Cheap, Cheap French Bread — A Guest Post by The Frugal Girl

by Katy on June 12, 2009 · 20 comments

The following is a guest post by Kristen over at The Frugal Girl. I have made this recipe twice now, and it has surpassed my expectations on both occasions. The first time I accidently let it over-rise, but the consistency was like a fancy-schmancy artisan loaf. I have doubled the recipe both times and been happy that I did. The bread takes less than two hours start to finish, which works great for my plan-it-at-the-last-minute family.

I expect to make this bread many times over, and just reading the recipe is making my mouth water.


Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


This is probably the most inexpensive bread I make because of its simple, short ingredient list…water, salt, sugar, and flour. Water and salt are practically free, a tablespoon of sugar costs pennies, and flour isn’t very pricey either.

This recipe is not going to turn out artisanal loaves that rival what you’d get in a French bakery…this bread is more like a heartier version of what you’d buy in your local supermarket.

If you’d like to make your loaves more nutritious, you can substitute whole wheat flour for part of the white flour(I wouldn’t sub more than 50% of it, personally).

I use this bread recipe quite often…we eat the loaves when they’re fresh and hot, I use the dough to make bread bowls, and I make panini sandwiches, French Bread pizzas, and garlic bread with extra loaves. Because of this, I rarely make one loaf! It’s just as easy to make two, and then you can freeze one to use later.

Since the dough has very little sweetening and no added fat(both of which act as preservatives), you’ll want to use or freeze your bread within a few days to prevent mold.

Easy French Bread(a less picture-heavy version is here, for easier printing)
Makes one loaf

2 1/4-2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pkg(2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water(120 degrees F)

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine 1 cup flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast.


Add water and beat for 3 minutes.


Beat in enough additional flour to make a soft but kneadable dough.

Turn dough out onto floured surface…


and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.


Place in bowl, cover with tea towel, and let rise 45 minutes(an hour if your house is cold).
Punch dough down and roll into a long rectangular shape. Starting from the long end, roll up jelly-roll style.


Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled. How long this takes will depend on the climate of your house.(the loaves below are obviously not risen yet).


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk one egg white with one tablespoon of water until slightly foamy. Using a pastry brush, gently brush beaten egg white onto loaves. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slashes on top of the loaf.

These loaves a bit over-risen…I got busy doing something else and forgot about them. Oops.


Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.


Happy Baking!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy June 12, 2009 at 10:11 pm

If the goal is cheap bread, I would recommend buying yeast in the 4oz glass jars which is by far cheaper by weight than the little packets.

I have a recipe I made by looking at a few “basic” bread recipes and taking the parts I liked. A few revisions and it became delicious and still extremely easy. 3 cups white flour, 1.5 cups wheat flour, 1/2t yeast, 1.5t salt, 1.5t sugar, 1T butter, 3/4c warm water, honey to taste (about 1-2T). Knead, wait 30 mins, bake at 400F.


hustler June 13, 2009 at 2:18 am

Yay! I’ve been wanting to make my own bread. I’m going to try this recipe for sure!


lailablogs June 13, 2009 at 2:57 am

Sounds and looks really delicious .. definitly a must try .. Laila ..


Kristen@The Frugal Girl June 13, 2009 at 7:50 am

Andy, I buy yeast in bulk instead. It’s cheaper even than the jars. At Costco, a 2 POUND bag of yeast is only a couple of dollars. So, so, cheap. I love it!


Emily June 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I don’t have a stand mixer – is it possible to make this with a hand mixer?


Angela June 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm

I don’t have a stand mixer either- I just have my hands! And Kristen has assured me I can do it. Remember our great-grandmothers!

I do all kinds of baking and don’t have a mixer or a food processor. It can be done.


Kristin @ klingtocash June 13, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I’ve made this bread a few times. Huge hit in my house. If you haven’t tried Kristen’s baking recipes, you really should.


Klara Le Vine June 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm

no one here does sourdough? even cheaper than yeast and more “authentic.”


marzapan June 13, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I don’t have a stand mixer, and I don’t knead. I do this recipe:

only 1/4 teaspoon yeast…


Sierra June 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm

We bake all our own bread, but we use a sourdough starter, so it’s just flour, starter and a little salt. Sometimes I paint it with olive oil when I’m done, and lately I’ve been adding herbs from the garden.


Andy June 15, 2009 at 6:37 am

I made this recipe this weekend (sans stand mixer). I’ve never made French bread before, mostly just loaves, so I normally use quite a bit of wheat flour. I did 1.5 cups white to 1 cup wheat, and as much of a wheat flour love as I am, I would not recommend even this much wheat flour. Maybe .75 or less next time. I’m allergic to eggs, so I skipped that glazing step. It did come out quite good though, and, like all other baked goods, will probably disappear in just a few days (I did make two loaves also!).

I buy the glass jars of yeast because it’s the cheapest I’ve seen and even 4 ounces takes quite a while to disappear. That, and shopping at the big stores makes my eco-conscious queezy.


Kristen June 15, 2009 at 9:42 am

Andy, as a greener alternative, you might try your local farmer’s market if you have one. Our Amish farmer’s market sells the yeast quite cheaply from what I hear.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl June 15, 2009 at 11:19 am

Just so you know, you can store yeast pretty much forever in the freezer(we’re talking years here), so even if you don’t bake much, you should totally spring for the 1 pound package. 🙂

Most yeast is labeled active, and some of it is labeled “instant”. Costco sells the instant sort, and I use it all the time. From what I understand, this just means that the yeast does not have to be proofed(dissolved into water) before it’s added to the rest of the ingredients.


niki June 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Wow this looks amazingly easy! And delicious!

Thanks for sharing.



BarbS June 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

I made it on Sunday morning, and it was gone by Sunday afternoon. Easy and delicious. Thanks so much for sharing!


Martha Marshall January 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I will definitely try this recipe. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing it.

I blog about bread every now and then. To me it’s as creative as painting.


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