About This French Bread in Bread Machine
This French Bread in bread machine recipe makes 2 short loaves with several options. And, if you want a 2 lb. dough, tap the 1.5x on the “Recipe Resizer” feature. Typically, French bread going to be long, skinnier loaves and not real wide. Or, it can be one long loaf by skipping the optional step of cutting the dough in half. It also illustrates how to have a crusty or a soft crust.
This bread is super chewy and is excellent for subs, slices for dipping or garlic bread, or bulk tearing off chunks for serving. You can make French Bread using bread machines easily. Vital Wheat Gluten is optional but it does add an extra level to its chewiness. There are notes for dry and cold storage below as well.
French Bread from Bread Machine to Oven
- 1⅔ cups buttermilk Alternative: 1⅓ cups milk (in place of every 1⅔ cups buttermilk)
- 3 tsp salt non-iodized, coarse or sea salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 cups bread flour
- 3 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten optional (for more chewiness)
- 1 tsp active, dry yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil for baking sheet
- 2 tbsp corn meal mix for baking sheet
- 1 medium egg Optional: Egg white whisked with 1 tsp water (only if softer crust is desired)
- ½ cup water Optional: water for oven (for steaming)
- Place all "Main Ingredients" in their order into the bread-maker (liquids first).
- Start the Bread maker using the standard "dough" setting. If using a Zojirushi brand, that setting is usually course # 11 (dough).
Shaping the Dough
- After the dough is ready, remove it from the Bread maker and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Make it into a rectangular shape about 24 inches long and about 8-12 inches wide.
- You can make either one long loaf or cut it now into two for 12-inch (max) to 18-inch (longer, thinner) loaves. The longer, thinner loaves are more traditionally French.
- From the long side, roll it up to maintain the long length. Pinch the seam & ends closed (using water as a sealant).
Baking Sheet Preparation
- Lightly oil a baking sheet (olive oil or cooking spray). Sprinkle the sheet lightly with corn meal (maybe about 2 Tbsp.). Lay each dough loaf onto the baking sheet, seam side down. If there are 2 loaves, space them apart by about 3-inches minimum. Cut angled slits on the top, about 3-inches apart and ½-inch deep.
- Cover the dough loaf/loaves with a cloth for about 40 minutes to rise about double in size. About 15 minutes before this rest period is done, set the oven to preheat to 375°F.
- When rest period is done, prepare for the type of desired crust. For crusty results, lightly brush the top(s) with olive oil. Or, for softer crust, brush the top(s) with water (or with egg white whisked with 1 tsp water.
- If your oven bottom is designed for allowing it, pour the referenced "water for oven" there. Then, bake dough for about 30-35 minutes.
Serving After Baking
- Remove bread from the oven and place onto a wire rack (or other surface for aerated cooling) to cool for about 10 minutes at least.
- IF SERVING NOW: For dipping in a seasoned oil, you can slice a loaf anywhere from about 1/3 to 2/3-inch thick. For just standard French Bread slices, consider about 1-inch thick.
Nearly Any Kind of Bread Machine Can Be Used
We make this in the Zojirushi bread maker but there are no steps specifically for that kind of bread machine. In other words, you can make this recipe in your own bread maker, as long as you just put in the ingredients as mentioned in the recipe and start it on
How to Impact the French Bread Crust: For Soft or Crusty
When rest period is done, prepare for the type of desired crust. For crusty results, lightly brush the top(s) with olive oil. Or, for softer crust, brush the top(s) with water (or with egg white whisked with 1 tsp water.
If your oven isn’t designed for receive water for steaming, you have another option. You can place another baking sheet (or other baking container) with the water in it, below the bread shelf. The steaming effect will enhance the overall bread.
After you’ve made French Bread in bread machines and baked them, you can store the excess loaves. Any unsliced loaves or slices can be put into an appropriate bread bag for storage. Typically, you use a thinner bread bag for hard crusts and a thick bag for maintaining soft crusts. For freezing, if using a thin bread bag (for a hard crust), you’ll possibly want to put that bagged bread also into a thicker plastic bag to avoid freezer burns and hard bread.
Also, please know that the bakery chefs don’t like the idea of refrigerating nor freezing baked bread, as it changes its consistency, longevity when thawed, and flavor. But, my wife and I are fine with it and do it all the time. I just ensure I use appropriate bagging for storage. We save valuable time, effort, and money. And it still tastes great to us!
Thawing and Serving
Remove the loaves from the freezer (or refrigerator) and leave them in their one bag (if you double-bagged, you can remove the outer one). After the bagged bread has set out for about 1-2 hours, they’re ready for serving. Or, they can removed from all bags and heated in a 350 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes (on the oven shelf or on a baking sheet). You can optionally sprinkler (by hand) some water droplets across the loaves to aid in moisture retention.