French Bread

Makes 1 loaf (approximately 8 servings, depending on the circumstances)

3 cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 packet yeast
½ cup water
¾ cup milk
1 egg white

Special equipment

none necessary, but a scalloped tin certainly eases the molding


Preheat oven to 450°. Heat milk and water in a small bowl (a minute in the microwave on high is perfect). Dissolve in the yeast. Measure the flour into a large bowl. Add salt. Slowly stir in the yeast mixture, then knead in the egg white, which adds elasticity to the dough. Knead until soft. Let it rise in a warm place for approximately 45 minutes. Punch down and form into two oblong loaves. Let it rise again, about 30 minutes. Slash the loaves in diagonals severely and bake for 30 minutes. Shield with foil if the crust gets too dark.


A very basic recipe, based on Robert May's recipe of 1660. David offers her own intrepretation, but be sure to also check out her entire chapter of notes on the design of French loaves.

Here is May's original recipe, as reprinted by David (by gallon here May means 7 lbs):

Take a gallon of fine flour, and a pint pf good new ale barm or yeast, and put it to the flour, with the whites of six new laid eggs well beaten in a dish, and mixt with the barm in the middle of the flour, also three spoonfuls of dine salt; then warm some milk and fair water, and put to it, and make it up pretty stiff, being well wrought and worked up, cover it in a bowl or tray with a warm cloth till your oven be hot; then make it up either in rouls, or fashion it in little wooden dishes and bake it, being baked in a quick oven, chip it hot.
First served: unknown
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Last modified: © July 1995