Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Julia Child's French Bread, Almost

When I started this No Food Shopping challenge, I mentioned having many pounds of butter in the freezer but no bread to use with said butter.  Well, that all changed this afternoon.  I found an old Youtube video of Julia making a very simple recipe she referred to as a French type bread.  I have never lived in France but all the long thin loaves of bread in the bread aisle here are called French bread.  If it is good enough for Publix and The Pig it is good enough for me.

Easy French Bread

Notice this photo is less than half a loaf.  I had to have everyone stop eating it so I could get a quick picture.  Even the dog loved it.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4  teaspoons salt
1 package instant yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons if using loose yeast.  Sorry Julia but I only had instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 120-130 degrees F.)

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer* because it makes everything so much easier.  Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with the paddle. ( use a very slow speed)  Slowly add the warm water and mix until the flour is mostly incorporated.  Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for a couple of minutes.  Swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 3-3 1/2 minutes.  The dough will feel rather elastic, but is not a dry dough at all. Move the dough to a slightly floured board and let it rest another couple of minutes.  Put it into a clean large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise to about 3 1/2 x's its original size.  ( About 3 hours) On a lightly floured wooden board punch the dough down, put it in a clean bowl, cover and let it rise again.(This time is will rise about 3 times it's original size.  About 1-1 1/2 hours) Remove  to a floured board and divide it into 3 parts.  Fold each part into thirds, let rest a couple of minutes and then pat it down and  shape into desired size.  ( I chose shorter fatter loaves.  See here for explicit directions for making baguettes.)  Put a piece of parchment on a large baking pan.  Sprinkle lightly with corn meal and set the shaped loaves on the pan.  Cover and let rise until the dough is 3 x's its original size.  Make slash marks in each loaf right before putting in the oven.   This is where Julia and I parted ways.  Instead of spritzing the tops of my loaves with water, I brushed them with a tad of oil ( I wanted it a bit softer).  Bake in a 425 degree oven until golden brown.  I think it cooked for about 25 minutes. You are supposed to wait until it is perfectly cool to cut it. (Right!!  We ate it hot with butter.  Yum!

This was incredibly easy to do, but I would recommend starting this very early in the morning.  Since the dough requires 3 risings it takes a bit of time in between steps.  It was so easy that I am starting another recipe of this tomorrow morning.  We are going to the lake for the weekend and I am going to pack the rising dough to take there.  I will bake it tomorrow night .  So worth the little effort it too to make this.

*Very doable without a mixer.  Stir to mix all the ingredients together.  Turn out to a floured board and knead for about 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Then just follow the remaining steps

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