Sunday, February 14, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady #14: French Bread roundup


Happy Valentine's Day from those of us baking our way (slowly and steadily) through Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice!

For many of the Slow & Steady bakers, the current bread in the BBA Challenge, French Bread, was one of those "practice makes perfect" breads. Several of us realized that we need (at least) another try before we get the hang of baking French bread, and others just went ahead and baked the bread a second time. A few lucky souls baked nice loaves the first time around.

Although her bread is picture-perfect (that's it up at the top today, looking all ready for Valentine's Day), Karen, of the blog Shortbread, was having "a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" (like Alexander in the children's book by Judith Viorst) and the bread turned out tough on the outside (but very nice on the inside). Karen wants to bake this one again, but on a better day! Read about it on her post, called I'll Be In Australia French Bread

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Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen has a few minor quibbles about her French bread (is it supposed to have holes in the crumb?), but no matter. She found her loaves fabulous, and in an observation that all of the Slow & Steady bakers will find familiar, "I couldn't believe they came out of my own kitchen." Her post: More Globetrotting Breads! BBA French Bread & Italian Bread

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Margaret of Tea and Scones took two tries to get her baguettes perfect and had some wonderful vintage molds to use for baking her bread. Her second batch was the perfect combination of crusty outside and soft inside. Check it out here: Slow and Steady BBA - French and Italian Bread

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Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker baked such pretty loaves of bread, it's hard to believe that she - like most of us - has only been baking bread for a matter of months. Her French bread was crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, and "[i]t had such a depth of flavor that I kept thinking there were things in and on it that weren't there - cheese and butter, namely." (And if you think her loaves look good, the hand of her littlest family member in the picture above is just adorable!) There's much more in her post: BBA Challenge: French Bread

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Despite being a bit intimidated at the prospect of shaping baguettes, Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook found that the wonderful dough of this recipe and her improvised couche (the bread rests on it while it is rising) produced beautiful baguettes! They looked, tasted, and even sounded like authentic French bread - it crackled after coming out of the oven as it cooled. Di's post: Snap, crackle, pop

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Leslie of Lethally Delicious calls her French bread "ugly ducklings" (she's not the only one to use this term for this week's bread) but no matter what she might wish to change about the outer appearance, the crumb is absolutely beautiful: look at those holes! Leslie found it crisp and delicious, adding: "I wish I could speak coherently about this bread, but I'm so blown away by its success that I can't!" Here's Leslie's post: BBA - French Bread

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Natalia of Gatti, Fili e Farina was not happy with the appearance of her first batch of French Bread (athough it tasted wonderful), so she made it a second time. No problems with this one - just look at how pretty her baguette and epi loaf are! Natalia would like to make this bread many more times to learn its secrets - a worthy goal!
Her post: BBA Slow and Steady: French Bread

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Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table approached French bread with just a touch of trepidation, having read in Julia Child's biography that Julia produced hundreds of loaves of French bread trying to equal those around her in France. Nonetheless, the BBA book worked its magic and Kayte was excited that her first attempt at baking French bread produced three "really nice baguettes." Read more here: BBA: French Bread

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My French bread wasn't very attractive, nor did it get crusty in the oven, but my ugly duckling loaves had lovely flavor, and I'll return to this recipe in the future. It's so handy to be able to produce a loaf of french bread in my very kitchen! My post: French Bread {bba}

Stay tuned for our next bread, another classic: Italian Bread.

10 comments:

TeaLady said...

As usual, great roundup. Everyone's bread looks sooooo good. Glad I get to bake with y'all on a regular basis.

Thanks for doing this.

Karen said...

My loaves looked just like yours when I took them out the first time, so I put them back in the oven. I wanted them browned! Like Julia, I think this bread will take some practice to get it just right.

natalia said...

Dear Nancy, it is a real pleasure to read your round ups and to admire all our colleagues's success !!

Di said...

Thanks for another great round-up, Nancy! It's so neat to see all our loaves in one place.

Tia said...

oh my now you've got me craving french bread!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

French bread is always good!
Great round-up, some really nice looking loaves here. Yum!

Leslie said...

I love reading your round ups, Nancy. It reminds me of what fun it was to bake the bread and helps me catch up with everyone's posts. Thanks for carrying the load on keeping us organized and together!

Kayte said...

I love seeing all the breads together, especially when a lot of us bake together and we get to hear all the trials and tribulations along the way. Who would ever think we would turn out such great bread??? Has to be PR is all I can say. Everyone's breads look fantastic! Thanks for putting them together for us. It feels like a class reunion each time.

Madam Chow said...

I am experiencing French bread envy. My loaves did not turn out this well, and certainly did not have the beautiful crumb.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it