Daring Bakers: French Bread ala Julia Child

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I was definitely not surprised to see that this month’s challenge was bread, given that Breadchick Mary at The Sour Dough, along with Sara at I Like to Cook, was hosting it. French bread… great, I’ve been wanting to try it! I set out to get an early start on the recipe by printing it out and giving it a couple of thorough reads… but wait… FOURTEEN (as in, 14) pages? This recipe is 14 pages long?! Yowza! Well, that’s okay… I will sit down with my lunch and read through it. I had long finished my sandwich and chips and was only five pages into the recipe. Yikes. This is certainly a “daring” challenge!

I actually never read the recipe from start to finish in one sitting. I couldn’t get through it. And to be honest, I seriously considered just skipping this month. Aside from not even being able to read the entire recipe during the time it takes to watch a primetime drama, this was shaping up to be an all-day event, with an estimated 8 to 10 hour start to finish time. I got together with Laurie over at quirky cupcake and we decided to tackle the recipe “together” (which, in a virtual world, meant that we frantically instant messaged each other throughout the process, doing it at the same time in our respective kitchens). You can thank Laurie for my post, because had it not been for someone keeping me accountable I don’t think I would have mustered the energy to do this. So thank you, Laurie, for forcing me to put my game face on :)

Now on to the actual recipe… as I said, this was an insanely long recipe. It is a Julia Child recipe, and I guess another shameful confession is that I’ve never made one of her recipes or have seen one of her shows. This was certainly a way to dive right in. I honestly can’t tell you if I even think I did this correctly. There were a lot of different types of kneading techniques and deflating techniques that I have never encountered before. There were no pictures or diagrams to go by, so I winged it by doing what I thought was correct.

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The outcome of the recipe was good. I have never made French bread before (just some variations on white sandwich breadItalian bread, and sweet rolls), so I have nothing to compare this to other than store-bought French bread I have eaten. This turned out to be about the same – it was good, it tasted like French bread should. I guess since it was an all-day affair with Julia Child I was expecting something out-of-this-world and leagues above anything I had made before. It really didn’t live up to those expectations, although as I said, it was good bread, but not especially remarkable. I just personally don’t really think it was worth the all-day effort. This perhaps may be a result of me not performing certain techniques correctly, as there was no real guide on how to go about them. Either way, we had a couple of good loafs of bread to eat over the course of a week and I got to make my first Julia Child recipe :)

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Thank you again to Mary and Sara for hosting this challenge. If you are interested in seeing the recipe, you can view it at The Sour Dough.