Thursday, February 28, 2008

Julia Child’s (Julia Child’s!) French Bread

This months Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Breadchick Mary of The Sour Dough and Sara of I Like to Cook. My reaction to the challenge, Julia Child’s French bread, was emotionally complex. It went like this…..

  1. Overwhelming excitement. I was secretly hoping it would be a savory challenge. I was also secretly hoping it would be bread. I didn’t even dare to secretly hope for a Julia Child challenge. I adore Julia Child. Adore.
  2. Sheer terror. As I’m typing this right now, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to include the fairly daunting (at first glance) recipe with my write-up. Length + very precise conditions + lots of ‘the dough should’s = terror.
  3. Moderate excitement. Bring on the daunting recipe! It’s a little scary, but how satisfying is it to buckle down, focus, and tackle something challenging? It’s gotta be at least moderately satisfying. And I do have all of the ingredients. And Julia Child.
  4. Moderate terror. After 4 or 5 read throughs, the recipe didn’t seem so bad. The shaping and the dough handling and the temperature monitoring were still a little intimidating, but how much can one screw up when most of the time, the dough is just sitting there rising? It’s gotta be not very much.
  5. All of the above. On game day (a gray snowy day in New England), I was both braced and eager.

The dough came together quite nicely, without any additional flour or water. Most of my fears subsided after the first rise. The directions that seemed a little abstract and ambiguous on paper started to make perfect sense. The second rise went equally well. The shaping (I made two round loaves) was…..ok. I’m fairly convinced that my technique was flawed, but they were round in shape and they got bigger, so I was satisfied.

Getting them into the oven and onto the pizza stone was a little clumsy, and the oven temperature was a little precarious. I did try to recreate a baker’s oven, by spraying a hot baking sheet with water, but I don’t know that it was very effective.

Picture time! Before the bake, I was so concentrated on getting each step right that I completely forgot to take pictures. Here are my two loaves, packed up and ready to go.

Ami B- pic1_bread

One had a date with some tapenade, and the other, a date with a pretty hunky apple butter. We got so carried away eating the bread, that again….I forgot to take pictures. However, this last one should provide some indication of how the bread turned out. :)

Ami B- pic2_jars

- Amy B


L Vanel said...

I also adore Julia Child. I think your bread looks wonderful.

Sandicita said...

I also went through the range of emotions and the back-and-forth between terror and excitement. Glad you liked the results!

Mer said...


breadchick said...

Your bread looks perfectly delish.

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Sheltie Girl said...

Yum...french bread and tapenade. You are speaking my language here.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go go

Aparna said...

Your bread seems to have turned out real good.