For me, this challenge was a bit like last month’s in that I had never heard of Julia Child (yes, there a few of us)! but I like French bread. So, I got the recipe and instructions and printed it out. A full 14 pages. I have to say that Sara and Mary put in a lot of time and effort to give us background information and helpful hints about baking French bread.
It felt like I was back at school, reading for my class and assignments! But after reading the whole thing twice, I started seeing a glimmer of what we were to do. I have been baking a bit of bread recently with quite good results. So I felt quite comfortable starting off. I decided to halve the quantities. I made the dough and it rose beautifully. Beyond this point, however, things refused to go right. The dough didn’t rise well the second or third time. I was left with rather flat bread which had a hard crust. The inside was soft and tasted good.
I had a little difficulty in coming to terms that this bread had got the better of me. So I decided to give the bread one more go. After all, that’s what makes us Daring Bakers (we are always ready for a baking challenge even if it doesn’t turn out quite the way it should).
I started in the morning last Saturday. The dough was ready for the first rise at 8.00 am. It took 3 ½ hours to rise threefold. By 12 noon the dough was ready for the second rise. This time it took 3 ½ hours to rise to required volume. Next I shaped the dough into a batard and a round loaf. (I should have got more bread out of the given measurements but looks like I went wrong with the measurements somewhere). After another 2 ½ hours, the loaves had risen reasonably and were ready for the oven. I slashed them and managed to get them into the oven without too much of a problem. Then the loaves sort of settled themselves out comfortably and refused to rise (as they should have done) while baking.
As you can see from my picture, my French bread baking wasn’t anywhere near a success. My loaves were flat and rather pale. I must have gone wrong somewhere. Well, you cannot win them all.
The bread itself didn’t require all that much time or effort except for the time it needed to rise. But after two unsuccessful attempts, I think I’ll be better off buying my French bread!
Do not be put off by the appearance of my loaves or my baking experience and do go visiting the other Daring Baker blogs to see their loaves. Most of them have made some great bread.
The complete recipe for this bread can be found here.