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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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.

*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 instant 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. 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.

5. 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.

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

4.99 from 75 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
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.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 10 slices or one loaf
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water, 90˚ to 100˚F
  • 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 2 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour, measured correctly*, (290 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, measured correctly*, (315 grams)
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (quick rise), (1/2 packet)
  • 2 tsp salt, I used fine sea salt
  • All-purpose Flour and semolina flour for dusting

Instructions

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

Nutrition Per Serving

225kcal Calories46g Carbs7g Protein1g Fat1g Saturated Fat469mg Sodium82mg Potassium2g Fiber1g Sugar10mg Calcium2mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Crusty French Bread Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
225
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Sodium
 
469
mg
20
%
Potassium
 
82
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
46
g
15
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
7
g
14
%
Calcium
 
10
mg
1
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: crusty bread, french bread
Skill Level: Easy/Medium
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 225
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

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.

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Rosalyn Springer
    May 13, 2024

    I’m living in London UK and love your recipes, your videos and your personality!
    Also have your new cookbook, well done!
    Rosalyn

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 13, 2024

      Thank you for that wonderful compliment, Rosalyn! I’m so happy you loved it.

      Reply

  • Pat
    April 24, 2024

    Well I may have totally ruined my bread. Thought I read the entire instructions but after 3 hrs of rise I noticed I was to punch and fold every hr. Well it got only one punch and fold. I’m just waiting now to prep for its last 1 1/2 hr. Before baking. We will see what happens. I’m so mad at myself for missing that part of the instruction.

    Reply

  • Sandra
    April 7, 2024

    Great recipe. Easy to follow, if you do follow it, carefully.

    Reply

  • Jerry
    November 26, 2023

    Easy recipe to follow and the bread has taste and texture. I think I have found my new go to bread recipe.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 26, 2023

      Hello Jerry, that’s nice to know! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • john pap
    June 18, 2023

    Ms Natasha, I did try this recipe but only had Active dry yeast. I proofed it using some of the water mix from the recipe so not to add more than needed plus added 0.25 more active dry yeast (according to yeast different types from yeast sites) as prior to adding it to the doe. After the 4th rising however it did not rise as much as the previous three rises. The last final rise of 1 1/2 hours rose but again less than it should. Once baked on the stone it rose a tad more, almost like your photo but the crust was super hard as well as the bottom. Actually hard to cut using a bread knife. Center was soft but not soft enough I think. What did I do wrong you think? I ended taking the rest of remainder of the bread to make your croutons, soft part of the bread and the crusts I made panko bread crumbs. I really enjoy your recipes and videos. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      June 20, 2023

      Hi John, when proofing, did you make sure to proof in a warm environment but not hotter than 110˚F? If the dough is over-proofed (for too long or too hot), you will exhaust the yeast and it won’t rise properly. I hope that helps.

      Reply

  • Amy
    June 10, 2023

    We’ve been making our own bread for 10 years. Generally, it’s sourdough, ciabatta or focaccia, but due to poor planning I completey ran out and needed a quickish bread to get us through until I could make more. Thank you for the recipe, it was a tasty alternative to our regular bread. I did learn one thing…when your husband seasons the cast iron with bacon grease make sure you throughly wipe it out before heating it to 500 degrees. LOL After clearing out the smoke, I heated an uncoated metal cake pan with water in it for 20 minutes and then tossed in extra ice cubes for extra steam before baking and, other than prolonging the baking process, it turned out great.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 10, 2023

      Hi Amy! You’re very welcome! Thank you for sharing that with us!

      Reply

  • Tiff
    April 21, 2023

    Awesome bread! It’s always gone so quickly because everyone loves it!
    Question: If I start the bread late in the day, can I pop it in the fridge and bake it the next day? If so, what do I need to do or consider to have it turn out right? Ie. bring it room temp? Is there an optimal step to begin refrigeration? Anything to do to the top so it doesn’t dry out? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 21, 2023

      Hi Tiff, I bet that could work! Here’s what one of my readers wrote: ” On another note – the second try I let the dough rise overnight in the fridge. Punched it down in the morning and let it rise one last time and it came out perfectly as described. Mark one more up to Natasha!!!” I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Debbie Turner
    March 15, 2023

    Hi Natasha, I have a Kitchenaide mixer. Could you tell me what number to set it at and how long to knead with the dough hook?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 15, 2023

      Hi Debbie, in general, Kitchenaid recommends using a dough hook on speed 2 for doughs. The timing remains the same as when kneading by hand.

      Reply

  • Connie
    January 18, 2023

    I was searching for a crusty bread recipe, per my husbands request. I’m so excited to find this website. The bread was perfect with excellent instructions. I have made it several times now and we love it.

    Natasha, could you provide info you slice the bread. I have tried a few different ways but always get lopsided slices, any tips?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 18, 2023

      Hi Connie! I’m so glad you tried my recipe. Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad it was enjoyed. The knife you use to cut the bread is important but there are other factors as well. You may find this article on how to slice bread helpful. 🙂

      Reply

      • Connie
        January 19, 2023

        Thank you very much for the response, this by far my favorite bread recipe!

        Reply

  • Connie Beith
    January 14, 2023

    Hi Natasha. I cannot find any recipe by you for just white bread. Not sourdough bread. I can’t find any. Could you post one on my email please.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 14, 2023

      Hi Connie! You can see all of the bread recipes that I have available if you click right HERE.

      Reply

  • Denise Davis
    December 16, 2022

    Hi, what are the cooking instructions if you use a cast iron Dutch oven?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 16, 2022

      Hi Denise, it works really well in a dutch oven in this 5-seed version. I have found the crust to be best with a pizza stone for this recipe though, but substituting would still work.

      Reply

  • Joseph Pero
    December 14, 2022

    The loaf we baked that came out with a hard crust softened up beautifully on the second day. Mama really was pleased with it as we baked it using a Montana farms NGMO bread flour because of her gluten intolerance. She is one very happy lady. Guess we stick with the original recipe. Thanks so much. We were really amazed with the rise and the two different shaped beautiful loaves we made (round and baguette) to complement your pasta fagioli recipe. thanks again, Grampa Joe

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 14, 2022

      You’re welcome! So glad to hear that. 🙂

      Reply

  • Connie
    December 14, 2022

    Excellent bread recipe!

    Could anyone share tips on the best tools-knife to slice this?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 14, 2022

      Thank you for your great comments and feedback!

      Reply

  • Connie
    December 14, 2022

    This bread came out perfectly, I didn’t have semolina flour to transport the bread to the oven cookie sheet but I used cornmeal. The bread slid right over easily.

    The only thing that I need to work on is the browning of the top of the bread, when does the browning occur? At the Initial cook time of 500 degrees for 10 min?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 15, 2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Connie! The bread starts to brown as it bakes.

      Reply

  • Linda
    November 17, 2022

    Can I use bread machine to make dough,then bake as per recipe?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 17, 2022

      Hi Linda, I haven’t tested that in a bread machine, but that may work. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

  • MB
    October 3, 2022

    I’m concerned about adding ice cubes to the preheated cast iron pan because all care instructions for cast iron state not to put a hot cast iron pan in cold water or it could crack. Since I have a cast iron tortilla griddle that cracked before I read about that warning, I have been careful to let my pans cool somewhat before submerging in water. Will another type pan wok as well?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      October 3, 2022

      Hi, if you are very concerned, you might try baking it in a dutch oven instead. Check out our Dutch Oven Bread here. You can use the same bread just baked in a dutch oven. Also, if you are doing this method, I found cast iron seems to be the safest but make sure you never use glass which can shatter.

      Reply

  • Betsy
    July 24, 2022

    My oven does not go up to 500 degrees, only 400. How do I adjust the baking time? Same issue to make the pizzas. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 25, 2022

      Hi Betsy, it will still work at 400, it’s best at 500, however. You will need to watch it closely but you may want to give it an extra minute or two.

      Reply

  • Oona
    June 27, 2022

    This was the best bread EVER!! It was super hands off, just a lot of waiting, but it produced an amazing, super crust, soft and DELICIOUS loaf of bread!! Thank you SOOO much Natasha for such AMAZING recipes!! They are truly all outstanding!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 27, 2022

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite, Oona! Thank you for your wonderful review!

      Reply

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