Gillian's Larder

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French bread

French bread

This a French French bread recipe. Our French bread flour is ideal for it, but any plain flour will do. Be sparing with the yeast; the amount suggested on the yeast packaging may make the bread taste yeasty. Please note: French bread will not keep—though you won't have trouble getting it eaten up quickly, even while it's still warm!

  • 500g / 18oz flour and a little more to dust the table
  • 300cl / ½ pint warm water
  • 20g / ¾oz fresh yeast or half that amount of dried yeast
  • A teaspoon salt
  • A teaspoon sugar
  • Beaten egg to glaze the loaf

You'll need a big bowl, a baking tray and a bowl for oven water.

Stir the yeast and sugar into a little warm water in a bowl. Wait 15 minutes until it froths. Add the rest of the water.

Add the salt to the flour and stir while you pour both into the bowl a little at a time to make a sticky dough. Knead the dough on a floured table for 15 minutes: stretch it with the palms of your hands, fold it back into a ball, stretch it again ...

Warm the bowl and plop the dough into it. Leave it to rise in a warm place, covered with clingfilm or a damp cloth. It will double in volume in two to four hours (depending on the yeast and the temperature). Drink something French to help you recover from the kneading.

Knead the dough again. Let it rise again: one to two hours.

Flour a baking tray. Heat your oven to 240°C / 465°F.

Before the dough has fully doubled, roll it into baguette loaf shapes. Put them on the baking tray. Cut slits in the top—use a sharp knife or scissors. If you want your loaves really crispy, sprinkle them with water.

Put a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven: French bread needs moist air. Bake for 15 minutes; drop the heat to 200°C / 390°F and bake for 15 minutes more. If you want shiny loaves, paint them with beaten egg between bakes.

Put the bread on a rack to cool. The loaves should sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom. Enjoy!

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I'd love to hear how you get on! You can email me at: gillian@

Good luck!