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Soft French Bread

Light, airy, soft and delicious french bread. This bread is the perfect side to a weeknight dinner or makes great french toast. We love dipping it in fondue or slicing for toast.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Rise Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

  • 2.5 cups warm water temperature of baby's bathwater
  • 1 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil or coconut oil (see recipe notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 5 1/2-6 cups bread flour see note

Instructions
 

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, instant yeast and honey. Let sit until it smells yeasty and is a little foamy (this shows you that your yeast is active).
  • Add the oil, salt and 5 cups of bread flour. Knead together and a little bit more flour as needed until you can pinch off a piece of dough and roll it up into a ball with only a little bit of sticky residue left on your fingers. The dough will probably need 5 1/2 to 6 cups of flour. Start on the lower end and work your way up so as not to over-flour the dough Knead in between additions of flour. If the dough needs more flour, add flour 1/4 cup at a time until slightly tacky. More tips for how to tell when dough is ready here.
  • Once the flour has all been added and the dough is at the right consistency, knead with a dough hook for about 8 minutes. Set a timer and let the dough knead for the full eight minutes to achieve perfect elasticity and gluten development.
  • After eight minutes of kneading, let the dough sit for 15 minutes in the mixer. It will expand and rise a bit. Stir down the dough after 15 minutes by kneading for 20 seconds.
  • Transfer the dough to a dough container (affiliate link) and let the dough rise again for about an hour until doubled or tripled in size.
  • Turn dough out onto the counter and cut into two pieces. With your fingers, press each piece into a rectangle shape (not quite as long as your baking sheet). Roll up, pinching in the seams as you go. Pinch the dough closed and place on one half of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other portion of dough.
  • Cover the shaped dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using a bread lame or sharp knife, score the loaves.
  • For a crispier crust: Throw a handful of ice cubes into the oven loaves putting the bread into the oven to bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  • Brush with melted butter and let cool before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Notes

Bread Flour: If you don't have bread flour on hand, you can substitute 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 Tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten will increase the protein content and improve the elasticity, crust and crumb of the dough making it similar to bread flour.
Crispier Crust: For a crispier crust, throw a handful of ice cubes into the oven after it pre-heats and right before placing the loaves in the oven to bake. The steam will help create a crisp crust if you eat it immediately. The crust will soften over time. 
Coconut Oil: For a super tender loaf, use coconut oil in place of a neutral-flavored oil. It won't change the taste of the bread, just makes for a rich and fluffy texture.
Keyword bread,, soft french bread