Feb 29

Channeling My Inner Julia

in Daring Bakers

D is for Daring–Daring Bakers that is.

Not only am I a daring eater, but now I am attempting to be a Daring Baker.
What is a Daring Baker you ask? Well, she/he is a person who loves anything having to do with flour, butter, sugar, yeast and the opportunity to better their baking skills through baking a challenge recipe a month, as decided by that month's host. You had better watch out while I'm yielding my weapons . . . .

This month's challenge was Julia Child's EIGHTEEN PAGE recipe for French bread out of Volume Two of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

The recipe is WAY too long for me to put here, but you can get it from Breadchick. For a little help from the great woman herself, you can watch this online video from PBS. The recipe Danielle & Julia use on this is slightly different from the one used for the challenge, but the visual of them kneading by hand is extremely helpful and informative. There is lots of other good info in there as well.

This recipe is initially intimidating as it is SO long. However, after reading through it you begin to see that it is just Julia trying to educate you in how to properly bake bread. She takes you by the hand and walks you through it step by step. Once you get past how long it is, it is a very doable recipe. That being said, make sure you do read through all of it before beginning the actual process of making it, and make sure you have 7-9 hours where you will be at home to work on it. The amount of time you spend actually "working" is very little, but the bread goes through 3 rises, which takes a long time. The finish product is well worth the wait, I promise!

So after I read through the recipe once (actually I think I probably had to read through it at least twice), and got out all of the ingredients, I threw on my pink leopard/camouflage apron for extra courage and started to channel my inner Julia (yes, I know she's in there somewhere).
I did all my mixing by hand, instead of using a mixer. This dough starts out relatively sticky, so it was not hard to mix by hand. I ended up making 3 boules (round loves) so that I could fit them easily into my small oven (I do not have an American sized oven–I can barely fit a 13×9-inch pan in it).

After the first rise–see all of those lovely gas bubbles?

The dough ready to be shaped.

The smell that filled the house when the boules were baking was intoxicating–it reminded me of the aromas that would start me salivating as I was walking along the streets of Paris.

Probably the hardest part about this recipe is the cooling period: 2-3 hours. It was SO tempting to just cut into it right away (I love bread hot out of the oven), but unlike some other breads if you do not let French bread cool, the bread will be doughy and the crust will be soft, and it just doesn't taste as good. When I finally did cut into a boule, it was perfect. The outside had that nice hollow sound when you tapped on it, and it had the slightly tough crust that is so characteristic of French bread. The inside had nice air pockets and was moist and soft. Mmmm.


Mr. Fuji's critique of the bread was, "Dang good bread yo." So you heard it from the man, it is dang good bread yo. Now go make some.

"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music."–Julia Child

**On a side note, if you like to cook, you might enjoy Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell. I read it a couple of years ago, and it is highly entertaining. It is the autobiographical story of Julie Powell and her quest to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbi February 29, 2008 at 6:19 am

Wow! Now I wish this weekend were going to be cold so that we could stay in and bake! Looking good…real good!


Tania February 29, 2008 at 6:31 am

You are making me very hungry!! – I can just smell the dough rising – Looks like very thick slices your eating there. Enjoy – Cheers Tania


I AM VERY MARY February 29, 2008 at 7:38 am

Two words: honey butter.


Meet the Dubreuils February 29, 2008 at 10:21 am

Wow, wish I could be as daring as you to tackle on such a huge recipe!! Your bread looks awesome and I’m sure it was wonderful!


rivka February 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm

love the pics — i’d like to eat some too, please!


Polly February 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Now I want fresh baked bread. Off to the Costco bakery!


Gretchen Noelle February 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm

That does look like dang good bread! Wonderful job facing your first DB challenge! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!


Jean March 1, 2008 at 11:17 am

My hat is off to you. An 18 page recipe ??!!!!?! You are very daring, indeed. The bread looks magnificent.


marias23 March 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm

It sure looks dang good! :D


breadchick March 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Excellent bread and great job on your challenge.

Thanks for baking with Julia, Sara and I!


Jenny March 1, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Looks great! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!


Lunch Buckets March 2, 2008 at 12:42 am

Great looking bread yo! Congratulations :)


Kasia March 2, 2008 at 9:22 am

Your bread looks so yummy! Great job! I love baking, it definetely lowers my stress level ;)


Blame It on Paris March 2, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I probably should try it! Sébastien would be happy. He does not like my German tradition bread. :( (My mother’s line of bread-making.)


Bethany March 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm

I’ve read that book and had aspic on my knitting cruise – there’s a pic on my blog.

The bread looks fantastic…my oven is the same size, but at least it’s not just a grill! :)


Molly Loves Paris March 5, 2008 at 1:19 am

Nice looking slipper loaves. I love the eating pictures. That’s what it’s all about. Eating.


My Inner French Girl March 6, 2008 at 11:33 am

Bonjour! Love Julia, love cooking. Have you read her memoir of living in France? I think it’s called “My Life in France,” and it came out about a year or so ago. Absolutely compelling reading for anyone who’s both a Julia Child fan and a Francophile.


p.s. I tagged ya. ;-)


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