French Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
  • Dough:
  • 1¼ cups very warm water
  • 3 tbs shortening (i.e. Crisco)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp instant yeast (bread machine or SAF)
  • 3-4 cups bread flour (all-purpose is fine too)
  • For Brushing Top:
  • cold water
  • Egg White Glaze:
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tbs cold water
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • For Pan:
  • 2 tbs yellow cornmeal or semolina flour
  • Parchment paper*
  1. Mix all dough ingredients. Start with the minimum amount of flour. Dough should be silky but not sticky and have a firmish texture.
  2. Knead either by machine or hand. With machine, attach dough hook and knead for 5-8 minutes. Knead by hand 8-10 minutes.
  3. You may use a bread machine for the mixing and first rise. Follow manufacturer's directions for adding ingredients and use the "DOUGH" cycle.
  4. Place a little oil in a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, coating bottom of dough with the oil. Turn dough oil side up and cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
  5. (I use the oven-rise method. Before you put the bowl of dough in, turn on the oven. Let it run for about 30 seconds once you hear the heat come up, then turn the oven off. Put the bowl of dough in and it rises in the perfect environment)
  6. When dough is double in bulk, punch down, cover and let rise again until double in bulk; about 30 minutes. If you are using a bread machine, if there is a cycle for a 2nd rise, use that. If not, remove and follow directions from placing in the oiled bowl.
  7. When the 2nd rise is up, punch down dough and roll out in a 10 x 15 -inch rectangle. Roll up tightly from long side; seal seam. Roll the log of dough by placing hands at the 2 ends thus ending up with skinnier ends and a fatter middle.
  8. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Dust with the cornmeal or semolina flour. *If not using parchment, grease baking sheet lightly and sprinkle with the cornmeal/semolina flour.
  9. Place shaped dough on prepared baking sheet. With sharp knife or razor blade, cut a ¼-inch deep slit down center or make 3 short diagonal slashes across top of dough. Brush top with cold water.
  10. Let rise UNCOVERED in a warm draft-free place (I use the unlit oven) for 1½ hrs.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush top of loaf again with cold water.
  12. Mix the water with the egg white and set aside.
  13. Bake bread for 20 minutes. Brush with egg white glaze and sprinkle with a topping if using. Return to oven and bake an additional 25 minutes.
  14. Makes 1 large loaf.
Recipe by The Midnight Baker at