Crusty Bread Machine French Bread

The dough for this crusty French Bread is made in the bread machine and baked in a stoneware baker for a crust that is thin and crispy. The crumb has a moist and chewy texture that melts in your mouth.

French Bread Extraordinaire!

This French Bread recipe is from Linda Rehberg’s and Lois Conway’s The Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints. According to the authors, this method produces a wonderful loaf of bread that is comparable to the ones baked in France.

Ingredients: (medium-size loaf)

  • 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups Water
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast


1. Place dough ingredients in bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start.

2. When the dough cycle ends, the machine will beep. Set a time and allow the dough to rise 1 more hour. Open the machine, punch down the dough, set the time again, and let dough rise another hour in the machine.

Turn off bread machine, remove bread pan, and turn out dough onto a lightly floured countertop or cutting board. Form into a smooth, round ball then flatten it with your hands.

Note: If you want to bake your bread in a La Cloche, follow the steps listed under Variation. If you prefer not to bake your bread in a La Cloche, follow steps 3 – 5.

3. Place a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) in a around wicker basket that’s at least twice the size of the dough. Dust the towel liberally with flour. Place the round dough in the center of the basket. Place basket in a warm place and let dough rise, uncovered, about 45 minutes until doubled in size.

4. Gently turn dough out of basket upside down onto a greased baking sheet. With a very sharp knife held almost parallel to the loaf, carefully slash the top of the dough at sharp angles in a # pattern.

5. Preheat oven to 450°F. Carefully place a small pan on the floor or bottom shelf of the oven. Add at least 1 cup boiling water to the pan. Place dough in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cake rack to cool 1 hour before slicing. To preserve the crisp crust, do not store in plastic wrap or bag. Bread can be loosely covered or left out for up to 2 days before it dries out completely.

VARIATION: (This is the method we chose.)

To make French bread with a crust so thin and crispy that it crackles when you remove it from the oven, try baking this bread in a La Cloche clay cooker.

1. Omit steps 3 through 5. Liberally cover the base of the La Cloche with cornmeal and place the rounded dough onto the base.

2. Slash the dough as indicated in step 4. Cover it with plastic wrap, then place it in a warm oven to rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

3. While the dough is rising, soak the lid of La Cloche upside down in a sink of water. (Cushion the handle with a dishcloth or sponge.)*

* The manufacturers of La Cloche do not recommend soaking the lid before baking because the absorption factor of stoneware is less than 1 percent. However, the authors preferred the way the bread turned out when they soaked the lid so I decided to try it this way as well.

4. For a dark crust, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the wet lid over the dough; bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until dark brown.

5. For a lighter crust, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the wet lid over the dough; bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400°F and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Happy Baking!

Additional resources for making bread machine bread:



Owner/Blogger at Bread Experience
Hello, I’m Cathy, the face behind the Bread Experience. I'm a project manager by profession. My job can be very stressful at times and I've found that baking bread is a wonderful stress reliever.

I especially enjoy baking bread on the weekends and allowing the dough to slow ferment to bring out the flavor and nutritional properties of the bread.

Over the years, I've become enamored with grains.So you'll find me experimenting using different types of heritage and ancients grains.Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't, but it's all part of the experience.I invite you to join me on this bread-baking journey.


  1. says

    Cathy, I am very intrigued by your bread machine experience and went through that phase myself a few years ago, but did it by hand for a few years after giving up the bread machine because of weight gain–

    Now I just got on KitchenAid 600 and am trying to perfect a French bread type of pizza crust that is crusty inside and out? Any ideas there. I am hearing about egg wash and peanut oil, but how can we get crusty under the crust? Any ideas I should try?

    Bridgeport, Ohio
    [heart of the rust belt]

  2. says

    Hi Charles,

    Thanks for your comments. I apologize for the delay in responding. I didn’t realize I had a comment. The notice must have gotten lost in cyberspace.

    I like to bake bread using lots of different methods and tools – the bread machine is just one of the tools I use. I also got a stand mixer recently and have been having lots of fun with it. I like to make bread by hand as well, but have found that using tools is not such a bad thing. Especially when I’m tired.

    I know what you mean about weight gain. I have to watch that myself. Not only do I like to bake bread but I love to eat it. I’ve found the answer to that is to give it away so I try to give a lot of the bread I make away.

    I haven’t tried an egg wash or peanut oil on pizza, but I do like to make brick oven pizza on a pizza stone using an overnight poolish. The poolish gives the pizza a crisp crust. I think if you roll the dough out thinner and place it directly on the stone, it would be more crispy throughout. However, I happen to like the crispy outside and chewy inside so I place it on parchment paper and let it bake that way on the stone.

    If you’re interested in trying the brick oven pizza I like to make, you can find the recipe and instructions here

    If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out or if you have any suggestions for improving it.


    The Bread Experience

  3. Wendy says

    The bread machines are great for kneading the dough. Save hands, time. Do either of you have strong opinions about the best bread makers? Which ones and why?

    • says

      Hi Wendy, I don’t use a bread machine very often anymore so I’m not up on the current models and which ones are the better. Horwever, or this bread, you only use it to knead the dough.

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