Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Happy Centennial Julia!
Her enthusiasm was legend and so was her energy! In researching recipes, first for Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but later for other cookbooks and TV programs, she repeated and repeated them until she not only had great recipes, but she understood why and how they were great.
I most admire her work ethic. For example, Mastering the Art of French Cooking took years of hard work, researching the classic way of making iconic French foods, cooking them over and over with slight variations, typing them up, sharing them with Simca, more revisions, and then finding her way through the whole cookbook publishing process...hundreds and hundred of hours!
One recipe that sometimes scares off potential bakers is her recipe for Pain Français, French Bread. The ingredients are really simple...flour, water, yeast and salt. Technique is the name of the game and she spells out every bit of it, so it takes something like 15 pages. I think that our hostess, Susan of Wild Yeast, the Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month, has included a summary of the recipe in her post, so I won't. The full 15 or so pages can be found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The really wonderful thing is that if you follow the recipe, you, too, will have some batards (short baguettes) of excellent, delicious French bread! It might take a lifetime to learn how to slash the tops for the perfect looking loaf, but even less elegant renditions are soooo good. Just give it a try.
This month, to celebrate Julia Child's 100th birthday, the Bread Baking Babes are posting a day early so that the posts can be ON her birthday. We are also baking, just this once, WITH our Buddies...they will be posting their breads today, too! As Julia would say, "Hooray!" Visit the Babes blogs and Susan might have links for the Buddies.
Since I like sourdough style French Bread, I used my sourdough starter to make the bread, but the dough was still soft, the dough rose triple high where it was supposed to, I shaped it carefully as directed by Julia and let it rest in floured linen troughs as required.
The only thing that didn't work out too well was that my slashes didn't seem to be deep enough, so the expansion happened at the sides, toward the bottom of the loaves. Otherwise these were excellent examples of French Bread and were consumed with delight. I did manage to hide the last third of the second loaf so that I could make bruchetta with the last slices.
Sending this over to Susan, our dear Babe of the month, at Wild Yeast for her awesome Yeastspotting weekly event of all things yeasted. Check it out!
P.S. Jama R is doing a whole week of posts of Queen Julia. She is also giving away some books related to Julia Child. Go to her blog Jama's Alphabet Soup to check it out!