by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Julia Child's French Bread: Bâtards
I also think it's pretty fitting that my #CookwithJulia time both kicked-off with (#SundaySupper) and finished with (Bread Baking Babes & Buddies) a "planned" event that fell neatly into the whole scheme of things. Fitting in that while based on French technique, Julia's recipes really are universal and embraced by all. Over the past eleven days, I've run across people who grew up watching Julia...people who were introduced to her via a blog turned book turned popular film...and even people who were only just being introduced to her. But every person, no matter where they were on their journey with Julia, seemed to feel the impact that she made on the culinary world.
Salmon en Papillote, (a dish cooked for her by a master chef and my personal mentor, Rick Bayless) Chile & Honey Glazed Pork Ribs, Ratatouille (the ever-popular favorite peasant dish made with only veggies but packing mad-flavor that even drove the kids to swoon), a Simple Cucumber Salad (fun, quick...and the perfect thing to do with that summer cuke bounty), (a hearty loaf perfect for cutting in fat slices, toasting, and topping with a fried egg with a runny yolk cascading over the edge) Country Bread, Sauce Béarnaise (adorning filet mignon to make my "last supper" request meal), and now three loaves of crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside French Bread in the form of Bâtards.
I'm baking this bread along with the Bread Baking Babes and Buddies. We're all making Julia's French Bread, but of course everybody's will turn out differently since we're in different kitchens with various weather conditions spread out across the globe. Julia gives one basic recipe for the French Bread, but it is pages long since she takes the time to diagram and explain each step...which should make baking this bread doable for bread bakers at any level. As you can see in the photo below (a little snip from the book), you can make this one recipe into many forms. That in and of itself (the deciding) is the hardest part of the recipe! Initially I was going to make baguettes since I just bought myself a baguette pan. I bought it because my oven is small and my baking stone is round - and those two things combined make it hard for me to bake baguettes. The pan allows me to bake three at once in my oven by sliding the pan (that the bread rose in, I might add) right onto the stone. I love it. But upon reading through the recipe, I realized that true baguettes are actually 24-inches long and not many home ovens can capacitate them. I've actually been making bâtards thinking they were baguettes. So, I will continue to make bâtards in my "baguette" pan...and I'll like it.
- 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 cake fresh yeast .6 oz.)
- ⅓ c. + 1¼ c. warm water, divided
- 3½ c. (~16 oz.) bread flour + more as needed
- 2¼ tsp. fine salt
Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.