I remember one of the first videos I saw of Julia Child cooking something. She was making a sauce to go on top of something and using sour cream. And she said, "Now just take a nice big plop of the sour cream and mix it in there." Or something very close to that. I just especially remember the big plop of sour cream. I nearly laughed my pants off and fell in love with Julia's style right then. (As someone who has written on recipes, "add a small plop" of this or that.) I have never been able to find that particular video again, but I'll never forget it. So the BreadBakingBabes invited the Buddies to post with them this month in honor of Julia's birthday. Despite there not being a day under 80 here for the past couple weeks, I managed to not raise my french bread too fast my multiple stints in the fridge, including an overnight. It only adds to the flavor fortunately. Since we don't have access to french flour here, which has lower gluten than American all purpose, I used a small portion of whole wheat pastry flour with the bran sifted out to try and relax my dough a bit. It was very nice to work with, not so stubborn while shaping as it could have been. I really enjoyed the shaping process. Very easy. And oh wow, that wonderful crackly sound while the baguettes were cooling. I'm pretty proud since I did the whole thing by hand and I do usually use a machine to do some of my kneading. Here is the handy recipe summary that Susan of Wild Yeast provided. I used the instant yeast option this time, but I'd love to try it again with fresh yeast - something I have never used before.
I didn't get quite the pop on my slashes I was hoping for, I think the hot weather proofed my thin baguettes faster than I expected, or I added a bit much flour while I was kneading. Still ended up with great flavor and chewy crackly bread. ☺
(Oh, and it's absolutely amazing toasted, I am dipping lightly toasted pieces (many pieces) in my bowl of amaranth this morning and I'm in heaven!)
Julia Child's French Bread -- Recipe Summary
- 3 baguettes or batards or boules
- Or 6 short loaves (ficelles)
- Or 12 rolls (petits pains)
Time: about 7 - 8 hours, not including cooling time
- mix and knead: 15 minutes
- first rise: 3 hours
- second rise: 1.5 - 2 hours
- divide, rest, and shape: 15 minutes
- final rise: 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours
- prepare to bake: 10 minutes
- bake: 25 minutes
- cool: 2 - 3 hours]
- one cake (0.6 ounce or 17 grams) fresh yeast or one package active dry yeast [Susan's note: Here are some equivalents: fresh yeast: 17 grams; active dry yeast: 0.25 ounce or 7 grams). You could also use 5.6 grams of instant yeast]
- 1/3 cup warm water (not over 100 degrees F)
- 3 1/2 cups (about one pound) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 cups tepid water (70 to 74 degrees F)
- Combine the yeast and warm water and let liquefy completely.
- Combine the yeast mixture with the flour, the salt, and the remaining water in a mixing bowl.
- Turn the dough onto a kneading surface and let rest for 2 - 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.
- Knead the dough for 5 - 10 minutes. See the original recipe for details on Julia's kneading technique [p. 59].
- Let the dough rest for 3 - 4 minutes, then knead again for a minute. The surface should be smooth and the dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.
- Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (about 70F) until 3 1/2 times its original volume. This will probably take about 3 hours.
- Deflate [fold] the dough and return it to the bowl [p. 60].
- Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rising surface: rub flour into canvas or linen towel placed on a baking sheet.
- Divide the dough into 3, 6, or 12 pieces depending on the size loaves you wish to make.
- Fold each piece of dough in two, cover loosely, and let the pieces relax for 5 minutes [p.62].
- Shape the loaves and place them on the prepared towel. See original recipe for detailed instructions [p. 62 or 68].
- Cover the loaves loosely and let them rise at room temperature until almost triple in volume, about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 450F. Set up your "simulated baker's oven" [p. 70] if you will use one.
- Using an "unmolding board," transfer the risen loaves onto a baking sheet [p.65] or peel [p. 72].
- Slash the loaves.
- Spray the loaves with water and get them into the oven (either on the baking sheet or slide them onto the stone [p. 72]).
- Steam with the "steam contraption" [p. 71 and 72] or by spraying three times at 3-minute intervals.
- Bake for a total of about 25 minutes.
- Cool for 2 - 3 hours.
Julia deserves to be Yeastspotted!