Sourdough French Style Bread: A Recipe from the Farm

Last Updated on December 6, 2023 by TheFarmChicken

French sourdough loaves

Sourdough French Bread is a perfect addition to an Italian style meal at home. I recipe tested this French bread recipe for my daughter’s birthday party to pair with the lasagna we had. It turns out I should have made French Bread long ago. The oblong loaves are simple to make, and it is very good bread. Tender with a crispy exterior and fun to make for something different. Turns out it also makes really cute mini grilled cheese sandwiches. You can check out my favorite grilled cheese combo. I love grilled cheese with mozzarella, tomato, and basil! Let’s learn how to make Sourdough French Style Bread: A Recipe from the Farm.

This is a simpler sourdough bread to make and still just as tasty! I still want to try this as a garlic toast too. Maybe next time I make this recipe I will do that.

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The Ingredients:

Really there are very few ingredients in French Bread. When I started making it, I thought it was enriched with more than just a little sugar and oil. Sourdough always impresses me with how good you can make something with a few simple ingredients.

Sourdough Starter

If you don’t know about sourdough starter and would like to start one, Agnes would love to help you learn all about the process.

For this recipe you want a bubbly and active starter about 275 grams.

Water

Like all sourdough recipes you want to make sure you are using the right water. Sourdough starter needs a non-chlorinated room temperature water to do its best work. I usually used distilled water but filtered water should work too!

Sugar

There is a little sugar in this recipe, and this is to add some sweetness but also to feed the wild yeast(sourdough starter).

Bread Flour

I use Dakota Maid Bread Flour for most all of my sourdough bread recipes. Any quality bread flour should work or even a higher quality all-purpose flour.

Olive Oil

I think you could substitute any oil you would like here but I decided to create the recipe using olive oil. It adds a subtle flavor and helps the bread to be soft and tender on the inside.

Kosher Salt

A little salt for flavor. I like using kosher salt, but you should be able to use sea salt as well.

Sliced French bread

Making the French Style Sourdough Bread:

The long cold ferment

This bread you can have in the fridge for quite a while. I usually make it the night before and then bake it the next afternoon. That way it is fresh for supper! The fermentation process is about 12-16 hours.

Shaping the ends of a French loaf
Folding the ends and sealing them.

Shaping your loaves:

When shaping my French bread loaves, I like a shorter and squatter loaf. I think they make a nicer bread, and the thin long loaves are hard to make consistent and looking nice.

Pay special attention when you are shaping your loaves that you don’t make your rectangle of dough any wider than 10”. This will help you to make nicely shaped French bread loaves.

Proofing the French Sourdough Bread:

Once you have shaped your sourdough loaves you will place them in a nice warm spot to finish rising and proofing. This generally takes about 1-2 hours but will depend based on temperature and your starter.

You want the dough to be raised and nice and puffy. That’s when you know that it is ready to score and bake!

Scoring the Loaves:

When scoring French loaves make sure that you score them deeply. You can either do this with a chef’s knife or a bread lame/razor blade. Since the bread dough is warm and puffy, I will usually cut the slashes a couple times to get the cuts deep.

Your slashes should be about 1/3 to 1/2 way through the loaves. It will seem like you are wrecking the loaf but truly you are not. The bread rises and will just “absorb” the slashes if they are not deep enough.

Slashes on loaves in the oven
This picture does a good job of showing how deep I cut the slashes.

Baking the Sourdough French Style Bread:

There are a couple things you can do to ensure the greatest success with your sourdough French bread when baking it:

Steam:

Steam helps your bread to get a nice crust on your it. It is not completely necessary for you to do it if that is not a concern for you, but you will want to do it if you want that beautiful crust.

I simply just put a shallow cookie sheet below the oven rack with the baking stone and add cold water to the pan when I put the bread into the oven.

Baking Stone:

The baking stone is pretty important to get beautiful French loaves. Make sure to preheat your stone in your oven when you preheat the oven. This way it is hot when you put your bread on it.

Part way through the baking process I remove the parchment paper. This puts the bread directly on the baking stone giving it a chance for the bottom to brown nicely.

Baguette Pan

I don’t have a baguette pan but I did link a well-reviewed one down in the “Shop this Post” section. If you plan to make French bread and baguettes often then it might be worth the investment. They are perforated and are supposed to provide a superior crust to your bread.

French Bread Baking Timeline

  • 11 am Feed Sourdough Starter
  • 4-6 pm Mix up bread dough
  • 10 pm Put bread dough in fridge.

Bake Day:

  • 1-2 pm Take and shape loaves
  • 1:15-2:15 pm Proof the loaves in a warm place.
  • 3-4 pm Preheat oven and stone to 400 degrees.
  • 3:30-4 pm Bake the loaves.
  • Enjoy!

Pin for Later:

French Bread Sourdough Pin Image

Sourdough French Style Bread: A Recipe from the Farm

  • 275 grams active sourdough starter
  • 260 grams non chlorinated, room temperature water
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 525 grams bread flour
  • 60 grams olive oil
  • 15 g kosher salt
  • First in a large bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl and your gram scale; measure out the sourdough starter, granulated sugar, and water. Mix with your hand until it forms a slurry.
  • Next, measure and add the flour and olive oil. Mix until a shaggy dough forms; about 1 minute. At this point you will let your bread rest for 30 minutes. This is the autolyze.
  • After the 30 minutes, add the salt and knead the bread by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 7 minutes.
  • When the bread has been kneaded transfer to a greased bowl and cover with a wet tea towel for 30 minutes.
  • When the 30 minutes is up, complete a stretch and fold on the dough.

Stretch and Fold:

Take one side of the dough and pull upward until it doesn’t stretch anymore. (Don’t rip the dough.) Then turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Do this a total of four times. Then flip the dough over. You have completed an envelope fold.

You will then:

  • Rest 30 minutes and stretch and fold,
  • Rest 30 minutes and stretch and fold,
  • Rest 15 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the fridge. I usually will let the bread cold ferment/proof for 12-16 hours.

The Next Day:

A couple hours before you are ready to bake your take it out of the fridge to shape.

Shaping the Loaves:

  • Take and transfer the dough to a large clean work surface. If the dough seems kind of sticky, you can use a lightly floured surface. I usually do not use flour on the work surface but you can if you feel it would be helpful. Take a sharp knife or bench scraper and divide the dough in half.
  • Starting with one dough piece, flatten the dough by hand, patting it into a rectangle about 10” x 6”. Starting on the long side roll up the dough and pinch the seam to seal it shut. Take the ends of the dough and fold it under and pinch to seal again.
  • Tension in the dough is important, so make sure to roll the log tight. Once the loaf has been shaped place it on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat with the second loaf. Place this one next to the other loaf on parchment paper and set in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours. Make sure it is nice and puffy before you bake it.
  • About a half hour before you are ready to bake the bread preheat a baking stone and the oven to 400 degrees. Put a shallow baking sheet on the oven rack below the stone. This will be for water to help produce steam for the bread to have a beautiful crust.

Bake:

  • When you are ready to bake the loaves take either a sharp knife or your bread lame fitted with a razor blade and make deep slashes in the top of the loaves at a diagonal. Use a cookie sheet or pizza peel to transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
  • Add water to the pan below the baking stone and bake the bread for 25 minutes. For the best results, after the 25 minutes move the bread directly to the baking stone (removing the parchment paper) and let bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy your fresh bread!

Sourdough French Style Bread: A Recipe from the Farm

The oblong loaves are fun for something different and they are very good. Tender with a crispy exterior. Perfect paired with your favorite Italian meal or hotdish!
Print Recipe
French bread in the sunshine

Ingredients

  • 275 grams active sourdough starter
  • 260 grams non chlorinated room temperature water
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 525 grams bread flour
  • 60 grams olive oil
  • 15 g kosher salt

Instructions

  • First in a large bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl and your gram scale; measure out the sourdough starter, granulated sugar, and water. Mix with your hand until it forms a slurry.
  • Next, measure and add the flour and olive oil. Mix until a shaggy dough forms; about 1 minute. At this point you will let your bread rest for 30 minutes. This is the autolyze.
  • After the 30 minutes, add the salt and knead the bread by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 7 minutes.
  • When the bread has been kneaded transfer to a greased bowl and cover with a wet tea towel for 30 minutes.
  • When the 30 minutes is up, complete a stretch and fold on the dough and flip the dough.

To preform a stretch and fold:

  • Take one side of the dough and pull upward until it doesn't stretch anymore. (Don't rip the dough.) Then turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Do this a total of four times. Then flip the dough over. You have completed an envelope fold.

You will then:

  • Rest 30 minutes and stretch and fold,
  • Rest 30 minutes and stretch and fold,
  • Rest 15 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the fridge. I usually will let the bread cold ferment/proof for 12-16 hours.

The Next Day:

  • A couple hours before you are ready to bake your take it out of the fridge to shape.

Shaping the Loaves:

  • Take and transfer the dough to a large clean work surface. If the dough seems kind of sticky, you can use a lightly floured surface. I usually do not use flour on the work surface but you can if you feel it would be helpful. Take a sharp knife or bench scraper and divide the dough in half.
  • Starting with one dough piece, flatten the dough by hand, patting it into a rectangle about 10” x 6”. Starting on the long side roll up the dough and pinch the seam to seal it shut. Take the ends of the dough and fold it under and pinch to seal again.
  • Tension in the dough is important, so make sure to roll the log tight. Once the loaf has been shaped place it on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat with the second loaf. Place this one next to the other loaf on parchment paper and set in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours. Make sure it is nice and puffy before you bake it.
  • About a half hour before you are ready to bake the bread preheat a baking stone and the oven to 400 degrees. You also want to put a shallow baking sheet on the oven rack below the stone. This will be for water to help produce steam for the bread to have a beautiful crust.

Bake:

  • When you are ready to bake the loaves take either a sharp knife or your bread lame fitted with a razor blade and make DEEP slashes in the top of the loaves at a diagonal. About 1/3 to 1/2 way through the loaf. Use a cookie sheet or pizza peel to transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
  • Add water to the pan below the baking stone and bake the bread for 25 minutes. For the best results, after the 25 minutes move the bread directly to the baking stone (removing the parchment paper) and let bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy your fresh bread!

Notes

If you want to rewarm your French bread: preheat your oven to 250 degrees and wrap the bread tightly in tin foil. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes and enjoy!
Servings: 2 loaves

Great recipes to pair this bread with:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What makes French Bread Different?

Other than the obvious longer shaped loaves French bread usually has a crispier exterior and is made of simpler ingredients compared to a traditional sandwich bread.

How do you shape sourdough French Bread?

French bread is shaped different than your traditional sourdough boule. For French bread you will flatten your dough into a rectangle and roll it up in a jelly- roll way.

How do you soften sourdough French bread?

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and wrap the bread tightly in tin foil. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

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But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
James 3:17
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