French Bread à la Julia Child, Daring Bakers' Challenge

"El pan fora de casa, xe massa salà o desavio"
The
bread outside your home has either too much salt or too little
time to bake our own :-)


Man does not live by bread alone.

When I published this post of mine I really wanted to do a post on bread series. Little did I know, that for the month of February, the challenge hosted by Mary (Breadchick) and Sara (I Love to cook) is on making Julia Child's French bread. As I am not a good baker I have always been scared in making bread. But the wonderful moment I spent chatting with an old woman living in Alps who makes her own bread everyday (for simple reason there is no boulangerie in their area) changed the way I look at this kitchen experience. It is true that sometimes no matter how hard we stick to the recipes the end result is never successful. But one thing she imparted me in improving my baking skills is that when it comes to bread, humidity, amount of water and temperature counts a lot in making the dough rise. Without forgetting the right geste in preparing the bread. This old woman I am talking about is keeping a sort of a diary where she writes regulary the exact details of the bread she made: how much water, how long, at what temperature, at what exact time and during which season. Which means she could bake a baguette with the same goodness under different conditions noted on her diary. And her tips worked for me.


Of all the DB challenges I have done I would say this is the one that I enjoyed the most. For I made this challenge not once, not twice but three times. I had so much pleasure baking the french bread that I frolicked in making some long ones, round ones and some adorned with pavot grains. My next agenda is to make some perfect brioche that will wake us up with its goodness on our morning table.

Here is a short cut version of the recipe but I suggest you go and check out the step by step procedure and long version of the recipe here.

Making French Bread:

(Warning: the recipe is quite complicated but worth it :-)

1 cake (0.6 ounce) (20grams) fresh yeast or 1 package dry active yeast
1/3 cup (75ml) warm water, not over 100 degrees F/38C in a glass measure
3 1/2 cup (about 1 lb) (490 gr) all purpose flour, measured by scooping
dry measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess
2 1/4 tsp (12 gr) salt
1 1/4 cups (280 - 300ml) tepid water @ 70 – 74 degrees/21 - 23C


Stir the yeast in the 1/3 cup warm water and let liquefy completely while measuring flour into mixing bowl. When yeast has liquefied, pour it into the flour along with the salt and the rest of the water. Stir and cut the liquids into the flour with a rubber spatula, pressing firmly to form a dough and making sure that all the bits of flour and unmassed pieces are gathered in. Turn dough out onto kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Start kneading by lifting the near edge of the dough, using a pastry scraper or stiff wide spatula to help you if necessary, and flipping the dough over onto itself. Scrape dough off the surface and slap it down; lift edge and flip it over again, repeating the movement rapidly. In 2 -3 minutes the dough should have enough body so that you can give it a quick forward push with the heel of your hand as you flip it over. Continue to knead rapidly and vigorously in this way. If the dough remains too sticky, knead in a sprinkling of flour. The whole kneading process will take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how expert you become.

Let dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes. Knead by hand for a minute. The surface should now look smooth; the dough will be less sticky but will still remain soft. It is now ready for its first rise.

Slip the bowl into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic, and top with a folded bath towel. Set on a wooden surface, marble or stone are too cold. Or on a folded towel or pillow, and let rise free from drafts anyplace where the temperature is around 70 degrees

After the first rise, with a rubber spatula, dislodge dough from inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, scraping bowl clean. If dough seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour.

Lightly flour the palms of your hands and flatten the dough firmly but not too roughly into a circle, deflating any gas bubbles by pinching them. Let it rise the second time until it is dome shaped and light and spongy when touched.

After the second rising divide the dough into:
3 equal pieces for long loaves (baguettes or batards) or small round loaves (boules only)

While the dough is resting, prepare the rising surface; smooth the canvas or linen towelling on a large tray or baking sheet, and rub flour thoroughly into the entire surface of the cloth to prevent the dough from sticking

Working rapidly, turn the dough upside down on a lightly floured kneading surface and pat it firmly but not too roughly into an 8 to 10 inch oval with the lightly floured palms of your hands. Deflate any gas bubbles in the dough by pinching them.

Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge. Roll the dough a quarter turn forward so the seal is on top.

Flatten the dough again into an oval with the palms of your hands.

Press a trench along the central length of the oval with the side of one hand.

Fold in half again lengthwise.

This time seal the edges together with the heel of one hand, and roll the dough a quarter of a turn toward you so the seal is on the bottom.

Now, by rolling the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands, you will lengthen it into a sausage shape. Start in the middle, placing your right palm on the dough, and your left palm on top of your right hand.

Roll the dough forward and backward rapidly, gradually sliding your hands towards the two ends as the dough lengthens.


The covered dough is now to rise until almost triple in volume; look carefully at its pre-risen size so that you will be able to judge correctly. It will be light and swollen when risen, but will still feel a little springy when pressed.

It is important that the final rise take place where it is dry; if your kitchen is damp, hot, and steamy, let the bread rise in another room or dough will stick to the canvas and you will have difficulty getting it off and onto another baking sheet. It will turn into bread in the oven whatever happens, but you will have an easier time and a better loaf if you aim for ideal conditions.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees about 30 minutes before estimated baking time.

As soon as the dough has been slashed, moisten the surface either by painting with a soft brush dipped in cold water, or with a fine spray atomizer, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. Rapidly paint or spray dough with cold water after 3 minutes, again in 3 minutes, and a final time 3 minutes later. Moistening the dough at this point helps the crust to brown and allows the yeast action to continue in the dough a little longer. The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped.

If you want the crust to shine, paint lightly with a brush dipped in cold water as soon as you slide the baking sheet out of oven.

I suggest you check the complete long version and step by step guide of this recipe here.


"Love is sweet but tastes best with bread"
specially the one with pavot grains :-)

68 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your breads and pictures look absolutely marvelous! Well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

zorra said...

I did love this challenge too! Your bread and petits pains look great, nice shots, too!

Anne said...

Your french bread came out absolutely perfect! The crust looks amazing :)

Manggy said...

Wow, it must be really good if you have enjoyed the fruits of your labor in France, no less! :)

Big Boys Oven said...

so lovely so cool! I always love your creation!

ilingc said...

That's some good looking bread Dhanggit! :)

The smell of fresh bread just makes me drool. You would think that it would encourage me to practise my bread making skills, but unfortunately I'm still a bit hesitant when it comes to yeast.

Hopefully one day I will be able to produce bread that looks as good as yours :D

Aparna said...

Your breads look wonderful. I am so happy to see so many good breads out here.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

O Boy Dhanggit...absolutely perfect lloking loaf. And the pictures are stunning too. Am glad you enjoyed it so much. Lol

Susan said...

You are officially no longer allowed to say "I am not a good baker." Great bread!

Ann said...

Your breads look absolutely beautiful. I think could have used some of your friends tips!

Cakelaw said...

Gorgeous looking bread Dhanggit. And I admire your patience in making it 3 times.

dailydelicious said...

This one is great. I like your crust.

Katia said...

Your bread is lovely, I specially love the boule with pavot grains.

bbaking said...

what a lovely story, your bread looks wonderful!

(I think I could have done with a little help from this lady too) ;o)

Pixie said...

I wish I could meet this lovely old lady friend of yours. Your bread looks fabulous, I particularly love the last photos and three times- yowzers!

L Vanel said...

Such wonderful looking loaves. I can hear the beautiful crust crackling from here.

Happy cook said...

Wow the french bread looks so pro. What did your french hgubby say about it ;-)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oh my! Now that is a lovely loaf of French bread. And way complicated. No wonder my bread never turns out like that. What did you eat with it? Nutella? ;)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Perfect!

chriesi said...

Beautiful!

Mandy said...

Dhanggit, your breads are picture perfect! Kudos for making the bread for 3 times. How do you manage to finish so many breads?

Brilynn said...

Wow! Well done making the challenge 3 times, that's dedication!

DawnsRecipes said...

Your bread looks great! I especially love the rolls with the poppy seeds...very pretty!

Gabi said...

Your bread is absolutely beautiful! I wish I was able to spend some time with that wonderful woman in the Alps- what a great idea to keep a journal with all that info in it. Great job on this challenge!
x x x

Gloria said...

Dhanggit, I really love your french bread, I love baguette!!! So beautiful! xxx Gloria

Rosie said...

Hi Dhanggit, wonderful, wonderful delicious crusty french bread!! Perfection my friend ;D

Rosie x

Cakespy said...

You say right at the beginning that one cannot live on bread alone--but based on the looks of these loaves I beg to differ! I would be happy to challenge that idea with your wonderful work. :-)

Joy said...

Beautiful breads! Breads that I can only dream of making. I'll bake breads vicariously through you. Hehe.

bittersweetblog said...

Wow, lovely photos... Now I wish I had experimented a bit with toppings, as yours look so good!

i shot the chef said...

Gorgeous... just gorgeous!

James Melendez said...

Good looking bread. I'll try the recipe next week. Thanks!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Inspirational, for sure! Lovely pics, and I can just smell the bread!

Suzana said...

Nicely done, Dhanggbit! Loved your buns - I'm a sucker for poppy seeds! :)

Mary said...

Your bread and your photos are simply beautiful! I can understand wanting to make this every day!

Anzj said...

Look at them breads!!

Christina said...

Your bread looks as if it came straight from boulangerie! The crust is incredible, too.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

linda said...

Perfectly baked! You can definitely call yourself a good baker, especially as you baked them three times!

Merav said...

Your breads look out of this world! Love the use of poppies as toppings, I was going to do the same on one of mine and forgot to add them prior to baking!

Joy said...

I wish I had an old French baker to teach me - how marvelous! Your bread is picture perfect.

Lesley said...

Wow. These look like a bakery in Paris! Great job.

marye said...

fantastic job!..FOUR times? wow.

Half Baked said...

beautiful bread! Pretty enough to be in a bakery in France. Way to go making it several times. It was really good bread:)

culinography said...

Ohhh... I'm drooling! Wonderful job with this month's challenge!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Do you do this for a living? Perfection!!

Carrie said...

Your bread looks very nice.
I really enjoyed reading about the old woman who takes so much care when making her bread.

Kevin said...

Great looking bread. It is perfectly golden brown.

SteamyKitchen said...

baby, that is one perfect loaf!

Gigi said...

Unbelievable baguettes! Wow, I can't believe how beautiful they came out. Your truly a bread artisan.

ostwestwind said...

Only one word: gorgeous!
Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Emiline said...

What a wise woman! If you could only keep her in the kitchen with you...

I'm quite impressed with your loaves!

Sidney said...

Looks like the real French bread!
Impressive!

breadchick said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this month's challenge recipe. IT shows in the bread you made!

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your bread.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Zen Chef said...

Wow, great job on the breads. Those look just perfect! :-)
Have you ever tried to make the no-knead bread recipe published in the NYtimes last year? Truly amazing.

Jo. said...

I admit that the recipe is in fact pretty complicates. I know the one that is much shorter and still the baguette is delicious but I'm not a daring baker myself so I have no voice. But your french bread look really very nice. good job :-D

glamah16 said...

Your a excellent bread baker!Cant wait to see more breads from you.

Annemarie said...

you're a full-fledged convert! fantastic loaves, and how nice to have such an inspiring neighbor.

Snug said...

what beautiful loaves! I'm a bit envious :P.

Gloria said...

Wow Dhanggit, que manera de tener exito con tu french bread!!!(Do you understand??) Well I know you are a very busy person with a little child! but if you have time I post a new recipe!! xxxxxxx Gloria

Deborah said...

Wonderful job! It is gorgeous!

Meryl said...

The poppy seed were just the perfect thing for your little loaves!

Jaime said...

wow, your loaves look absolutely perfect! great job!

Andrea said...

Man may not be able to live on bread alone, but I sure could. :-)

Your loaves look perfect!

joey said...

You baguette is perfect! Your talent and the French air sure worked their magic on this bread :)

lalaine said...

The procedure looks intimidating but I bet the smell of your very own freshly-baked bread was worth the sweat. I know I've never felt such culinary pride than when I saw my pizza dough rise (and that's only pizza!).

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Farida said...

Wow, this bread looks fabulous! I love bread and honestly, eat almost anything with it:)) It's culture thing:) You have a nice blog. Thanks for sharing with us!

HorseJumper12341 said...

Ooh! Nice. I love fresh breads!! I'll have to go try this one!

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