Friday, February 29, 2008

“It Wants to Come Sideways” Julia’s French Bread

The thirteen-page recipe for French bread in Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of the landmarks of the genre, a recipe I talk about all the time, but never made. I was always a little suspicious of this recipe. Volume I of Mastering explains that no recipe for French bread is provided because it would be impossible to reproduce outside of France, and I was more inclined to credit this account. I was inclined as well to be intimidated by the notoriously detailed recipe in Volume II, but I need not have been. Having more details makes the recipe easier, not harder, and the writing is so intelligent and humane, it is really a brilliant analog to the wonderful bread itself. Some of my favorite crumbs:

[W]hen you tear off a piece, it wants to come sideways; it has body, chewability, and tastes and smells of the grain.

Use one hand only for the kneading and keep the other clean to hold a pastry scraper, to dip out extra flour, to answer the telephone, and so forth [to take photographs!]

It will turn into bread in the oven whatever happens, but you will have an easier time and a better loaf if you aim for ideal conditions.


This is the most wonderful stuff in the world. Many thanks Daring Bakers!

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18 Comments:

Blogger Ilva said...

You've got a perfect bread here, it looks great!

1:39 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

yum, looks delicious!! :)

3:18 PM  
Blogger my food affair said...

wow!! your french bread looks amazing, just like the ones at the bakery!! great job!! -kk

5:51 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Your loaves look perfect! Beautifully done!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Mer said...

Yum!

9:49 PM  
Blogger Beth G. said...

Beautiful job!! Your bread looks fantastic!!

10:25 PM  
Blogger Gretchen Noelle said...

Those were some funny comments! You did a great job and I am sure enjoyed these wonderful loaves of french bread. Congratulations on completing this months DB challenge!

5:48 AM  
Blogger ostwestwind said...

Interesting how different all the shapes, the crusts and the crumbs look at all the DB's on the same recipe.

You made it, well done! I think it would be better with toasted hemp seeds :-))

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

11:18 AM  
Blogger breadchick said...

Excellent job on your bread

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

11:56 AM  
Blogger Simona said...

I have not tried to take photos with one hand while kneading with the other: you did great!

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Nomi said...

That is your third web self-portrait, if I'm not mistaken.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Aparna said...

Lovely write-up and lovelier bread!

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Congratulations on a successful challenge. Your bread looks wonderful.
Jane of VeganBits.com

12:10 AM  
Blogger SweetDesigns said...

Fantastic!! man does that look like a great hunk of bread.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Tartelette said...

Looks fantastic Eve!Glad youe enjoyed the challenge!

1:51 PM  
Blogger Allergy Mom said...

What a lovely crumb! (Mine was much denser.) I love the "sideways" quote you used for the post, it describes the whole experience. Libby

12:48 AM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great looking loaves! Good job!

Cheers,

Rosa

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog - I didn't know that, among your many other talents, you were a food blogger too (how did I not know that?) :) Anyway, your bread looks yummy - and I'll be checking back for all the other great treats you post on here.

Leah,
Editor, The Jew & The Carrot blog
http://www.jcarrot.org

10:57 AM  

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