When Bread is Pain

… When it’s French bread! Translations aside though, French bread should be anything but a pain, seeing as it’s one of the most simple loaves you can make. Flour, water, salt, yeast- Nothing to veganize, even! At least that’s what I thought when first attempting this most basic bread back in January. Wouldn’t you know, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Especially when you run out for a “quick” grocery shopping, get distracted, and don’t return for six hours? (Hmm, can you see a pattern here…?) Having already shaped and set the dough off on its final rise, there was nothing more to do but bake them off, although I didn’t exactly get two picture-perfect baguettes as I hoped for. Instead, my oven ultimately gave birth to…

Conjoined twins. The crust was a gorgeous golden brown, the crumb was airy and chewy, but alas, these loaves would make a French baker blush. After such an experience, you can understand why I couldn’t control my laughter upon the announcement of this month’s Daring Baker Challenge- You guessed it, French bread!

This time, with Julia Child’s recipe spanning 8 pages in it’s original print to guide me, I simply couldn’t fail. Going for the traditional baguette shape again to make up for my previous mutants, it was certainly nothing new or innovative, but exciting all the same. The hardest part of completing this challenge was getting home and scraping together enough time between book signings and events to complete it!

No muss, no fuss, just a few things I might work on for next time. As you can see, I was a bit shy when it came to slashing the dough, so they weren’t quite deep enough… And then, there’s that tiny little step that I completely forgot. I know, it was an unforgivable, egregious error I made, skipping straight over the final rise… But you know what? The bread was so delicious, I didn’t even realize my oversight until a week later when I was uploading the photos!

A dense crumb, you say? Why yes, that does happen when you don’t let the darned bread rise before baking! I can’t really complain though, as it made incredible toast for a good number of breakfasts nonetheless.

One of these days, I’ll complete a challenge with flying colors, flawlessly executing it and achieving the ideal results. …Just not this month, that’s for sure!

55 thoughts on “When Bread is Pain

  1. OOoh – I absolutely adore french bread – the simplest of ingredients and goes with so many things. Plus day old bread is great in soups. Yum. I have been making my bread from scratch for a while now to avoid all the junk in the commercial brands and french bread is a great stand by. Hey – your bread looks really good – I actually like the bread denser every so often just to do different things with it and get a different “bite” to it. Some of the best old peasant breads are very dense. Okay, I’m going to stop babbling now because I’m working up a craving. :)

  2. Hello,

    I live in Luxembourg (right next to France) and the French also have a baguette similar to what you made (so without the extra rising) which they call Ficelle (or string). It is shorter than a ‘normal’ baguette and is rather compact on the inside. The crust of a ficelle is also a tad thicker than regular baguette. This kind of baguette is often used for sandwiches that have fillings like roast veggies in olive oil as it will absorb the oil nicely (marinated goat cheese with herbs and olives is another favorite). Ficelles are also mostly made flour that is not the white processed stuff of the original baguette.

    Cheers Eva

  3. Haha, oh Hannah, you always brighten my day with your wit – the loaves for this month’s DBC turned out exceptionally well, as usual. J’aime le pain fran├žais! :0)

  4. I’m laughing at the conjoined twins bread. That does tend to happen a lot in my baking experience. Your baguettes look absolutely beautiful. Great job , Hannah!

  5. Wow, that looks so yummy! My dad used to bake bread, but I’ve never tried it myself. I think you could have just invented a new type of bread with the conjoined ones. I’ll take two!

  6. Hannah – I laughed so hard at your conjoined twins French bread…because some of my gluten free recipes turn out that way too. So I was quite surprised when my little gf ficelles turned out so nicely. This is a great bread recipe, even though it takes a long time to rise and ferment it turns out a fabulous loaf. You did a wonderful job on your DB loaf…simply scrumptious.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  7. Hannah, your first attempt looked like my first attempt many years ago as well (before I discovered the Julia recipe)

    I’m so glad you had nice bread even with only 2 rises. Good luck on your book and hopefully you will have a chance to taste this bread after a 3rd rise soon.

    Thanks for participating with Sara and I this month

  8. You need to get The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. You will really enjoy it. He’ll teach you to use the fridge as a cooking tool–enabling you to go places and do things while exciting things happen to your dough.

  9. I often end up with conjoined twins or triplets even when baking. The crust on your final loaves look great, even if the crumb is slightly dense!

  10. I always love how fresh bread looks! Both of the breads in this post look delicious to me, even if they weren’t prepared completely as planned. Those crusts are beautiful.

  11. Thanks for a very entertaining post! I actually found myself giggling as I read it. =) The loaves came out beautifully, despite the lack of rise time. Great job!

  12. I would gladly perform surgery on the twins w/a bread knife I have…….but only if I am allowed adoption of at least one of them. French bread is the best…….jam, jelly, brie, pesto………….just schmear and consume.

  13. It was a fun challenge. Isn’t it amazing how 4 simple ingredients can come together into something so delicious (and vegan)?

  14. sometimes the most simple things are the most challening.
    i wanted to tell you how awesome yr book is. i am probably one of the last vegans to get it but i am so happy i now have it. i have made a variation of yr party bars and tonight i made my hubby the peanut butter bombs (i think that’s what they are called). both excellent!
    you inspire me!

  15. Awww what an improvement! Although I fancy those conjoined twins muchly. :)

    And you simply can not manage a flawless execution of a DB challenge.. for I will be alone in my less than flawless executions. :)

    Beautiful work, sweets!


  16. Haha, to funny. I love the conjoined twin bread! As well as the other breads… But the conjoined French Bread is adorably funny. Maybe could start your own line of bread? Conjoined French Bread. Beautiful.

  17. I love the conjoined twins. Looks like something I would have done! Your batards turned out beautifully with such a lovely brown crust. Nice Job!

  18. Amazing how these four little ingredients can give people such fits, isn’t it? And yet, in the end, it’s much more forgiving (of skipped final rises, for example :-) than we’d imagined. Very well done!

  19. I don’t think the rising that you forgot affected your bread too much. Looks good. I tried twice, risings and all and wasn’t too successful.

  20. Haha Congrats on success! Either way, I definitely would have gobbled up the first batch. Regardless of being flat and conjoined, it still looks like yummy bread to me! :-D

  21. Ooh, that bread looks perfect for vegan French toast! Props to you for making your own French bread – mine comes from my work or Whole Foods. Haha, your “conjoined twins” may not be the result you hoped for, but they sure look delicious! I would have eaten them. :)

  22. hhmmmm, yes I do see a pattern with the long shopping sprees ;-)

    Your conjoined twins do look adorable and most importantly tasted good. And lucky you, you get a second try with the DB challenge. Well done!

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