Crusty Country Style French Bread

Total Time
4hrs 10mins
Prep 3 hrs 40 mins
Cook 30 mins

This recipe came with a Williams- Sonoma French Bread pan my In-Laws gave me for Christmas. (I have wonderful In-Laws :)) I have only tried this recipe in the specified pan and it is absolutely delicious! Crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The technique is a bit unusual compared to what I was used to, but it is well worth the effort. I don't know if it is the recipe, the technique, the pan, or a combination of all 3 that makes these loaves so tasty, but this is now my standard recipe. Just a note: This recipe prints out on 2 pages. Thought I'd mention it if you want to print 2 sided to save paper ;)

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 cups water (warm 110 F or 43 C)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 14 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 5 -5 12 cups flour (plus additional flour for dusting)
  • 2 12 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the yeast and stir gently to mix.
  3. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 4 cups of the flour and the salt. Beat on low speed just until combined.
  5. Slowly add the yeast mixture and beat just until incorporated about 1 minute.
  6. Increase the speed to medium low to medium and beat for 10 minutes adding more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (I used speed 4 on my Artisan when I still had it and now use speed 2 with my P600).
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  8. Form into a ball and dust lightly with flour.
  9. Sprinkle a little flour into a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. 45-60 minutes.
  11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  12. Punch down the dough and knead for a few seconds.
  13. Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl again.
  14. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. 20- 30 minutes.
  15. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down.
  16. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball.
  17. Let rest 5 minutes.
  18. Line a french bread pan with a clean kitchen towel (a large flour sack towel works well) and sprinkle with a little flour.
  19. Roll each ball into a log with tapered ends, about the length of the pan, and place on the towel in the pan. Cover with the overhanging edges of the towel and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  20. Position an oven rack in the lowest position of the oven, and place a baking pan 1/3 full of boiling water on the rack.
  21. Preheat oven to 425 F (220C).
  22. Gently lift the towel holding the loaves off of the pan, taking care not to let the loaves touch each other and set on a work surface.
  23. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and using the towel as a guide gently flip each loaf into a well in the pan.
  24. Brush off excess flour.
  25. Using a sharp knife, make 3-5 diagonal slashes in the loaves about 1/4 inch deep (6mm).
  26. Brush with the beaten egg white mixture.
  27. Bake on center rack until the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 30-35 minutes.
  28. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool the loaves in the pan until room temperature.
Most Helpful

This is the best French bread recipe I've used - and the Saran Wrap trick is pure genius. It's 1000% easier, however, once you get a stand mixer.

Lindsay B. September 11, 2015

I have made several French bread recipes over the years and when I bought the bread pans a couple of weeks ago, I too got this recipe. This is a keeper! When I read the recipe and saw that I was to use a dish towel, I thought to myself, "no way that is going to work". I used plastic wrap (2 pieces) sprayed with Pam. It was beautiful and so flavorful.

kathleenchaput_1641783 June 03, 2013

I`ve had these pans for years and their very handy! We loved the bread and I put it into my favorites to make again. It only took 25 min. in my oven, I also think that the bread shouldn`t be left in the pan too long after baking because the bottom gets a little damp.I also did like Carmen did and didn`t use the floured dish towel method. I will definitely make again, thanks for posting!

RECIPE ADDICT November 09, 2011