Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge- Julia Child’s French Bread

Well, here we go with my first challenge as a Daring Baker! I was very excited to join this group and was thankful to be able to participate even without having a blog of my own. I have loved baking since I was a child and am excited about this opportunity to bake outside of my comfort zone.

I should point out that this will be my first, and only, challenge in my tiny, uneven, drafty apartment kitchen. My husband and I should be moving into our new house within a month, so hopefully I will be baking up the next challenge in my new kitchen! Until then, we shall do the best we can with what we have!

Sarah T (5)

When I heard about this month’s challenge I was excited and a little nervous. I only began baking with yeast about 6 months ago. My previous, all bet it limited, experience and my upcoming week-long vacation gave me the ambition to take on this challenge!

I was lucky enough to be able to set aside a full day to complete the challenge. I had read, re-read and highlighted the lengthy recipe in preparation. At 9am I began! My dough came together pretty well. I ended up having to add extra flour, probably around a cup, because the dough was so sticky. My Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer did a pretty good job, but I did end up kneading by hand at the end. With steps one and two complete I set up dough up in the oven with the light on for the first rise.

I checked on the dough after 2 ½ hours and was very surprised to see that it had more than tripled in size already! I do not have a thermometer in my oven, so maybe it was warmer than 70 degrees in there? Anyway, I moved on to step four and prepared the dough for the next rise. It was a little sticky again so I sprinkled some more flour, but it worked into the cushion shape quite nicely. Back in the oven and again we wait!

Sarah T

During the second rise I watched the video on the PBS website to get some pointers on shaping the dough, as this is the part of the process that caused me the most apprehension. The video was very helpful! So, off I went forming my loaves. I decided to make four batards. As I was forming the loaves according to the video and the directions in the recipe, I thought with amazement “this is going much better than I imagined!” It was then that I looked up and caught a glimpse of my kosher salt….salt that I haven’t used all day…salt that was supposed to go in to the bread in the first step of the recipe! Yes, that’s right, I forgot the salt. Drat! I am surprised this mistake didn’t impact the rising or anything else….Anyway, we have come this far, we might as well see it though to the end. I knew it didn’t seem right for things to go so smoothly! I formed my four loaves and waited for the final rise.

Sarah T (1)

I had a little trouble with slashing the loaves because I didn’t have a razor blade and I later realized they weren’t as long or deep as they should have been (I think the lack o’ salt realization shook my confidence and focus!) Anyway, into the oven they went!

Sarah T (2)

25 minutes later, here they are! I was pleased to see that they browned nicely. I planned on taking a loaf to my brother-in-law’s for dinner, so hopefully they taste okay. And now, more waiting as they cool.

Sarah T (3)

Two more hours later (8 hours after I began) it was time for the moment of truth. The verdict is in and the bread tastes…okay! Obviously the lack of salt left it lacking in flavor, but it is nice and crusty on the outside and soft inside.

Sarah T (4)

All in all, I would say it the French Bread was a success! Thanks for a great challenge! I look forward to next month!



Janet said...

Nice images, your bread looks great.

L Vanel said...

Gorgeous puffy loaves.

Sandicita said...

Beautiful loaves! I had the same salt issue in the potato bread challenge. It's so sad to work so hard and have it turn out fine but bland. Oh well!

breadchick said...

You actually made Tuscan bread ala Julia Child if you left the salt out. They top the bread with salty condiments to make up for the lack of salt. Either way it looks great.

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Sheltie Girl said...

Your loaves turned out so beautifully with such a lovely crumb.

Nice to know that your innovation was a Julia Child recipe for Tuscan

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Sarah said...

Thanks for pointing that our breadchick! I feel much better now. :) We actually did serve it with garlic oil sprinkled with seasoning. Who knew I was on to something!? haha. Thanks for the fun!

Aparna said...

Welcome aboard. And that's some pretty lovely bread. Congrats on completeing the challenge.

Princess of the kitchen said...

beautiful loaves. Well done