Classic French Boule
This classic French boule is incredibly easy to make and produces a delicious, crusty artisan style loaf of bread without any of the fuss.
Over the past year, yeast, an ingredient that once intimidated me, has quickly become one of my favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen.
The dough is incredibly easy to make and the resulting artisan-style bread has a lovely hearty crusty and crumb. This bread pairs wonderfully with homemade soup. It can also be used for sandwiches or sliced and served plain with salted butter. In my opinion, great bread doesn’t need a lot of frills or toppings.
If you love this bread and are looking to take your bread baking skills up a notch, I highly recommend trying your hand at homemade sourdough next.
This French Boule dough, which yields two 2-pound loaves, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, allowing you to make homemade bread any day of the week. I promise, after tasting this bread, you’ll be making it all the time.
The recipe is adapted slightly from one of my favorite cookbooks, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois.
The original recipe calls for 100% unbleached white flour. This version contains a mixture of whole wheat flour and the end result is even more delicious, while still retaining a crusty exterior and not being overly dense. Happy bread baking!
Classic French Boule
- 3 cups (680g) warm water (95°F/35°C)
- 1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons (18g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 4 cups (560g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups (350g) whole wheat flour
- semolina or cornmeal for dusting
- The Day Before Baking: In a large container(with non-airtight lid), whisk together warm water, yeast, and salt. Slowly add in all-purpose and whole wheat flour, mixing with wooden spoon. When dough becomes too difficult and thick to stir, start mixing with your hands until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is uniform in texture. It should be very wet and sticky, do not knead the dough. Cover the dough lightly (do not seal container) and allow to rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Transfer dough container to the refrigerator. Dough can be used the following day or stored for up to 2 weeks.
- Important Baking Note: Steam enables the bread to develop a crusty, crisp exterior. One way to incorporate steam into your oven at home is to place a broiler tray on an oven rack and fill it with very hot water immediately after placing the loaf in the oven. Close the oven door immediately. If you do not own a baking stone or steel, you can also bake this loaf in a Dutch oven using the method outlined in my artisan sourdough bread recipe. It will yield even better results.
- Before Baking: Preheat a pizza stone or steel to 450°F (230°C) for at least 45 minutes. Dust a pizza peel lightly with semolina or cornmeal, remove half of the dough from the refrigerator and quickly “cloak” and shape the dough into a tight round. This shaping process should only take about 30 to 60 seconds total. To do so, stretch the surface around to the bottom of the loaf, creating surface tension on the top of the loaf so that the surface is relatively smooth. Allow the shaped boule to rest uncovered at room temperature for 45 minutes. Equipment Note: If you do own have a pizza peel, place dough on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Once the oven has preheated, lightly dust the top of the loaf with all purpose flour and using a serrated knife, score the top of the loaf with a scallop pattern (see photo) or # pattern. The individual scores should be no more than ½-inch deep.
- Transfer the dough onto the pizza stone (or place the baking sheet in the bottom third of your oven) and bake for 35 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads between 190°F-200°F (88°C-93°C). Allow loaf to cool on a rack for 1-2 hours before slicing. You can slice into the bread earlier, but allowing it to cool completely yields a better crumb texture and helps prevent the bread from losing moisture and staling faster.