Wednesday, August 15, 2012

happy birthday Julia

On the suggestion of Susan, I joined the bread baking babes and baked this lovely french bread on Friday, following the directions (loosely, of course) from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2.  
I mixed the bread entirely by hand and found the proportions to be spot on.  I did use a smidgen less water because it was/is so very humid in my house without ac.  Again, because my house is warm, the first rise actually took less than suggested 3-5 hour window.  To slow it down (encourage flavor and accomodate the nap) I tossed it into the fridge while we ran to the library.  It quickly rose again and then was left to have its final proof for a bit longer than usual due to a lengthy nap for the bear. 
We did actually let the loaves cool before eating them.  We ate one in slices covered with butter and fresh garden tomatoes.  
The other two survived the night (I'm still not sure how!) and so were turned into bread salad.  I made a vinaigrette of olive oil (1/2 c), red wine vinegar (1/4 c), lemon juice (2 T) and tossed it over diced plum tomatoes (8), diced onion (1 med), coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, thinly sliced cucumbers (less than a c) and flavored it with 2 diced garlic cloves, fresh basil (1 c), & fresh parsley (1 c).  The bread cubes were dried for a day & added an hour before serving.  The bread was excellent both ways!  

These are Susan's summarized & lightly edited instructions.  
Julia Child's French Bread -- Recipe Summary 
Time:  about 7 - 8 hours, not including cooling time
· 1 T yeast
· 1/3 + 1 ¼ c cup warm water (not over 100 degrees F)
· 1 lb + all-purpose flour
· 2 1/4 teaspoons salt 
1.     Combine the yeast and warm water and let liquefy completely. 
2.     Combine the yeast mixture with the flour & the salt.
3.     Turn the dough onto a kneading surface and let rest for 2 - 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.
4.     Knead the dough for 5 - 10 minutes.
5.     Let the dough rest for 3 - 4 minutes, then knead again for a minute. The surface should be smooth and the dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.
6.     Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (about 70F) until 3 1/2 times its original volume. This will probably take about 3 hours.
7.     Deflate [fold] the dough and return it to the bowl.
8.     Let the dough rise in the fridge until not quite tripled in volume, ~2 hours.
9.     Divide the dough. 
10.  Fold each piece of dough in two, cover loosely, and let the pieces relax. 
11.  Shape the loaves – I baked them on my sheet pan. 
12.  Cover the loaves loosely and let them rise at room temperature until almost triple in volume, about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours.
13.  Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 450F.
14.  Slash the loaves.
15.  For color, you should wet the bread: spray, steam, whatever.  I took the fairly easy approach of using a silicone brush to wet the loaves- before I put them in and in 3x 3 minute intervals.   
16.  Bake for a total of about 25 minutes.
17.  Cool for 2 - 3 hours.
This is what happens when you try to photograph the loaves... the legos come to dance on them.  
Not to be outdone, the bear then had to come play on the table/ bread as well.  

Unrelated, I finally started using my food stencils that I got at the cake expo.  I really like how the dogwood flowers look on this loaf of oatmeal bread.  


Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Love the loaves, the salad, and the dancing Legos and bear! Julia would be proud. Thanks for baking with the Babes!

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful loaves. How I envy your fresh garden tomatoes. And bread salad the next day. Wonderful.

And the dogwood stencil turned out perfectly!