Saturday, March 1, 2008
Boulanger Adventurier : Pain Francais
Did my fancy French impress you? Good! ;) So it's that time of the month again, time to reveal the Daring Bakers challenge. This months challenge : French Bread. This months hosts were Mary and Sara. Thank you so much to both of them for a wonderful challenge! I'm not sure that I on my own I would have tackled this.
My first step in this process was to thouroughly read the recipe. To do this I printed it off, all 14 pages. That's not a typo, it is really 14 pages. I tried not to let the size of the recipe intimidate me (but it did). Then I started reading it. I have to say that I am a very visual person, I do much better when I can see and feel the way things are supposed to work. So the first 3 times I read the recipe I felt like all I read was the word "bread". Over and over again. And I thought, surely, there is more to this recipe than just bread. I decided that for the best first step would be to choose the shape of my bread. So I googled it. I found this wonderful little site with great pictures and suddenly the recipe seemed a little less intimidating. I decided that I would make one batard, 2 small boules and an Epi.
Ok, so I have a shape now what do I do?? Back to google. Then I saw the light. A video of Julia Child making the bread! Perfect! After watching the video 2 or 3 times I felt confident that I could do it. So for any one that is interested in attempting this recipe, you must watch this video!
So the adventure began around 11:30 on a Saturday morning. The ingredients came together pretty quickly and the first rise began. I followed the recommendation of the recipe and let it rise in my oven (which was off) with the light on. I was tickled pink when I opened the oven door a few hours later and my dough had tripled in size. The deflating and second rise also went well.
I did notice that after the "cutting and resting" my dough seemed to have formed a slight crust. It made the shaping a little tricky, but a mist of water and working it with my hands loosened it up. Very carefully I placed the shaped dough on my cloth and put it in the off oven for it's final rise. I admit that I think I stopped this final rise a little early. I think my loaves could have gotten just a touch bigger. But they were still fine.
Then came what it now my favorite part, the flipping of the dough from the cloth! I was so nervous about this part! I don't know why, it just didn't click in my head. But I watched Julia's video one extra time before tackling it and it worked! Flip, slash, slide. Once again I was tickled pink. I can't believe it but the part that turned out to be the hardest for me was the slashing. :( I think my dough formed too much of a crust so I couldn't get a nice deep slash. I even tried a razor blade. When I first cut my Epi loaf I didn't cut deep enough so it turned out kind of.....rough.
My final result was a little pale. I think it was because at first I used a brush to brush on the water, then I just used my spray bottle and misted the loaves for the last few times. I think they needed more water to brown properly. So next time I will skip the spray bottle and stick with the brush.
I am still so proud of myself for having completed this challenge. I think I did a pretty good job and I will definitely try making French bread again!
If you would like the recipe (all 14 pages) check out Breadchick's (Mary's) blog.