I like bread a lot.
No, I love bread.
I could probably eat an entire loaf of hot, homemade French bread….all by myself.
Yes, yes I could. But I won’t. (Even though I really want to!)
I’ve been making this French bread recipe for years. I go through seasons when I bake all of our family’s bread, and this is my go-to recipe. This food processor method makes it a relatively easy task, once you get the hang of it.
Just remember: Baking bread is a little bit about following a recipe and a little bit about technic. It’s a bit about practice, and a bit about luck. So be patient. Give it a try. And then try a couple more times.
Eventually, you’ll know just how the dough should look and feel at each stage. That’s a lovely place to be!
Start out by putting the top oven rack in its lowest position, and preheat to 200° F. You’ll be using the warm oven to help the bread rise quickly and consistently.
Put the plastic dough hook into the food processor.
Toss in five cups of the flour, the salt, sugar, and yeast. I use “instant yeast” that I get in bulk, but you can also use the little packets. It’s either two packets, or a total of four and a half teaspoons.
Give the machine a whirl to combine all the dry ingredients.
Heat two cups of water to about 125° F. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into the measuring cup of heated water.
This is where it gets interesting. With the machine running, SLOWLY pour the water and oil through the spout in the lid of the food processor.
Let the machine continue to spin a few more times after the water is completely added. The dough will likely be way too wet at this point.
Take off the lid and add a little more flour, about a quarter or half cup at a time, spinning it around after each addition.
Watch carefully for the dough to start coming together into a ball. It will look a little “shaggy” at first.
You do NOT want to add any more flour than absolutely necessary! To check if the dough is the right consistency, touch gently with an open hand. If the dough is still tacky enough to stick to your hand, keep adding the flour a little bit at a time.
This is what you’re looking for. The dough should just barely stick to an open hand. Not too wet, but not too dry. It’s just right. (Goldilocks would be proud.)
Before taking the dough out of the food processor, prep a large bowl by pouring about a tablespoon of olive oil (just eyeball it) into the bottom. Use your hand to rub it around the bottom and sides of the bowl.
With the oily hand, pull the dough out of the food processor and remove the dough hook. The oil on your hands will make it much easier to tuck it into a ball without getting dough stuck all over.
Plop the ball upside down into the bowl to oil the smooth side of the dough. Flip it back over so the smooth side is on the upside, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.
Now, turn the oven off (Did you hear me? TURN IT OFF!) and put the covered bowl in there for about half an hour, until it is doubled in size.
A warm oven is my big secret for speeding up the bread-making process. Guard the secret carefully, young Jedi.
If it doesn’t look like the dough has risen enough after thirty minutes, give it five more minutes so it’s all nice and happy. Grease a large baking pan while you wait.
Remove the bowl from the oven, dip your fist into some flour, and punch down the dough. This is my favorite part. Don’t ask me why I enjoy punching something over and over. We probably don’t want to go there.
Dump out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces.
Roll out one piece of the dough into a large rectangle, approximately twelve-inches wide.
To make a loaf, start rolling up the dough.
Pinch it together with your thumb after each roll. If the dough sticks to your hand, just dip your thumb into some flour.
Keep rolling and pinching until you get to the end.
Then, pull up that loose end and pinch it together with the rest of the loaf to seal it up.
Place the loaf, seam side down, on one side of the greased baking sheet and tuck the ends under to finish it off.
Do the exact same thing for the second ball of dough. Then cut five or six slashes diagonally across the top of the loaves and lightly cover with a piece of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
Let the bread rise for about half an hour. A few minutes before you expect it to be done rising, move the oven rack back to the middle position and preheat the to 375° F. When the loaves have doubled, remove the plastic wrap and pop into the hot oven.
Bake until it’s all pretty and golden and you think you can’t take the lovely smell for one more minute without tasting it.
If you can muster any self-control, let the bread cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before slicing. Then, eat half a loaf before your children come in and begin begging for samples. Just a suggestion.
Now, here’s the printable recipe…
- 5-6 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 pkg. (or 4 1/2 tsp.) active dry or instant yeast
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Move top oven rack to it's lowest position and preheat to 200° F.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough hook, put 5 cups of the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Turn on the machine to combine the dry ingredients.
- Heat the water to 120 to 130° F. Add the oil to the measuring cup of water. With the food processor running, pour in the water and oil mixture very slowly through the spout in the lid. Continue pouring until all of the liquids have been added. Allow to spin a couple more times. The dough will be very wet at this point.
- Remove the lid and add some of the remaining flour, a quarter cup at a time, until the dough comes together into a somewhat smooth ball. The dough should not be tacky, but also should not be too dry.
- Pour a small amount of olive oil into a large bowl and spread around the bottom and sides with your hand. Using the oiled hand, remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a ball. Place the ball into the oiled bowl, smooth side down, and flip it over once so the entire dough ball is oiled and the smooth side is up. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap.
- Turn off the oven! Place covered bowl in warm oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, grease a large baking sheet.
- Once doubled, punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide dough into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a large rectangle, approximately 12-inches wide. To make a loaf, roll up the dough with your hands, pinching it together after each turn. Place the loaf on the greased baking sheet and tuck under the ends of the dough. Repeat with second loaf. Using a sharp knife, slash the tops of the loaves 5 or 6 times. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for approximately 30 minutes, or until doubled.
- While the dough is rising, move the top oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375° F. When the loaves have doubled, remove plastic wrap and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow to cool on wire racks.