Daring Bakers Challenge : Pain Francais


“And on a seven day high, that heavenly song punches right through my mind and just hums through my blood. And I know it’s a lie, but I’ll still give my love. Hey, my heart’s on the line for your hands to pluck off.”
–Unless It’s Kicks, by Okkervil River

Twobluefish recently celebrated International Dickhead Day, while I on the other hand, have been knee-deep in Australian Biscuit Awareness Week. That is, are you aware, how long it takes for a person, ie. me, to fulfill an order for 2200 biscuits? Predictably, the answer is, “too long”, and that’s just inbetween the wedding cake orders and all the other exciting crappola that’s been happening in the past week. Somehow though, I managed to find the time midweek to go see Okkervil River play a blistering set at Manning Bar. Staying up to hear For Real, Our life is not a Movie or Maybe, and Unless It’s Kicks, played live by this 6-piece was totally worth being left with only four precious hours of sleep before having to get up for work again.

So anyway, it’s been busy, and I don’t mind telling you that sometimes my brain gets so full that it can’t handle having to scrutinise lengthy recipes. Anything that extends further than a single page, causes my eyes to glaze over, and circus music kicks into repeat in my head. Doo doo do do do do do doo doo.

But a Daring Bakers’ bread recipe has come up trumps yet again. This Pain Francais recipe is originally from one of Julia Child’s books and was chosen by Breadchick Mary and Sara for this month’s challenge.

The reason why I would urge you to bother to read through roughly seven (originally eighteen) pages of baking instructions is this : this recipe epitomises everything I look for in a baguette. It has a crust that is simultaneously crispy and chewy; a soft interior with great depth of flavour. After a day’s worth of kneading, proving, waiting, proving, waiting some more and then baking, the result was so delightful that we shelved earlier plans for dinner and instead had soup with ripped up pieces of baguette for dipping. The next morning, I had the leftovers for breakfast, with a small piece of cheese. Heavenly.

Thanks Mary and Sara for picking a great recipe, that I probably would never have found sufficient brainspace for, in any other circumstance. And I’m sorry if this story about my bread isn’t long enough, but you see, I can already hear the makings of a circus tune forming in everyone’s heads.. doo do do do….. , so I guess it’s time for us to get up, brush off the crumbs and move on..



  1. zorra said,

    February 29, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

    With this doo do do do… in my head I could never bake such a great looking bread! 😉

  2. Y said,

    February 29, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

    Hehe.. you’re too nice! Sometimes, you just have to learn to block the excess noise out, and focus, dammit, focus!

  3. Cakelaw said,

    February 29, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

    Fantastic bread – glad you could find the time to complete this challenge (it was a long one).

  4. Sheltie Girl said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 2:35 am

    You did a wonderful job on your bread. The recipe is long and I read through it first too, but it really breaks down exactly what you need to do to get a fabulous loaf of French bread. This recipe is a keeper at our house.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  5. Lucy V said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 3:28 am

    Oui oui oui – your bread looks great and I completely agree with your notes on the recipe! This bread also changed our meal plans!

  6. Cakespy said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 3:45 am

    Y, you are too cool. I love your writing style — loved hearing about the variety of holidays being celebrated over there! 🙂 — but even more so your deep understanding of, and beautifully baked, BREAD.

  7. Andrea said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 11:10 am

    Your bread looks great! We really liked it, too, and my boys couldn’t keep their hands off it. We devoured two of the loaves with dinner that night!

  8. Ulrike aka ostwestwind said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

    Your bread look fantastic.

  9. Pook said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 12:08 am

    Your blog is so lovely, I must say and your bread look good too.

  10. maria~ said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 6:05 am

    Nicely done!

  11. breadchick said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 6:41 am

    I loved your post and your bread is the perfect French bread.

    Thanks so much for enjoying the recipe and for baking with Sara and I

  12. JennyBakes said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    I really feel my country has boring holidays compared to yours – biscuit awareness week hmm?

    Your bread looks great, I’m amazed you fit it in!

  13. Eva said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

    Wonderful job! I like your scoring – mine completely sucked..;-)

  14. peabody said,

    March 2, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

    It really was a good recipe. Great job.
    Dickhead Day…sorry I missed that one. 😛

  15. Sara said,

    March 3, 2008 @ 5:41 am

    Glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing with us.

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