French Bread

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  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm whole milk, divided
  • 2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon oil, for greasing bowl


  1. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the yeast into 1/4 cup of the milk. Slowly stir in 3/4 cup milk.
  3. Place the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl fitted to a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed to incorporate the butter. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a soft dough is formed.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. It should form a compact ball when it is finished.
  5. Use the oil to grease a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning dough to coat on all sides. Cover with a lightly oiled clear film and leave to rise in a draft-free location for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knock the dough back.
  7. To make large loaves, divide dough into 2 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball and roll back and forth using the palms of your hands with even pressure until they are approximately 8-inches in length. Place one bread loaf on each baking sheet.
  8. To make small loaves (Petit Pains Au Lait), divide dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball and roll back and forth using the palm of one hand with even pressure until they are approximately 5-inches in length. Place 3 breads on each baking sheet.
  9. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  10. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove plastic wrap and brush each loaf evenly with milk.
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.
  13. Transfer to wire racks to cool.