French bread boule header

How to Make a Rustic Boule

Here's the recipe and pro tips from Chef Tracy Wilk teaching Skyler Bouchard Oppenheim of @diningwithskyler how to make a French bread on Instagram Live.

Bread has been a centerpiece of quarantine. Why have we all been making bread while sheltered in place? Because homemade bread is such a rewarding process. If you are able to get your hands on some yeast and flour, you have a project that you can make with just your hands and a little bit of patience.

Homemade bread typically only has flour, water, salt and yeast, and I love knowing exactly what is in my baked goods. If you can’t find yeast, try working on a sourdough starter! Once the smell of fresh bread hits your home, I promise you won’t go back to buying from the grocery store anytime soon.

Here are some pro tips if you’re jumping on the bread baking bandwagon:

  • Start with investing in a kitchen scale, such as the 5-pound scale from OXO. Bread is a little bit of feeling and a little bit of chemistry, so working with a scale gives you the most consistent product.
  • Rustic French bread from a staub dutch ovenA dutch oven will give you a crispy crust and a chewy inside, but if you don’t have one, try using a cast iron pan, a baking stone or a metal sheet tray. I’m using a Staub dutch oven for this recipe because it maintains heat very well.
  • I prefer instant yeast because it can quickly dissolve, but if you can’t find that try using dry active or compressed yeast.
  • I know you want to rip right into your fresh bread, but it really needs to cool. I promise it will be worth it!
  • You can use a stand mixer, but there's something incredibly therapeutic about hand-kneading. I love working with yeasted bread as a stress reliever and consider it a form of meditation.
  • Patience. Patience. Patience. One of the most common mistakes I catch as a recreational chef-instructor is students under proofing their bread. Bread making is truly a process, and you will learn that you cannot rush the proofing process.

Here’s a recipe from our Techniques of Bread Baking course.


Dutch Oven French Bread

Makes 1 boule


  • 285 grams water
  • 6 grams instant or active dry yeast
  • 410 grams high gluten flour
  • 45 grams whole wheat flour
  • 10 grams kosher salt


  1. Place water in a bowl and whisk yeast in, allowing it to dissolve.
  2. Add flour on top of the water, and then follow with the salt. Stir until a dough is formed.
  3. Transfer the dough to a surface and knead until completely smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  4. Using a non-stick spray, spray a bowl and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 30 minutes. Turn dough and then allow to rest until doubles in size, another 30 minutes. Proceed to shape dough and allow to proof again.
  5. While bread is proofing the final time, place dutch oven in oven and set temperature to 450 F. Once bread is proofed, bake at a 450 F for 25 minutes covered and then another 25 minutes with the lid off, until fully baked or reaches at least 190 F internal temperature and golden brown. Remove dutch oven lid about halfway through baking, to allow bread to get an even brown all throughout. Allow to cool before slicing.

Take a recreational baking class with Chef Tracy when our New York campus reopens.

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