After perusing through the list of upcoming hostess, I had a strong suspicion that bread would be the topic for February. Mary and Sara chose Julia Child’s French Bread recipe. I was so excited when I read the recipe, but also very nervous. This recipe is 15 pages long!! But I signed up to be a Daring Baker and this is my chance to be daring. I was planning on making the bread Saturday. Friday night Patti (my stepmother-in-law) called to invite us for dinner on Saturday. Stupidly, I told her I’d bring some yummy bread to have with dinner. (I say stupidly because now I had pressure to 1. have this bread completely finished and cooled by the time we headed to their house and 2. have it be pretty and edible.)
So, at 2:00 a.m. (yes, you read that right) I woke up to start the french bread. I carefully measured out the ingredients and mixed them together. I carefully kneaded the bread and put it in the bowl to rise. Then I went back to sleep for another 3-4 hours.
At 5:30 a.m. I woke back up to check on the rising. Much to my suprise, the bread was fully rose! So I flipped it out of the bowl and folded it down. Placed it back in the bowl for the second rise, and headed back to sleep.
I finally woke up around 7:00ish for good. I went in to peak at my dough and it was finished! Woo hoo! I have a fast riser. But as I was re-reading my recipe I noticed – salt – darn! I forgot to add the salt when I was groggily mixing up the bread. I really doubted it would make that much of a difference, but just in case, I thought I would try a second batch while this was finishing. So I kneaded this batch and cut it into my 2 pieces to shape in a minute. While the bread was resting (I know, it has a very hard life and was tired) I mixed up a second batch, carefully measuring out the SALT this time. So, I finished it and kneaded it and set it to rise. Then, I got back to my first batch. It was time to form the loaves. (This is the scariest part to me, if you don’t get the glutenous coat pulled tight enough, it’ll just go crazy in the oven and you’ll just have a blob of dough.) So, I chickened out on the harder formations and stuck with round loaves. They sounded the easiest to form.
Once they rose for a third time, the got flipped onto a bakers paddle, sliced on the top and placed into a blazin’ hot oven. In an attempt to transform my oven into a bakers oven I did a couple of things. When I preheated my oven I put my stoneware pan inside the oven so it would heat up to the same degree as the oven. I also tried to create steam by placing my roaster pan on the bottom of the oven and filling it with cold water once the bread was put in the oven (that part didn’t work so well…)
Once you cut the slits in the top, you must brush water over the top of the bread, then 3 more times every 3 minutes. This helps the crust brown and get crunchy.
I was finally done with both batches of bread at nearly 4:30. It was a full day of bread baking, but every minute was worth it. I never thought that I would be able to produce this quality of bread in my oven. I know it’s not the prettiest, but it is definetly a good first try! The salt less bread turned out great too, infact John liked those loaves the most!
Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.
Many, many, many thanks to Mary for being on Yahoo messenger when I was created this bread. I had a couple of minor incidents, but she was able to talk me through them all and I had fabulous results!
If you would like some more people’s opinions, takes on this recipe visit the Daring Baker’s Blogroll.
Thanks for another great recipe Mary and Sara!