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.

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.

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

5.0 from 10 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
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:
Skill Level: Easy/Medium
Cost To Make: $3-$4
Serving: 1 large loaf

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cups warm water (90˚ to 100˚F)
  • ½ tsp molasses
  • 2⅓ cups (290 grams) unbleached bread flour, measured correctly*
  • 2½ cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, measured correctly*
  • 1¼ 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 1¾ cups warm water and ½ tsp molasses until dissolved.
  2. In a large glass or plastic bowl, whisk together 2⅓ cups bread flour, 2½ cups all-purpose flour, 1¼ 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 1½ 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.

Notes

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

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

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

  • 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

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