Cooking my way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking calls for a good faith effort in the bread baking arena. This seems pleasantly peasant, like a tribute to Caroline Ingalls. I bet Mrs. Ingalls’ bread was awesome, unlike mine. 

The instructions for Plain French Bread stretch over a dozen pages in Volume 2 and includes different instructions for long loaves, small round loaves, large loaves, medium loaves and various other shapes and sizes. It’s quite overwhelming. 

Here’s my lame [spoiler alert!] attempt at bread. 

Flour, salt, yeast, water. That’s it. 
I’m suspicious. It’s too simple. 

According to Julia, the dough should rise to 3.5 times it’s original size. This is half of the normal recipe amount because, let’s face it, I’m a Jana Bread Doubter. 

3.5 times was approximately 4.5 cups.
This is after 2 hours of rising. 

Another hour and we’re there. I didn’t photograph the third rise because I was already sick of this bread thing.

Julia specifically said not to bake on a metal pan, but what the heck? I’m a bread rebel. Plus, I don’t have anything but a metal cookie sheet, nor did I do the steam bath and use terra cotta tiles in the bottom of my oven for the first 5-8 minutes of baking.

30 minutes at 450 preheated oven on a metal baking sheet and what do I have. Little balls of hard Plain French Bread that’s totally suckafied. I couldn’t even squeeze one in my hand, the crust was so hard. 

Just, whatever, Julia. 

So, I tried again tonight. By tonight, I mean two days ago. Here’s what is cooling in the kitchen. It’s not very browned. 

I’m a bread doubter. Jen Hatmaker made 6 loaves of trial bread in her book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. She concluded and I concur: bread is hard. 

*******************  next morning  ******************* 

You guys! The bread is good! 
Crusty on the outside, soft but firm on the inside. 
You know, kind of like me <wink>.