Pain Français (Plain French Bread)

Up until now, I’d never made bread. It had always been a little bit daunting… so many variables can affect how the way the bread turns out: the type of flour used, the amount of humidity the day you make the bread, the age of the yeast, the amount of time the dough is left to rise and on and on. But I needed to try. After all, Julia says: “Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” I was ready to be fearless – maybe it would be fun too.

Reading the story about how the recipe came to be in Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two, let me know that I was right to be apprehensive, but I figured that she’d already been through the testing. It took almost a year and over two hundred pounds of flour to get the recipe she wanted. I was hoping it wouldn’t take quite as long for me to get it right.

Here’s my attempt.

Getting ready to proof the yeast.

proof the yeast

Proof the yeast.

It’s alive!

bubbling yeast

Bubbling yeast.

Flour and salt.

flour and salt

Flour and salt.

Four ingredients.

yeast, water, salt and flour

Yeast, water, salt and flour.

Mixing the dough.

dough, starting to come together

Dough, starting to come together.

Dough, post-kneading. Into the warm oven to rise.

dough, kneaded and ready to rise.

Dough, kneaded and ready to rise.

It rose!

after the first rise

After the first rise.

Kneaded again, then back into the warm oven to rise.

kneaded again, ready for another rise

Kneaded again, ready for another rise.

After the second rise.

second rise complete

Second rise complete.

The dough went into a loaf pan, baked for about half an hour. There was a bit of water spritzed on the loaf while it baked.

Bread!

bread

Bread!

It was fun to try to make bread. I didn’t make perfect bread… it was a dense loaf, without enough craggy holes, so the butter sort of slid on and then off the bread which wasn’t what I wanted at all. But the crust was crispy and the bread tasted good. So I’ll try again to see if I can figure out where the problem was.

Meanwhile, I’m going to celebrate 100 years of Julia Child by buying a copy of the new Julia Child biography, Dearie.

The recipe for far too long to type so you can find it here: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/chefsexperts/celebrity-chefs/julia-child-dearie-bob-spitz/recipes/food/views/Pain-Fran-ais-Plain-French-Bread-51112800

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6 thoughts on “Pain Français (Plain French Bread)

    • I did measure the flour with my scale… it was so humid the day I was making the bread, it was the way to go.
      I think it was the yeast too. I’m going to try, try again with fresher yeast.

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