Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Pain Francais in Honor of Julia Child

This month, the Bread Baking Babes and Buddies are honoring Julia Child who would’ve been 100 years old on August 15th. In memory of this remarkable woman, the BBBs have been baking Julia’s version of Pain Français (French Bread) from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two.

Julia Child was very detailed and thorough which I appreciate being a detail-oriented person myself.  Her process for making this bread is presented in 20 pages of meticulous directions. Even though I appreciate Julia’s thoroughness, I was delighted that Susan of Wild Yeast simplified the process for us by summarizing the formula and condensing the instructions. 



This French Bread takes about 7 –10 hours from start-to-finish so dedicating that amount of time will take a little bit of planning, but it’s definitely worth the effort. I followed Susan’s summary for the most part, but deviated on the kneading process and the bulk fermentation because as usual, I was trying to cram too much into my day off and ran out of time. I’m sure you never do that, right!


Pain Français (French Bread)

From: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two by Julia Childs


  • 3 baguettes or batards or boules
  • Or 6 short loaves (ficelles)
  • Or 12 rolls (petits pains)


I followed the ingredients and mixing instructions from Julia Child’s French Bread — Recipe Summary by Susan at Wild Yeast.

I deviated from the instructions at the kneading phase. Instead of kneading the dough for 5 – 10 minutes, I used the method from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. With this method, you do a series of turns in the bowl during the bulk fermentation to develop the dough structure.

Refer to my Tartine Country Bread post for a step-by-step photo tutorial on this method.

For the first 3 hours, I turned the dough every 45 minutes.  Then I deflated the dough and let it rise for another 1 1/2 hours.

Dough after the initial mixing.
Dough after a couple of hours and several turns.
The deflated dough after 3 hours.
Dough after an additional 1 1/2 hours.  The structure is really developed now.
Dough divided into 3 pieces and resting on the counter before shaping.
Shape the balls into baguettes and place on Baker’s couche to proof.
I placed the loaves in the refrigerator at this point because I had somewhere I was supposed to be.
The next day, I took the loaves out of the refrigerator, let them warm up to room temperature, and gently transferred them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
I scored the loaves using my Scaritech lame.
The loaves are covered with plastic and resting while the oven is preheating.
Baked loaves cooling on a wire rack.
Baked loaves ready to slice & serve.


I sliced one of my loaves lengthwise because I wanted to see how it would taste as sandwich bread.



I made egg salad sandwiches and served them with homemade kosher pickles. It was a pretty chewy sandwich but good nonetheless.



I think this French Bread might be better suited as an accompaniment to some delicious soup.  I’ll try that next!  


Happy Baking!


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