Great Balls ‘O Dough

This Daring Baker challenge was a wonderful one! I was seriously hoping it wasn’t a sweet one, as I’m still battling the last few holiday pounds. Our lovely hostesses, Breadchick Mary of Sour Dough and Sara of I Like to Cook chose bread… and just happened to pick my most favorite, French Bread. It just so happens to be one of my favorite chefs too, Julia Child. So from the beginning, I was doubly excited about the challenge. I followed the recipe to the letter, and chose to do Petit Pains (or boules?) instead of baguettes, as I just made baguettes a few months ago.

The recipe came along very nicely, but did take about 8 hours to complete in one day. Next time, I would probably try to stretch this to two days, and retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator. I started very early in the morning, and since I’m such a darn good wife, I actually kneaded the bread by had to avoid waking my sleeping husband with my loud mixer. I should be sainted, right? I haven’t made bread by hand in over 8 years, as I always use my Kitchenaid mixer. It was surprisingly calming to stand in my pajamas, kneading the dough while drinking my morning coffee. Quite peaceful. However, next time… I’ll continue using the mixer!

The recipe called for spraying or brushing the bread with cold water three times, every three minutes when the bread first went into the oven. I was thinking, there was no way I was going to brush it… it would take too long and the oven temp would lower. I didn’t have a spray bottle, except the ones with cleaning solution, so that was out. At the last minute, I pulled out (and dusted off) that old Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer that I haven’t used in at least 5 years, and put it to use. If you do a lot of bread baking and like to spray the bread with cold water, this is the PERFECT tool. You fill with cold water, pump it a few times, and you have a perfect light and even spritz. I never liked the spritzer for oil (what it was originally made for) because the oil would go rancid very fast. I don’t know if it was the incorporating of air or what, but it never worked for me. So now I have a new use for it, and am thankful I never threw it away. I also threw a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven to create extra steam.

Here’s the recipe for this bread. I’m looking forward to next month’s challenge!