Diane’s No Fail French Bread is the best French bread recipe ever! Simple ingredients, most of which you already have in your pantry and about an hour and a half is all you need before baking. Most of the time is rising in the bowl or on the baking sheet.

Homemade French Bread vs Store bought

French Bread. When you think French Bread, do you think of the 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.  When we moved to Bountiful nearly 25 years ago, my friend Diane made a loaf of this bread for me.

I couldn’t believe the difference. When she shared the recipe with me, I stopped buying French bread at the grocery and started making it at home. Of course, this wasn’t any French bread, so we named it Diane’s No Fail French Bread!

 

Fail Proof French Bread!

This bread has a chewy texture, without being too dense. It’s beautiful and golden. And the recipe makes two HUGE loaves! When I asked Diane 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.
 two loaves diane's no fail french bread top view baked
In all of the years I have been making this bread, it has never failed. Not even one time. I usually mix this up in the KitchenAide, but it can be made by hand in a large bowl as well. When it’s made in a stand mixer, it yields smoother loaf, also baking on the Convection setting helps this as well. I usually bake it at 375 Convection for about 18- 20 minutes.

2 loaves per recipe, leftovers make the best French Toast!

Diane’s No Fail French Bread is wonderful in so many ways: It really is so easy. A perfect bread recipe for a novice- to a seasoned cook. It blows the socks off of that grocery store French Bread you have been buying.
No Fail French Bread keeps well. Just slice and store in a bread bag or Ziplock. I like to slice it into at least one inch thick slices. Oh, AND it makes the best French toast. Make this recipe tonight or tomorrow, and save a few slices for French toast!

One last bit of advice… if you live in a humid environment, PLEASE read the recipe notes for tips. Reducing the amount of liquid in the recipe will help tremendously!

This recipe post has been updated with notes and photos since the original post date in August, 2009.

Diane’s No Fail French Bread

4.89 from 283 votes
two loaves diane's no fail french bread top view baked
Author: Si Foster
Course: bread
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
rise time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 12 per loaf
The easiest and best French bread you will ever make. Simple ingredients, mixed in a stand mixer or by hand. Makes two huge loaves!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast, I prefer SAF brand
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups warm water*
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (yes tablespoon!) sea or Kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons Olive oil, Canola or vegetable oil*
  • 6 cups flour (4 cups bread flour and 1 1/2-2 cups All Purpose)
  • 1 egg *optional, beaten- for glazing bread

Instructions

  • **Please read recipe notes before beginning if you live in a humid environment!**
  • Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
  • In a separate large bowl combine warm water*, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir well.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the warm 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 and mixed in, let sit in bowl for 10 minutes.
  • When the dough has risen, stir down with a large spoon. If making in a stand mixer, turn the machine on low for a few seconds until the dough is deflated, and push dough to bottom part of bowl with a spatula. 
  • Repeat 5 times, every ten minutes, for a total of 60 minutes of rising and then punching (or pushing) down.
  • Divide the dough in half. Roll each half of dough in a 9×12 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 will fit on one pan.
  • Score the bread across the top 3 or 4 times, and brush with beaten egg (if using).
  • Let rise for 20-30 minutes in warm place.
  • Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes in lower half of oven, until golden brown. Or you may bake at 350-375 convection for 18-20 minutes until golden. 

Notes

  1. Tips for humid environment: If you live in a humid environment, you may need to either add more flour than called for or you may reduce the liquid in the bread by 1/2 cup. Instead of 2 cups hot water, use 1 1/2. While living in Spain (humid environment) , I use 4 cups bread flour and about 1-2 cups all purpose flour and about 1 1/2 cups water (not including the 1/2 cup of water used to proof the yeast). So, the water total is about 2 cups instead of the 2 1/2 cups called for in the recipe. This recipe was developed in Utah, where the elevation is often 4000 ft and very dry climate!
  2. After reading comments from people who have expressed frustration with the bread failing (the exception) I decided to change the water from “2 cups hot water” to “2 cups warm water”. I believe part of the issue was hot water was added along with yeast, and the hot water was killing the yeast. Warm water works. I use warm or hot water right from the tap. 
  3. I add  bread flour in place of the all purpose flour. When doing this, I use 4 cups bread flour and 1-2 cups  All Purpose flour. Watch the amount of flour if using  bread flour. In some cases, you will need only 1 1/2 cups of additional All Purpose flour. Do not add too much flour, it will result in the dough being stiff and difficult  to handle.
  4. I make this in my KitchenAid stand mixer. 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.
  5. 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. If you skip mixing down every 10 minutes, the bread will not have quite the same texture. Mixing down the dough will help develop the gluten and create the texture that is slightly chewy, but still light!
  6. If you have a convection oven, use the convection setting. Bake at 350-375  convection for about 15-20 minutes. The convection setting turns out the prettiest loaves of bread!
  7. This bread is best made with Extra Virgin olive oil. 
  8. In Spain, my oven was very small and it works better for me to shape the dough into 3 smaller loaves. The bake time is about the same! I got used to shaping into three smaller loaves and now almost always shape into three loaves. I bake at 375 convection for about 18 minutes. 
  9. The egg wash or glaze is not necessary. Egg wash will produce a shiny instead of a matte finish on your loaves. You will need about 1/3 of the egg wash for this recipe. Lightly brush the loaf with the egg wash before it starts to rise after shaping.

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