Patience is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. (Wikipedia)
We find our patience is tested in times of waiting. How do we react? Do we become frustrated? Do we quit? Do we persevere? We may consider ourselves patient if we do face many challenges. Impatience has not had an opportunity to show itself.
This month, the Daring Bakers were tested in the area of patience. We had to endure waiting without becoming annoyed or upset. Why? Because we baked bread. And not just any bread, but a very long, detailed Julia Child recipe for French Bread.
The first time I baked this, I faced it curiously. How would it rise in the humid Lima summer? What shapes will be best? My day was spent cleaning the kitchen from floor to ceiling as the dough rose, slowly, but surely. I really enjoyed how the dough felt, how easily it came together (kneading by hand, mind you!) and how simple the process was going. I had it in my mind to make the batard, an epi and a few small rolls. The batard wound up as a baguette, which would not fit in my oven. The epi lost its definition on the last rise, I adored the shape when I cut it, but after puffing it lost its charm. The rolls were long and narrow, so I cut those in half and they would up short and thin, bite-sized rolls. The bread was delicious but I wasn’t satisfied.
I decided to bake the same recipe again, still in time for challenge day. But, I outsmarted it this time!! In making the dough, I prepared it with half the yeast so it would take about twice the time to rise. Twice the time? Who would want that? Well, me of course!! The dough rose through the night when both the temperature and humidity are low and took a total of 9 hours to triple in size. Just as I got back from exercising, it was ready to deflate and then rise again.
Instead of attempting anything long and rolled out this time, I wanted round loaves. I found the forming of these easier than any of the other shapes I had tried the first time. They were lovely round mounds of dough that rose to perfection. They were turned over, slashed and brushed with olive oil.
Out of all the breads I have baked, I think this may be my favorite. I plan to play with other versions including other flours (whole wheat, quinoa) and herb additions. This was a delectable version of French Bread. Thank you Julia Child. And thank you to Mary and Sara, the Daring Baker hosts for this month’s challenge.
Now, I must check my calendar to see when I will bake again since one loaf is already gone! Below is my shortened and personal version of the detailed and informative original recipe.
Pain Francais / French Bread
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (for overnight rising, reduce to 1 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1/3 cup (75ml) warm water, not over 100F/38C in a glass measure
- 3 1/2 cups (490 gr) flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (12 gr) salt
- 1 1/4 cups (280 – 300ml) tepid water @ 70 – 74F/21 – 23C
- Stir the yeast into the 1/3 cup of warm water and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. When yeast has liquefied, pour it into the flour mixture and add the rest of the water. Stir the liquids into the flour with a wooden spoon, pressing firmly to form a dough and making sure that all the bits of flour and unmassed pieces are gathered in. Turn dough out onto lightly floured kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
- Knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic when stretched and is smooth and shiny on the surface. Use the fold and quarter turn method until the dough can be “thrown down” and folded up. Form into a ball and brush the outside with a light dusting of flour.
- Place in a bucket with measuring lines that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and place in a location that will maintain a 70F temperature. Dough must rise to 10 1/2 cups which will take about 3–4 hours (or overnight). When fully risen, the dough will be humped into a slight dome, showing that the yeast is still active; it will be light and spongy when pressed. There will usually be some big bubbly blisters on the surface, and if you are using a glass bowl you will see bubbles through the glass.
- Carefully dislodge the dough from inside of the bucket and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, scraping bowl clean. If dough seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour. Lightly flour the palms of your hands and flatten the dough firmly but not too roughly into a circle, deflating any gas bubbles by pinching them. Fold the right side over almost to the left side; fold the bottom almost to the top; fold the left side almost to the right side and fold the top almost to the bottom.
- Return the dough to the bucket with measuring lines. Cover and let rise again until it almost triples in size, but again until it is dome shaped and light and spongy when touched.
- Loosen dough all around inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Because of its two long rises, the dough will have much more body. If it seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle lightly with flour. Pat into an oval and make a clean cut to divide the dough in half. Fold each piece of dough in half and cover loosely with a sheet of plastic and let rest for 5 minutes before forming.
- Working with one portion of dough at a time, leaving the other portion covered by plastic, fold the left side over almost to the right side. Fold the right side almost to the left side, then turn the dough a quarter turn clockwise and repeat the movement 8 – 10 times. Turn the dough over in your hands and begin rotating it between the palms of your hands, tucking a bit of the dough under the ball as you rotate it. In a dozen turns you should have a neatly shaped ball with a little pucker of dough, underneath where all the edges have joined together. Place the dough pucker side up on a lightly floured piece of wax paper; seal the pucker by pinching with your fingers. Flour lightly, cover loosely and let rise to almost triple its size.
- Preheat the oven to 450F about 30 minutes before estimated baking time. After unmolding upside down on the baking sheet, slash with an X. Brush the surface of both loaves with olive oil, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. Brush again about halfway through the baking time and turn the baking sheet around if needed.
- The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped. Cool the bread on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours.
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