Daring Bakers, February: Julia Childs' French Bread
At the beginning of every month, the ever-growing and always welcoming group of Daring Bakers (DBers) are assigned a baking challenge by the month's host, and at the end of that month, en masse, they blog about the baking project, revealing to the world what it is! This month, Breadchick was our host, and our project was Julia Child's French Bread.
I know a lot of my cook friends out there have fabulous Julia stories. I vaguely remember watching her on TV over my mom's shoulder, and I remember that I, who hated to talk, loved her warbly voice.
I've made French bread about a half dozen times--once in French Cuisine class, once in Commercial Baking class, once in Principles of Professional Cooking class, then three times at home. One of those at-home times, I discovered that the oven in my last apartment burned too hot. Another time, I couldn't figure out the shaping directions, and my baguettes looked like rawhide dog bones. The other times, it was decent, well-shaped bread, just like I learned to make in class.
This bread, which I made along with a dozen or so DBers during a Yahoo! conference (thanks for hosting, supporting, instructing, and everything, Breadchick!), took hours to rise--about nine total across three rising stages. That's good, though, because, from what I remember, it adds good flavor to the dough. In a nutshell: the yeasty beasties have more time to multiply and release more byproducts (booze!) that impart more flavor to the bread.
Lift front, fold back, lift all, slap down, repeat
Baguettes and blob ... I mean boule ...
I'm pretty happy with that crumb and crunchy crust. As usual, I served this month's DB project at my monthly SAS party (savory and sweets, though it started out as salad and sweets, then sandwiches and sweets, then soups and sweets, now stew and sweets ... ). Until this project, SAS had been a lunch party, but anticipating the long rise times, I made it a dinner party. The baguette went with roasted red bell pepper hummus made from tepary beans
My first epi (flower of a wheat stalk in French)! I served this with dinner--vegetable stew made with sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, chard, tomatoes, etc. It's also a nod to my friend and fellow wedding cake baker and food guy extraordinaire, Mario
I used egg wash to paste mint leaves onto the dessert boule--not as pretty as the breads spotlighted at the kitchn Web site, but I forgot to buy fresh herbs, and hey--dessert bread!
I want to crawl into the caverns and take a nap ... but I smeared it with a carrot cake cheesecake cheeseball from the supermarket, instead