Bread and Baking — By Ben on 29 February 2008
Why Go Through the Trouble When You Can Buy It?

Because it is fun, because it is challenging and because you can always learn something new, even if you swear not to ever make it again.

That was the debate I had for this month’s DB’s challenge. I have been baking my own whole wheat bread for a couple of months now, but I use a very simple, no-knead, rise-only-twice method that has worked perfectly for me. And this month’s challenge was Julia Child’s French Bread (I didn’t know who she was until this month, please don’t kill me)

That’s why the 300-page long recipe I saw on the DB’s blog for French Bread scared me. I am a very visual person so after Mary and Sara’s first note (the first one of 30,000) I was completely lost. But I had to try it! Yes, I am a Daring Baker and I couldn’t just let this challenge go. So I enrolled the help of my friend Fabrice, a Frenchman living in the US, and went to work.

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That Sunday I woke up at 7:00 am to start the dough (the first rise lasts about 4 hours) Fabrice got here later that day, and some other friends joined, too. It was a party, the party of the French bread. But something went wrong in the process and the bread that should’ve looked puffy, inviting and edible ended up looking like this:

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What went wrong? Can you see where the problem is?

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Yes, I used the freaking wrong flour! I didn’t know there was unbleached WHITE whole wheat flour. Honest mistake. After that I was discouraged, tired and swore not to make that freaking bread again. But Lisa slapped me around the head. You still have 4 days, she said, put your DB’s apron on and conquered the bread. And that’s what I did, or tried to do.

Next Tuesday I got up at 6:30 to start my dough and many, many hours later this is what I got:

I am not sure if that is how it was supposed to look. But at least it was tasty and the whole house smelled like bread that day. Will I make this bread again? Maybe, but next time I won’t have to read the 10,000-page long recipe, I now know the basics of it and I will change it and adapt it to my way of doing things (simpler and easier). I am happy I conquered (or half-conquered at least) my second DB challenge. What is it in store for us next? We shall see, we shall see.

Get the recipe for French bread here

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(22) Readers Comments

  1. It’s GORGEOUS!!! I absolutely love KA’s white whole wheat–I use it more than any other flour for bread.

  2. Beautiful! You’re my baking hero, Ben!!!

    I never looked at the label of flour before until I made the cinnamon rolls. Unbleached? Who knew? And the King Arthur website — I’ve never heard of it before until 2 days ago when another blogger mentioned ordering there. Where did you get your flour, by the way? Online? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at the supermarket.

  3. Excellent . The first attempt was your subconcious telling you to stay the healty whole wheat route. Hahahaha. One day I may tackle this agin. I would like to work with some other breads first.

  4. this looks delicious :) you are very daring, indeed. and persistent! i’m glad it worked out well for you the second time around.

  5. Te quedó hermoso tu pan!!!!! y al menos se ve doradito, no como los míos todos pálidos! jejeje!

    Buen trabajo!! :)

  6. I’m glad you tried again – it looks wonderful! And I love the way it makes the house smell, too!

  7. Your title today is exactly what I was thinking as I read through your, Marye’s and Courtney’s entries today, lol! An 18-page recipe? No thanks. I’d be breaking out the vodka and throwing things by the end. I love cooking, because it’s an art. I’m less successful at baking, because it’s a science. ‘Nuff said! More power to all of you, though!

  8. BOW to you , you great baker! WOW to you too Ben…not once but twice. I didn’t have anyone to slap me around the head! O boy…tch tch…if you were embarking on a day long baking process, one would have thought you would have read the label! Just kidding…I would have wept copius tears!! Honestly, that’s one handsome looking loaf, & I love the texture of the inside. Would I make it again? NO…but if you do, lemme know! :0) Deeba

  9. O I forgot to say that I love the organised & new look to you blog. Very professional indeed & personalised too! :0)

  10. I think the flour shouldn’t have mattered THAT much, should it? I dunno. Good job for sticking with it and trying more than once – I always say I’m going to do that but then procrastinate doing the challenge until late in the month!

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