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. You are indeed one Daring Baker, Ben ;)

  2. Great job! I would have slapped you too if I had realised you thought about giving up! Be proud, your bread turned out gorgeous! I bet Fabrice had a good laugh with the first one, but…we are spoiled rotten when it comes to baguettes!

  3. That’s our Lisa! She has a unique way of motivating. You know before I moved to Germany I had not idea that there we THAT MANY types of flour. I am always confused when I go to the store. There is an entire LONG aisle dedicated to flours!!! Anyway your bread looks great love the dark color of it. Well done Ben!

  4. Your bread looks just as it should Ben and I’ll bet it tasted delcious as well. I made baguettes just because I knew I couldn’t wait for the loaf to cool for 3 hours before eating it. Are they trying to torture is:D I ate one baguette straight from the oven slathered in melting butter.:D

  5. Another reason to make french bread is just to say you’ve done it and be able to cross it off the ‘to do’ list. It’s the same reason I made puff pastry- so that I don’t have to again.

  6. Yay, Ben! Yes, I did know there was white whole wheat flour, and at one point in my escapade, I did wander over to my flour bag JUST to make sure I hadn’t done the very same thing! Although I wouldn’t have said I’d be interested in making this again, I’m bound to, just to prove it isn’t as fussy as I currently believe it to be. Bake ON oh fearless one. Hahahaha!

  7. I just bought a bag of KA’s white whole wheat… I made sure it was safely tucked away in the pantry before I started my bread baking adventure. ;)

    Good for you for making a second pass at this! That’s a true Daring Baker!!

  8. Great job on your bread. Yup, for this recipe flour will make all the difference in the world. Now to try this with the wheat flour do this: Use 1/2 the AP and 1/2 the Wheat and add 1 1/2 tsp of vital wheat gluten. You should get a better result.

    Thanks for baking with Sara and I

  9. That’s the great thing about the Daring Bakers — support, encouragement, a good slap now and then. I’m glad you stuck with it and I for one believe you WILL be making this again.

  10. Great job! To do it twice is really really a lot of work. I’m glad the second one turned out so fine! (But I do wonder, how was the taste of the first one? Though not so fluffy, it looks to me as if it could taste fine anyway)

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