How 2 Make Soft Chewy French Bread Recipe

Don't stress out if you don't have bread on hand. Making French bread is very easy. 

See the ingredients below? 4 simple items you might already have on hand. 

3 cups (361g) Bread Flour 
1 teaspoon (6g) salt 
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast 
1 cup (227g) lukewarm water

I am not much of a baker, but I do not mind making French bread since my kids love it so much. The other reason is that French bread is hard to keep soft, so check out the 
10 Tips on How to Keep French Bread Soft.  Always fresh and always on hand with homemade and no more throwing away hard bread.


The dough:
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the water and incorporate until flour and water become a sticky mixture. Cover with saran wrap and let it sit for one hour. After one hour, lift the dough and fold it over onto itself six times, then cover and let the dough rest one more hour, repeat the same folding method as the first time. 

This process is similar to making Pretzels, see the photos of the flour mixture in my post Soft Pretzel Recipe.

After the second time, cover the dough with saran wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. 

Shaping and prepping the dough the next morning:
1. Prep the working surface with flour or lightly oil the working surface. 
2. Before removing the dough from the bowl, lightly dust the top surface of the dough with flour or oil. 
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold the dough over onto itself six times. 
4. Divide the dough into 3 portions for regular-sized loaves.
5. Spread each portion out into a rough rectangle and roll the dough lightly into a long log.
6. Take the two ends of each loaf and tuck under slightly.  
7. Place on a bread tray or a lightly greased cookie sheet.  
8. Place in a warm spot and let it rest for one hour or until the dough has risen double. 
9. Once the dough has risen double, spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and slice 3 diagonal cuts into the tops of each loaf, about 1/2 inch deep.
10. Optional: brush loaves with a beaten egg, making sure to get every single spot.  
11. Preheat oven to 480 degrees.  
12. Have a roasting pan ready, boil water when the oven almost reaches 480. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan and place the roasting pan with water in the oven on a lower rack below the bread baking rack.
13. Place the bread tray into the oven and lightly mist it with water.
14. Turn down the oven to 450. Bake undisturbed for 10 full minutes. 
15. Open the oven and spray the top of the bread with water. 
16. Then again at the next five minutes, open the oven and spray the bread with water.
17. Watch the bread at this point to see that it goldens. All ovens are different so just air on a nice golden outer and 20 minutes max. Once 20 minutes have been reached, you can turn off the oven and if needed leave the bread in there until it golden if it hasn't already.