Friday, February 29, 2008

Julia Child's French Bread...Do I Dare?

title
It’s six in the morning; do you know where your wife is?

She is in her pajamas, eyes half-closed, flour everywhere, a defiant mass of dough sucking viciously at her fingers as she valiantly tries to show it who is boss. She has made bread before…yeasted bread yes…but not with a recipe 10 pages and one day long. She mutters to herself…what possessed her to take this on?

Two things: 1. A not-so-little group of fabulous people called the Daring Bakers and 2. It’s Julia Child’s French bread…how could she say no?

And I didn’t.

When the challenge was first posted, fear and excitement competed with each other in my brain. Yay! Bread! vs Oh no! Baguettes! Ten pages! Would I have the guts? Would I have the time?

Finally, I set aside a day, set my alarm clock, and hunkered down to a day of trying to place my feet in Julia Child’s impressive footsteps.

Let me tell you, early morning is not exactly my best time to take on physical challenges (ok, I really have no best time for that). And this was a physical challenge, for me at least. Because this was the first time I was going to make French bread I wanted (bravely or foolishly, you be the judge) to knead it by hand. I struggled mightily but it seemed a long time before the dough resembled anything remotely respectable. It stubbornly stuck to my hands and fingers…refusing to lose grip! But I pressed on, determined not to be beaten. After much toil, it all finally came together and I was left to the long task of waiting.

This was the longest I have ever left a dough to rise (not that I have had many). At four hours for the first rise, and then two 1&1/2-hour rises after that, with a lot of slight kneading, folding, and shaping in between…this may be the most complicated bread recipe I have ever done! But like I always tell myself…I didn’t join the Daring Bakers to boil water.

And did I mention the hardest part? The three hours of waiting after the bread is baked before you can even take a bite? With the smell of freshly baked bread in the air??? A challenge from start to finish.

C made a roast chicken that night and we at last tried the bread. It was nice and hole-y, tasted lovely, and had a pleasant chew to it. Overall, taste-wise, I don’t think I did too badly. Perhaps it could have been less dense (any suggestions on how to make this happen are gladly welcome) but on the whole we were happy.

However…

I don’t know…but this may just be the ugliest baguettes (or batards) I have ever seen. They are the ugly stepsisters of baguettes. Sigh...they don’t even deserve a pretty French name.

But I love them.

Because they are my baguettes :) And just like other parts of me (and I’m not naming names!), less then perfect, but still cute in a wobbly sort of way :)

And I think Julia would have been perfectly fine with that.

Thank you Breadchick Mary of The Sour Dough and Sara of I Like to Cook for coming up with this month’s classic challenge! Please visit Mary or Sara to see the full (10 pages!) recipe :)

63 comments:

Rossella said...

Great! Your Baguette deserves their french name.
I was supposed to them too, but no time, long flu...No baguettes from me.
Your was a really good work and what a great will to wake up at 6em. Well done!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I love it, "I didn't join Daring Bakers to boil water." Amen! This may have seemed like a treacherous challenge, but in the end it was delicious and much easier the second time around. Great job!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Early morning is just the time I like to take on challenges, though this one seems especially daunting. Way to go, Joey! I hope your husband builds a shrine in honor of your bread. ;)

Veron said...

Yep, i was in my pajamas too when I started the bread. I think I just waited an hour to cut into mine. SElf-control is not one of my better virtues. The loaves are gorgeous , Joey! Julia will be proud.

L Vanel said...

These baguettes look simply divine. Very funny post, and very memorable. Kudos to you!

katrina said...

I think your baguettes look cute! I like when bread obviously looks handmade. I'm so in awe of you, Joey! French bread, wow! :-)

Sarah said...

I think your bread looks great! And if it tastes great, that makes it perfect. Good job!

marye said...

You did a fabulous job...but...SIX a.m.????

Marie said...

Oh wow, your baguettes are gorgeous! Well done!

Manggy said...

Joey, you're being too hard on yourself again! I think they look rustically (heh heh) beautiful. Not that I own a KitchenAid (ahem), but hand-kneading is my excuse to feel like the breadmakers of olden days, burnin' calories and bein' tough :)

On the subject of density, since we live in a tropical country, there are a few adjustments that could be made. Your dough might have been too wet (or too dry, but my money's on wet as we have high humidity and you did mention the stickiness), the dough underkneaded (time for the dough hook then, sigh), or overproved (as our ambient temp is 83°F these days, much hotter than your contemporaries, even given its relative coolness!). Regardless, the experience is priceless, and if your family enjoyed it- no price tag you can put on that!! :)

Tartelette said...

Your baguettes are gorgeous! And no boiling water there!! You did a fabulous job!

Jerry said...

Great job! I realized I should have started earlier, after I made it.

Mary said...

I had a lot of hassle with the dough sticking to my fingers too. And I totally agree we didn't join to boil water!
And I think your baguettes are lovely and twisty. Beautiful in the way natural things look.

Mandy said...

i think you did a great job! your baguettes are far from ugly!

Namratha said...

They look great, sticky dough or not :)

kellypea said...

Yay! I was too chicken to attempt the batards, but agree that as ugly as mine were (and yours are not...) I still loved them. Congrats to you for a job well done, even though you had to get up so early! You are soooo funny.

Jenny said...

Great pics, your baguette looks beautiful. It was a fun challenge this month!

Suzana said...

I believe all DBs wore their pajamas at some point while baking this - I did too!! hehehe Nicely done, Joey!

Lesley said...

Looks very very yummy. Nice job!

DawnsRecipes said...

They're not ugly at all! You're too hard on yourself, tho very humorous about it. =) They look lovely!

Merav said...

A job well done and worth the 6am wake up call!

Deborah said...

I don't think they are ugly! I always have a hard time shaping bread - I guess that is all part of the challenge, though!

Baking Soda said...

Not for the faint of heart this bread, and then you have to wait for it to cool ... ah..
You did it!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Nice looking baguettes! Beautiful! I didn't start baking my breads as early as you, but I was kneading my dough before lunch time...

Cheers,

Rosa

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey I gatta tell you those look like wonderful breads to me.
Your funniest line to date: I didn't join Daring Bakers to boil water! Amen sister! I so glad to took it on even in your PJs and the early hour!! You did great! I'll call those baguette any day!

creampuff said...

This is the beauty of Daring Bakers - you're free to love your baguettes and not have people laugh at you!

Love those baguettes, baby!!!

Kevin said...

I think your baguettes look good. I could not wait the 2-3 hours after baking the bread and I was eating it as soon as it was out of the oven. :)

glamah16 said...

Your baguettes are beautiful beutiful becaue you took tender loving care with them. Great job.

Jaime said...

great job! i think yours look good, not ugly at all!

jasmine said...

"I didn’t join the Daring Bakers to boil water."

I think you've just created our anthem.

j

Breadchick said...

I'd say your bread looks fantastic! And I love the comment about not joining DB to boil water (well said fellow DBer)

Thanks for joining Sara and I this month!

marias23 said...

Ugly, schmugly. The look delish! ;)

Jen Tan said...

joey!!! they loook great! i love bread...don't we just love the ones of our own...however perfect or imperfect theymaybe..I can soo relate to how you love them...but they do look lovely =)

I remember the first and last time I made baguettes...back in College...they looked like baguettes..but they were ROCKS! hahahaaha since then I have never attempted too...maybe someday soon..now that I have more bread making experience..I can be successful with them like you joey =)

Jen Tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coco said...

I had fun reading your post. Your bread does look great, so I don't know what you're talking about!

Katie said...

Your bread looks wonderful and so authentic - i love how well you have done the slashes on top of the loafs.

Princess of the kitchen said...

Nice baguettes. They look lovely

Jescel said...

handmade breads always look rustic... I'm not a DBer, just happen to come across your site...but congrats on the challenge, the bread still deserves its french name.. LOL..as for the density of the bread-- maybe you added to much flour in the process of kneading them?

~Amber~ said...

Your loaves look wonderful! Congratulations on a successful challenge, to the next one we go.

Liliana said...

Great baquettes! Good planning on your part! You did a great job and I am sure they were delicious!

chicken-cem said...

I was surprised that the recipe was 10 pages long. My mother passed this recipe on to me on the front and back of a single 5x7 index card, so it never seemed long to me (this was circa 1989). I suppose much of the prose she passed on orally, although her handwriting was small as well.

Congratulations on your wonderful loaves. And no, you don't really have to wait 2-3 hours to eat it.

Andrea said...

Your baguettes are lovely! Looking at the recipe was daunting the first time, but good for you for tackling the challenge!

Peabody said...

Great looking bread!

Brilynn said...

I was up at 5:30 to start my bread... not because I usually wake up that early or because I set an alarm, but because my downstairs neighbour was playing his electric guitar with the amp plugged in... yeah... my floor was vibrating so I figured since I wasn't going to be able to sleep I might as well make bread.

Claire said...

I think they are wonderful...and you KNOW Julia would have been fine with them. She was definitely NOT a chef of perfection. They look great!

Sara said...

I don't think they are ugly at all! You did a fabulous job.

Kelly-Jane said...

I think they look great too, well done!

aria said...

look at that beautiful bread!! oh WOW that looks so wonderful. all your hard work payed off - your house must have smelled heavenly!!

Anne said...

You did just fine...I admire your courage to actually knead it by hand. Whats more important is you learned something out of the whole process and in the end liked the end product :)

Jenny said...

I think this will not be the last time you find yourself in the kitchen at odd hours, with your hands in something squishy - this is the life of a Daring Baker, I have found. :)

Great job on this challenge.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rosella! Thank you! I almost didn’t get to them because of a ton of things happening at work but I was able to find a big swathe of free time :)

Hi Gretchen Noelle! Hehe…well, it’s true :) The thing I love most about this group is that it challenges me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t!

Hi Susan! I think I am much too much of a sleepyhead! I have the opposite of insomnia! Hmmm, no shrine yet…but he does give me lots of compliments :)

Hi Veron! I think a lot of us were in our pajamas! That would have made for such a nice slumber party :) I was too scared to cut into it before that although I really wanted to! I’m such a dork sometimes…

Hi I vanel! Thanks! This was definitely a memorable experience for me :)

Hi Katrina! Thanks!!! Yup, these definitely look handmade…I don’t think they could invent a machine to make bread look like this…hahahaha! Actually, I also like things to look like it was made in somebody’s old-school kitchen :)

Hi Sarah! Thank you :)

Hi Marye! Haha! I know…I think my brain was still asleep!

Thank you Marie!

Hi Manggy! Oh you cannot imagine how hard I tried not to include that word (rustic) in my post! And I was actually wondering, “Hmmm, I wonder if Manggy will mention that it looks rustic…” Haha! I kept thinking, “Not rustic again!!!” Dear God please just one delicate, Audrey Hepburn-esque confection from my kitchen, please, please, please! Anyhoo, thanks for all the advice! You have certainly covered all bases and scenarios…you must be a fantastic doctor :)

Thank you Helene! Although they look a bit quirky I did enjoy this challenge very much :)

Hi Jerry! I have realized that too many times in the past so I made sure to give myself some leeway this time :)

Hi Mary! The dough really did seem to be sucking at my fingers…it was like an octopus! Hehehe :)

Thank you loads Mandy!

Hi Namratha! Thanks!

Hi Kellypea! I thought these would be the most basic, ergo the easiest…but now I think I should have made the one big loaf…The early wake up was worth it when I finally had my funkified French bread in my arms! :)

Hi Jenny! Very fun challenge indeed!

Hi Suzana! Haha! I thought as much! Nice to know I wasn’t alone in attire :)

Hi Lesley! Thanks :)

Hi Dawn! Thank you! I guess I was really hoping that they would come out looking like those perfectly straight and burnished staffs from French bakeries…

Thank you very much Merav!

Hi Deborah! Yup :) It just wouldn’t obey me…argh!

Thanks Karen! I’m so glad I did it!

Hi Rosa! I may repeat the exercise…even if I was bleary-eyed, it was nice to be making the bread with the early-morning sun streaming through the window…

Hi Tanna! Haha! It’s true right? :) I have learned so much from this group…and I’m glad to be pushing it at 6am in my pajamas not boiling water! ;)

Hi Ivonne! Thanks :) True, true! Gotta love your own :)

Hi Kevin! I’m definitely not waiting so much the next time around! :)

Hi Glamah16! Thank you!

Thanks Jaime!

Hi Jasmine! Hehe :) It’s true!

Hi Mary! Thanks for coming up with such a great challenge! I’m hoping for more bread challenges :)

Hi Maria23! Thanks!

Hi Jen! Thank you! Yes, we should definitely love our own…hehehe :) I love making bread even if it doesn’t come out perfect…I will definitely try this again…after I catch my breath! ;)

Hi Coco! Thanks…glad you enjoyed the post!

Hi Katie! Thank you :) I was nervous because I didn’t have a blade, so I just used a sharp steak knife and that did the trick…

Thanks Princess of the Kitchen!

Hi Jescel! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment :) Perhaps I did add too much flour…from being too nervous about the dough sticking!

Thanks Amber! I’m looking forward to the next challenge!

Hello Liliana! Thank you…time management is everything!

Hi Chicken-cem! It was 10 pages long printed out on regular bond paper...this was the recipe plus Mary and Sara’s invaluable and detailed notes :) Nice to know I don’t have to wait so long to eat them!

Hi Andrea! Thank you! The first time I saw the recipe I was shaking in my shoes but I’m so glad I did it!

Thanks so much Peabody! :)

Hi Brilynn! Whoa! I have no electric guitar player neighbor…more’s the pity as I think my alarm clock is losing its waking-up powers on me! Ack…I’m such a sleepyhead.

Hi Claire! Yes, love that about Julia :)

Thank you Sara! This was a brilliant challenge in so many ways :)

Thanks Kelly-jane!

Hi Aria! Thanks :) I loved the smell! Such a great bread-baking bonus :)

Hi Anne! Thank you! In the days before I was gifted with a Kitchenaid I have to do everything by hand…good training! ;)

Hi Jenny! I’m looking forward to those times to come! Also a great excuse to buy new cutesy PJ’s! ;)

Lori said...

Daring baker you are indeed, Joey! I would never in a million baking lifetimes attempt to make my own batards/baguettes. Well done!

Gattina said...

I think they look nice! Ugle... good, then I can have double helpings :)

robin said...

I think your breads look great! Wonderful job!

SweetDesigns said...

WonderfuL Looking Bread!! and A name Woot!!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Lori! You are such an accomplished baker I'm sure these baguettes would dance circles for you if you just raised your wooden spoon! :)

Hi Gattina! Thank you :) You could definitely have seconds!

Thank you Robin!

Hi Sweetdesigns! Thanks :)

Gabi said...

Great job and you should love them!
You were brave to take on this day long challenge and come up with-great bread!
x x x

Cenk said...

These challenges are getting harder and harder! I think you've done a very good job!

Mary said...

Ooh, you're really brave to knead it by hand, but I think you are even braver to start at 6am! Can you tell I am not a morning person? :) Nice job on your bread.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Gabi! There really is something about that which we labor over that tastes so sweet :)

Hi Cenk! Thank you! They are getting harder...every month I anticipate the new challenge with as much nervousness as excitement!

Hi Mary! During the days pre-Kitchenaid (which was my whole life before I got married) everything was kneaded by hand! :) But it's easier to do that than wake up at 6am, that's for sure, haha! :)

Barbara said...

Great job Joey. I think I probably skipped a few pages of the instructions ;)

Sakai said...

lovely looking breads....

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Barbara! I'm such a scaredy-cat I didn't skip anything!

Thanks Sakai :)