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Craving the unmistakable aroma and taste of freshly baked French bread loaf but don’t want to make a full-sized loaf of bread? You’re in the right place! Our easy Small Loaf French Bread Recipe is the perfect solution for smaller households or when you just want one loaf of bread.

With a golden crust and soft, airy interior, this easy bread recipe delivers all the authentic flavors without the waste. Get ready to elevate your meals and impress your guests with this foolproof, small batch bread recipe.

This homemade bread loaf is perfect for so many things! Picture it on top of some warm French Onion Soup, or alongside a big bowl of chili. And honestly, it’s just as good with a bit of homemade jam. Super versatile and super tasty!

Why You’ll Love This Homemade French Bread Recipe

  • Simple to Make: Whether you’re using a large bowl or a stand mixer, this dough comes together quickly and effortlessly.
  • Versatile Dough: The dough is forgiving and yields delicious bread, regardless of how you shape it.
  • Perfect Size: Designed for smaller households, this recipe produces a small loaf of French bread, eliminating waste.
  • Customizable: Feel free to add your favorite ingredients like kalamata olives and walnuts, or roasted garlic and rosemary.
  • Easy Breadmaking: Many shy away from making bread, thinking it’s too complicated. This basic recipe proves that breadmaking can be simple and accessible.
Slices of french bread on a cutting board.

The Journey To Perfecting A Small Loaf French Bread Recipe

Creating this one loaf French bread recipe has been a labor of love. While I’ve been baking French bread for years, fine-tuning the ingredients to yield a small loaf presented its own set of challenges.

Breadmaking often gets a bad rap for being difficult, especially when yeast is involved. From getting the dough to rise to avoiding common pitfalls, it can seem daunting.

However, this simplified mini French bread recipe is virtually foolproof. It’s straightforward, easy to follow, and produces consistently great results. To make things even easier, I’ve included step-by-step photos to guide you through each stage of the process. Trust me, this loaf is a game-changer, and we’re confident you’ll love it as much as we do.

Ingredients

ingredients needed to make french bread including flour, yeast, and water on a wooden table.
  • Flour: Choose between all-purpose flour and bread flour. All-purpose flour is versatile and works well in a variety of recipes, from cookies and pie crusts, to muffins. Bread flour has a higher protein content, giving your dough more strength and enabling a higher rise. Note that bread flour absorbs more liquid, making the dough slightly stiffer.
  • Water: Opt for warm water to activate the yeast more effectively.
  • Salt: Don’t skip the salt; it’s essential for flavor and for controlling the yeast activity. Without salt, your bread may rise too quickly and taste bland.
  • Active dry yeast: This is the yeast you’ll want to use. It’s coated to be inactive until dissolved in water. Ensure your yeast is fresh for optimal results.
  • Honey: We’re using honey instead of granulated sugar for a subtle sweetness that complements the bread’s flavors.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is the go-to for this recipe. It’s the least processed and retains the most nutrients and flavors from the olive. However, you can opt for a lighter olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

What You Can Do Now That You Have The Basic Bread Dough Recipe

Just the plain bread dough results in good fresh french bread but if you’d like to add in various ingredients, feel free to do so. There’s really no end to the kinds of bread you can make with this basic dough recipe.

The recipe variations all follow the basic bread method: mix the dough until you can achieve the appropriate elasticity, allow it to rise, punch it down, let it rest for 10 minutes or so, shape it, allow it to rise one last time, and bake it.

  • Olive-walnut bread: I love using chopped kalamata olives and walnuts. It’s a great combination that results in a purple hint of color and a tangy, nutty flavor. Add 1/8 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/8 cup of chopped olives to the basic bread dough midway through mixing. Let rise, shape, and bake as described in the bread dough recipe. After baking, brush with melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt.
  • Rosemary and roasted garlic bread: Fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme work well in breads and any can be used here. Peel off the outer papery covering of a head of garlic. Using a sharp knife, then slice of 1/4″-1/2″ off the top of the cloves, so that the inside of each clove is exposed. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the cloves, wrap it in foil and bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes, or until tender. Push the cloves out of their skins and use whole or give them a rough chop. I tend to use 3-4 roasted cloves but use as many or as few as you prefer (Roasted garlic is delicious spread over warm bread too). Add the garlic to the dough along with 1/2 tablespoon of chopped herbs before the second rise – before you shape the dough.
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How To Make A Small Loaf Of French Bread

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make a small loaf of French bread. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

Step 1: Prepare 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, also called proof, 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 lightly 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. The crust will become a golden brown.
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

  • Yeast Options: 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.
  • Handling Sticky Dough: 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.
  • Troubleshooting Dough That Doesn’t Rise: 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 for the yeast mixture 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.
  • Avoiding Doughy Bread: 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.

These tips are designed to help you navigate common challenges in breadmaking, ensuring your small loaf of French bread turns out perfectly every time.

Serving Suggestions

This crusty French bread is a fantastic choice for simple yet satisfying meals. Enjoy it as a side with a bowl of tortellini soup or chicken stew, or savor slices dipped in extra virgin olive oil for a delightful snack. Here are a few popular single serving ideas to try with this bread:

Each of these recipes perfectly complements the fresh, homemade taste of your French bread, making them ideal for a cozy, satisfying meal.

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 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.

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.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

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.

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 it!


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Easy Small Loaf French Bread

4.95 from 186 votes
Prep: 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 3 hours
Servings: 15
Learn how to easily make a small loaf of French bread, perfect for beginners. Follow this simple recipe for a delicious bread with a golden crust and a soft, fluffy center. Perfect for sandwiches, browned toast, or simply with butter and jam.

Ingredients 
 

  • 10 ounces all purpose flour (or bread flour) – (2 ¼ cups for a single loaf. If doubling the recipe, use 4 ½ 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
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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 6×3 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!

Video

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.

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321 Comments

  1. Sam says:

    8 ounces isn’t about 2.5 cups of flour. Please explain.

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      The recipe calls for 10 ounces of flour. This is a weight measurement, not a volume measurement. So, as stated in the recipe, 10 ounces of flour is 2 1/4 cups of flour when measured with a dry measuring cup following the instructions in the recipe.

  2. Deborah says:

    Hi Joni,
    I tried your recipe, and I have to say it is the best homemade French bread recipe. I’ve tried since being back in the United States. I did let it firm it for 36 hours before the final rise. I lived in Europe for many years, and will be starting a business soon, and this bread will be what I served to my customers. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes because you seem to have the right formula. Thank you!

  3. Deborah says:

    Hi Joni,
    My name is Deborah. I have tried a lot of different bread recipes, but this one is the best I have ever tried. It really is delicious. I am going to be starting an INN within the next few months. This is going to be my bread to serve to people. I did let it ferment in the refrigerator for about 36 hours before the final rising.
    I lived in Europe and had bread from many different countries and I have to say since I’ve been home this is the first time I have found one that qualifies as a delicious homemade French bread. I will be trying more of your recipes, especially breads, because you seem to have the right formula for people who cook at home.
    Thank you for this delicious recipe and I’m going to be looking forward to trying more of them.

  4. Renee Grow says:

    This is my go to recipe for the two of us! I’ve used it several times with great flavor and texture. Thanks!

  5. Vicki tann says:

    I made the bread today and it was great!!! Thanks for a great recipe.

  6. Martha says:

    I just love this recipe, thank you I make double every week,

  7. Sharon R says:

    Excellent recipe. It’s great finding a bread recipe that makes a smaller loaf. Followed the recipe exact, the tips were helpful and the bread turned out perfectly!

  8. Julie Ann says:

    I’ve made this bread repeatedly and it’s one of my go to bread recipes. I have experimented with using a mix of AP flour and whole wheat with various results, depending on the ratio. The bread won’t rise as much with whole wheat flour but it works out if you use about a third of whole wheat flour. You need the AP flour for lightness. Really great recipe and I make it often.

  9. Mary Beth Zeller says:

    One more question please.
    Can I use whole wheat flour? Trying to get healthier as my hubby has cancer…..
    Thank you in advance 😀

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I haven’t tested this French bread recipe with whole wheat flour, so I can’t guarantee the results. Whole wheat flour behaves differently than all-purpose flour, especially in terms of texture and moisture absorption. If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out for you.

      1. Suzanne Lebel says:

        I made your bread today exactly to your direction. Turned out beautifully and delicious. Thank you

  10. Sheri says:

    Love it. The right size!
    Thank you so much for having the Stand mixer . I have arthritis in my hands.
    I can also make Garlic toast with it!