Saturday, December 13, 2008
A few weeks ago, one of my fellow attorney-bakers at work looked at the Norwegian bread I blogged about. She, a Norwegian herself, told me that it looked very authentic. (She didn't mention that it looked odd, which was very tactful of her.) I admitted to her, even though I know that she is an all-natural, organic kind of person, that whole wheat bread is not my favorite. She said, to my surprise, "I know--there's nothing better than Julia Child's white bread." That started me thinking about, not surprisingly, finding Julia Child's white bread recipe, which I didn't seem to have in any of my Julia Child cookbooks, of which I have a pretty good collection.
From my internet search, I decided the recipe must be from Baking with Julia, so I googled "Baking with Julia" and "white bread" and got this recipe.
I didn't bother translating into grams or ounces because the directions called for a vague "6-7 cups flour," causing me once again to appreciate Rose's specificity. In th is recipe, you're just supposed to keep adding flour until the "dough pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl."
This is the point where I stopped adding flour, but I wasn't very confident that it was the exact moment.
I took it out of the bowl and did a little hand kneading so I could tell whether it felt right.
I must say it was a lovely dough--very soft and silky. The fact that it had a fair amount of butter in it must have helped.
While the dough was happily rising away, I took a side trip to Target to buy a loaf pan. I have a collection of loaf pans, none of which matches another; this recipe makes two loaves in 8" x 4" pans. I strolled the aisles of SuperTarget, which had 9 x 5, 10 x 6 and mini-pans. Apparently people only like big loaves or teeny ones. I finally found a ceramic pan of a nonstandard size. It looked like the closest to an 8 x 4, so I got it. Now I have a larger collection of mismatched pans.
I the way this bread was shaped--rolled out and folded over twice.
Then you plop it in the pan (behold my new red Target loaf pan!).
This is the bread from the new loaf pan. It's lopsided, as my loaves generally are. I remember that I learned a trick from Rose's web site that makes the bread even, but I couldn't remember what it was, and I was too lazy to go look it up.
Oh, all right. I went back and looked it up. It's in the recipe for honey oat bread, which I made last January, and the trick is that you must shape it into a log and let it rest for 20 minutes before putting it in the pan. It's apparently all about resting. I don't know why I'd forget that because I'm very much in favor of the concept of resting.
This is really good bread. This looks like the bread that wins the blue ribbon at the State Fair, if I do say so myself. I should have known that Julia would make a good loaf of white bread. I remember that when I heard she had died, I started crying. Like so many people, I learned about a new kind of cooking from her, and I made things I never would have imagined that I--who grew up on meat loaf and pot roast--could make. Here's to you Julia, and thank you for this excellent loaf of plain white bread.
P.S. I never got around to posting about our Thanksgiving dinner--both Jim and I were so busy at the last minute that neither of us remembered to take pictures of the food. He did take pictures of the rolls I made--a Gourmet magazine recipe. I had high hopes for this recipe, and the rolls were good, but not as good as the butter-dipped dinner rolls in The Bread Bible.