French bread

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge is French bread hosted by Breadchick Mary and Sara. When I first read about the recipe, I got very excited because bread is something which I always wanted to learn to bake. It is one of the extremely well explained – with attention to even the smallest details – recipes I have come across. So I left a comment to Breadchick and Sara that I love this challenge.

After about a week, I thought I should have a look at the recipe and decide when I will be baking it. So I started reading it. To give a complete picture – I have never tasted any French bread in my life. So I had no idea how it is supposed to turn out. V is someone who never touches a hard bread. As many of you know, 90% of breads used by us in India are the soft bread. We have not gotten used to liking the hard crusted bread. Atleast I have tried at Panera bread few times but he just can’t take it. No, there is nothing wrong with the bread, its just that our taste buds are not yet adjusted to it.

With that background, I started reading the post. Well, thats when I started getting shivers. This challenge was in no way a simple one. One read through the post and I realized, I had doubts in my mind. Well, I can’t follow long instructions. Then I saw breadchick had given a link to a video to help in understanding the basics. I went through the video twice and got a pretty good understanding about the bread.

The only thing I was really worried about was, “steam contraption”. If you watch the video, the chef is throwing water in an oven to create steam. Since we have an electric oven, I thought it might create some short circuit if I did that. I was even scared to keep a tray with water in the oven as breadchick and Sara mentioned :(. But anyway, I went ahead and followed each and every step mentioned. I got a bit confused at the shaping part, so I followed the video.

Finally I made 1 batard, 2 ficelle and 4 small round rolls. It took about 6-7hrs. I might not have watched the time exactly, but I went with the volume mentioned by the hosts. The bread was super tasty. I simply loved it. I can say, now I am not that scared of baking anymore. Thanks Breadchick and Sara for selecting this challenge, it was just awesome. The bread does not look as good as it should be, but I am satisfied with the result considering this is my first time at baking any such complicated bread (Well, I think the stuffed buns were very easy compared to this).

I tried taking as many pictures as possible. But after sometime, I just lost patience. So I will post here whatever pictures I took. Since this recipe is too long, I am not going to reproduce it here. You can find the recipe at breadchick’s blog or here.

After initial mixing

After kneading

After first rise

Deflating and second rising

Cutting and resting the dough

Here I didn’t take pictures of few steps. Final outcome

I could not finish off all the bread in one day. So I froze the remaining lot.

I baked the pieces topped with little olive oil till it became crispy and enjoyed with soup on the next day.

On the third day, I sprinkled some garlic chutney powder on it and baked it for sometime to make a crunchy toast.

60 thoughts on “French bread”

  1. That bread looks so awesome.It is one of the favourites in my house.I buy it almost every week from the store. I definitely do not have courage to bake it 🙂 I really appreciate your effort.

  2. I love to bake breads too, and baking breads has always been a challenge to me. I tried Focassia once, and it was lovely and very tasty. I’m gonna try these breads too. Thankls for sharing Shilpa 🙂

  3. Great french breads Shilpa! They look perfect & great for a first time baker.. I have never ventured into bread baking yet…..will try it soon hopefully 🙂 Just scared!!

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed this month’s challenge! All your step by step pictures are wonderful and your bread looks exactly as it should!!

    Thanks for baking with Sara and I!

    Shilpa: Mary, Thank you very much for picking this recipe. As I said, I haven’t baked many breads and it is something I always wanted to learn. Now I know which blog to refer to for my next bread experiments. I loved your and Sara’s tips along with Julia Child’s recipe. Your tips helped me a lot. Thanks once again.

  5. Great job Shilpa! Even I have yet to attempt the addition of steam while baking…some say a piece of iron or a brick can be heated on the range and then carefully dropped into the pan of water resting at the bottom of the oven, or I’ve heard of spraying the bread directly with water, but I have never attempted any of this before. So, my hat is off to you and I also touch your feet.

  6. Shilpa,

    The breads are jaw-dropping good! Love the way you’ve presented the step-by-step pictures! Thanks a ton for these, feels like a world of yummy goodness on my computer :).

    Thanks also for your detailed description about kokum. i am looking forward to your tutorial on making kokum.

  7. Shilpa, i m verrrrrrrryyy late here! Lovely is the finished product, like out frm a bakery!! The stepwise pics too r wonderful! What hours of efforts! The garlic-chut roast looks del too! Loooooved every aspect of it!!! U ROCK!

  8. Excellent job as usual Shilpa! Your posts always have beautiful and mouthwatering pictures. The soup too looks yummy.

  9. Nice one shilpa. I am a first time visitor to the blog …hmmm..yummy…want to have my soup with that french baguette…and nice idea..with a gralic touch..

  10. hi shilpa,,,,,
    good job!!!!! i also love baking…..& wanted to bake a bread since long but was hesitant how it will turn that u have tried..i’ll try it…wish me luck!

  11. Shilpa

    I always bake my own bread! Never buy them…and like yours, my hubby does not like the hard crusted variety either. The most common one I make is a whole wheat honey bread, it turns out soft and tasty and is perfect for toasts and sandwiches. My inspiration for breads is Whole Grain Baking by Laurel Robertson. The recipes are simple and easy to make and she uses only whole grain. I could post a couple of recipes if you’d like.


  12. wonderful and easy to follow recipe. the pictures help to judge how to monitor the raising. the response by Nirmala is interesting. we would love it if she could post the honey bread recipe of her bread making. thank you for your contribution to the art of bread making for others to learn. 🙂

  13. hey Shilpa…

    Really in a mood of baking bread and came accross ur recipes for bread…that way i am a regular visitor for ur site…and love experimenting ur recipes as well..

    thnx a ton for bread recipe…sure would go for one in couple of days :))…

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