Thursday, December 17, 2009

BBA Challenge: French Bread

Now that I'm back in the bread-baking groove, I can't stop! Fresh on the heels of my focaccia, I whipped up a batch of this French Bread. I am so happy to be baking bread again, because I just love it.

Earlier this year, before I started my blog, I had never baked a loaf of bread. All of a sudden, however, I decided it was something I was going to get into. I was a little nervous, the whole thing seemed daunting. I bought a few bread books, but didn't really make anything. Until I joined The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

Since joining, I've made things I never thought would be coming out of my oven; Brioche, English Muffins, Ciabatta, Focaccia, Cinnamon Rolls, the list goes on and on! I am so grateful for this group, especially the Slow & Steady sub-group, because when I've been dragging my heels, inevitably one of the lovely ladies inspires me to forge ahead. I also think I'm very fortunate to have gotten into bread baking through this amazing book, because it is so specific in its instructions that it really gives you the confidence to make anything!

I love making bread, especially kneading by hand. It is amazing to feel the dough transform over the course of a few minutes from something stiff and restricted to something smooth, elastic, relaxed. It is such a gratifying experience to mix the ingredients together, knead and nurture the dough over a period of time - often two days with Peter Reinhart's recipes - form it into loaves and then entrust it to the oven, where it becomes that nourishing, satisfying thing we call bread. How in the world did someone figure out how to make this stuff?!

I have a difficult time describing the taste of bread, but this French Bread is among the best I've ever had. It 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. The crust was very thick and crunchy as French Bread crust should be, the inside tender and creamy.

I ate a lot of it plain, but also made some into superb crostini topped with olive oil, goat cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, onions and garlic with coriander and sea salt. Oh my goodness was it amazing. It was gobbled up so quickly I didn't get any photos, but I will definitely make it again so that I can share it with you.

The recipe for this bread can be found in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. A must-have book for every home baker.

Even the littlest member of my family loved it!


  1. Those loaves look fantastic! I can't wait to make this one--hopefully this weekend.

  2. My goodness, Sarah, your bread is extraordinarily pretty! Mine didn't brown like that, but no matter, I agree with every other thing you said in your post. My favorite bread so far (and there have been some very good breads!)

  3. The oven spring will come in time. Learn to fold. Baking will be a source of joy forever.

  4. Wow, those loaves are perfect! I really wish I could get myself motivated to make bread more often because the end result is so worth the effort. Great job!

  5. Your French Bread is gorgeous. Looks like what you would buy from a french boulangerie.

    For being a 'newbie' to bread baking you have become very accomplished. good for you. I love the fact that you 'whipped up' this bread.

    Earlier this year all I had made was Bread Machine bread. Didn't know what I was missing, like you, until BBA.

  6. I am planning to make some loaves this weekend! I hope I can make it as gorgeous as yours.

  7. Sarah, your French bread loaves are just absolutely beautiful. I can't picture anything more perfect coming out of an authentic French bakery! I admire your work with these very much.


  8. I agree, this book is just full of incredible bread recipes. Your loaves look just fabulous! I loved the taste of this bread, too.


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