Rustic Crusty French Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
A delicious, hearty French style bread, with a great crust! Note that you'll need to prepare the Starter dough the night before (or 8 hours before) you want to bake your bread. This long-rising starter is what gives the bread great depth of flavour.
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Starter Dough: (make 8-16 hours ahead of when you want to bake your bread - overnight works well!)

  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. rye flour or if unavailable, add 2 more Tbsp. whole wheat or all-purpose flour

Final Dough:

  • All of the Starter Dough from above, then add ...
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour


  • The night before, or up to 16 hours before you want to bake your bread, combine the Starter Dough ingredients in a medium sized bowl, by mixing well until all the flour is moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand on your counter.
  • When ready to start your final dough, stir the Starter Dough and add it to a large bowl of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Add the water, salt, sugar and instant yeast from the Dough ingredient list and mix to combine. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until all of the flour is incorporated and moistened. Continue adding flour in 1/4 cup increments, until your dough is smooth and moist, but not sticky. Remove dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Remove the dough to a floured surface and gently deflate with the palm of your hands. Form dough into a ball**. Place dough, seam side down, onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap that has been sprayed or brushed with cooking oil on the underside and let rise until dough has risen by 1/2 again. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on your kitchen temperature.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 475°. F. , with one oven rack in the middle of the oven and one rack one position below it. Place an empty cast-iron frying pan or other heavy, oven-safe baking pan in the oven while oven preheats. Boil some water to use in the next step.
  • Remove the cast-iron frying pan and immediately pour in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Place back in oven on rack one position below where your bread will bake. Place baking sheet with bread in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Without opening oven door, lower oven temperature to 425° F. and continue baking for an additional 15-20, or until well-browned and hollow sounding when tapped.
  • Cool bread well before slicing, to avoid a gummy loaf. To keep the loaf crusty, simply store uncovered on your counter-top, with the cut-side placed down onto a cutting board.


Be sure to read the "Cook's Notes" in the original post, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 399mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.8mg