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a loaf of french bread on a dark counter.
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4.75 from 24 votes

French Bread Recipe | Small Loaf

This easy homemade french bread recipe makes one small loaf of soft and tender bread. Perfect for sandwiches, browned toast, or simply with butter and jam.
Prep Time2 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Breads
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: bread, bread recipe, french bread, how to make a small loaf of french bread
Servings: 15
Calories: 78kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Large cutting board
  • Baking sheet

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