There was this wonderful idea to honor the birthday of Julia Child by baking her recipe for French bread. A 15? 20? page French Bread recipe in vol 2 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We would make it known to the outside world and ask everyone to bake with us. Just this time.
Susan of Wild Yeast came up with the idea to challenge us and is our host this month.
Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms made a wonderful invitation, colorful as Julia was with just the right hint of French.
Lien of Lien’s notes made sure there was again a Buddy Badge to be sent.
And oh yeah.. we were to post on the 15th instead of the 16th. (More about that later ugh!)
I can’t tell you about Julia and how she made (and still makes) people across the United States cook. Well of course I could tell you long stories gathered from Internet, written tributes, videos, movies even. But you know.. that would all be hearsay because frankly? I’m Dutch and I didn’t have a clue who Julia was and what she did until I began baking across the water. Julia who?? So I don’t think it’s fair when I go on about how wonderful she was and all she did for America’s kitchen.
What I can tell you is that her way of writing a recipe is soothing and authoritarian at the same time. She lets you know when and what to expect and explains how the stuff in your pan is supposed to look. I suspect that she can read your mind as well because right there when you think “ahhh I’ll just put it a tad higher and stir a bit so I won’t have to wait 20 minutes” she’ll announce; it’s imperative you stir the entire 20 minutes. (Can you hear her say that? No hesitation, she just expects you to follow her lead).
Of course over the years I have become familiar with her voice and her way of moving…… The first time I heard her speak and saw her move I really thought it was not for real. And still… every time I watch her I am mesmerized, absolutely smitten. Can’t help but smile and wonder. Can’t help laughing either. I mean, she shows us how to make this french bread and punches the h** out of that dough, flicks her flour on the ground (love you for that!!) Her dough scraper flies to the left out of sight, oops. Scrubs her hands in the sink with the dish brush (yes I do that and yes it gets clogged with unsightly gooey dough pieces never ever to come out again). Then she gets the bug sprayer out and spritzes her loaves and you can hear the effort in her voice. That thing was hard to wrestle! Flunks the oven door open and close. Gets the nasal spray thingy out. (The what? yes!) to spray the loaves while they’re in the oven and then loses that thing while putting it on the counter, barely hides her smile and goes on. See all of that in this wonderful video Tanna found: Julia baking this recipe on: The French Chef – Julia Child – Bakes French Bread
I bet she had a good hearty laugh when filming was over and she sat down, put her size 12 up on the coffee table and had a glass of something or other.
Haven’t read the book yet but I heard it’s a wonderful read: My life in France, or how about this one: As always, Julia a collection of correspondence between Julia Child and her long time friend Avis.
Now about this bread. It’s wonderful, it’s for real, it has this crackly crust and that true to life interior with holes in it. I think you should bake it. I think I should have baked it. Because it’s confession time here. I didn’t. I forgot. I had a mangled conversation with Ilva (Ilva was not mangled I was and my router is/was) about how and when to bake so there should have been a bell ringing. Well no bells here! I thought I still had time; so much time on my hands and so little to do. Instead I went to the lake with the boys, sat in the sun, went to a fabric hall with a friend, farmers market this morning, cut into some fabric, sewed up half a dress, sat outside and read a book… and only vaguely began thinking about the date because I thought about our son nr. 1 who has an exam. On the 16th. Which is tomorrow. Which makes today the 15th. Right. No bread today.
Check out Susan's post for all the history behind the bread, to be included in the round-up, or to request the full version of the recipe. Please do go around the block to read my friend’s real tributes to Julia. Katie will undoubtedly have her round up on her blog because she is our BBBBB (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)!!
For my first try on this recipe go here! In the meantime I’ll leave you with a picture of that wonderful bread and try to remember to get the dough out of the basement where it’s enduring it’s first rise! (It’s hot out today and the basement is the place where the dough can rise in appropriate time.)