Friday, February 29, 2008

Beauty is in the eye of the baker


I knew it would happen. A daring baker challenge that would make me want to pull the covers over my head and hide! When I saw this month's challenge, I almost opted to sit this one out. Only four simple ingredients, how scary can that be, you ask? Well the instructions following those 4 ingredients filled 13 pages when I printed them out. Yes 13! The time from start to finish is anywhere from 6 1/2 hours to about 8 to 9 hours. Scared yet?... I thought so! I've made plenty of bread, rolls etc... but have always shied away from French bread, and this was Julia Child's French bread. The French have very specific standards when it come to making bread, right down to the length. My oven isn't big enough to make baguettes, which are 24 inches long, so I made the shorter 16 inch batards. Or at least they we're 16 inches long when I rolled them out, things changed in the oven.

So after much waffling between running and hiding and actually giving it a try, I mustered up my baking courage and jumped in. I started early around 7:30 in the morning and made my dough. No problems there, easy in fact. How hard can mixing together 4 ingredients be. Well one them is yeast and I'm always afraid I'll kill it somehow. By the way how many things do you cook that you worry about keeping "alive"?!? Anyway, I put my happy dough with very much alive yeast into a bowl and went about my day. About 4 hours later it was ready to be deflated and rise again. About an hour and a half later is when I really started to get nervous. I'd made the dough but now what would happen. Would I cause Julia to roll over in her grave in horror? I must admit I was a tad confused reading the instructions for forming the loaves. So I formed my loaves, trying to follow the instructions. I let them rise yet again. Then came another challenge, how to get the bread to the sheet pan without deflating it. My first attempt was a little difficult. The dough did not want to cooperate with me at all. The second loaf was a little easier to manage. The round loaf was not a problem because I could kind of pick it up in the towel. Oh yeah I used kitchen towels for the final rise because I didn't have canvas and wasn't sure where I could even buy it! Next came slashing the tops of my loaves with a razor. I guess this just takes practice (or a sharper razor!?). My razor kinda stuck to the bread. I got sort of slashes in my bread and I was ready for the oven. No matter what happened at this point, I knew that when I put it in the oven,as Julia said in her instructions,I'd get bread! I may not be beauty pageant winning bread but it would be bread. When it came out it was ugly duckling like, but when I tore the end off it was gorgeous on the inside! The bread a had great crust and was soft inside with a beautiful crumb. I was so happy I immediately slathered butter on a piece. I broke the rules and didn't wait 2 hours until cutting the bread. My patience was gone after waiting on this bread all day!
Oh and it tasted marvelous as well. So suck up your fear and make yourself some french bread!
I looked at Mary's(aka breadchick) pictures today and boy I could have used those before I made my loaves! Mary together with Sara were our illustrious hosts this month, check out their picture's to see great this bread can actually look. Thanks Mary and Sara for making me face my fears! I learned a lot on this challenge. The bread was wonderful and maybe with practice mine will even be pretty!
Go here for the recipe and many instructions! Be sure to check out how all the other daring baker's faired on this challenge

32 comments:

Big Boys Oven said...

Gosh Julia Child had drive me too the wall with 15 pages of this recipe . . . but got to say at the end you and me really had benefited from it. bread piece of french bread! so cool! really worth the time!

glamah16 said...

Simple in ingrediants yet so demanding in execution. Your breads turned out wonderful.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It is sort of strange to think how many pages to this recipe there were and only 4 ingredients! Of course when you think about it how do just the only 4 ingredients come together out of an oven as such a changed being.
Your loaf looks beautiful!

Pixie said...

Your loaf looks wonderful, well done!

zorra said...

Well done, I was happy too. ;-)

L Vanel said...

Gorgeous bread. It looks really delicious!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your breads look great! Very well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

ostwestwind said...

Wonderful bread, congratulations

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

coco said...

Your bread looks wonderful!

Aamena said...

hey am glad too that i didnt sit out! lovely loaves!

Baking Soda said...

Bread can be like people: it's not all about appearance! You did great!

DawnsRecipes said...

The texture of your bread is wonderful! Great job!

Brilynn said...

Well done on this lengthy challenge!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your loaves looked lovely. Great job facing your fears and facing the challenge of this bread! So worth it!

breadchick said...

I'm so glad you didn't pull the covers over your head and baked the bread with us. It is a very nice loaf of French bread indeed

Thanks so much for baking with Sara adn I

Mer said...

Looks like you did a great job. :0) Happy that you conquered something that was nerve racking for you!

Bellini Valli said...

I made baguettes just so that I coulod cheat and eat one of the bread loaves straight from the oven. Great job with your bread. You rose to the challenge and came out shining :D

Joy said...

Worrying about keeping the yeast alive was my big concern as well. Normally all my ingredients are well and truly dead! Your end result looks great though.

Elle said...

What are you talking about?? Your bread looks great! Nice crust and crumb and everything. The photos show lovely bread.

Jenny said...

Great job! I was amazed by the four ingredients.....

Eva said...

I think your bread looks pretty darn good! And in the end, taste is all that matters!

Katie said...

Your bread looks wonderful and very unthentic.

Peabody said...

A sharp razor and much practice is indeed what it takes for good slashing...give it time, and you too will be a good slasher. :)

Allison said...

good thing you got over the initial fear; your bread is quite happy looking! =)

Deborah said...

Many people were scared of this recipe, but it seems like just about everyone is happy they made it. Your bread looks wonderful!

Priscilla said...

Who wouldn't want a piece of your bread?? Count me in! *smile*

DaviMack said...

Skip the slashing - use scissors. ;)

It looks great! Glad you made it!

BrineS said...

Yum! Yum! May I have some?

Rosie said...

Your bread looks so delicious and you can't beat homemade bread. Wonderful bake :D

Rosie x

Cakelaw said...

I think your bread looks pretty enough - and I'm glad it tasted good. It was a great challenge.

Tartelette said...

Your breads turned out wonderful Paula! The things we can do with only 4 ingredients!

Mitzi said...

How beautiful!! Bring all this the next time we get together; I am inspired.
Mitzi