Friday, February 29, 2008

Julia Child French Bread-Daring Baking

Well this was a proper daring baking challenge this month. A daunting, 14 page recipe with only 3 ingredients. The closer it got, the more dread I felt. I mean what if I put all the work in and its inedible. I'm not terribly good at following detailed recipes, so trying not to forget anything in an epic like this seemed almost impossible.

Thankfully the weather was horrible on Sunday and the perfect thing to do was to stay in and make bread. I'm also very lucky that my house hovers around 70 degrees most of the year, so there was no problem keeping at the desired temperature for the rises.

I set to work with the kitchenaid while I was making breakfast, then popped it in a safe place for the first rise. Not too bad really, the second rise was easy too. This is a picture of the dough after the second rise, when it had started to deflate.

The hard part was next, trying to coddle the dough between te
a towels into a nice shape for baking, and forming the loaves. I decided on two round loaves and a small baton. It really wasn't as bad as I expected, although this required the most concentration, and re-reading. Note that I covered them with plastic and then realised I was supposed to cover them with a towel, so I changed that! I think round loaves are a good way to go as they seem to support themselves.

I then slashed them, sprayed with water and threw them on the pizza stone, then was rewarded with a beautifully browned loaf and a rumbling tummy. I think one of the secrets to a lovely brown crust was spraying with water. I also had a pan of water in the oven, although I wasn't quite thorough enough to do the proper baking oven tricks.

Maybe the hardest part was waiting a couple of hours for the bread to cool! When we sat down to our dinner, a mixture of salad to go with our bread, we cut the loaf and it was near perfection. The crust was chewy and nicely brown and the middle was lovely and soft.

When I set out on this journey I was certain I'd never make this bread again, but you know it really wasn't that bad once I got going, and the active time was probably around an hour, really not bad for such wonderful bread. I was over the moon to see the fruits of my hard work, it was a very worthwhile challenge and next time I have a lazy Sunday I'll probably make it again.

Thanks very much to Keith, for lending me the pizza stone. It was definitely worth using and I might just get my own next time I'm out shopping.


L Vanel said...

Whoa your loaves look amazing.

Princess of the kitchen said...

your bread looks great. Well done

Mary said...

Your loaves look terrific! Congratulations on a job well done!

breadchick said...

Your bread looks wonderful

Glad you enjoyed baking the bread

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Deborah said...

Wonderful job! Your bread looks great.

Aparna said...

That's some lovely bread, Jenny.

Angel said...

Your bread looks wonderful, i love the coloring of them. Man a pizza stone seems like it would be so much nicer. Maybe I should invest in one too.

Catherine said...

I didn't get my cake sugar/butter to cream as light as would have liked. I also was hoping they would bake a bit taller. Considering baking another batch to make it three layers.

Shayne said...

I agree that waiting for the bread to cool was hard. But we did cheat and we had one of our 3 loaves right away. It only made it harder to wait for the rest to cool.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your bread looks just perfect!