Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classic French Bread - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 65th installment. The recipe is Classic French Bread.
This recipe made everyone in the household say "oooooh, you're making baguettes....." :-)  Talk about an easy way to get popular....

This recipe was fairly straightforward and we liked the bread a lot.  I'm still not sure if making one's own baguettes is worth the work, since it's so easy to buy great baguettes.  On the other hand, French bread is good when it's very fresh, and baking at home gets it to you as fresh as possible.

The dough has very few ingredients, and doesn't even take too long to rise - one rise, shape the dough, rise again, and bake.  The recipe called for cake yeast, which I did not have (and also did not have time to obtain - where does one even get it? :-) so I used active dry yeast dissolved in water.   I had a time crunch on the day I was baking, so I even stuck the dough in the fridge for the first rise, and it still worked out great.  It kind of blew the lid off the bowl in the fridge, but that didn't seem to hurt anything.

I kneaded it by hand, rather than machine, because I was in the mood for that.  Long ago (back when I only worked four days per week - woohoo!) I used to bake bread every Friday, and taught myself a lot using the New Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, so kneading and shaping is familiar to me.

I watched the video, and found myself kind of thinking about the "original" Julia child recipe that I have used in the past.  I really like Julia's explanations in general, and actually found the description in the book of how to shape the loaves rather inscrutable - a diagram in there might have helped.  The video was more illuminating, but I still kind of fudged the shaping process - something to perfect in the future.  Here's the dough after shaping, ready for its second rise:

I have a perforated metal pan for baguette baking (talk about specialty bakeware - got this as a gift), so I used that, rather than the baking stone.  It allows plenty of heat to circulate and keeps the bottom of the bread rounded rather than flat.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading and commenting on my blog - I enjoy the company of other bakers and always want to hear your thoughts!


  1. They look perfect! I am very impressed that you kneaded by hand! Phew! Not many of us made this one, but it was worth it to me! Nothing like the smell of fresh bread!

  2. Those look great!!!! I agree with you on the instructions. I kind of fudged too.

  3. Your loaves look fantastic! Looking forward to making this myself. Thanks for mentioning the perforated pan - that reminds me, I too have one of those! I purchased it probably over 15 years ago at one of those specialty parties - never used it. I'm sure it is in the very back of the cupboard somewhere... I hope so anyway. (Chuckle)

  4. They look wonderful. I think its definitely worth the effort.

    My local co-op usually carriers fresh yeast; I've also seen it at natural foods stores.