Home » Recipes » How To Make A Small Loaf Of French Bread

How To Make A Small Loaf Of French Bread

Easy homemade french bread recipe that makes one small loaf of soft and tender bread. Perfect for sandwiches, browned toast, or simply with butter and jam.

A whole loaf of french bread on a baking sheet.

This mini french bread recipe has been a long time in the making. I've actually been making french bread for quite a while now but scaling down the ingredients to create a small loaf of bread has been a little bit of a challenge.

It's no secret that bread making can sometimes be tough. Working with yeast can sometimes be a challenge, the dough has to rise and there are many other factors that can make a bread recipe fail.

Get weekly Cooking for One newsletter

Well, with this simple french bread recipe, I'm convinced you won't have any trouble. It's super easy and delivers great results. Below, I've broken down the easy steps and included pictures to help guide you on what each step should look like. I'm pretty sure you'll love this loaf of bread, we certainly do.

Why This Recipe Works

  • This is an easy basic french bread recipe. The dough comes together easily and can be made in a bowl although if you have a stand mixer, the dough can be mixed in a matter of minutes.
  • This bread dough results in good fresh bread no matter how it's shaped.
  • The loaf is a great size for smaller households. The recipe yields a small loaf of bread.
  • It's a great bread recipe to use with add-ins. You might consider adding chopped kalamata olives and walnuts or roasted garlic and rosemary to your version.
  • Everyone should be able to make bread when they want to, but people rarely do because they think it's too difficult. When you have an basic bread recipe like this one, bread making is easy.

Ingredients

See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

ingredients needed to make french bread including flour, yeast, and water on a wooden table.

Ingredient Notes

  • Flour: Use either all-purpose flour (plain flour) or bread flour. Both types of flour work very well in this french bread recipe. All purpose flour is exactly what it says - all purpose, meaning that this type of flour is the most versatile and can be used in almost every recipe you're making like cookies, pie crusts, and muffins. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all purpose flour. Protein adds strength to the dough and enables the loaf of bread to rise high. Dough made with bread flour absorbs slightly more liquid, so it's stiffer.
  • Water: I recommend using warm water.
  • Salt: Salt is crucial for flavor, bread tastes bland without it. Salt also slows down the yeast. If you don't add it, the bread will rise too quickly.
  • Active dry yeast: Yeast is a critical component in basic bread dough. I recommend using active dry yeast which is yeast that has been dried and given an inactive coating. This yeast must be dissolved in water before being mixed with the flour. Make sure your yeast is fresh for best results.
  • Honey: No granulated sugar in this recipe! Honey gives the french bread a delightfully subtle sweet flavor.
  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil in this french bread recipe as well as in every other recipe on One Dish Kitchen that calls for olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil. It is an unrefined oil and the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Because of the way extra virgin olive oil is made, it retains more true olive taste. It also contains more of the vitamins and minerals found in olives. It’s my favorite type of olive oil to use but you may use a lighter olive oil instead.
Slices of french bread on a cutting board.

Step By Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the dough

  • Add the flour, salt, honey, olive oil, and water to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water to allow it to dissolve. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and a dough hook makes bread making very easy. However, you can also mix the ingredients by hand (see below). If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment until the dough comes together.
two pictures showing how to make bread. One photo is with the ingredients in a mixing bowl, the second shows the ingredients being mixed in a stand mixer.
  • Replace with the dough hook to continue mixing for about 10 minutes. Mixing the ingredients develops the gluten, the protein in the flour that results in a dough becoming elastic. It's easy to over mix the dough, especially when you use a stand mixer. You know you've mixed your dough enough when you can stretch a small piece of it into a translucent sheet without tearing it. This is called the "windowpane test". To do this test, pull off a small piece of the bread dough and stretch it gently. If it becomes translucent before it tears, the dough is ready to be covered and left to rise. If it tears before it has reached this point, continue mixing.
bread dough in a red electric stand mixer being mixed with a dough hook.

First rise

  • The first rise allows the yeast to multiply and feed, which helps to flavor the dough as well as to develop the gluten. This gives the dough its wonderful texture. Remove the mixing bowl from the machine, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise to about twice its size. This will take about an hour or so depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • After leaving the dough alone for a while, push a finger into the dough. The dough should give some resistance, but not spring back. If it springs back, cover and let it rest longer.
bread dough in a bowl after the first rise.

Rest the dough

  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it to expel excess gas and redistribute the yeast.
  • Cover with a dish towel and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
two pictures of bread dough. One dough is resting and the other is with the dough covered.

Shape the dough and second rise

  • Shape the dough into an oval, or a boule, by pushing the dough back and forth on a firm counter until shaped. You can also make a baguette by stretching the dough into a rectangle roughly 6 by 3 inches. Place on a baking sheet and cover the dough with a dish towel and allow to rise, for 1 hour.
Bread on a baking sheet after the second rise.

Step 2: Bake the bread

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Make one long slash across the top of the bread loaf with the tip of a sharp knife. This technique is called scoring and it creates a weak spot in the bread's crust which allows the bread to expand without bursting in unexpected areas. Professional bakers use a scoring tool called a "lame". This is essentially a small wand with a thin sharp blade attached. You can just as easily use a sharp knife or a razor blade. After scoring the bread, brush with olive oil and sprinkling of kosher salt. Bake the bread for 18-20 minutes.
An unbaked loaf of bread on a baking sheet topped with olive oil and kosher salt.

That's really all there is to bread baking. This is my go-to recipe for making quick bread at home and this small loaf is a wonderful size for smaller households.

A loaf of baked french bread on a baking sheet.

Expert Tips

  • This french bread recipe calls for using active dry yeast however if you have instant yeast, you can use that instead. The two yeasts can be used interchangeably in recipes. The difference between the two is that active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before using while instant yeast can be mixed in with the other ingredients.
  • If your dough is too sticky and sticks to your work surface and your fingers, you will need to add a little more flour. As you begin to knead the dough, make sure your hands and the work surface is lightly coated with flour. If the dough is still too sticky, add a little flour to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time. This will get rid of the stickiness and be sure to knead only until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • If the dough does not rise, it is likely that the yeast wasn't active. If you're using active dry yeast, maybe the water you used wasn't warm enough. Also, dough won't rise if the room you're using is too cold. I often put the dough in my oven to rise. To do this, first preheat your oven for 1 minute, turn it off, then place the bowl of dough inside. Make sure the oven doesn't get too hot or you'll need to wait for it to cool off. Sometimes, just leaving the light on in your oven will provide enough warmth without turning on the oven.
  • If your bread is doughy in the middle, you've either under-baked your bread, or your oven wasn't hot enough. To test whether your bread is baked through, carefully turn the loaf of bread over and tap the base. The bread should sound hollow and the loaf should feel light.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Accurately Measure Flour?

In order for this french bread recipe to turn out correctly, it's important that the flour is measured out accurately. In fact, this is important for all baked goods. Whenever a reader asks me why something doesn't turn out right, whether it's my mini pound cake recipe or my oatmeal cookies recipe, the first question I ask is, "How did you measure the flour?"
Weighing ingredients is by far the most accurate way to measure flour, but it isn't a common practice here in the U.S.
A digital scale is useful for measuring and weighing flour as well as sugar. If you don't have a scale, you can still measure flour accurately. Here's what you do:
Use a spoon to stir the flour inside the container. You want to loosen it up in case it's packed tightly inside.
Use a spoon to scoop the flour into a dry measuring cup.
Use the flat end of a knife to level the flour across the measuring cup
And that's it! For this mini french bread recipe, 10-ounces of flour is 2 1/4 cups (285 grams) measured the way I described above.

Can I Knead The Bread Dough By Hand?

You can knead the bread dough by hand or in a stand mixer. Using a stand mixer is much easier but kneading by hand can be a very gratifying and meditative process. Another benefit to using a mixer is because bread dough can be messy, and many home cooks tend to add more flour which can add up and compromise the texture of the bread. In the end, you can make a very good loaf of bread either way.

How Do I Knead Bread Dough Without A Stand Mixer?

Mix the ingredients together with a large spoon in a large mixing bowl (Step 1 in the recipe).
After mixing the ingredients, transfer the shaggy dough to a lightly floured counter or large cutting board and shape it into a ball.
Start each stroke by gently pushing the dough away from you with the heel of your hand.
Lift the edge of the dough that's farthest away from you and fold the dough in half toward you.
Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour as needed if the dough becomes too sticky. Continue folding and pressing the dough and after about 3 minutes, the dough should begin to look smooth.
As you continue to fold and press the dough, it will become more smooth and elastic. This entire process should take 15-20 minutes

Can This Bread Be Made In A Bread Machine?

I’m really not sure whether you can use a bread machine or not, I’ve never tried it and don’t know what adaptations might be needed. This article from King Arthur Flour talks about how to convert favorite bread recipes to a bread machine – https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2018/04/30/how-to-convert-recipes-to-a-bread-machine

Serving Suggestions

A wedge of crusty french bread is the only side dish you need to go along with a bowl of soup or stew and I could easily make a meal out of sliced french bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil. You might even consider using this french bread in any of these single serving recipes:

Slices of french bread next to a slice of bread being dipped into red bowl of olive oil.

For this french bread recipe, I use the KitchenAid 6-quart stand mixer found on our store page and I love it. They also make a 3.5-quart stand mixer that you might find more useful in your kitchen.

If you would like additional information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

We now have a COOKING FOR ONE Facebook groupJoin us to share your favorite single serving recipes and find new ones too. We’d love to see you there!

Click HERE to join the community!

If you’ve tried this french bread recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see!

a loaf of french bread on a dark counter.

French Bread Recipe | Small Loaf

Prep Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Course: Breads
Cuisine: American, French
Keywords: bread, bread recipe, french bread, how to make a small loaf of french bread
Servings: 15
Calories: 78kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces all purpose flour (or bread flour) - (2 ¼ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt , plus 1/2 teaspoon for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil , plus 1 tablespoon for brushing over top.
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

Instructions

  • Add the flour, salt, honey, olive oil, and water to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water to allow it to dissolve. 
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until the dough comes together. Remove the paddle attachment and replace with a dough hook and continue mixing until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, 10 minutes. The dough can also be kneaded by hand.
  • Remove the mixing bowl from the machine and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise to about twice its size, about 1 hour.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it 4-5 times to expel excess gas and redistribute the yeast. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a boule (round ball), an oval, or stretch the dough into a rectangle roughly 6x3 inches to form a baguette. If making a baguette, seal the ends by pinching down with the heel of your hand. Place the dough on a baking sheet and, cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for about an hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400° F (200°C). Using the tip of a sharp knife, make 1 large slash across the top of the bread loaf. Brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt over the top. When the oven is ready, bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Slice and enjoy!

Notes

Expert Tips

  • This recipe calls for using active dry yeast however if you have instant yeast, you can use that instead. The two yeasts can be used interchangeably in recipes. The difference between the two is that active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before using while instant yeast can be mixed in with the other ingredients.
  • If your dough is too sticky and sticks to your work surface and your fingers, you will need to add a little more flour. As you begin to knead the dough, make sure your hands and the work surface is lightly coated with flour. If the dough is still too sticky, add a little flour to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time. This will get rid of the stickiness and be sure to knead only until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • If the dough does not rise, it is likely that the yeast wasn't active. If you're using active dry yeast, maybe the water you used wasn't warm enough. Also, dough won't rise if the room you're using is too cold. I often put the dough in my oven to rise. To do this, first preheat your oven for 1 minute, turn it off, then place the bowl of dough inside. Make sure the oven doesn't get too hot or you'll need to wait for it to cool off. Sometimes, just leaving the light on in your oven will provide enough warmth without turning on the oven.
  • If your bread is doughy in the middle, you've either under-baked your bread, or your oven wasn't hot enough. To test whether your bread is baked through, carefully turn the loaf of bread over and tap the base. The bread should sound hollow and the loaf should feel light.

To mix bread without a stand mixer follow these easy steps:

  1. Mix the ingredients together with a large spoon in a large mixing bowl (Step 1 in the recipe).
  2. After mixing the ingredients, transfer the shaggy dough to a lightly floured counter or large cutting board and shape it into a ball.
  3. Start each stroke by gently pushing the dough away from you with the heel of your hand.
  4. Lift the edge of the dough that’s farthest away from you and fold the dough in half toward you.
  5. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour as needed if the dough becomes too sticky. Continue folding and pressing the dough and after about 3 minutes, the dough should begin to look smooth.
  6. As you continue to fold and press the dough, it will become more smooth and elastic. This entire process should take 15-20 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Receive Our Latest Single Serving Recipes!Sign Up for the weekly One Dish Kitchen Newsletter!!

About The Author

57 thoughts on “How To Make A Small Loaf Of French Bread”

  1. 5 stars
    My first ever loaf – and it’s worked 3 successive times!! <3 One thing I did have to do was use some dietary fibre in place of flour on the second loaf, because I ran out of flour. It became a wholemeal-esque bread! Very tasty, but does NOT last long, it's so good!

    1. You can let bread dough rise overnight but it needs to be covered and stored in the refrigerator. I also recommend that you let the dough go through the first rise and refrigerate it during the second rise. The next day, allow the dough to warm to room temperature (the time it takes for the oven to preheat is often long enough) before baking.

  2. I’m a bit confused with dry active yeast I proof with the honey and water to activate them mix. Your Instructions say mix flour and other ingredients then sprinkle yeast how does it proof without liquid and the salt kills ?

    1. If you take a look at the photos in the recipe post, you can see that the flour, salt, honey, olive oil, and water are added to the mixing bowl. The yeast is sprinkled over the surface of the water so that it can dissolve (Step 1 in the recipe box).

  3. I haven’t bought flour lately, but I do have Plain Flour & Self Raising Flour in my fridge, I haven’t heard of all purpose flour before, can I use one of the flours I already have for this recipe?

  4. 5 stars
    I just made this tonight exactly by the recipe and it turned out wonderfully! So good and I love the cute little loaf. A note about rising: You don’t have to have a warm kitchen for bread to rise. I use an old-fashioned heating pad. Heat it up, put a wire rack over it and a potholder on that. Then I put my bowl of bread dough on the potholder and cover. It works like a charm.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this this week,(by hand), and although the shape didn’t turn our quite right. Husband thought it was the best bread I have ever made.
    Even though I usually use the bread machine!
    Thanks for the recipe Joanie.
    Have you book on order, should arrive soon.
    Best wishes.

  6. I am always trying to up my fiber intake, so would white whole-wheat flour work in this recipe? I have vital gluten that I could add.
    Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Scroll to Top