Diane's No Fail French Bread

French bread. Light, airy stuff you buy in a paper bag or a plastic sack at the grocery. I used to buy it all of the time. Still do when I'm in a hurry. When we moved here 100 years ago, my friend Diane made a loaf of this for me. Wow, I thought. This is really good. Kind of almost chewy texture, without being too dense. Beautiful, golden. The loaf was huge. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me that it turned out perfect every time (this is the Pollyanna coming out in her, I thought). But she was right. In all of the years I have been making this- it, or I, have never failed. Great things about this bread: It really is so easy. It blows the socks off of that grocery store French Bread you have been buying. It makes the best french toast. I'll post that in a day or two. Just found a new and improved recipe for French Toast ( I know I was thinking the same thing, a recipe for French Toast??) you are going to love it. So make this tonight or tomorrow, and save a loaf.

Diane's No Fail French Bread

2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (yes tablespoon) salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups flour, divided
1 egg, beaten- for glazing bread

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. In a separate large bowl combine hot water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir well. Add the yeast mixture to the hot water-flour mixture. Mix together with large wooden spoon or paddle attachment. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. After all of the flour is added, let sit for 10 minutes, Stir. Repeat 5 times.
Divide the dough in half. Roll in a 9x12 rectangle on a floured surface. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll (long way). Place the dough on a greased baking pan (jelly roll pan), with the seam side down. Both loaves fit on one pan. Score the bread across the top 3 or 4 times, and brush with beaten egg. Let rise for 30 minutes in warm place. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes in lower half of oven, until golden brown.
Yield 2 large loaves french bread.

-I make this all of the time in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Just use the paddle attachment until you have mixed in the first 3 cups of flour. Then switch to the dough hook to mix in the final 3 cups of flour.
-I often forget the mixing down step (5 times every 10 minutes) and have never had a problem with the bread turning out perfect. Just make sure the bread raises in the bowl until it has almost doubled in size, or for about 45 minutes. Then proceed to the rolling out step.
-Sometimes, I roll this into 3 equal potions, and like the size of the loaves for giving away with a jar of jam.


  1. Hi Si - this is Erin's sister Kelly. I really want to try this recipe but I really am bread impaired so we'll see about it turning out perfect for me. One question -you mention the first step of dissolving the yeast in the warm water but you never say when to incorporate that with the other ingredients. Did I miss something?

  2. This looks amazing! I have to try it! Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. Kelly- thanks for pointing that out! I fixed the recipe. Can you tell I need a proof reader! Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  4. I have been working on be patient with the old fashion yeast roll/bread recipe...now I think I am ready to take the next step and make this...

  5. Si-I agree. I've done this same recipe for-seriously-100 years (or so it seems). The fact that my sister gave me the recipe was a clue that it had to be easy and tough to ruin!

  6. I love how beautiful bread looks. This one looks so perfect and squishy in the middle which is a must! I'll have to make my french toast like that next time too. I'm a HUGE cooks illustrated and ATK etc etc fan too.

  7. Hi...I just finished mixing this bread and am leavin git for the first 10 minutes. It is VERY wet. I mean its more like thick cake batter, not at all bread-dough-like. If you happen to catch this comment, please let me know if I need to ad more flour. Thanks!

  8. Sorry Anon I didn't catch the comment about the dough consistency earlier. The dough is a wet dough. After it finishes rising, and you are ready to turn it out onto the floured surface to shape, you may add a little more flour so it is easier to handle. I would try about a 1/4 cup at a time. The consistency of the dough will depend on your climate, elevation etc. One of the keys to making bread or rolls that are easy to handle is not adding too much flour before rolling out or shaping! How did it turn out?

  9. I made this tonight to go with some soup and it must really be no fail because it turned out perfect! I don't think my family will settle for store bought french bread anymore. We loved it! Beautiful and delicious with the perfect consistency. It was really easy, too. My son kept making bargains so he could have another piece... "If I sweep the whole floor can I have another piece?" etc. etc.


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