After missing the last two Daring Bakers challenges I completed this one with two whole days to spare (a first for me I think) and once more all eleventy squillion of us are rising to the challenge with bread. Mary and Sara chose Julia Childs French bread to be a little more precise. Julia Child has not had such a deep impact on this side of the Atlantic, as we have Darina and the UK has Delia, but in the States she introduced a whole generation to the art of French Cookery. I only seem to bake bread when being bossed around by my fellow DBers but I confess I really enjoyed this challenge.
Bread is one of the great levellers. Since the most ancient times humans have broken bread together and almost all cultures have there own signature loaf (any number of flat breads, ciabattas, pumpernickels, soda breads, baguettes...). I say fie to dietician type people who think that bread has no nutritional value, I'll happily eat it with nothing but several inches of butter but some mature cheddar, crisp little gems and home-made Bramley apple and sage chutney might make it a little more well rounded. There are the Ladas of bread vehicles and then there are the classic Jaguars. I know which one sends shivers up and down my spine.
There's no getting around the fact that this recipe takes all day. Most of this time is spent thinking of jobs not to do while waiting for the dough to rise. The secret of this recipe is patience as those bubbles need to take their sweet time forming. It's worth every yeasty minute though when you end up with a chewy-crusted, soft doughed loaf with that slightly sour note that will see you turning up your nose at supermarket bread forevermore. It's an addictive thing working with yeast, when it works you're ecstatic, when it doesn't, heartbroken but hopefully willing to try again.
You'll have to go to Mary to get the recipe but be careful not to let the bread bugs bite.