Let’s start the weekend off with something easy, budget friendly, and an absolute necessity if you own a bread machine. Whether you are a novice or an experienced bread baker, this is a classic staple recipe that every scratch kitchen needs.
This is my favorite recipe to use when making my Overnight Breakfast Strata and Garlic Bread. It’s absolutely delicious and the ingredients are so simple. No oil adds to a chewier texture that is common in a traditional style French bread.
The #1 goal here is homemade and fresh. #2 is getting familiar with using
the dough cycle on your machine. I’m not sure if it is rising food costs or my
obsession with homemade ANYTHING that inspired me to purchase a machine, but there’s one thing I can tell you… I have gone full steam ahead since this summer.
I have baked so much bread that my family doesn’t want anything else. The whole experience from the scent of the fresh dough, the smell of fresh bread in the oven, and the taste of bread made with love has us all hooked. I hope you find that same experience in your home with my recipe.
I loved working with dough this way so much that I started sharing what I was making with friends and knew right away that my bread buying days were over. The original recipe came from an owner’s manual to a machine that I purchased for a friend. Her machine is a smaller 1.5 pound and I mostly use a 2 pound, so I attempted to adapt it to make a larger batch and here we are!
The only way I use my machine is with the dough cycle. Fresh bread tastes better than store bought no matter how you do it and I love the ease of letting the machine do the mixing, kneading, and rising. When the machine is done, I still get to work the dough with my hands. It is so easy, I often start a batch in the morning so we can have homemade bread for lunch or dinner.
Here is my recipe for a large French Loaf in the bread machine using the dough cycle only. I will share a few of my tips, tricks and favorite products. I make a small commission from the clickable links as an Amazon Affiliate*, but feel free to shop around anywhere you like if you are in need of bread making supplies.
What You’ll Need:
Bread machine– You will need a 2 pound machine for this recipe. Even though we are baking it in the oven, it still makes a VERY large dough. Anything smaller will run the risk of overflowing. Most of the time I use my Hamilton Beach 2lb. machine.
I love the clean look of it on my counter, not only does it work great, but it came with an extra paddle. That is not something I have come across anywhere else. They are not cheap to buy individually if you lose it so I love to have the peace of mind that I have a back up.
Bread Flour– Flour made for bread making has a higher protein aka gluten content. The higher amount of gluten gives it amore chewy texture and structure. It can still be made with All-Purpose in a pinch, but I highly recommend using Bread Flour since we are using such simple ingredients, it’s worth it.
Instant Yeast- I exclusively use Instant Yeast aka Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast with my recipes. I recommend buying it in a large 1-pound pack and storing it in the freezer. It’s more economical to buy in bulk and if you get hooked on homemade bread, you will be so happy that you have it on hand.
Small Silicone Spatula– This is a must when checking on your dough at the start of the cycle. The pan will scratch easily if you use regular utensils. Truth be told I have 3 of these and I use them for so many things in my kitchen.
Digital Scale– Using a gram scale is the only way I measure nowadays. Accuracy is very important when baking and I find that using a scale is so much easier. Click on Metric in the recipe card to get this recipe in grams.
Even with a scale, bread baking always carries the possibility of adjustments. Humidity and temperature variables affect the way the dough comes together. I’ve made bread & developed recipes in different cities, during different weather patterns and with different machines. Thanks to my scale, I have had far less challenges and it makes the whole process.
I keep a little flour and water nearby just incase it’s too wet or too dry. Generally (and rarely) it will only take a little bit of either one for a good dough. Practice makes perfect, it is SO easy to get the hang of it.
If you get hooked on bread baking like I did then you will also need this scale for making rolls & buns. More recipes to come!
Digital Thermometer– Not only is this handy for checking the “doneness” of my baked goods it is necessity when dealing with more finicky recipes that require specific temperatures for the ingredients. In this recipe, I love it because the loaf is so large, I don’t have to guess when it’s done and hope for the best. If it reads 190 F- 200 F then I know it’s done.
Half Sheet Pan- Because we are making a free form loaf and skipping the pan, I use a large cookie sheet (half sheet “cake” pan).
Parchment Paper– A baking necessity, whether it’s cookies or French bread you’ll need a box of parchment paper in your pantry. It keeps your baked goods from sticking to pan without greasing it. Greasing the pan still has the risk of sticking, no one wants that so definitely use parchment paper for worry free bread baking.
Cooling Rack– After it has baked, you will need to cool completely before slicing.
Serrated Knife– A serrated knife is the only way to slice your bread. Whether it is for sandwiches or cutting it half, you will need one of these for a clean & easy slice.
Rolling Pin- Shaping the dough is as easy as using a rolling pin to make a rectangle and roll it into a loaf. Pinch the sides and you are pretty much done.
Joy Makers & Co. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising revenues by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Tips & Tricks:
- Remove your bread pan from the machine to add your ingredients.
- Check your user manual for the order to put the ingredients. Most recommend that you add wet first, then dry. I have written this recipe from wet to dry, in the 5 machines that I have tested this recipe in, that works perfectly every time.
- The ingredients should always be room temperature. We are keeping it simple here. I do heat my water to a warmer temperature to about 80 – 100 F. No warmer than that or you can destroy the yeast.
- A sunken or misshapen loaf generally means bad yeast or inaccurate measurements (salt & yeast are not friends).
- Make sure you have inserted the paddle before getting started. Doing this right after washing helps me keep track of it.
- Place your machine in a secure spot on your counter. Some machines move more than others during the kneading, and we want to keep machine from taking a “walk” off the edge.
- Too Wet or Too Dry- Check your dough ball after the machine starts at around the 3–5-minute mark you can use the silicone spatula to help the ingredients stuck on the side of the pan. It should be soft to the touch, as the machine mixes and kneads, it will stick to the pan and release without leaving any dough behind. If it is too wet, a ‘puddle’ of dough forms around the paddle. If it is too dry, the ingredients will just slip around and not form a dough ball. Make the necessary adjustments if your dough is too wet or too dry. Have a little extra flour & water on hand ready to go just in case.
- Shaping– I opt for a more casual approach to shaping this bread. The dough does not require any special effort because we are not using loaf pans. Dust your counter with flour and roll out the dough into approximately a 12″x 10″ rectangle. Roll it up like you are making cinnamon rolls, pinch the bottom seam closed, pinch and tuck the ends. That is all you need to shape this basic loaf. I attached plenty of photos to help guide you.
- Cook until the internal temperature is around 190-200 F.
- Final Proof- After shaping the loaf, place it on the parchment line pan and make the 5 or so small cuts on top for the classic look, you can skip this step if you wish. For the final proof, place the pan in an oven that only has the light on. No heat involved; we are not cooking the bread yet. Set a timer and let it rise for 45-60 minutes, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. If you are unable the use the oven for proofing, just cover with a lightweight (lint-free) towel and place in a warm and draft free area.
- Storing- Because there is no oil, this tastes best within 2-3 days. I recommend keeping it refrigerated in an airtight container after cooling if you do not eat it right away. If you need to make this ahead of time, just let it cool for a few hours and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Freezing- This will need to be sliced and placed into freezer bags because of how large the loaf is. You can make individual garlic bread slices, sandwiches, etc. See below.
Ways to use it:
- Cube it for the Overnight Breakfast Strata, Croutons or Breadcrumbs.
- Garlic Bread
- French Toast
- “Fancy” Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- French Bread Pizza
Bread Machine French Style Loaf
- 1 Bread Machine 2 pound
- 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature (80-100 F)
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
Optional Egg Wash:
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- Measure the ingredients. Add the water, then flour. Make 3 wells on top of the flour. One for the salt, sugar, and yeast. You want to keep them separate until the machine starts. If your machine has a different order it recommends, then follow those directions (see notes, tips & tricks above).
- Place bread pan with ingredients into the machine and lock into place.
- Start the dough cycle. Prepare the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Check the machine in 3-5 minutes. Use your small silicone spatula to help anything stuck the sides. Check for dough that is too wet or too dry, make adjustments accordingly.
- When the dough is the right consistency, close the lid and set a timer for the remaining time on your machine.
- After the machine has completed the cycle, unplug the machine and remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently "knock" the air out by kneading for a minute or two.
- Add a little more flour to the surface if need to prevent sticking and use a rolling pin to shape dough into approximately a 12 x 10" rectangle. Carefully flip the dough over so the smoother side is facing the counter and the rough side is facing you.
- Carefully roll the dough into a log (rolling inwards and up as in photos) Pinch the bottom and side seams. Tuck the side seams towards the bottom seam. Place on your prepared cookie sheet (seam side down) and make 5 small cuts across dough with a sharp paring knife.
- Place in the oven with just the light on for 45-60 minutes. Do not turn the oven on. There is no need to cover the dough because the oven is draft free. If you are unable to use the oven for proofing, just cover with a light towel and keep somewhere warm (70-80 F)
- Remove the dough from the oven and pre-heat the to 400 F. Brush on optional egg wash if you wish. Bake on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature is 190 – 200 F and it is nicely browned.
- Cool on cooling rack for 1-2 hours before slicing.
- This bread is best within 24 hours. Store refrigerated in an airtight container or freeze for up to 2 months.
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