You can make French bread at home!

No you can’t. I’ve been trying to do this at home for years. And I’ve made some good bread but I have never made real French bread. Like-it-tastes-in-France French bread.

Recently Claire Saffitz, a YouTube chef, formerly of Bon Appetit (until that all exploded and went to shit) had a New York Times recipe and attendant Youtube video for make-French-bread-at-home. (the recipe is here and the video is here) And really when she cut hers open I thought OK that looks like something I’d get in Paris. So, yup, I fell for it. When I announced my intention to make the bread—three loaves for 3 different events—I was shrilly admonished by a certain know-it-all husband with whom I am acquainted, “Follow the recipe!!”

Well, duh. Of course. The problem comes in when you actually try to do that. The recipe is precise about ingredients but vague and confusing about procedures and timing. And in French-bread-making timing seems to be everything. I started with a poolish (look it up). Then made a shaggy dough that eventually seemed just about perfect. The recipe was enough for 3 loaves and I am confused by this. As far as I know you have to pretty much eat them the same day for maximum deliciousness. Why make 3? Anyway, I was following the recipe!! and I made three. Leaving the dough in the refrigerator and baking each loaf on day of consumption.

The third day I let the dough rise twice as long as the recipe said and baked it 10 minutes longer. It was the best of the batch. Still. It was not what I was hoping for. I may have to go to Paris for that.

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