This is a great recipe for Instant Pot French Bread that you will want to make over and over again! A delicious simple loaf of bread baked to a golden brown hue is a comforting treat any time of year. This is perfect with my Instant Pot French Onion Soup!
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History of French Bread
Making a loaf of French bread requires a time investment, because it's a labor of love. The history of this iconic long baguette is rooted in French culture. However, the word "baguette" was not commonly used to refer to this amazing but humble loaf of baked bread until about 1920.
The bread is traditionally cooked using a steam oven which is what allows it to have a crusty exterior with a soft interior. The shape of the bread allows for quick cooking with just a few simple ingredients. Head over to this article to find out more about the history of this bread.
The recipe we are using is adapted from volume two of Julia Child and Simone Beck's classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is a plain French bread which usually takes about 7 - 10 hours to make. However, the Instant Pot cuts that time down to just under 3 hours!
What do I use for yeast?
You can use one package of active dry yeast, or 2 ¼ teaspoon if you keep the jar on hand. Be sure to check the date on your yeast prior to using it so you know it's still good.
How to make French bread?
To start take ⅓ cup of warm water, which is just hot enough to dissolve the yeast that you are adding to the cup. Be careful if the water is to hot the yeast won't like it. Add in the yeast and stir until dissolved then set aside. If you use instant yeast instead skip this step, and whisk directly into the flour.
I use all-purpose flour versus bread flour for this recipe. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt, and then whisk together to make sure the salt is evenly distributed. Make a well in the center, pour in the yeast, and remaining water. Stir with a spoon until combined.
Once combined flour a large wooden cutting board or the surface that you are using for kneading. Dump the dough onto the surface, and let rest for a few minutes prior to kneading.
Kneading the bread dough
Start kneading the dough on the floured surface. Gently work the bread by continually taking one edge, folding over, flipping, and using the heel of your hand to work the dough to knead thoroughly. Work the dough, adding in flour as needed, until it is smooth and elastic. Form into a small ball.
Proofing the dough
This dough requires three rises, which is quick to do with the Instant Pot. You will need an Instant Pot that has a Yogurt button in order to do this, and a glass lid or plate to cover the top.
Take some olive oil and generously cover the inside of the pressure cooker. Place the dough ball inside and then cover with the lid. Press the yogurt button, and set the timer for 30 minutes. The dough should double at minimum each rie.
Once the timer beeps, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, and put back in the pressure cooker again for 30 minutes on the yogurt setting.
Once the dough has risen, remove to a lightly floured surface. The dough should have doubled in size, however, if not this is an easy fix. A super cool house might cause this. Just knead the dough one more time then put into the Instant Pot again for another 30 minutes.
Before kneading the dough one final time, cut it into either two or three pieces. Three pieces will yield smaller thinner baguettes and loaves. I like to divide the dough into two pieces.
Time to prep the dough for it's final rise, which is NOT in the Instant Pot. You do have choices here...you can prepare a traditional baguette...OR...you can do them in your bread pans. This bread recipe is perfect for sandwiches, appetizers, or just for snacking.
Either way you decide to go place a towel or parchment paper on your baking sheet, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for one hour. I generally will put it in a cold oven to allow the dough to rise its final time.
Baking the French Bread
Preheat your oven to 450-degrees. Take a small knife and make three long slits in the top of the dough. Brush the top of the dough with a little water. The cook time in the oven is 25 minutes.
Once done remove to cool, and then enjoy! I like to brush the finished bread on all sides with some melted butter. French bread is typically better eaten fresh the first day, but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.
Instant Pot French Bread
- 1 pkg active dry yeast or if you have a jar, 2 ¼ teaspoons
- ⅓ cup warm water
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups water lukewarm
- Stir the yeast into the warm water until it dissolves.
- Add the flour to a large bowl, and whisk in the salt. Add the yeast mixture, and remaining water to the flour. Stir to combine.
- Flip dough out to a lightly floured surface and let rest for a few minutes.
- Knead the dough until it becomes elastic, and retracts it shape when pulled out. Depending on your experience this could take just a few minutes or a little longer. Roll into a ball.
- Oil the inside of your Instant Pot with olive oil, and set the dough ball inside. Cover the pressure cooker with a plate or lid. DO NOT USE THE PRESSURE COOKER LID. If you use the pressure cooker lid, it may become permanently stuck on.
- Press the yogurt button, and set for 30 minutes on the normal setting. Once complete, remove the dough, and knead for a few minutes to punch down. Return to the Instant Pot to rise on the yogurt setting for another 30 minutes. If you find the dough doesn't rise as you expect which should be double or triple due to a cooler house then just punch down and knead one more time. Then repeat another 30 minutes on the yogurt setting in the Instant Pot.
- For the third rise, knead the dough and form into loaves. Cover with a clean towel, and place in a cold oven for one hour.
- Once done make a few slashes in the top of the loaves with a small sharp knife. Brush the top of the loaves with water. Bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven. Once done remove, and brush with butter.
- Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container or bag for a few days.