29 February 2008

Daring Bakers: Julia Child's French Bread

I think it's a rare North American home cook who can claim to be pristine against the influence of the great Julia Child. I remember watching her show, The French Chef, as PBS repeats: her distinctive sing-songy voice teaching viewers how to make sauces or crêpes or beasts in a way that was very matter-of-fact, but approachable. More importantly, I thought she was having fun.

When our fabulous Daring Bakers hosts,
Sarah of i like to cook and Breadchick of The Sour Dough challenged us to make Julia Child's French Bread, I knew this would be a combination of fun and, well...work.

Yes, I'm fully aware of those glorious home bread machines that via prest-o-change-o magic fill homes with scrumptious aromas in three hours. Relatively effortless, all you have to do --apart from measure out the ingredients-- is dump the fixings into the gadget and walk away until it dings its "the bread has loafed" ding. Then all you need to do is cool it, wipe down the inside of the machine and wash the tin. It's a little too sterile for my liking...and truth be told, I usually wind up losing one of the kneading paddles into the crumb, so I end up massacring its underside, pulling out huge wodges of bread in search of a wandering machine part.

I wasn't forced to use the bread machine, something an uncle convinced my parents to get, but being the lazy sort I am, it became very convenient...and a very lah-di-dah excuse to not be lassoed into doing something as exciting as digging my eyes out with the catbox scoop--"Oh no, thanks for the invite, but I really do need to make some bread...yes, I do bake my own...it's terribly complicated...I really can't leave it, even through the second rise...yes, there's more than one rise...it's that sort of thing." Given the bread machine was usually hid under a tea towel, many people never noticed it.

To tell you the truth, there was a bit of me that was happy when the bread machine broke some 10-odd years ago. I'd rather have my hands stuck in a mass of sticky, yeasty and, well, farty dough than letting some dispassionate contraption have all the fun.

Let's face it, breadmaking by hand is not for the feint of heart, nor wimpy of arm. Although not required, a...healthy, if not plumptious physique helps with all that kneading and rolling and slapping and smacking that goes on when taming yeast bubbles. It also helps if you have a wee bit...or a whole bushel-load...of frustrations to work through. Think of the dough as a soon-to-be edible stressball.

If you've ever wanted to make French Bread, this recipe is one to try. Whatever you do, don't be discouraged by its copious notations, nor the total amount of time needed to make this bread from start to finish: Sarah's and Mary's hints, suggestions and clarifications are a fabulous way to calm even the most nervous of novice breadmakers, and well, you really aren't that active for all that breadmaking time (up to nine hours, if you want to know)...most of it is spent letting the dough grow, so you can go about your normal housey antics...cleaning, flitting through blogs, chasing the cat, watching Coronation Street, all of the above...

I was so pleased with my humble little loaf. I knocked on the crust--it had that lovely deep sound a good crusty loaf should have. The outside was a beautifully burnished colour and he crumb was soft and yielding. Fresh, it's delicious with butter and jam. Cut into thick batons and lightly toasted, it's fabulous dunked into (
Nigella's) Oeufs en Cocotte.





To read what the other DBs did with this challenge, take a meander through our blogroll.



cheers!
jasmine





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47 comments:

Gigi said...

Well done! I loved all the photos.

Dharm said...

Jasmine, your bread looks just great! and the bread dipped in those eggs...yummm

K & S said...

looks wonderful!

Big Boys Oven said...

yours look so cool! as for me by the end of the day, I totally got so exhausted! Gosh me baking bread! no no no, no more lol!

Anne said...

what a beautiful looking bread you made :) You did a fabulous job!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Beautiful bread and I loved your writings as well. No bread maker, no stand mixer here and I am learning to love the hand to dough kneading part. So very true that there is something very soothing in it. Great job Jasmine!

Dianne said...

Your bread look fabulous! I love the color and the shape.

Annemarie said...

Great post Jasmine, and you have every right to be proud of your loaf. It really does look flawless. Plumptiously so, even. :)

Ilva said...

I'm with you all the way on the making bread by hand, more work but it makes me feel good. I don't even own a KitchenAid!

Marie said...

Your bread looks fantastic! I cheated and used a breadmaker to knead mine. I know. I'm a bad puddy tat!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

As always Jasmine I love the way to write it up and around and down and back and forth.
To get to
Beautiful Bread! It is good stuff.
Machine parts lost . . . wow...

Andrea said...

Jasmine, they look great!! That photo of the dunked bread is the best!

marye said...

It looks wonderful! Great job.

cookworm said...

Lovely job on the challenge! Both crust and crumb look positively scrumptious.

Mary said...

Your bread looks great! I love your comment about hiding the breadmaker under the tea towel! Mine is safely hidden in a top cupboard.

Quellia said...

If you get tired of making bread by hand again, I have a breadmaker sitting in my basement, collecting dust. Don't remember the last time I had to go digging for the kneading paddle out of the bottom of a loaf from it as I too would rather get my hands in there, full of flour.
Beautiful loaf, btw!

Meeta said...

I used my wimpy arms for thi and afterwards felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Seriously though I think you did a great job Jasmine - congrats!

Baking Soda said...

Jasmine you crack me up: "the bread has loafed", so far I've tasted salted french butter, various cheeses, aioli, and can I have some of your oefs en cocotte to dunk? Pretty please? Pass the bread as well!

Sarah said...

your bread looks beautiful! I will have to try that Nigella recipe! Yum!
I love your blog- so glad I found it.

creampuff said...

Wasn't the bread just fabulous?! Yours turned out so golden and beautiful.

I agree with you, there's nothing like feeling that dough under your hands. Be still my beating heart!

Breadchick said...

Jasmine, I love that you watched Coronation Street because I watched East Enders while mine was rising (I think there was some cat chasing too in there).

Anyways, your loaves are perfect and I hadn't thought of making "runny eggs" to dunk mine in but will next time.

Thanks ever so much for joining Sara and I this month! We always enjoy having you about and baking with you.

Cheers,

glamah16 said...

As much as I love gadgets, I never aspired to own a bread machine. Your bread turned out perfect. Nice crumb and color. That egg dish looks mighty tasty.

BrineS said...

Wonderful bread!

Brilynn said...

The thing that got me about the bread machine was the boring rectangular loaves it produced, they seemed somehow very fake.

Aamena said...

yeah, jam and butter rock! great bread!

zorra said...

Divine!

ostwestwind said...

I love all the pictures and the bread!

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

myriam said...

good job! yum!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I learned to cook by watching Julia Child on TV -- her show was produced in Boston, and she was a real gal about town during the time we lived there. She was all about fun in the kitchen, but also took cooking seriously -- a combination that made her, perhaps, the best teacher of all. I'm so glad the DBers made her bread this month.

Sheltie Girl said...

Your bread turned out so beautiful and rustic. Just like a loaf of French bread is supposed to look. Great job!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Tartelette said...

I love how beautiful your bread turned out...and wtih Oeufs en cocotte..sinful! Reminds me of my mom's friday nights dinners: eggs and bread. Yum!

Joy said...

I totally agree with your stance on breadmakers - part of the fun
is getting dough under your nails and venting your anger whilst kneading!

Alice Q. said...

looks great Jasmine - nice post!

Jaime said...

what beautiful loaves!

Sara said...

your bread looks lovely. my breadmaker is not broken, but i don't know if it will ever be brought out of the basement again!

Katie said...

Your bread looks wonderful. I love the rustic look to your crust.

Peabody said...

You do have to have some strong arms for bread baking by hand.
Your loaves turned out beautifully.

coco said...

I don't have those heavy duty stand mixers and I really don't miss it for bread making. For we've always made our bread with hands. The only time I do miss it is for beating my meringues and just simplifying baking.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Lovely bread Jasmine & great write-up. Always fun reading your posts...Machine or no machine, I'm quite a DIY person myself!Cheers

Jenny said...

I have to be honest, popping the gas bubbles may have been my favorite part of this recipe, other than eating it! :)

Lesley said...

farting dough...I'm laughing so hard. Good job on the bread, and I ahve to agree with you about bread machines...

Lis said...

Now THAT's my kind of bread.. farty and all. :)

A simply gorgeous loaf of bread, my sweet! And another wonderful post to read.. thank you. :)

xoxoxoxo

Deborah said...

I actually have a bread machine, but have only used it a handful of times because I can't get it to produce anything good. I prefer to do the work myself (with the help of a Kitchen Aid!) Your bread looks perfect!!

Elle said...

My bread machine gets sporadic use. This hand made, artisan bread is much more satisfying. Love your loaves, with their gorgeous crust. Didn't try it toasted...sounds good. Great post!

Elisabeth said...

I'm just getting around to leaving comments but wanted to tell you that you did a great job!

Just how did you get your pictures to line up like that. I had the hardest time and finally just gave up. All I was trying to do was align them to the right. :(

On to our next challenge.

jasmine said...

Hello all

Glad you all liked it onwards to the next dare :)

Elisabeth: email me and I'll send you instructions...

j

Paz said...

Verra, verra nice!

Paz