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The Homemade French Bread Flop

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a homemade French Bread failure. Because every single recipe I’ve tried so far has been a disappointment.

Which makes me wonder whether it’s more the baker than the recipe itself. Ahem.

I was all determined to try yet again yesterday. I searched online, found what looked to be a winner recipe, and I got to work dumping the ingredients in the bread machine.

About an hour later, I checked the bread machine and saw that the ingredients hadn’t really moved at all — even though the bread machine was on, the pan was fully locked in place, and the paddles were installed. (Yes, those three things have been the culprits in the past when I’ve had issues with my bread machine not mixing up the dough!)

Then I realized that the paddles weren’t all the way locked in. Aha!

So I got the paddles fixed and restarted the bread machine cycle. I thought all was well.

The dough looked beautiful and it rose wonderfully. But in my haste (since I was delayed by the bread machine hiccup), I think I under-baked the bread even though I thought it was done when I took it out of the oven.

The final result was edible, but I didn’t love the taste or texture at all. And it’s far from the amazing loaf I was hoping for!

So I’m back to the drawing board again… and I’d LOVE any amazing French Bread recipes or tips you want to throw my way. Because clearly I need all the French Bread help I can get.

Someday, someday, I’m going to be a Homemade French Bread pro. In the mean time, I’ll keep experimenting and hoping that the next recipe I try becomes the winning ticket.

In the mean time, though, I can attest to the winning nature of these bread recipes. I’ve made them all multiple times and they are family favorites:

My Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe

My Sister’s Bread Recipe

Homemade Breadsticks in the Bread Machine

Homemade English Muffin Bread

Bread Machine Buttery Rolls

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls (not really bread, but these are so good that I have to include the link for those of you who have yet to discover their yummy goodness!)

Have you had any recipe flops recently? I’d love to commiserate with you! 🙂

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  • nadia williams says:

    don’t give up on this recipe yet. if you think you might have underbaked it, try again next time.

  • Stephanie says:

    This is the recipe I use all the time. Very basic and simple, I use my kitchenaid mixer and pop it in the oven, I do not have a bread machine.

    • Crystal says:

      Looks like this must be a winner recipe; I’ve gotta try it! Thank you.

      • This is funny…I was just scrolling down to the comments to share my recipe! Hee.

        A lot of very beginning bakers have made this recipe and been delighted with it. And everyone I serve it to loves it. It’s surprisingly delicious considering how few ingredients it calls for.

        Don’t be tempted to bake it at a lower temperature…the 400 degrees produces a nice brown crust. The loaf you baked for this post looks kind of like it might have been baked in a cooler oven….it’s got a more pale look too it than French bread should.

        If it doesn’t turn out, you’ll just need to come visit me for a French bread lesson. 😉

  • Rosemary Crawshaw says:

    on a Pinterest recipe kick,thought I would try No Fuss Dinner Rolls,they didnt rise,were too dense,dont know if the milk may have been to warm or what,gonna try to salvage them in some kind of chicken gravy casseroletype thing hate waste

    • Crystal says:

      Oh, you’re creative to salvage them into a chicken gravy casserole. I’m going to steal that idea for my next bad roll experiment. I’m sorry yours didn’t turn out, though! 🙁

  • Cynthia M. says:

    Bread can be frustrating, I’ve been working on making the 5 minute artisan bread made from white whole wheat work (from Mom on a Mission)…sigh…. I get a nice loaf of bread but it doesn’t have the rustic quality it is supposed to…. If you undercook, there is nothing to stop you from putting it back in the oven. Consider it ‘par-baked’ LOL…. also I recently found out in my bread travels around the internet you can take it’s temp to see if it’s done…who knew.? I’ve seen all different numbers depending on the type of loaf, minimum 180, most were 190-210 degrees.

    • Crystal says:

      Unless you take it out of the oven, go back to your project, and realize an hour later that it’s under-baked! 🙂 I seriously considered putting it back in the oven — but then I figured it’d probably just turn into a brick!

  • I tried making chicken stock but added WAAAAAY too much vinegar. Then I made soup out of the stock. The kids actually liked it, but even the smell was too much for me.

  • Starla says:

    I have never been very good at making bread but I found a recipe that works every time. The receipe seems to be very forgiving. I get so many raves on it wherever I take it! I used a Kitchen Aid to make it when I first found the recipe. Now I have a Bosch and love how easy it is. I would dare to make a half of a recipe in a bread machine, so maybe this one is an option:

    I use only white unbleached flour, but I think she adds half whole wheat sometimes.

    Happy Baking!

  • The loaf itself actually looks pretty nice, it just needs to be a little more “golden”. I recently tried making a blue velvet cupcake recipe only to have it turn out Oscar the Grouch green – not very appetizing!. Fortunately this was a dry run before an event I needed them and I was able to change it to a red velvet for the party.

    • Crystal says:

      I think if I would have put the egg wash on it like the recipe called for (instead of being hasty and just skipping that part!), it would have looked a lot better. The taste still wouldn’t have been great, but at least it wouldn’t have looked ghostly!

      • Sarah says:

        I don’t use egg wash (or any type of wash) on any of my breads and they always brown just fine. I think the washes give it a nice gloss (and maybe enhance the brown), but if the oven is hot enough and it’s baked long enough then the breads brown without it.

  • Sarah says:

    This is the french bread recipe that I made yesterday and it turned out beautifully.

    I’ve gotten a lot of recipes from your site though, so I apologize if this is the same recipe you just tried!

    While I didn’t have a recipe flop with it, I did have a kitchen incident. While punching down the dough in the bowl I may have gotten a little overzealous and sloppy with my aim…and accidentally punched the rim of the bowl in the process…busting two of my knuckles wide open. So maybe I need some supervision in the kitchen. Ha ha.

    However my bread always flops when I try to use a bread machine. I cannot get a bread machine recipe to turn out to save my life. I’m a kitchen aid dough girl all the way. Although I think the problem is that all the bread machine recipes (all bread recipes for that matter) are written by people who live in a dry northern climate. Because in my humid southern climate I always have to add at least 1-2 full cups more flour than the recipe calls for, and that’s where being able to really see the dough and stick my hand right into the mixer bowl to touch it comes in handy. I think I just can’t get a good feel for how much flour needs to be in the bread machine from the start. If anyone has any tips on how to get a bread machine to work for me I’d love to hear it. I really want to love my bread machine instead of hating how much space it takes up in the kitchen and the fact that I can’t get it to work for me!

  • Donna says:

    French Bread (this is for 4 loaves so you might want to half it):

    Italian Bread:

    Your loaf looks pretty good to me!

    And yeppers- many flops here. Years ago when I first started making bread, my husband told me to keep it up and we could build a house out of ”these bricks”. 😉

  • Barely slash it. Do it quickly with a serrated knife–quick like Zorro.

    I make French Bread almost every time I speak in town, and it’s always a hit. (The other times I make Rosemary Olive Oil Bread).

    You definitely want the loaf to be nice and brown at the end. Better a little overdone than underdone.

    You seem to have already decided on a recipe, but here is mine:

    I’ve taught my husband to make it, and he does a great job, too. It’s really easy.

    It’s what we use for sandwiches, too. I became used to French bread for sandwiches while I was living in France, and I loved them!

    A pan of water in the bottom of the oven will help it to steam nicely, which gives it a crispy crust. It should be a very hot oven.

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks SO much for the tips! Very helpful! And I have to try your recipe, too!

      • Lisa says:

        I third Brandy’s recipe. I use it all the time and it makes a wonderfully delicious loaf!

        • BUSYMOM IN AL says:

          I use the Prudent Homemaker’s recipe too! It is wonderful. I have even made it with half white flour and half whole-wheat. Still wonderful!! It is very easy and has a really nice crispy crust. I make the recipe once a week which makes four rounds or two large baguettes for me – I always have some in my freezer for a quick dinner bread. Yummy!

    • I second trying Brandi’s recipe. I’ve had a lot of French Bread failures as well, but hers is really truly good – light, good rise, great texture and taste.

  • Glory says:

    Not a flop, but this is my very favorite bread recipe and it is really simple to make and turns out looking like it was bought from a bread store:

  • Laura says:

    My husband used to be a pizza maker (between college and his “real job”) so he wants a crust that he can toss in the air! It took me many, many, many tries before we FINALLY found a crust he is happy with : ) The process was frustrating and we ate a lot of “just ok ” pizzas – but the final result was well worth it. I wish you the same success.

  • Rachel in TX says:

    Crystal, if you want a real winner, try the recipe for French bread in “America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book.” It takes two days to make (you make a bread sponge the day before for more flavor), but it is not hard and tastes wonderful!!

    • Crystal says:

      Should I confess that I don’t think I’ve ever made a bread sponge before? That sounds all fancy-schmancy — and maybe above my baking levels!

  • Heather says:

    Oh my, I wanna try my hand at french bread too, but I think I will wait for you to find a good one 🙂
    My recent epic fail, burned garlic in a pan! I was making a homemade shrimp scampi and was trying to use my new pan and be all fancy, schmancy with guests and all. Needless to say, burned garlic stinks-literally-the smoke alarm went off and my face went flush! LOL! Luckily, we all had a good laugh and I started all over again and it worked, but man our house reeked like that garlic for another day or two!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I end up using the savory cheese and pepperoni bread from Good Housingkeeping but omit the cheese and pepperoni but even though I have a bread maker I always do it by hand. I’ve yet to have bread turn out well in my bread maker. I can make bread by hand and never have a problem I throw it in a bread maker and it never has the right consistency. At least you can make normal bread so count your blessings there LOL I still try though because the smell of bread baking is intoxicating 🙂 Good luck!

  • Stephanie says:

    Try the recipe on beauty and bedlam for french bread I make this a lot.

  • amy says:

    If you search pinterest for a no knead bread recipe, I think you’ll be really happy. You can roll the same dough out for French bread and letting the bread rise overnight gives it an amazing texture and flavor (like a $6 a loaf sourdough or gourmet loaf of bread).
    A good recipe is:
    3 cups of bread flour
    1/4 tsp yeast
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cups luke-warm tap water
    Dump ingredients in a large bowl, together and mix until there flour is mixed (2 mins max). Let set covered overnight or at least 8-12 hours. Shape as desired (can shape into round loaf and cook in a dutch oven or roll out flat, then roll up for French bread). Let rise 2 hrs. (If making in dutch oven, form in a dish sprinkled with corn meal. After two hours, pour or roll the dough in to your dutch oven that has been preheated with the oven. Bake 30 minutes with lid on and 15 minutes with it off.) Preheat oven to 450. Bake for 35-45 minutes. French bread loaves would be a shorter time than the dutch oven.

  • Ashley says:

    I use the recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and we love that one. It’s so yummy with pesto and olive oil for dipping.

  • I made Butternut Squash soup last night, only to have my husband tell me two bites in that he actually despises butternut squash. My 4 year old must have her father’s taste, because she requested oatmeal 🙂

    I have never used a bread machine, but sometimes french bread can be a little dense unless you roll it out into a thin rectangle and then roll it up into a loaf shape before the second rise. That’s the “technical” way to make it all flaky and tender anyway. Perhaps the bread machine made it too dense because it was one solid mass and not a lot of flaky layers?

    This is my favorite recipe to make french bread by hand.
    Maybe someday someone will buy me a bread machine…the grocery store fresh french bread is sometimes too tempting when I’m in a rush 🙂

  • June says:

    I would love a recipe for french bread in the bread machine that is gluten free.

  • Brandi says:

    I would love a breadmaker!

  • My mom has a fantastic and easy recipe that even I can’t screw up (I never make bread) ill get it for ya!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Bread is VERY particular about humidity for one thing…don’t be too hard on yourself!!

  • NaDell says:

    I use this recipe that I got from my husband’s cousin. I’ve passed it on to quite a few people and they like it too. I don’t use a bread machine, but I do use my kitchen aid to mix it.

  • Rebecca says:

    If you haven’t tried the artisan bread in 5 minute recipes (recipes all over the internet) then I recommend it. It is by far easier than even a bread machine plus you can use the dough over 14 days. I make french loaves, cinnamon bread, sandwich loaves , pizza crust, buns, cinnamon rolls the list goes on and on.

  • Sarah says:

    If you’d like a quick and easy recipe, I would recommend this one:

    I have made it several times, and it is very tasty, and easy enough for my college kids to handle on their own! I do reduce the salt to 1 tsp, because we don’t eat as much salt as most people.

  • anna says:

    Basic Baguette


    Makes: 2 baguettes
    Prep Time: 25 minutes
    Proof Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
    Bake Time: 18 minutes

    4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (may need more, depending on dough’s consistency)
    1-3/4 cups slightly cool water (70° to 80°F)
    1 tablespoon salt
    1-1/8 teaspoons Fleischmann’s® Active Dry Yeast
    A few pinches of corn meal (for baking)
    1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

    Combine flour, water, salt and undissolved yeast in a large mixer bowl Mix using dough hook attachment on the lowest speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides, and then mix for 3 minutes, on the lowest speed, scraping the bottom once. The dough should form a ball and wrap around the hook. Mix for another 3 minutes, or until the ball bounces back when gently pressed. (TIP: If the dough feels too soft, add more flour in 1-tablespoon increments as you go). Grease a bowl with a little vegetable oil, and then transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof for 45 minutes.

    Now it’s time to shape your baguettes. Separate the dough into two equal size pieces. Gently dust your worktable with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll your dough into a rectangle (roughly 6 x 4-inch). Fold the edge farthest from your body towards the center of the rectangle, and use your fingers to pinch to seal. Then fold the edge closest to your body towards the center of your rectangle and pinch to seal. Repeat these steps about 5 to 6 times, or until the baguette is about 11 inches long.

    Sprinkle the corn meal on a baking sheet (this ensures the bread doesn’t stick to the pan) and place the baguettes on the pan, at least 3 inches apart from each other. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until they have doubled in size. Use a pastry brush to coat the baguettes with egg wash. Use a serrated knife to score the top of the baguettes about 3 to 5 times.

    Bake in preheated 400°F oven for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

    TIP: You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    TIP: If a recipe ever calls for fresh yeast, know that 1 cube (.6 oz) of fresh yeast is equivalent to 1 envelope of dry yeast.

    TIP: Scoring is important because it dictates where the crust will break. It also lets steam escape and lets the bread expand more. If you don’t score, the bread will be misshapen and too dense.

    TIP: It’s best to score at a 45-degree angle.

    TIP: To know if your baguette is done, make sure the crust has browned, and if you knock the loaf, it should sound hollow.

    More Classic Breads Recipes

  • Jay says:

    If you have a dutch oven that can go in the oven up to 450, (Le Creuset lid handles melt at that temp!), you have got to try no-knead dutch oven bread. It is not a French bread, but more like an artisan boule. On there is a recipe (#398152) on which I based mine. I use 3 cups bread flour, 2 tsp sea salt, 1 1/2 cups filtered water, and 1 tsp active dry yeast. It is the easiest bread you will ever make! It has a great crust, but is moist on the inside, and will stay moist for days stored in a plastic bag on the counter. It is a one bowl wonder that will easily fit into your schedule because you mix it up 12-18 hours ahead of time. You only have to mess with it 2 hours before you bake it. Give it a try, Chrystal!

  • Christy says:

    It looks like you already have a few recipes, but I can’t help but share mine. It’s SO easy and SO good! You don’t need any special equipment and you don’t even have to knead it. It’s so easy that you might be tempted to think it won’t turn out well, but give it a try! I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t wowed by it!

    Christie-Christy Bread
    Yield: 2 loaves

    4 cups all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 Tablespoon yeast
    2 cups warm water

    You’ll also need a water spray bottle. It’s what makes the bread crusty.

    In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add water and stir until just combined. You’ll have a very sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 4-5 hours.

    After dough has risen, dump onto a greased surface. I usually grease my hands and a bench scraper or knife to keep the dough from sticking. Cut the dough in half and gently (as to not disturb the air bubbles) stretch the dough into a long loaf as you place it on a greased pan (a french bread pan works best, but a cookie sheet will do- it just won’t rise as much). Allow it to sit while you preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

    Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Generously spray the loaves with water every five minutes while baking (you’ll need two timers).

    That’s it! Enjoy!

  • Lori F. says:

    I gave up on the bread machine years ago because I had this problem many times. Over 10 years ago I switched back to the KitchenAid and have not had a bread flop since unless you count the couple of times I fogot to add salt to the recipe. No paddles, timers, etc. to go wrong.

  • Vivian says:

    I have been making your bread machine dinner rolls and absolutely love them! Just baked my first batch of frozen dough tonight and they turned out even better than the fresh batch. You are amazing! Anyway. Here’s a bread machine french bread recipe that I’ve been using as my “go-to” loaf bread recipe. I look forward to hearing about your results in your french bread search!

  • Rachael says:

    Just this evening, I tried making a custard-based ice cream (plain vanilla!). I used a Martha Stewart recipe, and noticed it was cooking egg yolks in milk just like my favorite pudding recipe (which I’ve done lotsa lotsa times!). I must have cooked too hot too fast, as all the egg yolks cooked out of the milk. Its just weird now… a clearish liquid and yellow fluffy stuff. Argh… 8 egg yolks and 2 cups of skim milk about to get thrown out (I’m reading blogs to avoid that process right now). I did pull out my “On Food and Cooking” to read up on custards and remind myself how to cook them. :::sigh:::

  • Carrie says:

    While it’s not French bread, my favorite Italian bread comes from Tammy’s Recipes and it is so, so simple–and yummy! Makes great garlic bread. 🙂 I’m having trouble loading her site right now, but it is called Italian Garlic Bread. It’s my go-to recipe now to go along with lasagna or other Italian dishes.

  • ShariB says:

    For a bread novice, this one has always worked. You can make one loaf or make into dinner rolls and then freeze. My tip is to place the frozen rolls in the oven while it is heating up to the cooking temperature. Then you are good to go.

    Good luck.

  • HeatherS says:

    I have made this recipe from Simple Mom many, many times. Just made it last night to go with our beef stew and used what was left to make my son a sub sandwich for his school lunch. It’s great and very easy. I think the secret to the crust is in the egg wash and using the ice cubes in the oven while baking.

    Sometimes I use this recipe and when rolling it up I add meat and cheese and then bake. The kids love it with either pepperoni or salami and ham and mozzarella.

  • Mandi says:

    I usually find that my bread looks like this unless I give the top a nice brushing of olive oil. It browns up nicely and really enhances the texture!

  • Erica says:

    I have used this one A LOT…its a definite keeper, but it does not use the bread machine. It makes 2 BIG loves..I get atleast 4 meals out of them for my family of 5. Stick with it, you will get it!

    • Thanks, Erica! I actually made 2 more loaves tonight. One for our spaghetti dinner and one for french toast in the morning. 🙂 The kids ALWAYS know what’s for breakfast the day after mom makes french bread. ha!

  • This is from an old better homes and gardens cookbook. It has worked every single time for me even after I have froze it except when I killed the yeast when I got the water too hot.

    oven 375

    5 1/2c to 6c all purpose flour
    4 1/2 tsp (2 pkgs) yeast
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    2c warm water (120-130)

    1. In a large mixing bowl stir together 2c of the flour, yeast, and salt. Add warm water. Mix until blended. Stir in as much flour until the dough is no longer sticky, but still elastic.

    2. Shape dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl cover with towel in warm, non drafty area. Let rise until double (about 1 hour)

    3. Punch dough down. Divide in half. Let rest 10 minutes. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.

    4. Roll each portion of dough in a rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting from long side, seal well. Fold ends under to seam and seal. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Cover with towel and let rise until double (35 to 45 minutes). Use a VERY sharp knife (I like my chef knife that is freshly sharpened) and make three to four 1/4″ deep diagonal cuts.

    5. Bake for 40 minutes.

    I have paraphrased to the way I do it that works for me. I don’t time myself except for the time to raise and I don’t measure the rectangle. I also don’t use the egg white mixture (1 egg white and 1 tbsp water) that is applied at second rising and halfway through the baking. I hope you find a recipe that works!

  • Jennifer in KY says:

    Also consider “steam” cooking your bread. At my family’s bakery (90 years old!)the “bread” oven has steam to it to keep it moister while cooking.

    Put a pan of water on the lowest shelf of your oven (put in boiling water) so that it creates a steam while your bread is cooking.

  • Kate says:

    We just got a bread machine, so I’m excited about these recipes!

  • Angie says:

    Ugh, bread! It is the ONE THING that I just can’t do well. I have tried almost every recipe listed in this thread, and every single one has turned out a dense, thick, flat, bleh bread. I am not dissing the recipes … like you, at this point I can only assume it’s operator error. But I too will soldier on! I have bookmarked the recipes mentioned that I haven’t already tried, and tomorrow I will try another, and then another, and then another. Until. I. Master. Bread!

  • C. Dazey says:

    Ok, I have made MANY loaves of bread, and a few of the tricks that I have learned are (in no particular order):
    1. Don’t forget the second rise (bench proofing). After you shape it, be sure to let it rise (usually about half of the time of the first rise). This also allow the dough to develop more flavor.
    2. When you slash it, you only need to cut into it a little bit (think 1/4 in deep). The goal is to let the bread expand as it cooks in the oven before the crust has time to set. If you don’t, then the bread will be dense.
    3. Using steam helps too-especially if you desire a firm crust. (You can achieve this by putting a metal pan in the oven while it is preheating, and then adding a cup of hot water to the pan when you add your bread to the oven. I would caution to be very careful with this though, as if you drop the water on the window in the oven it can cause it to shatter due to the temperature difference-don’t ask me why I know.)
    4. Bake it longer than you think that you need to. Bread should be a nice brown color. If it is pale, it will not have good flavor or texture.
    5. You can use an egg wash, cornstarch and water, or plain water to “coat” your bread before baking. They will all have different effects.
    6. Don’t cut back on the salt too much from what is called for in a recipe. Too little salt will make your bread taste flat.
    7. I find that kneading for about 10 min. by hand works great for nearly all recipes. You know that it has been kneaded enough when the dough is smooth.

    I hope that this helps! Once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t difficult! Best wishes!

  • Sontag B. says:

    Have you considered using an “All Purpose Bread Flour” instead of just your basic All Purpose flour….that is what I use in my homemade breads, however I dont own a machine and do it all by hand.

  • Oh no! That really stinks. This french bread recipe has turned out every time I’ve made it:
    But I’ve never used a bread machine with it, so I can’t make any claims about that.
    You can also use white flour with this recipe, or go halvsies on white and wheat flour. Hope you find one that works!

  • I have yet to really nail a good Pad Thai recipe. The last two tries I think I soaked the noodles in boiling water, which yielded a big pot of gluey noodles at the end. My boys ate it, but I couldn’t handle the texture. We can’t really afford to go to Thai restaurants right now, so I’m going to keep on trying.

  • I don’t feel so alone now. I can’t make good bread for anything. UGH. My mom has the perfect touch and sells her bread. I can’t It is so sad. I have had her come to MY house and make it WITH me. I go to HER house and make it WITH her.. nope. I give up. I am a failure. The only thing I have made fairly well is Naan and Pita Bread. I can’t even make pizza crusts well…. all things my mom can make beautifully.

    I have a bread machine and a Bosch. It doesn’t matter which I use…

    So I just buy my bread or beg my mom to make it for me. LOL!

  • Katie L says:

    This one isn’t a flop, but it is a french bread recipe that worked well for us. I’m not a pro at the whole egg wash thing, but it turned out soft & chewy, which is how we like our french bread. I made it with 3 c flour instead of 2.5 and I mixed & kneaded it in a mixer.

  • Emily says:

    This is a recipe that we really like (my friend posted it on her blog)

  • Diana says:

    I think French bread can be trickier than it sounds–that’s why the French people buy their bread instead of making their own! 🙂 And the bakers have super ovens and they let their doughs have long rises and all that good stuff 🙂

    Anyway, what do you want your bread to be like? 🙂 True French bread just has flour, water, yeast, and salt as far as I know. So it’s all in the consistency of the dough and the baking environment. I’ve definitely found the pan of water on the bottom of the stove to help! But usually I just make rolls–the loaves always feel like a lot of work to me! 🙂 Hang in there–you make other great bread, so you’ll get this too! You can also check out the forums on The Fresh Loaf ( for more specific help if you want 🙂

  • Lauralli says:

    This is my go-to recipe. French bread in an hour from start to finish? Yes, please! Now, it’s not any fancy french artisan loaf, but it’s great for us! Hope you try it and like it!

    P.S. I know nothing about the people on this blog–I can’t even tell you where they are from. I just know that I love this recipe. They have some pretty good other stuff on there, too.

  • Anna A. says:

    I know you’re a bread machine girl, but I’ve been doing a lot of bread experimenting lately too. I don’t own a bread machine, but if you are going to do it by hand – ie Kitchen mixer in my case – I’ve noticed a huge difference when I use SAF brand yeast. It really has helped my end products to reliable.

  • Jammie Eastham says:

    I make french bread all of the time, ditch the bread machine. Use the recipe from Taste of home called crusty french bread.
    1 fresh package of active dry yeast
    1 1/2 cups warm water
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 Tablespoon shortening-or substitute the appropriate amount of butter
    4 Cups of flour
    Dissolve yeast in a large bowl using 1/2 cup of the water. Add sugar, salt, shortening and last cup of the water. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled. Turn onto a floured surface, divide dough in half. Roll each in to 10×8 rectangle. roll and pinch the ends to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and rise until doubled. Make 5 diagonal cuts with a sharp knife in each loaf. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes.
    This recipe comes out with a lovely crusty edge and soft inside. Make sure that your yeast is fresh, or it will not raise properly. This recipe has never failed me for the last 13 years of marriage. It is worth a try.

    • JOYce says:

      Crystal, I wonder if you would enjoy a book by Mariana Honig, Breads of the World? It can be sought inexpensively online(and is still available in some local and state-wide lending libraries)…includes a French Bread recipe with steps to recreate. The PBS Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, Dominic Garramone, often shares book titles of inspiration from his library that have interesting recipes. One can nicely springboard from there ~ His blog:

  • Heather says:

    Don’t give up. But do give up on the bread machine! For my French bread, I don’t even use a hand mixer; I just whisk hard for 3 minutes. But a hand mixer is fine if you like. Still might want to knead by hand.
    Don’t use much whole wheat flour for your first few loaves – it really does change the result. Make it with white until you get the hang of it, and then you can experiment with adding in whole wheat.
    Your oven needs to be hot (at least 400), and the loaf should be much more browned than in your picture. Tap on it and it should sound hollow. It also looks like you may have slashed them a little too deeply.
    Water in the oven (for steam) really does add a nice crunch to the crust. If I don’t feel like messing with the pan of water, I just toss a handful of ice cubes on the bottom of the oven after I put the bread in, and it works great.
    True French bread has only flour, yeast, salt, and water. Only fat to grease the pan.
    Having lived in France, I will say that the only way to really get proper French bread is to go there. I think their flour/wheat has a different protein content or something. But making a French-style loaf at home yourself is a great frugal alternative to a plane ticket!

  • JOYce says:

    Crystal, I wonder if you would enjoy a book by Mariana Honig, Breads of the World? It can be sought inexpensively online(and is still available in some local and state-wide lending libraries)…includes a French Bread recipe with steps to recreate. The PBS Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, Dominic Garramone, often shares book titles of inspiration from his library that have interesting recipes. One can nicely springboard from there ~ His blog:

    Sorry 🙂 ~ I put the comment under Jammie Eastham’s in error. Don’t know how to delete it there.

    • JOYce says:

      OH…should have mentioned that the monk has what may or may not be a take-off recipe from Honig’s in his More Breaking Bread recipe book. Believe you’ll be very pleased with the results of following seasoned bakers…even whether following the main recipe or the bread machine version Garramone offers with most of his recipes.


  • Tracey says:

    Crystal there is a special pan that is used for baking French bread.

  • This is the “easy” recipe that I use all the time. I love that I can mix up the amount of whole wheat flour I use depending on the taste and texture I want. I also use the pan of ice in the bottom of the oven trick to help get a nice crust.

  • AmyH. says:

    Failproof French Bread –
    1 1/4 c. warm water; 1 tsp. salt; 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 c. all purpose flour; 1 tbsp. yeast.
    Layer them in your bread machine in that order. Set it on dough cycle. When cycle is finished, remove and shape into one large or two skinny loaves. Place on a greased baking sheet coated with cornmeal and let rise. Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes. No longer!
    I make this almost every day, and it really is failproof!

  • Caroline says:

    I had two French Bread flops last week! The first time I completely forgot about the bread rising in the oven (not on, just the warmest place) and we’re talking like 2 hours. It must have risen and fallen because it looked more like foccacia. I baked it and it still tasted ok but was very flat. I tried the same recipe again the next day and forgot about it rising AGAIN. Not as long but it still was kind of flat. I think I also didn’t roll it into a good enough loaf shape. So I am also looking for a good french bread recipe that I won’t screw up! My husband was excited because I was going to make French Onion soup. I screwed up the onions too so we didn’t get to have that!

  • MariaG says:

    Oh dear! So sorry to hear of your French Bread troubles. I am by no means an expert at baking but a friend passed this recipe on to me and it is a NO FAIL recipe, I’ve done it so many times sometimes with the recipe and sometimes without, so I know that I’ve done it without the exact measurements and everytime it yields perfect, golden, crusty french bread.

    Judi’s French Bread
    Dissolve: 1Tbs yeast, 1/2 C warm water, 1/2 Tbs sugar

    Combine: 2Tbs Sugar, 4Tbs melted butter, 2tsp salt, 2 C very warm water
    Then add yeast mixture to above liquid

    stir in 7 1/2-8 C of flour

    knead(10min), rest (15-20min), punch down, rest, divide in half
    roll into loaves , place on greased cookie sheet or french bread pan, make 4 slashes, brush with egg, rise, bake @ 350 for 40 min or until golden brown and sounds hollow when flicked.


    • chris says:

      I agree with a pp that your scores were too deep. I also suspect it was overproofed and that made it too dense.

  • Sandra says:

    This is the French bread recipe that I’ve been using and it hasn’t failed me once. I use it for loaves, mini loaves, and sandwich rolls.

  • Jennifer says:

    When I bake my french bread I put a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven. The steam will produce a wonderful delicious crust. It won’t look pale like yours.

  • Heather Gleason says:,1618,158180-228202,00.html

    I stumbled upon that recipe about a year ago and I haven’t tried any others since. It is a great recipe and has always turned out good for me, and my kids love it! It also works without the butter garlic and cheese if you would rather have just plain french bread 🙂

  • Dianna says:

    Crystal, I tried several French bread recipes that were just blah until I found “the one.” It is so easy, there is no kneading involved, just stirring every 10 minutes. It sounds strange but it turns out so well.

    You can see it here:

  • LK says:

    Try The Prudent Homemaker’s french bread, it was super-delicious and my whole family raved about it dipped in flavored olive oil for an appetizer one day. But it’s made by hand – I don’t have a bread maker! Maybe french bread needs to be made by hand?

  • Amy says:

    My favorite easy French bread recipe is James Beard’s French-Style Bread in his classic, _Beard on Bread_. I haven’t tried it in the bread machine. I knead it in my Kitchen-Aid for 7 minutes on 2 speed. Left-overs work great for French toast.

  • Helen says:

    This recipe!

    It is incredibly easy, only takes a few ingredients and it has never failed for me. 🙂

  • Carmen says:

    My husband is the king of bread in our house and has made this several times – as a big loaf, baguettes and even as rolls. It is turned out wonderfully each time! I would skip the bread machine for this type of bread. Give those arm muscles a little bit of workout :).

  • marie says:

    Peter Reinhart is The Bread King, and his baguette recipe is the best a home baker can do. DH, who is a baguette fiend, says these are as good as the ones we got in France.

    If you love bread and want to learn to make a really extraordinary loaf, I can’t recommend these books highly enough–your library might have them:

    • Jessica says:

      This recipe (and secret technique) was the keeper for us:

      It doesn’t require a breadmaker (though I make all my other yeast bread and rolls and pizza dough with a breadmaker). Be careful not to make the water too hot, or it will kill the yeast and then the finished bread won’t have the right texture. I prefer to allow the loaf to rise about 20-30 minutes before baking. But start-to-finish, I can make this recipe within an hour!

      Also, I use all-purpose white flour (bleached or unbleached). When I tried using white whole wheat (even just a little mixed in with the regular all-purpose flour), it changed the texture dramatically, took longer to bake, and never browned quite right. I will definitely not make that change again.

      The recipe makes two baguettes at a time. I have halved the recipe (but kept the yeast amount the same), and it worked out fine. Usually, we eat one and freeze the other. This recipe freezes well (sliced or whole–though ours have never lasted more than 6 weeks in the freezer).

  • Tina Rainwater says:

    Yes, the bread did look very under-baked. I have had great success using Julia Child’s “Volume Two Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. She has a wonderful, step-by-step breakdown of making French Bread. Very simple ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and water. I think if you google for Julia’s French Bread, you might even be able to find versions on-line. I wish you the best of luck in your French Bread pursuit!!! 🙂

  • darlene says:

    I have found the recipe from my bread machine cookbook for French bread turns out well for me. I use the dough setting on the bread machine, when finished, I roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, then roll up “jelly roll style”. cut some slashes in the top and allow to rise till doubled. Recipe follows:

    Classic French Bread
    1.5 pound loaf
    1 cup +2 TBSP water (75-85 Degrees)
    2 tsp. butter or margarine, softened
    3 1/4 cups flour (I use all purpose)
    1 TBSP sugar
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    2 1/2 tsp. yeast.

  • Angela says:

    I have made this and it was really good! I loved the cornmeal crust on it!

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