Julia Child’s French Bread

Julia Child's French Bread adapted from the home kitchen.

You can make a great crusty loaf of French bread at home. Julia Child took techniques she learned in French bakeries and adapted them for the home kitchen.

Today the Bread Baking Babes are celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birthday by baking and posting Julia’s French Bread. Julia was the queen of simplifying French recipes so anyone could make them at home.

Making Julia Child's French Bread recipe - Barbara Bakes

Julia’s Pain Français (French Bread) recipe was published in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2 in 1970. If you’re a little afraid of making French bread at home, there’s a great video of Julia making French bread. She shows you step by step how the dough should look and how you shape and bake the dough to make a beautiful loaf.

I adapted Julia’s recipe to use instant yeast and a Kitchen Aid mixer. I rarely knead dough by hand because the mixer makes it so easy. I also set the shaped loaves on parchment to rise so they’re easy to move on to the baking stone.

Easy to make French Bread - Julia Child's French Bread

There have been so many great tributes to Julia over the last month. The more I learn about Julia, the more I’ve fallen in love with her. I’m so impressed with her easy going style and fearless nature.

My sweet friend Donna, Apron Strings, in a tribute post to Julia linked to a hilarious video of Julia on David Letterman. Everything went wrong, but she just carries on with humor and bravado. David asks her what she does with recipes that don’t turn out and she says she feeds them to her husband. I guess I’m doing the same with my family.

Thanks Julia for sharing your passion for cooking, your reminders to never apologize if something you bake is less than perfect, and to be fearless in the kitchen and in life.

Julia Child’s French Bread

Julia Child’s French Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (120º - 130º)

Directions

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer using the flat beater, combine the yeast, 2 1/2 cups flour and salt. Mix on low for about 30 seconds.

With the motor running on low, pour in the warm water. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off beater and switch to the dough hook. Mix in the remaining cup of flour a little at a time, to make a soft dough, adding more or less flour as needed. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. The surface should be smooth and the dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.

Turn the dough onto a kneading surface and let rest for 2 - 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (about 75º) until 3 1/2 times its original volume. This will probably take about 3 hours.

Deflate the dough and return it to the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the rising surface: rub flour into canvas or linen towel placed on a baking sheet. (I used parchment paper.)

Divide the dough into 3, 6, or 12 pieces depending on the size loaves you wish to make. Fold each piece of dough in two, cover loosely, and let the pieces relax for 5 minutes.

Shape the loaves and place them on the prepared towel or parchment. Cover the loaves loosely and let them rise at room temperature until almost triple in volume, about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450º. Set up a "simulated baker's oven" by placing a baking stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler pan on the rack beneath, at least 4 inches away from the baking stone to prevent the stone from cracking.

Transfer the risen loaves onto a peel.

Slash the loaves.

Spray the loaves with water. Slide the loaves into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray.

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. (If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 10-15 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Spray the loaves with water three times at 3-minute intervals.

Cool for 2 - 3 hours before cutting.

http://www.barbarabakes.com/julia-childs-french-bread/

The Bread Baking Babes and Buddies bake a different bread each month. Visit Sweet and That’s It for information about how you can become a Bread Baking Buddy. You  can also join the Facebook Group, Bread Baking Babes and Friends.

More of Julia’s recipes you might like:

Boeuf Bourguignon, Barbara Bakes
Croissants, Barbara Bakes
Chocolate Almond Cake, Apron Strings
Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes, Passionate About Baking
Julia Child’s Eggplant Pizzas, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Jarlsberg Cheese Souffle, LaFuji Mama




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Comments

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  1. whirleycook says

    Oh my goodness. My diet is so blown out of the water! My husband is in the kitchen right now sneaking the last piece of this delicious bread. We are slathering it with soft butter and serving it alongside spaghetti. I hear him in the kitchen. I want to fight him for it. It’s that good. Followed the recipe exactly except for a couple of things. I brushed it with an egg wash before baking. Then, I found that when I put the water into the pan beneath the baking stone, it didn’t sizzle very good. So I took the pan out and threw in about three quarter cup of ice cubes directly onto the oven floor. That seemed to work better for me and I got a nice steamy oven. Also, I fear we could not wait for the bread to cool and ate it barely 15 minutes out of the oven. I will be making this bread again – goodbye grocery store French bread – but I’ll start a lot earlier in the day so as to give it time to cool.

    • says

      Thanks so much for the sweet comment. I’m so glad you loved the bread. Thanks for sharing your tips. I too find it almost impossible to wait to cut the bread. It’s smells heavenly and just sits there on the counter tempting you.

  2. says

    This is not Julia’s recipe. First there’s no sugar. If you are going to publish a recipe you should include all the ingredients otherwise it won’t turn out correctly.
    1 pkg yeast – 1/3 cup tepid water (not over 110 degrees)
    1/4 teaspoon sugar- 3 1/2 cups (1 pound) unbleached flour-bread flour if possible -plus more if needed -1 Tbs rye or whole wheat flour-2 1/4 tsp salt-1 cup cold water,plus 1/3 cup or so additional water.
    This is her master recipe for French bread out of The Way To Cook book.

      • says

        I looked thru all of my Julia Child cookbooks( I have 6) and only in “The Way To Cook” book does she use sugar AND the food processor. Since that is my usual go to book, I was convinced that it was the correct recipe for success since yeast (usually ) needs something to eat (the sugar). Apparently not. I will have to try it this way. My apologies Barbara.

  3. Debbie says

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Do you spray the loaves with water while they are in the oven or after they are finished baking and are out?

  4. Lacy says

    I am getting ready to make this and it looks great! However, I have a few questions:
    1. Can I use the loaf racks instead of a pizza stone and do I still need to add water in the broiler pan below it if I do?
    2. Can I use an artisan bread flour instead of all purpose flour? If I do does it change anything else in the recipe as far as timing?

    • says

      Hi Lacy – you can use loaf racks; you don’t have to add the water, but the steam that’s created helps create a crisper crust. I don’t think you’d need to make any changes as far as timing goes.

  5. Maria says

    Hi,
    this sounds delicious! However, I was wondering whether you can freeze the loafs for a while after you’ve made them?