Sourdough French Bread is the authentic way to make a French Baguette loaf like a bakery. Fungal Enzymes is another word for the sourdough ingredient on French bread labels including Panera French baguettes. Find out why baking with a sourdough starter makes all the difference in a French bread recipe!
Need more ideas to use a Sourdough Starter? Try out our all-time favorite sourdough recipes, including our No-Knead Sourdough Bread, Sourdough Bagels, Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread, and Sourdough English Muffins! And if you need a good sourdough discard recipe make sourdough crepes by mixing together 2 cups of starter and 6 eggs.
French Bread Recipe
Have you ever wondered how to make a Bakery-style French bread recipe that’s soft and crusty? Well, crusty french bread gets its superior crust from a sourdough starter that bakers use. In fact, a classic french bread recipe usually goes by the ingredients of Fungal enzymes or enzymes on bread labels such as Costco French bread and Panera Bread French Baguette, and that simply means a sourdough culture.
So, why do bakers use a sourdough starter? Well, when I made my No-knead Bread with yeast and then sourdough starter, I noticed a huge difference in the two bread loaves. The Artisan bread with the sourdough starter had a much moister bread crumb and stayed moist the next day. Whereas the same recipe with yeast was rather stale by the next day. I also found that the sourdough bread had an overall chewier texture and tougher skin. It is no wonder why baking with sourdough makes all the difference!
Now, don’t get me wrong there are a lot of cafes and bakers that make french baguettes using simple ingredients and yeast, I get that, it’s possible to make a baguette recipe that way. However, those recipes are generally much more hydrated and contain larger holes in the bread crumb, and with the help of commercial equipment, they can have superior results too.
Today, it’s about the crusty French Bread that your local grocery sometimes keeps at the bakery section in those paper pouches. That’s exactly how these taste! Nice and chewy loaves that are dense and perfect for Canape Appetizers or a bowl of hearty Potato Soup like Panera Bread!
French Bread vs Baguette
There are many types of French Bread in our time and day. What is French bread, can vary in so many aspects! Walmart french bread is the size of an Italian Bread Loaf and is large, super soft, and fluffy. My other Homemade French bread with yeast is soft and the size of small, baguettes. While other French roll bread is crusty.
Traditionally a baguette is a long and lean type of French bread, usually around the diameter of 2-inches wide and about 25-inches long. Whereas French Bread is shorter and is about 12-inches long (30 centimeters.) Traditionally, French bread and baguettes are crisp and crusty.
Baguettes are also made from a leaner type of dough and contain very basic ingredients. Being long as they are they can weigh up to 9 oz, whereas a French bread loaf is nearly half that size weighing the same. This is why French bread is usually denser and richer than a classic French Baguette.
Everything You Need To Make Homemade French Bread:
Baking French bread is easy. In fact, it’s mostly a hands-off process that you only need time for. Here is a breakdown of all the equipment and necessary ingredients!
- Silicone Baking Mold for Bread- skip French bread pans and invest in this mold! This is the same sandwich mold that I use for My Subway Bread Subs! It even has the perforated holes you’d get from a bakery loaf.
- Commercial Baking Sheet– is the perfect size for the silicone baking mold (above.) The silicone mold is flexible and needs the support of a pan to hold the bread dough.
- Food Grade Spray Bottle- for misting the bread before and during baking. This helps make crusty French bread.
- Kitchen Aid Professional Mixer– I use this for so many bread recipes including this bread dough!
- Scoring Knife– also known as a Baker’s lame to score and slit the french bread. You could use a very sharp knife to make slashes in the dough but a razor blade on a stick can help prevent the dough from deflating.
- Barley Malt Syrup– malted barley flour or syrup is sometimes used in making French bread. This enriches the dough with flavor.
Ingredients For Sourdough French Bread:
The ingredients for French bread are pretty basic with the addition of a sourdough starter, dry milk, and barley malt syrup to enhance the dough. If you don’t have barley malt syrup simply use honey or brown sugar as a barley malt substitute. This adds additional flavor and enhances the dough.
- Water- use warm water to activate the sourdough culture.
- Salt- I like to use sea salt or kosher salt in all my cooking.
- Sourdough Starter- make sure your sourdough starter is active and at room temperature for the best results. Don’t have a sourdough starter? Here is Where To Buy My Sourdough Starter. I’ve also included full care and feeding instructions on the listing.
- Sugar- granulated sugar is what I used.
- Malt Syrup- is a dark sticky syrup that can be substituted with honey.
- Dy Milk- enhances dough, I love to use it in my Dominos Pizza Dough too! It’s a great alternative to dough enhancers and conditioners!
- Bread Flour- is an enriched flour usually containing Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, and Riboflavin. It is high in gluten and helps make the dough elastic and easy to work with.
Baker’s Tip: To make a quick French bread recipe using yeast, use 1/2 tsp of yeast and add an additional 1/2 cup of water to make this dough.
Does Homemade Sourdough French Bread Taste Sour?
The longer you allow the acids to ferment and produce in the dough, the more, sour your loaf will be. Many bakers will ferment the dough slowly by refrigeration and colder environments. However, warmer environments create a faster-fermenting cycle. These loaves only ferment for a total of 5 hours and are not at all sour. I also slow down the fermentation process by keeping them in the fridge overnight.
You will not taste a sour-after taste with this recipe.
How Do You Make Sourdough Starter?
To start a sourdough starter, make your own by combining equal amounts of flour and water until it passes the float test. This can take anywhere from 7-21 days. Stir together 1 cup of unbleached flour and warm water and continue to feed this every day the same way. When you think it’s active dollop a piece into a glass of cold water and if floats to the top it’s active.
I’ve mentioned before I like the more flour to water ratio so you can do that instead. This makes for a thicker starter as a starter is prone to thin out after lactic acid has developed (the bacteria that forms on the top.)
To Buy Sourdough Starter, simply contact me to reserve a spot as I release a limited quantity at the beginning of every month.
How To Make French Bread?
To make french roll bread or a French baguette please use a sourdough starter as that not only enhances the crust but keeps the bread stay fresh longer and the crumb moist! When making bakery-style french bread loaves, at home, use a silicone bread mat to get the perforated and crisp bottoms. We love to eat this bread in this Hot Mushroom Canape recipe, however, this bread will go great as a Philly cheesesteak sandwich bread!
- To begin, make the dough. Place all ingredients into a 5-quart Kitchen-aid mixer. Be sure to weigh all the ingredients using a kitchen scale.
- Knead the dough over low speed for 3 minutes. Don’t over mix as you can overwork the dough and become too sticky.
- Let the dough rest in a warm place for 3 hours.
- After the resting period, shape the dough into 4-5 equal pieces weighing 15 oz each.
- Gently pat each piece to a rough rectangle and roll it up to form a footlong baguette.
- Place baguettes into the silicone bread mold and score the bread. Allow them to rest on the counter for an additional 2 hours.
- Cover baguettes with plastic wrap and place them into the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray the loaves with water and bake for 20-25 minutes, misting with water every 10 minutes.
- Cool bread before removing it from the bread pan.
Scoring tip: some bakers will slash the bread 2-3 times downward diagonally or 3-4 times diagonally across. Traditionally french bread is scored with slashes facing downwards.
What Bread To Use For French Toast?
The best bread for French toast is a super soft and fluffy crumb-like challah or brioche bread. Stale bread slices are actually preferred when making french toast. Any leftover bread including sourdough french bread is great to dip into an egg batter for French toast.
Ways To Use French Bread:
Once you get your hands on an authentic French Baguette recipe, you can make all kinds of recipes like French bread pizza, garlic bread, a French bread sandwich (French dip sandwich), or if your bread goes stale, make French toast! A crusty French baguette can be sliced for a bruschetta or canape appetizer or made into a sandwich and for dipping bread!
A French loaf of bread is versatile as you can bake them in a bread pan or use this same exact recipe to make my Sourdough Bagels! Furthermore, to make a bigger loaf of bread simply divide the dough in half and make Italian bread! It is the best French bread recipe I’ve ever made and there is no reason to search for others if it tastes like a Crusty French Baguette from the store!
Since French bread is a crusty type of bread it works best as a sandwich bread or for dipping. Serve it alongside your favorite main dish like Fettuccine Alfredo or in toast! Here are delicious recipes with French bread that you can spread butter, jam, or honey with or slice and dip in!
How To Make An Extra Crispy Crust?
Many times bakeries receive par-baked and frozen bread. This means the frozen bread needs to be reheated in the oven, afterward creating a super crispy crust than just baking once. Today, commercial bakeries use steam-injected ovens that can create crusty loaves of bread right out of the oven!
So are you wondering how to create steam in the oven for crusty French bread? I like to mist water using a spray bottle before and during baking time. However, you can place 3-4 ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the oven door to create a steam chamber. If you are not fond of the direct water to oven method then place a pan filled with cold water onto the bottom of the oven instead.
French Bread Variations:
Add in your favorite herbs or crunchy toppings to bring out the best of your French bread loaf!
- Jalapeno Cheddar: add 1 Tbsp of chopped jalapenos and 3 Tbsp of sharp cheddar cheese onto the top before baking.
- Italian Herb French Bread: add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp garlic powder into the dough with the dry ingredients.
- Rosemary French Bread: mist the baguettes with water and sprinkle with all 4-5 loaves with 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary mixed with 1 tsp of sea salt after scoring.
- Whole Wheat French Bread- add 2 Tbsp of vital wheat gluten when using 100% whole wheat flour.
- White Whole Wheat French Bread: do half whole wheat flour and half white unbleached bread flour to make a 50/50 loaf.
Feeding Sourdough Starter?
This is how I feed my sourdough starter every time! I mix together 1 heaping cup of flour and a scant cup of warm water. I like the more flour to water ratio. Feeding a sourdough starter with this ratio works because within the time a starter can get runnier once the lactic acid bacteria forms from the fermentation (also known as Lactobacilli.)
Lactic acid bacteria called Lactobacillus is usually the black film that forms on the top to protect the sourdough starter from spoiling. After a sourdough starter sits in the fridge this is common to occur and can be fixed by simply stirring it back into the starter before feeding. Some people like to drain it, but I always keep it.
Within time your starter can appear on the thinner side which is why I prefer the more flour ratio. However, equal amounts of flour and water can also be mixed in. I love that this sourdough starter requires no precise formulas, making it approachable to maintain.
Tip: Wondering what to do with Sourdough starter? How To Use Sourdough Starter? You can make sourdough starter pancakes, waffles, crackers, crepes, biscuits, croissants, pizza dough, and so much more with a starter! Basically, anywhere where yeast or leavening is called for.
How Often To Feed Sourdough Starter?
Wondering how often to feed sourdough starter? The sourdough starter should be fed every 2-3 weeks, even if you’re not planning to use it. So, add your usual feeding amount to a cold starter straight from the fridge and give it a good stir. Place it back in the fridge if you will not be using it. This helps maintain a healthy and active sourdough starter.
Can I Use Starter Straight From The Fridge?
When making discard-sourdough recipes, you can use a sourdough starter that has been refrigerated. However, if you have a sourdough starter that has been fed within the last 2-3 days it may just pass the float test and be ready to use without bringing to room temperature. I typically feed mine overnight for premium results.
Not sure if your starter is active? Drop a dollop of starter into a glass of cold water, if it floats to the top it is active and ready to be used in recipes.
Does Sourdough Bread Have Gluten?
Most grains contain gluten, however, grains like sorghum, oats, and Amaranth are considered gluten-free grains that are healthy. Experiment with brown rice flour and incorporate food starches to develop a delicious loaf of sourdough bread without gluten.
Can Sourdough Starter Go Bad?
My starter isn’t rising? How to keep an active sourdough starter? Can all be commonly asked questions. If your starter smells like alcohol, it is long due for a feeding. It is important reviving the sourdough starter with feedings because then it’ll take time to rebuild it to the active state.
If for any reason you weren’t able to feed your starter within 3 weeks or more, then it will have to be revived with more than one feeding. Remove your starter from the fridge and feed it 1-2 times a day until it becomes active. This can take anywhere from 2-5 days. Black film is common in the sourdough starter that is Lactic acid bacteria called Lactobacillus and it can be stirred back into the starter before feeding. It eventually disappears after a good stir.
What Is Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is made with a sourdough starter. Lactic acid bacteria from fermentation called Lactobacillus works like the wild yeast in a starter. The sour qualities improve the bread texture and are healthy for the gut.
Storing Sourdough Starter?
Wondering how to maintain? Maintenance on this sourdough starter is actually quite simple. Every time I’m planning to bake with a sourdough starter, I like to remove it from the fridge a day in advance and feed it. To ensure that my starter is fully active I like to feed it at least 2-3 times (once overnight, the next morning, and sometimes until the next day.)
I always bring it to room temperature before using it in recipes and it doesn’t bother me that much to have it hanging around on the countertop for a few days.
Besides activating it for recipes, you should always keep sourdough refrigerated until needed. Now if you were using a starter with potato flakes, yeast, wine, or grape juice, then the feedings may differ.
Storing French Bread?
Sourdough French bread keeps so well at room temperature thanks to the sourdough starter. If you haven’t known baking with a sourdough starter helps keep a loaf of bread stay moist and fresh longer. I like to bake all the baguettes of bread in one day and cool completely before placing them into a 2.5-gallon freezer bag. Freezing the bread the day of baking ensures a fresh loaf of bread when you reach it from the freezer. I do this for almost all my bread when baking in bulk.
Cool your sourdough French loaf completely before storing it. Place it whole into a gallon freezer bag if freezing or keep it in a bread bag at room temperature for up to 3 days in a cool dark place. You can then freeze for up to 3 months or prolong the bread life and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Refrigerated bread is best for toast or reheated in hot sandwiches.
Does French Bread Freeze Well?
French bread freezes very well. If you want to replicate the take and bake French Baguettes simply, par-bake the loaves until the bottoms are just golden but pale. Then cool and freeze until needed, otherwise, fully bake and freeze like you would any leftovers.
To freeze French bread bake as directed in the recipe card. Cool baguettes (Le Petit baguettes) completely then place into a 2.5-gallon freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months or 6 months if using a deep freezer. Avoid placing the bread bag over a frost-covered freezer shelf.
When Is Sourdough Ready?
Sourdough is ready when it has been brought to room temperature with a feeding or two. Signs that the starter is active are when it foams and rises in size. Another way to test if your sourdough is active is to drop a dollop into cold water and if it floats to the top it is active.
Use sourdough starter in pizza crust, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, focaccia, pretzels, waffles, crackers, pancakes, or chocolate chip cookies! There are so many ways to use an active sourdough starter.
Can I Make French Bread With Yeast?
To make this sourdough recipe with yeast, omit the sourdough starter and use 1/2 tsp of dry active yeast. Also, increase the water by 1/2 cup. I decrease the liquid when using a sourdough starter since it is more in volume than yeast.
Best French Bread Tips:
- Use dry active yeast for a French Bread Baguette recipe.
- Make sure your sourdough starter is live and active before using. This will ensure it will rise and bake successfully.
- Wondering how much sourdough starter to use for a bread recipe? For every Tablespoon of yeast use 1/2 cup of active sourdough starter. Since this bread recipe has a denser crumb-like my local bakery it needs to slowly ferment without too much rise so, use 1/2 tsp of yeast for this recipe.
- If your starter smells like alcohol, it is long due for a feeding.
- Use a spray bottle to mist the loaves of bread during the baking time.
- I like to use a 2.5-gallon freezer bag for storing all the French bread loaves. They freeze very well too!
- French bread slices are great for canapes or bruschetta appetizers.
- Cut French bread in half lengthwise to make garlic bread or French bread pizza.
- Bake bread one pan at a time to get evenly browned bread. Overcrowding the oven can over-bake the tops or bottoms quickly. To get evenly browned bread bake a bread pan on the bottom rack of the oven.
More Bread Recipes To Try:
Bread in French is translated as le pain which literally means “bread.” I love how easy this French bread recipe is, however, check out my many other bread recipes you’ll love too! Some that are not on the list include Challah bread (great as French toast bread), traditional Brioche bread, croissant, French bread rolls, and white sandwich bread (Pain de mie.)
- Breadsticks- are much smaller sticks of bread than a baguette.
- No-Knead Sourdough Bread- is like a whole French sourdough loaf. It is very similar to Pain de Campagne.
- Multi-Grain Brioche Buns– sweet and fluffy buns perfect over a grilled chicken sandwich!
- Pita Bread- is similar to Fouée bread and round in shape.
- Pillsbury Crescent Dough- is the tube copycat that you can make into a ring similar to a Pain Couronne.
- Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread- is very similar to Pain au Son bread that is made from whole grain wheat flour and its bran (aka bran bread.)
How To Make Sourdough French Bread:
Sourdough French Bread Recipe
- 1 sheet-pan
- 470 grams warm water (2 cups)
- 30 grams sugar (2.5T)
- 30 grams barley malt syrup (1.5T)
- 15 grams dry milk (2T)
- 20 grams salt (1.5T)
- 200 grams active sourdough starter (1 cup)
- 950 grams bread flour (6 3/4 cups)
- In the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid mixer combine all the dough ingredients. Knead over low speed for 3 minutes. The dough should be heavy and tacky. Cover and rest for 3 hours.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Pat each piece into a small rectangle and roll it up to make a footlong baguette.
- Place each baguette into a silicone bread mold. Score each loaf with 3-4 slashes facing downwards diagonally.
- Allow loaves to rest for another 2 hours on the counter or warm area. Then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Bring the baguettes to room temperature at least an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Spray loaves with water and bake for 15-22 minutes, misting with water every 10 minutes during the baking time.
- Cool bread completely before removing it from the bread pan.