My kids said this is the best bread I’ve ever made– which says a lot, because I’ve been baking all of our bread for about ten years!
1- Has a fantastic rosemary flavor,
2- Is super soft on the inside,
3- Isn’t too crunchy on the outside,
4- Is made with only five ingredients,
And, 5- Is so delicious, perfect to go with any savory dish!
Watch me make it here
Let’s talk Ingredients!
Lukewarm to barely warm water is perfect.
My preference is to use bread flour for this recipe because it makes the final result nice and elastic and billowy. But, it will be ok if you use all-purpose flour instead. If you would like, you could also use some whole wheat flour, or kamut flour. Whole wheat and kamut flours are both very thirsty flours, so you may not need quite as much flour, the dough won’t raise quite as high, but will still be delicious.
Technically, sourdough starter is just fermented flour and water. For this recipe, you will want to use a happy, fed, bubbly and active starter. If you need a little help with understanding sourdough, click here to check out my sourdough 101 post.
Don’t forget the salt, or your bread won’t be nearly as delicious and you might end up throwing it away. (Ask me how I know that😩)
I love to use Redmond find sea salt in this and every recipe. It is full of naturally occurring trace minerals.
Click here to get yourself some Redmond salt, or any Redmond products. You can get 15% off with my affiliate coupon code, “AmbersKitchen”.
The dried rosemary is what makes this bread so incredibly delicious!
Dried rosemary is more potent than fresh rosemary, so if you would rather use fresh, use 3x as much fresh as you would use dried.
*OPTION* You can absolutely leave out the rosemary if you just want a plain sourdough French bread.
Extra virgin Olive oil
The olive oil has such a delicious flavor that pairs nicely with sourdough and rosemary for a savory bread. If you do not have Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then go ahead and use either avocado oil, melted butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil.
Egg for eggwash
*optional, but it does add a gorgeous glossy golden color to the final product.*
This ingredient is not added when making the dough, but it is brushed on the dough loaves right before they go into the oven.
What if I am not on the sourdough train?
If you don’t have a sourdough starter, or if you aren’t super proficient in sourdough yet, then you can absolutely make French bread from active dry yeast. Click here to see my French bread recipe.
How could I learn more about sourdough?
If you want to be a sourdough pro, I have a whole blog post with quite a lot of information, it’s everything I know about sourdough. Click here to read more about sourdough basics.
Ingredients by weight
Water 478 grams
Sourdough starter 200 grams
Salt 16 grams
Rosemary 7 grams
Olive oil 49 grams
Flour 800 grams (give or take 50 grams for your unique circumstances)
Timing tips for sourdough
Since the sourdough process can take a while, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your time.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FRIDGE. You can “pause” or slow down your sourdough fermentation by putting the dough into the fridge for anywhere from 1 to 72 hours. In fact, the dough can do its entire first bulk rise while in the fridge. If the dough is in the fridge for at least 12 hours, that can be considered the first bulk rise. For Example: Feed/activate starter at noon. When it’s active later in the afternoon, make the dough. Instead of letting the dough rise at room temp, you could also put the dough into an airtight container right away, and put it into the fridge. The next day, at about 10 AM, you can pull the dough out of the fridge, form it into loaf shape, cover, let rise and bake. This way you would be pulling hot bread out of the oven around 4 PM.
- ACTIVATE YOUR STARTER OVERNIGHT. This is probably my most-used sourdough hack. I love to feed my starter a giant feed right before I go to bed, then when I wake up in the morning, my starter has activated and it’s ready to make dough right away. Example of a “Giant feed” = 1 part starter: 8 parts flour: 8 parts water. So for this recipe, that might look like: 2 Tablespoons unfed discard starter: 1 cup flour : 1 cup water. When I feed my starter on this schedule, I make my dough first thing in the morning, let it do it’s first bulk rise until about noon, then form it into its shape and rise again for a few more hours. Then bake! Hot bread could be coming out of the oven around 3 or 4 PM.
EXAMPLE SCHEDULE and directions
This timing example is NOT a hard and fast rule, and can depend on several factors, such as 1- The ambient temperature in your home, 2- The strength of your sourdough starter, and 3- Your own personal schedule and routine.
7 AM: FEED YOUR STARTER. Combine 1 part discard starter with 1 part water and 1 part flour. (1/2 cup discard starter + 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup flour) Mix together and make sure the consistency matches that of a thick pancake batter. (Add more flour or water to get to that consistency.) Loosely cover, mark the height of the starter with a dry erase marker or with a rubber band, and leave fed starter at room temperature and watch. Over the next few hours, it *should* fill with large bubbles and double in size.
10:00 AM: MAKE YOUR DOUGH. *If starter has doubled in size and filled with bubbles, then continue. Do not proceed unless your starter is showing signs that it is ready.*
Combine all ingredients, knead dough until smooth and elastic, put it into a bowl, cover with plastic, (or with a shower cap or with a clean dish towel). Let dough do it’s first bulk rise at room temperature until it risen or doubled in size. (Could take 4-8 hours depending on ambient temperature and strength of starter)
*OPTION* skip the first bulk rise, put dough in an airtight container and into the fridge for 12-72 hours before proceeding to the next step.
3:00 PM: FORM THE DOUGH INTO LOAVES. Divide the dough into two, roll each half out into an even snake, then set onto a greased baking sheet, or onto French bread loaf pans. Cover with plastic or a clean dish towel so that tops don’t dry out. Let rise until doubled in size. (This could take 2-5 hours depending on ambient temperature and strength of your starter)
6:00 PM: BAKE THE BREAD! *Only bake dough that has doubled in size after the rise. If it has not risen, then it will be a dense brick.*
Remove the covering from the dough loaves, and brush an even layer of a raw egg onto the entire top surface of the dough. Take a sharp blade or knife, and gently cut a few diagonal slits into the tops of the dough. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.
The above schedule works really well in the summer when temps are higher, but the timeline may not work quite so fast in the cold winter months. Make sure you check out the other TIMING TIPS above for other examples of how to time this recipe.
How do you make this bread?
Start by activating your sourdough starter. If this process still feels unfamiliar, use the ratios found above in the “TIMING TIPS” paragraph.
In a mixing bowl, or in an electric countertop mixer, combine the sourdough starter, the water, the salt, rosemary, and olive oil. Mix together.
Then add the flour. Start to combine the flour with the other ingredients.
I like to use this Danish Dough Whisk.
I usually make this and all other breads using my Bosch Mixer but it can absolutely be made by hand as well!
At first, it will seem like there is far too much flour and that the dough isn’t going to come together. Just keep kneading. The dough will eventually form into a smooth elastic ball. If kneading by hand, knead until your arms feel like they are going to fall off, (*slight exaggeration*). Or if kneading with a countertop mixer, knead for about ten minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a bowl to rise and cover. This is the first bulk rise. This rise can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the ambient temperature and the strength of your starter.
Let it rise until it has DOUBLED IN SIZE!
On the photo on the right, you can see that the dough is covered with a shower cap. I find the shower caps really nice and easy to work with whenever the dough is in a bowl. You could also use a sheet of plastic wrap, or just cover with a clean dish towel. Just make sure the dough is covered at all times.
After the dough has done the first bulk rise, Divide the dough in two, and form into two long loaf shapes. Then place them on these greased, French bread loaf pans.
Once the dough is formed and on the pan,
- Cover it so the top does not dry out. (Use a clean dish towel or loose plastic wrap)
- Let it rise until the dough doubles in size. (This could take 2-6 hours depending on the ambient temp and the strength of your starter)
- Once the dough is risen, Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take a raw beaten egg and brush the tops of the dough with the egg.
- Cut a few horizontal slits in the dough either using a sharp knife, or a specialty lame blade.
- Put the dough into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temp reaches 190 degrees.
Note: You do not need these special pans to make this bread. You can absolutely just let them rise and bake them flat on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
How do you store this bread?
#1- Unlike store bought French bread, this bread has no preservatives, so it will only last fresh at room temperature for a few days. I recommend freezing any bread that you won’t be using within the next two days.
#2- I like to store the bread in these twist tie bread storage bags, Unfortunately, the bread is a little long for these bags, so I have to use two bags and put one on each end, then tie it in a knot to tighten the bag.
As always, I hope you love this recipe! If you make this and you love it, please give it a 5-star review and leave a comment. Thank you for being here and trusting me with your baking adventures!
Sourdough rosemary french bread
Hands on time: 25 min
Rising time: 8+ hours Bake time: 25-30 min Total Time: 9+ hours
Servings: 2 Loaves
One of the most enjoyable breads I’ve ever made or eaten, and that’s what my kids say too! You’ll love it!
- 2 cups warm water (478 g)
- 1 cup active sourdough starter (175 g)
- 2.5 teaspoons salt (16 g)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (49 g)
- 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary (7 g)
- 5.5 to 6 cups bread flour (762-809 g)
- *optional* one egg for the egg wash
Combine active sourdough starter, water, salt, oil, and rosemary. Mix.
Add flour, cup by cup.
Knead. You can use either an electric countertop mixer such as a Bosch, or you can do this process by hand. If kneading by hand, dump the dough out onto the countertop to knead. The dough may feel like it has too much flour at first, but as you continue kneading all of the flour should get worked into the dough. The more you knead, the more the flour hydrates. You may need to add a few more sprinkles of flour if the dough becomes overly sticky as you knead. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, (10-15 minutes). The finished, kneaded dough should be tacky but not overly sticky.
Touch test: after kneading the dough, touch it with 3 fingers. If a lot of dough sticks to your fingers, it needs more flour. If hardly any sticks to your fingers it’s just right. If it is dry and crumbly with pockets of visible flour, it has too much flour. Kneading the dough for a few extra minutes can help hydrate any excess flour.
Cover dough. Let rise until it has doubled in size (should take about 4-8 hours).
Uncover dough. Transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide in two equal portions. Tuck dough and roll it until it forms into long smooth loaves. Place on a (greased) baking sheet.
Cover dough and let it rise again until it has doubled in size. (Should take about 2-5 hours)
When dough has risen completely, uncover, and brush dough with a beaten egg (for glaze) and score a few diagonal slits into the side of the dough. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.
Let the bread cool for about ten minutes, then slice into it and ENJOY! This is best served with butter. So good!
Yours look so pretty! Mine was wet so I keep adding flour. After the bulk rise it was even wetter. They looked like pancakes on my cookie sheet haha! I don’t know where I went wrong.