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February 29, 2008

Daring Bakers February 2008 Challenge: Julia Child's French Bread

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: The Inside

This month's challenge was hosted by Mary from The Sour Dough and Sara from I Like To Cook and they chose Julia Child's French Bread and let me tell you the finished product is to die for! I ended up baking one batard and two round loaves and I was very pleased with the result.

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: Baked

Up front I have to admit I've never really been a huge fan of Julia Child. I saw her as a child on television here and there and I knew she cooked, but she never really made that much of an impression on me. I know there are a lot of food bloggers out there that were big fans however and when this challenge was announced they were thrilled. The Julia factor didn't mean that much to me personally, but when I found out we were making French Bread however I was ecstatic! I mean homemade French Bread...What's not to love??

I've always wanted to try to make homemade French Bread, but just never got around to making any. I took one look at the recipe and its length and then coupled with some of the chatter from some of the other Daring Bakers I began to feel a bit of apprehension, but that apprehension was completely unfounded. The recipe, while in-depth, was actually quite uncomplicated and straight forward, though honestly it was time consuming, but in the end the effort was well worth the results.

The recipe said to let the bread rest for several hours before cutting into it, but we ended up enjoying one of the round loaves right out of the oven and it was heavenly! The bread was very good the next day reheated as well, but there is just something about bread right out of the oven and I actually liked it best freshly baked, but again it was really good the next day too, so you wouldn't really be cheating yourself by waiting.

I baked my loaves on my Silpats and I also placed a dish of water in the oven before preheating it to make a nice, moist baking environment. Another trick I used was spritzing the loaves with water with a spray bottle a couple of times both before baking and during the first ten minutes of the baking cycle. I also spritzed them once after removing them from the oven. I do this when I bake sour dough bread (minus the last spritz once out of the oven) and it just creates an unbeatable crust and helps the bread itself as it's baking.

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: Baking

The round loaves would be just perfect to hollow out and use a bread bowl for soup, chili or stew. They could also be used to serve dips or something of that nature at a party or pot luck for a little extra pizazz and flare. Most of all they could just be eaten as is, because after all we are talking homemade French Bread here and what's better than homemade bread! ;o)

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: Round Loaf

The batard, the long loaf, turned out just how you would expect a loaf of French bread to turn out. Jamison actually enjoyed some of this the next night with a little butter to accompany his spaghetti. The round loaves were impressive, but the long loaf was really just beautiful. The way it baked, the slits just split perfectly, the crumb was gorgeous and I had no complaints whatsoever.

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: Batard

The dough itself was just gorgeous too. This is before the first rise:

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: Dough

It was supple and very smooth.

The next picture is after the first rise:

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: After First Rise

There were lovely little gas bubbles throughout the dough. You can see one of them poking out there on the back side.

Another element I really liked about the bread was the crumb as I mentioned above. It was so light and airy, yet it had a substance to it as well.

Daring Bakers Challenge February 2008: French Bread: The Inside Close Up

As I mentioned above the recipe is quite detailed. Instead of putting it here I'll just let you visit Mary and/or Sara and see the details there. Thanks ladies for a great challenge! Also don't forget to stop by the Daring Baker's Blog Roll and see how the other ladies and gentleman's loaves turned out.

I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings! :o)

Posted by Dianne at February 29, 2008 6:48 AM

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Comments

That is some gorgeous bread! It rose so well! I love your different loaves. I didn't have the courage to try anything except batards this time but you have inspired me! Thank you!

Posted by: Lucy V at February 29, 2008 9:11 AM

The bread looks great! I love the deep slits...wow!

Posted by: Dawn at February 29, 2008 12:31 PM

Lovely Dianne! Your round loaves just blossomed!
Do you bake a lot of bread?
Nice to have your comments on my blog. Cheers!

Posted by: Melinda Pickworth at February 29, 2008 1:29 PM

Thanks everyone!

Melinda, I do make bread from time to time. Usually not loaves though. Jamison enjoys yeast rolls so I make those for him, but I don't eat as much bread as I used to. I try to focus on whole grain bread when I do make it though.

Posted by: Dianne at February 29, 2008 2:11 PM

Wow! That is some beautiful bread!

Posted by: Allie at February 29, 2008 2:17 PM

Your bread is so lovely! the color and the fluffy inside. Great job!
-Clara

Posted by: CB at February 29, 2008 2:53 PM

Dianne, what a lovely bread! Great job on the challenge.

Posted by: Suzana at February 29, 2008 3:13 PM

Your bread looks absolutely gorgeous! Very nicely done!

Posted by: mary at February 29, 2008 3:22 PM

Fabulous job, so glad it turned out great for you and that you loved it too!

Posted by: laurie at February 29, 2008 3:22 PM

Wow, those look great! Your batard looks perfect. Well done!

Posted by: Karen at February 29, 2008 3:47 PM

Your bread looks great and I couldn't agree more. There is nothing better than bread that comes straight from the oven.

Posted by: Nikki at February 29, 2008 4:42 PM

Great loaves! Great idea to use them as soup bowls...

j

Posted by: jasmine at February 29, 2008 8:16 PM

Just fabulous! Great job...the boules look especially nice..I w2ish I had made some of them..maybe next time!

Posted by: marye at February 29, 2008 8:36 PM

Thanks everyone! I thought this was a great challenge. I can't wait to see what March brings! :o)

Posted by: Dianne at February 29, 2008 9:00 PM

I agree, the crumb on this bread is delish.
Good work!

Posted by: Carrie at February 29, 2008 9:59 PM

I love those boules! They opened up so beautifully on top. Wasn't the dough fun to work with? So silky, I just wanted to pet it!

Posted by: hanne at March 1, 2008 9:09 AM

I loved the dough. I enjoy the process of kneading the bread...It's very cathartic!

Posted by: Dianne at March 1, 2008 9:25 AM

You did a wonderful job on your loaves. I thought this recipe tasted fabulous. I've made it several times and I'm going to bake it again. There are a couple of tweaks I want to make.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Posted by: Sheltie Girl at March 1, 2008 10:21 AM

Great job on your bread. The crumb looks perfect

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Posted by: breadchick at March 1, 2008 10:28 AM

Yum - that's some impressive looking bread!

Posted by: Joy at March 1, 2008 4:48 PM

Not a fan of Julia? Blasphemy! Still, you did her proud. Great job on this challenge.

Posted by: JennyBakes at March 1, 2008 11:58 PM

Perfect! Thanks for baking with us.

Posted by: Sara at March 2, 2008 3:32 AM

I ate some right out of the oven too...how could you not with that smell? Great job on your bread.

Posted by: peabody at March 2, 2008 5:04 AM

Wonderful job on this challenge!

Posted by: Deborah at March 2, 2008 10:20 AM

I thought the recipe was intimidating looking too, but, like you, once I got into it it was a lot of fun!

Posted by: Meryl at March 2, 2008 11:45 AM

wow, look at how your bread rose! great job!

Posted by: Jaime at March 3, 2008 1:06 AM

Thanks everyone! This challenge was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to what March brings! :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 3, 2008 1:33 PM

Wow, the slashes on your loaves are great. I love how the round loaves split open, very pretty!

Posted by: Andrea at March 4, 2008 8:54 AM

I was very pleased with the way the split ended up after baking. I thought briefly that I had deflated one of the loaves when slashing it, but I was worried for nothing. :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 4, 2008 9:04 AM

Hi Dianne, beautiful job on your bread!!

Posted by: Bruno at March 4, 2008 10:59 AM

Thanks Bruno! :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 4, 2008 1:29 PM

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