours. Every hour while it rests (3 times total), with a wet hand, punch the dough down and fold it over onto itself a few times (a wet hand will keep the dough from sticking to you without adding any unnecessary flour).

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

4. Meanwhile, place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet in the center of your oven. Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack and preheat with both in the oven to 500˚F (for safety, don’t use glass baking dishes at those high temps).

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

5. After rising a total of 4 hours, draw the edges into the center of the dough, turn over and place in a large well-floured bowl, sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with a tea towel and let rise 1 1/2 hours at room temp.

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

6. Sprinkle the back of a baking sheet generously with semolina and invert your risen dough over the top of the semolina. Score the top of the dough 3 times diagonally and then three times again in the opposite direction. Slide dough onto preheated baking stone and add 1 cup of ice cubes into the preheated cast iron pan below (making sure not to drip on any glass oven surfaces).

Bake at 500˚F for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 400˚F and continue baking 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Turn oven off, crack door open with a wooden spoon and leave bread in the oven another 10 minutes. Remove bread to a wire rack to cool and let it rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice. This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

 

Crusty French Bread Recipe

5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.
This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. It has the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Easy/Medium
Cost to Make: $3-$4
Servings: 1 large loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water 90˚ to 100˚F
  • 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 2 1/3 cups 290 grams unbleached bread flour, measured correctly*
  • 2 1/2 cups 315 grams unbleached all-purpose flour, measured correctly*
  • 1 1/4 tsp 1/2 packet instant yeast (quick rise)
  • 2 tsp salt I used fine sea salt
  • All-purpose Flour and semolina flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand), whisk together 1 3/4 cups warm water and 1/2 tsp molasses until dissolved.
  2. In a large glass or plastic bowl, whisk together 2 1/3 cups bread flour, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp yeast and 2 tsp salt. Add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until you have a single mass of dough. Using a dough hook or clean hands, knead dough 4 minutes. Dough should be soft and feel sticky to the touch but should not stick to clean and dry finger tips. If your dough is too sticky after kneading, add more flour a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp (69-75˚F) for 4 hours. Every hour while it rests (3 times total), with a wet hand, punch the dough down and fold it over onto itself a few times (a wet hand will keep the dough from sticking to you without adding any unnecessary flour).
  4. Meanwhile, place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet in the center of your oven. Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack and preheat with both in the oven to 500˚F (for safety, don't use glass baking dishes at those high temps).
  5. After rising a total of 4 hours, draw dough edges into the center, turn over and place in a large well-floured bowl, sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with a tea towel and let rise 1 1/2 hours at room temp.
  6. Sprinkle the back of a baking sheet generously with fine semolina flour and invert your risen dough over the top of the semolina. Score the top of the dough several times. Slide dough onto preheated baking stone with the help of a spatula if needed and add 1 cup of ice cubes into the preheated cast iron pan below (making sure not to drip on any glass oven surfaces). Bake at 500˚F for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 400˚F and continue baking 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Turn oven off, crack door open with a wooden spoon and leave bread in the oven another 10 minutes. Remove bread to a wire rack to cool and let it rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

Recipe Notes

*To measure flour correctly, fluff it up then spoon it into measuring cups and scrape off the top for an exact measure.

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

I hope you have fun and relaxing weekend (which includes soft crusty buttered French bread of course!) 😉

Can I take a moment to thank you? I just appreciate you all so much. It’s been a rough week and your sweet comments and recipe reviews are always so encouraging and inspiring. I’m so thankful for you all and you bless me in so many ways every day. You just have to know it!

Love,

Natasha ❤

This Crusty French Bread is the perfect blend of chewy and super soft. Learn the secret to the crispiest crust that crackles and crunches as you slice.

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Mac67
    January 27, 2018

    All I can say are 2.5 things:
    1) If you want to actually eat this bread before 7 pm, or any other normal time of day, start way before noon and;
    2) This better be the best tasting bread in the world because spending nearly 7 hours to
    make a single loaf of bread does not really make this recipe “easy” or fun or practical.
    It’s nearly 11 pm and I’m done with the nonsense of it all.
    2.5) Also, unless a pizza stone is different, I’m not sure why you would ever need to pre-heat a baking sheet for 5.5 hours.
    I give 5 stars because, well, why ruin it? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 28, 2018

      Hi Mac, to address item 2.5 :), I only preheat while the oven is preheating (my oven takes about 10 minutes to preheat). I’m re-reading the recipe and don’t see anywhere that says to preheat 5.5 hours. Did you maybe mis-read that step? Reply

  • Catherine
    January 16, 2018

    Excellent bread. Easy to do.
    Since I always weigh my flour it comes out perfect every time.
    Would you give weight for flour in No Knead Artisan Bread also?
    Thank you. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 16, 2018

      Hi Catherine, on the no-knead artisan bread recipe, 3 cups all-purpose flour is about 375 grams weighed out. Reply

  • Agnes rose dodginghorse
    January 10, 2018

    Do I have to use the molasses? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 10, 2018

      Hi Agnes, you can sub with 1 tsp honey if you don’t have molasses on hand. Reply

  • Veronika
    December 28, 2017

    Hi Natasha! Your recipes are wonderful! I have a question regarding the mixing of the bread. Can it be done in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 28, 2017

      Hi Veronika, yes you can absolutely mix and knead this in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment 🙂 Reply

  • Jeanette
    December 5, 2017

    I am going to try this in my bread machine. I will make using the dough cycle and then go from there. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 6, 2017

      Please let me know how it turn out Jeanette! Reply

  • Gabby
    October 23, 2017

    Hi Natasha! I don’t have this pizza stone. Can I use a regular baking trey? Reply

  • Lana
    September 15, 2017

    Hello Natasha,
    I love you recipes and looking forward to making this bread! I was wondering if you would be able to make a video of it any time? They really help figure out how to do things especially with all the folding for this bread. Thank you Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 15, 2017

      Hi Lana, that is a great suggestion and I will definitely keep that in mind! Reply

  • Olga
    February 12, 2017

    Natasha, thanks for this recipe. The French bread tastes awesome! I have a little bit of trouble with the shaping part. On the last inversion, it sticks to the bottom of the bowl, no matter how well I flour it. I use a glass bowl. Any special tips on how to avoid the sticking? Is my dough too wet? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 13, 2017

      Hi Olga, you don’t want to use too much flour, but I would suggest making sure your bowl is clean when you put it back on the last rise – scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula to get the dough off so that’s not what is causing it to stick then flour it generously. Mine will sometimes be a little bit sticky also but I’ve found it helps to get it out of the bowl by running a thin silicone spatula around the edges then inverting it onto your surface. I hope that helps! 🙂 Reply

  • Lauren
    January 13, 2017

    Excellent recipe. Have made three loaves now and each turned out perfect. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 14, 2017

      Thank you Lauren! You are welcome. 🙂 Reply

  • Natasha D.
    January 12, 2017

    Hi Natasha. I’ve never made bread before, however I want to try this. I made tvorog recently and you wrote to save the liquid, which I did. Can I use it on this bread recipe? If yes, how? Also, what is the purpose of cast iron? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 12, 2017

      Hi Natasha, you can substitute the whey instead of water in this bread recipe. The cast iron pan holds the water that is used to create steam inside the oven which creates a crisp crust. I use cast iron because it is safer in the oven when you pour boiling hot water into it. You never want to use glass because it can shatter at high temperatures when you pour water into a hot glass pan. A metal baking dish will also work. Reply

  • Tatyana savich
    October 26, 2016

    Hi, don’t have any semolina on hand, can I substitue it with another flour? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 26, 2016

      You can substitute with corn meal which is what I used with my no knead bread, but I do like the semolina because it disappears into the bread better, but the corn meal is nice as well because it forms a more crunchy base. Reply

  • Diana Aleshchenko
    October 23, 2016

    My dad says this is the best bread ever..and I think so too! Thank you!

    Do you think there’s a way to make it in the bread machine?

    I have a very good recipe too:
    1 1\3 cup bread flour
    1 1\2 cup wheat
    1 1\3 cup water
    1\2 cup sunflower seeds
    1 Tbsp butter
    1 Tbsp oil
    1 1\2 tsp salt
    1 tsp yeast
    3 Tbsp honey
    Small squeeze of lime or lemon
    1\2 cup flax ( I didn’t have it so I used one wetabix cracker)

    I made this in normal setting of bread machine and it’s very good! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 24, 2016

      Thank you so much for sharing. I will have to try your version! Reply

      • Diana
        November 7, 2016

        I found that 1 tbsp honey is perfect…and 2 tsp salt Reply

  • Frank Farrugia
    October 12, 2016

    We have tried this recipe and it is delicious. We have tried many others and this is the best one by far. Well done and Thank you. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 12, 2016

      I’m so happy to hear that!! 🙂 Reply

  • June 8, 2016

    I love this recipe and tried it but it didnt come out quite as nice as yours. I guess i’ll need more practice making it. Nonetheless, thanks alot for sharing this recipe and your wonderful pics. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 8, 2016

      Hi David, what was going on with yours that it didn’t come out as nice? I’m always happy to help troubleshoot 🙂 One of these days I’ll put together a video for this one! Reply

  • Teresa Hill
    April 28, 2016

    does it cost money to subscribe? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 28, 2016

      Hi Teresa, it is absolutely free to subscribe 🙂 Reply

  • Ella
    March 25, 2016

    Hello Natasha,
    I made this bread the other day, followed the recipe to the gram. When I finished baking the bread at 500F (15min), the bread was already golden brown. I was afraid to continue baking the bread at 400F (for another 35min) and risk burning it. Instead, I turned off the oven (after 500F for 15min) and let it bake another 10min. The bread came out a little chewy, but still edible. I want to make this bread again, but I can’t get the temperature and timing right. Do you have any advice for this? Please and thank you!

    Ella Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 25, 2016

      HI Ella, it is supposed to get brown on top to achieve that crispy crust. It seems like it’s too much brown but it really isn’t. Does your’s look lighter or darker than mine? Reply

      • Ella Stefoglo
        April 21, 2016

        When I turned off the oven, after 15 min, it was similar to the color your bread is in the last pictures.

        I’ll try it again, hopefully with better results. Reply

  • Valentina
    March 18, 2016

    You are amazing! Seriously!!!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 18, 2016

      You are so sweet Valentina, I’m flattered 😀. Reply

  • March 15, 2016

    Natasha Can I bake the bread on a baking sheet cause I don’t have a pizza stone? Or I have cast iron dutch oven… Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 15, 2016

      Yes, you can bake it on the back of a baking sheet. Preheat the baking sheet like you with the baking stone and then slide it onto the baking sheet. Reply

  • SANTIARA MATTHIJSSEN
    March 10, 2016

    hi.. nice to meet you
    i just get email receipt from you..and i will make it..thanx you very much

    Regards
    from Jakarta Indonesia Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 10, 2016

      Welcome to the site, I hope you’ll find many new favorites here 😀 Reply

  • RoxAnne
    March 8, 2016

    I’m curious if honey would work in place of molasses. I’d prefer to use something on hand instead of going out and buying something else. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 8, 2016

      Hi RoxAnne, I have only tried this specific recipe with molasses but I think honey would work. I would substitute equal amounts of the ingredients 🙂 Reply

  • March 7, 2016

    I love your detailed recipe. I would like to make it later! Thanks for sharing this great recipe! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 8, 2016

      Thank you Mitch, I had fun making it 😋. Reply

  • Julia
    March 7, 2016

    Hi, I was wondering if it has to be a cast iron skillet or if just putting ice cubes in a baking tin would work? Thank you and I can’t wait to try this at the weekend! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 7, 2016

      Julia, baking tin would work just fine. Let me know how it turns out 😀. Reply

  • March 7, 2016

    In the recipe for the Crusty French Bread Recipe – Your recipe doesn’t give a reason for the cast iron skillet when making this bread. We’ve made lots of bread and I’m guessing you put a cup or so of water in the skillet to keep the bread moist? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 7, 2016

      It helps the crust to form slowly which produces a real crisp crust. Also, it’s the safest thing to add ice cubes to at that high of heat. Reply

  • Ziz'ka
    March 6, 2016

    You won’t believe it, I made your no knead bread recipe using this baking technique yesterday in the morning and today I saw you posted this recipe with this baking technique.

    By the way bread came out so tasty. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 6, 2016

      That’s awesome! I’m so happy to hear that. Thank you for sharing your wonderful review! Reply

  • Anna
    March 6, 2016

    Hi Natasha, what a yummy bread, only one question, how many grams is half a package of yeast? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 6, 2016

      Thank you Anna 😀. One package of yeast is 7g and 1 1/4 tsp is a bit more than 3.5g so use 4g of yeast. Hope this helps. Reply

  • Greg
    March 5, 2016

    Just finished the second punch down. Smells wonderful already. For those who weigh their flour, I had to add about 6 more tablespoons to get the dough to start “climbing” the dough hook. It is a little sticky to start, but it has tighened up two hours into the rising stage. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 5, 2016

      Way to go starting already!! 🙂 Reply

      • Greg
        March 5, 2016

        It’s 3 pm here lol! Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          March 5, 2016

          Oh I see 🙂 Reply

  • Tanya
    March 5, 2016

    Thank you for adding grams in the measurements, I feel like it’s the most accurate! Can’t wait to try the bread! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 5, 2016

      You are welcome Tanya, let me know how it turns out 😀 Reply

  • Greg
    March 5, 2016

    Fresh bread makes any house smell like a home. Very good instructional recipe. I’m going to try it today. Everybody please make sure you don’t drip ANY water on your oven glass, it might shatter at these temperatures. Thanks Natasha, I hope your weekend gets better. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 5, 2016

      Greg, I would love to hear how it turns out and thanks for the tip 😀. Reply

      • Greg
        March 5, 2016

        My daughter said two things – OMG and amazing! Crusty, chewy and soft inside. I formed it into a long French loaf and placed it onto parchment to rise. That also made it easier to transfer to the baking sheet. Got a great oven spring from this dough. The long loaf only needed 30 minutes total to get to 190 degrees. Thanks Natasha! Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          March 5, 2016

          Mmm a long loaf must have baked beautifully! I’m so glad you liked it! Reply

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