Thursday, July 3, 2008

French Bread

I've never made bread before, so this was interesting. And fun! Don't let me forget to mention that it was fun too. I felt like a real cook with all the little things I had to set-up such as wrapping my bowl in towels for the risings, making a contraption out of a floured pillow case and wine bottles to get that french-bread-shape, and filling hot pans with ice in an attempt to make steam. I had to be creative and use my noggin to figure out how to do some of the things the directions called for! They were very good directions though and helped me figure out how to do most of the steps.

I've never baked anything that has had to rise for as long as or as many times as this bread. Three risings - one of which was about 4 hours long - made me feel like I might actually know what I was doing. I have to admit though, I think I managed to get a nice consistency with my dough which is something I tend to struggle with. In the end though, it just didn't come out quite as I imagine french bread should. I don't know if it was old yeast, lack of adequate steam and cooking surface, or just my lack of skills but the loaves didn't seem to rise much in the last rising and they came out of the oven rather flat and dense. Ok ok, so I did drop one loaf on the floor while transfering it to the baking pan, but still!

  1. I followed the very very detailed directions as closely as I could and everything worked out well enough for me. They've covered just about any question you could have in the recipe.
The Verdict

Although my attempt didn't end up quite as nicely as I had hoped, I thought it was pretty good! It was best fresh from the oven, but I did take a loaf to my Mom's and we heated it in the oven and dipped it in olive oil with salt, pepper, and parmesan. That was my favorite way to eat it. And although everyone agreed that it was somewhat tough, we finished the whole loaf during that meal. So I would say it was just alright, but would definitely be better if I had more experience with the whole bread making process.

I'm not going to post the recipe here because it is a very long and concise recipe. You're much better off visiting the original site! That being said, here is the recipe from The Sour Dough.


  1. Hi Sarah,

    First let me tell you for someone who has never made bread before, Julia's French Bread recipe is quite the recipe to start with! I was scared to tackle this recipe for many years even after becoming a fairly accomplished bread maker so Kudos to you for making this your first one!

    Your loaves look wonderful and I suspect it was old yeast that just petered out on that last rise. Also, an oven that doesn't keep constant temp can cause crust to get tough, especially in this type of bread. Do you have an oven thermometer? If so, the next time you bake, check out the temp of the oven and see if it holds the temp constant.

    I hope you keep at making bread. Once you get the hang of how the whole yeast beast works, you will have even more fun!

    Thanks for linking to The Sour Dough.

    Breadchick Mary

  2. My experience has been that the steam is a huge issue. My oven just lets all the steam out the gap between the oven and the stovetop. No steam = dense bread. Still tasty, but heavy. I have been baking smaller loaves in a clay baker with a lid so that the bread sort of steams itself. This also works in a pyrex dish or a dutch oven but then you have to make a round loaf.

  3. I haven't tried to make bread since this attempt, but when I'm able to again I'd like to try. I like the idea of using clay bakers, but I might have to start with the dutch oven idea first :-) Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I highly recommend this site
    for some very easy, successful bread recipes. Try lessons 1 and 2. I think you will be so happy with the results that you'll bake bread more often!