The awesome aroma of freshly baked bread by itself will inspire you make this Crusty French Bread time and time again. However, once you taste it, you’ll definitely be hooked. It only has five ingredients, and the bread machine does most of the work!
Generally, Saturdays at my house are focused, in part, on making bread. Susan asked if I would make some sandwich size French bread for Jambon et Fromage. I said absolutely! I’m making lasagna for dinner. Therefore, the timing was perfect. I used this versatile dough for not only the smaller loaves of bread for Susan, but also a larger loaf for dinner!
Making the Dough for the Crusty French Bread:
I used the following five ingredients: Filtered water, Kosher salt, granulated sugar, bread flour, and instant yeast. I’ve learned through the years that the way to ensure perfect bread every time is to weigh the ingredients.
I added the five ingredients in the order listed to the pan of my bread machine, and set the bread machine on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle finished, I removed the dough to a floured piece of wax paper. The dough weighed a little over 24 ounces. I cut it into four equal sized pieces that were roughly 4 ounces each for the smaller baguettes. I was left with an 8 ounce piece for the larger baguette.
Forming the Dough into Baguette Shapes:
Working with one piece at a time, I patted the dough into a rough rectangle on a well floured piece of wax paper. Then I folded the long end toward me, and pinched the two sides together. I patted the dough again into a rough rectangle, and repeated the folding and pinching. Next, I rolled the dough back and forth on the floured surface to ensure that all edges were sealed. I repeated this with the remaining dough.
Then, I placed the four pieces that were 8-inches long for the sandwich size baguettes into the wells of my baguette pan. I placed the 12-inch piece onto parchment lined perforated French bread pan.
Finishing Steps for Crusty French Bread:
I consistently follow Julia Child’s advice for the perfect environment for the bread to rise. Specifically, I turn on my electric oven for exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds. After I turned the oven off, I placed the dough into the oven for about one hour to allow it to rise. Before baking the baguettes, I misted them with water and slashed each one three times with a sharp knife to allow further rise in the oven.
Update: There have been some comments that when the bread is slashed, it deflates. This will occur if you’re not ultra fast with the slashing. Laterally, what I do is to slash the dough once the baguettes are formed. It pretty much serves the same purpose and no deflating!
I popped the Crusty French Bread into a preheated 400° F oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the bread was golden brown and perfectly cooked. I placed the bread on a wire rack to allow it to cool completely.
I don’t think that there has been a time when I made the French Bread that I didn’t marvel at the result. This was no exception! I ended up with four baguettes that were the perfect size for Susan’s Jambon et Fromage, and one larger one for dinner. Yum!
Crusty French Bread (Bread Machine)
- 1 cup plus 3 ½ Tablespoons 9.75 ounces, 276 grams filtered water
- ½ Tablespoon Kosher salt
- ½ Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 cups (15 ounces, 425 grams) bread flour
- ½ Tablespoon instant yeast
- Add ingredients to bread machine pan in the order listed. Select Dough cycle, and press start.
- When the Dough cycle has completed, place dough on floured surface. Pat down, and cut dough into pieces. The weight depends on what you're making. For this recipe, cut into four 4-ounce pieces, and one 8-ounce piece. With each piece, pat dough onto a rectangle. Roll the long side, forming a cylinder. Press edges together, and continue to shape into loaf with tapered ends. Place on baguette pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Heat electric oven for exactly 1 minute, 45 seconds. Place baguettes into oven for 1 hour, or until double in size. Mist with water and make 2 to 3 make deep diagonal slashes across loaves with a sharp knife of razor blade. (See Tip 1)
- Preheat oven to 400° F. When oven has reached temperature, place in oven; bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Yield: 4 individual baguettes, and 1 large baguette.
- To avoid the deflating that often occurs when the bread is slashed right before putting it in the oven, I often go ahead and slash it once the baguettes have been formed. This way - no deflating!