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
Julia Child's French Bread

Baguettes and blob ... I mean boule ...
Julia Child's French Bread Julia Child's French Bread

Julia Child's French Bread

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
Julia Child's French Bread

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
Julia Child's French Bread

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!
Julia Child's French 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
Julia Child's French Bread


Big Boys Oven said…
Go girl, go girl!!!
I was excited after seeing those lovely creation and yours look so moist, lovely!
Ann said…
Your epi is amazing-looking!
Anne said…
You make such lovely loaves! The crust looks absolutely perfect :)
Mike Marsh said…
Looks good, fan though I am of German-style bread. As you probably know, baker's yeast doesn't produce booze the way brewer's yeast does, but it does produce plenty of carbon dioxide. That makes it perfect for creating homemade soft drinks, like Carribean-style ginger beer, not to be confused with the other kind.
Julie said…
Mike! Now I want a Reuben on rye bread ...

Thanks for the clarification. =) It doesn't make alcohol, like a frothy brew, and most of the ethanol evaporates out of the dough during baking. Thankfully, it does impart some good flavor as it's last hurrah, and the carbon dioxide, another byproduct of fermentation, makes the dough rise. I still haven't tried a good beer-based bread recipe yet!
CB said…
I love the epi!! Fabulous color and looks so fluffy. Great job!
L Vanel said…
Really really nice work!
Mike Marsh said…
Yeast imparts a crazy amount of flavor! With beer, the strain of yeast greatly affects the final taste. I still haven't been able to convince Marco to "brew" soda. Of course, since the quantities can be made low enough, and it doesn't need a fermenter, I might just get some 2 liter bottles and make my own lemon-lime soda.
glamah16 said…
I love your epi and dessert boule with the mint leaves. Outstanding!
culinography said…
What an absolutely stunning epi!
Simona said…
Very nice. I especially like your epi.
breadchick said…
It was so much fun having you on with us that day! Your breads look fantastic. Thanks so much for baking with Sara and I.
MilliMe said…
oh, this is wonderful!!!!!!!!!
I should have do the boule w/ my dough too...
But your bread looks great!!!!!!
Deborah said…
Your bread looks great!!
fitfool said…
Your bread looks like it came out wonderfully! I especially like the
last photo of all those nice air pockets. :)

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