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 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.
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!