Daring Bakers #2: [Julie Childs French Bread]

February 29, 2008 at 8:16 am 42 comments

Talk about a doozy for my second challenge!

To see my fellow Daring Bakers blogroll, please click here.

I will admit right off the bat that I was a closet whiner. But as a newb it was a little daunting to see my computer spit out a 14 page recipe. (I still think I am a newb being only my 2nd challenge, but when would you call yourself an intermediate DBer? 4-5, 10 challenges? I am kinda OCD about levels. Just ask my friend, Nikki. LOL.) I remember instinctively twirling my chair around to reach over to the printer after 2-3 pages were done but it kept going and going and going… After I replaced my ink cartridge (no fooling!) and it finished printing, I hurriedly put it in a dark corner and tried not to think about it.

That might be a little dramatic but I definitely procrastinated on this challenge. I was “this” close to being a kitchen wall flower but I have some great DB support sisters – Nikki and Leigh, who convinced me that “daring” isn’t about easy or convenient. Its about being bold, trying new things, facing your fears, all the above. So I caved to the inspirational speech and the peer pressure and retrieved my 14 page recipe from its dark abyss.

Of course seeing as I paired myself up with 2 other procrastinators we ended up not doing it the weekend we originally intended. But it was probably meant to be b/c the following weekend our hostesses Mary @ The Sour Dough and Sara @ I Like To Cook would be baking their french bread and organized an online instructional chat of sorts that anyone could join in. Luckily Nikki had the insight to know that if us 3 bakerteers left it up to our own devices, we might continue on our path of procrastination so she signed us up for Mary’s chat.

It started promptly on a Sunday at 10am EST. That may not be a big deal to easterners but if we do the math, us pacific coasters makes it 7am! There was also another DBer in the chat that lives in Peru (I think) and it was 2am for her! Now *that* is what I call breadication!

To be honest I don’t really know who Julia Childs is. The first time I saw the recipe I read kinda fast and thought it said “Julia Stiles”. The actress? and Baker? Wow. Talented.

::ducking from rolling pins and stale french bread being thrown at me::

The group of us started with the first step – proofing the yeast. “Proofing” can mean several things in bread baking: ensuring that the yeast is active, setting the dough to rise, and letting the shaped loaves rise before baking. Easy enough.

The next step was forming the dough by adding all the ingredients together. There’s only 4 ingredients – flour, yeast, water, salt. What was I worried about? Doesn’t seem hard, right?

After the dough came together and formed a more solid ball I proceeded to turn the dough out, scraping bowl clean, onto my kneading surface. To say the dough was sticky was an understatement. I was the dough monster from the doughy deep. I had dough fingers for days… After I wiggled my doughy fingers in my husband’s face for some shits&giggles I started kneading the dough. After a few flips and turns with the palm of my hand, it was time for its first 3-5 hour rise and hopefully grow to 3x its original size!

One more rise after that and then I could start cutting my dough into shapes. We had a choice of a couple different shapes for our bread but under Mary suggestion I decided to go for a batard (a long loaf, but not quite as long as a baguette) and 6 round rolls. Since french bread is baked free form in the oven (not in a loaf pan) you have to shape it in a way that it will bake up while retaining its shape. Mary explained that the rolls didn’t need a distinctive rising surface so let them mellow on a regular pan with floured parchment paper but the batard definitely would. The recipe explains how to create a rising surface out of a linen towel or canvas but since I didn’t have either of those I made mine out of one of my hub’s tshirts (Duh?! I didn’t want to get any of mine dirty! haha)


If you recognize the distinctive blue and gold block letters on my hub’s tshirt – breath breathe… I promise that after a quick wash in the W/D, it came out in all of its fightfightfight glory again!

After my rising surface was ready I laid my shaped batard in the trough that I had created out of the tshirt and 2 rolling pins to keep the dough from spreading out for its final rise.


Can you see the difference? I admit I got giddy when I saw how perfectly poofy my batard got!

SIDE NOTE: Lorena, see the KA rolling pin you got me for SBGEX?? Thats why I couldn’t write about it until now! Its first duty was for a DB challenge! w00t! Thanks again!! I love it!

Ten bread baking hours later my bread was done. Yes, let’s read that again, shall we… TEN HOURS!?! but the house never smelled so good.

Overall, my experience with this recipe were filled with ups and downs, frustrations and little victories. Will I make this again? Probably not. Am I happy I didn’t skip out this month? Definitely! I made french bread. I can take that off my bucket list. How many people can say that?

Many thanks to Mary for all your help along with my DB sisters, Nikki and Leigh, and the other DBers that were apart of the Sunday morning chat. I couldn’t have done it without you all!

Complete PDF recipe and detailed instructions can be downloaded here.

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Entry filed under: bread, Daring Bakers. Tags: .

Happy Birthday Pizza Pastitsio

42 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pixie  |  February 29, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Fabulous, I didn’t realize there was an online session!!!! aaack! Great job. :)

    Reply
  • 2. Gretchen Noelle  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Lovely bread! I am glad you didn’t skip out of this challenge as well, it is all about learning and growing – even in the kitchen.

    Reply
  • 3. nikki57  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Ohh look at those nooks and cranies w00t looks fab beech and I def created a babbling monster :P

    Reply
  • 4. zebe912  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Holy crap! I love Julia, and I love my french bread, but I definitely don’t have that kind of “bredication” as you put it. My french bread recipe is the easiest bread recipe I’ve ever had, and takes up half a page. I think I’ll be sticking to it since everyone I’ve ever served it to loves it. This makes me think twice about joining DB too. I’m just too busy lately.

    Reply
  • 5. Jerry Allison  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Glad you didn’t skip! Congrats on your second challenge completion!

    Reply
  • 6. slush  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Fab job babe! I was a whiner too. Glad ya got it done though. Way to suck it up. :)

    Reply
  • 7. NinaBeth  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:49 am

    So pretty! You were more daring then me and made a batard.

    Reply
  • 8. Racheypoo  |  February 29, 2008 at 10:12 am

    MAJOR kudos! And to think that 6 months ago, you made everything in the microwave. You’ve come a long way baby!

    Reply
  • 9. CB  |  February 29, 2008 at 11:10 am

    PIXIE, bummer you missed it! I didn’t know about either until my friend said she saw it on the DB blog.

    GRETCHEN, I am definitely glad I gave it a whirl. If anything b/c the conversation in the chat while waiting for bread to rise was priceless. :)

    NIKKI, is it suppose to have that many holes? I thought I did it wrong looking at all the other DB blogs. Oh yes, you have now opened up a can of babbling monster. LOL

    ZEBE, Well not all recipes are that time consuming. I totally think you could do it! Whats your bread recipe? I would love to see!

    JERRY, thanks! You were in the chat with me right? Couldn’t have done it without the slow prodding of those sunday morning chatters.

    NINA, I wanted to make a boule but Mary said that was even more challenging for a bread newbie like me. So actually you were more daring than me!

    RACHEYPOO, I know right!! I am quite proud. If I can do it then ANYONE can do it! Come to think of it. I haven’t used my microwave in a while. hehe.

    Reply
  • 10. i shot the chef  |  February 29, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Wow! Lovely bread! It looks so airy and yummy!

    Reply
  • 11. Judy  |  February 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    The texture is great! I loved your description. So, how did you keep the bread from sticking to the T-shirt? Hmmm, I’d rather do boules, myself, which I did.

    Reply
  • 12. Vibi  |  February 29, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you so much CB for the visit on my blog, and for the nice comment.
    I’m glad you found the short Julia Child life story interesting! There’s so much people don’t know about her… like that fact that she worked for the American Secret Intelligence Services!!!
    I see you have also very well succeeded in her bread making… yours looks much more “airy” than mine, you must be way more experienced than I am; t’was my first bread ever and I find it looks a bit caky.
    I’m truly happy you came over… and took the time to even write in French, wow… that made my day! Thanks a million, hope to see you around again.

    Reply
  • 13. Andrea  |  February 29, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    It was great baking with you on Sunday morning! I had a fab time, and it looks like you had great success with the bread! Good for you for doing the challenge!

    Reply
  • 14. Jaime  |  February 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    wow, yours turned out so perfectly! look at all the little holes :)

    Reply
  • 15. Melanie  |  February 29, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Wow, the crumb of your bread looks fantastic! 100% better than mine, way to go!

    Reply
  • 16. CB  |  February 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    ISHOT, thanks! Yours was beautiful too!

    JUDY, thanks about my description. I really wasn’t sure how to write it up since I usually write within the recipe but being as this one was long I had to babble through condense it. :) As for the shirt not sticking… flour… LOTS of flour! LOL.

    VIBI, Merci de passer à mon blog! My french isn’t that great so forgive me if my grammar was terrible. This was my first bread too and I am far from experienced. I’ll definitely stop by your blog again! Helps me practice my french. Please feel free to correct my mistakes, k? “Voir” vous le mois suivant!

    ANDREA, Same to you! The rising time was fun – filled with doughy chatter. Definitely made the 10 hours fly by. Hope to chat again soon!

    JAIME, Your bread looks so light and fluffy. Thats what I was hoping to get. But holes are good? I thought holes were defective yeast or kneading on my part. haha.

    MELANIE, Notice I didn’t take any full bodied bread shots… its b/c they were albinos – pasty white, not golden in the least! Your bread crust was a zillion times nicer. :)

    Reply
  • 17. kk  |  February 29, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Great job on your french bread!! it looks great!!

    Reply
  • 18. CB  |  February 29, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    KK, thank you!

    Reply
  • 19. Suzana  |  February 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Clara, so nice you could complete the challenge. And what a lovely bread! Great job. :)

    Reply
  • 20. Jenny  |  February 29, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Woot look at that bread! Cool set up for the rising – now I will know what to do when I make my own bread!

    Reply
  • 21. joythebaker  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Did you really confuse Julia Stiles with Julia Childs? Hilarious and troubling!!! You totally made me laugh. Your bread came out wonderfully. Beautiful crumb!

    Reply
  • 22. carrie  |  February 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    The crumb on your bread looks fantastic! Great job!

    Reply
  • 23. Mary  |  February 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Wow your bread looks GREAT! It’s so nice and crusty brown and such lovely holes on the inside. I’m drooling over here.

    Reply
  • 24. CB  |  February 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    SUZANNA, thanks! I am glad I did it too.

    JENNY, haha. You like my UCLA rising surface? Do I know how to improvise or what? Glad I could help when you are able to make it!

    JOY, ::hangs head:: yes? can we still be friends? ;)

    CARRIE, thanky for the crumb compliments! :)

    MARY, you’re too nice! My bread was very holy. All it needs is a halo! haha. (I kill myself sometimes!)

    Reply
  • 25. Allison  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    oooh that is some happy looking bread you have there!
    good job, and it was fun chatting with you on Sunday! =)

    Reply
  • 26. CB  |  February 29, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    ALLISON, hey there! So fun to chat with you! hopefully again soon…

    Reply
  • 27. bombshellwithin  |  March 1, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Yay!! A onetime success story! I’m so happy to finally have found one. I kept reading about deflations and everything. I was amused.. but at least feeling in good company. And…. CB…. I’ll forget you not knowing Julia Child if we go and forget how proofing the yeast is “Easy enough.” Seriously.

    And I SO wanted to do the online chat session, but with travelling and not having internet at the location where I was going to do my baking, I had to tough it out on my own.

    Great job!

    Reply
  • 28. CB  |  March 1, 2008 at 10:04 am

    BOMBSHELL, LOL. sorry sorry… proofing aint easy. Not sure how much of a success mine was but I wasn’t daring enough to do it again like some crazy person who did it 4x!!

    Reply
  • 29. megan  |  March 1, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I so wanted to do the online session but Couldn’t. Your bread looks great!
    Nice rolling pin :)

    Reply
  • 30. CB  |  March 1, 2008 at 10:17 am

    MEGAN, haha. thanks about my rolling pin! Gotta love improvisation! ps. nice to “meet” you!

    Reply
  • 31. Beth G  |  March 1, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    It looks fabulous!! Beautiful job!

    Reply
  • 32. CB  |  March 1, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    BETH.G, thanky! :)

    Reply
  • 33. JennyBakes  |  March 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    From one procrastinator to another, I am always glad when I pull through and finish a challenge. Your little air pockets are wonderful!

    Reply
  • 34. peabody  |  March 2, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Great idea to use the rolling pins to help with the shaping. Your bread turned out lovely.

    Reply
  • 35. breadchick  |  March 2, 2008 at 5:41 am

    CB, You were a joy to be with on the chat. You did a fantastic job! And I’m so proud that you got bread. That sure is better than the first loaf of French bread I EVER made way back….well way back.

    Anyways, thanks for baking with Sara and I!

    Reply
  • 36. CB  |  March 2, 2008 at 7:21 am

    JENNY, glad to meet another procrastinator. haha.

    PEABODY, I wish I could take credit for the rolling pin genius but I think it was in the instructions in the recipe ;) ps. I love your blog! Been a fan for a long time…

    BREADCHICK, thanks so much! Well I have to admit the pictures are probably deceiving b/c I didn’t take any wide bread shots. My bread was very pale! But somehow I totally missed the water spritzing part. Ooops! Thanks for hosting!

    Reply
  • 37. Sara  |  March 2, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Great job!

    Reply
  • 38. CB  |  March 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    SARA, thanks for hosting!

    Reply
  • 39. Tina  |  March 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I know soo long it took to make lol my poor bowl was so tired once it was done rising bread ;). Your bread looks wonderful my dear!! simply Wonderful!!

    Reply
  • 40. CB  |  March 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    TINA, haha. same with my bowl! thanks for the sweet bread compliments. Trust me! I thank my camera more than the bread for making it looks so much better than it really was. LOL

    Reply
  • 41. Anonymous  |  March 26, 2008 at 8:28 am

    submit articles

    Good post!

    Reply
  • 42. quit smoking wyoming  |  September 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Great blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get comments from other experienced people that share the same interest.

    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

    Reply

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