Daring Baker’s Challenge: Julia Child’s French Bread


Some readers might remember my super wonderful Xmas gift which freed me from the confines of a toaster oven. Well, since then I’ve not only been making muffins by more than the 1/2 dozen, I’ve finally done what I’ve been meaning to do for ages and that’s to join the Daring Bakers.

Having to wait out those fantastic looking meringue pies from last month, I was delighted at this month’s announcement: Classic, Julia Child French Bread.

Nothing fancy, no additions. I honestly just wanted to bake it and bask in it’s golden crisp glory. Basic and beautiful like newborn babies, Natalie Portman without make-up or the last of a summer’s day when the sun sinks into a lake in the Northhumberland Highlands. Four simple ingredients which together, have nourished billions. Yeasty, chewy and crisp, with a crust that can leave a scar if not treated with the respect it deserves.

I’ve made bread before, but this being my first go at a Daring Baker’s challenge, I certainly took it very seriously. I in no way wanted to botch or bastardize the instructions handed down by The Julia Child, and it was so worth it.
I mixed and waited and timed and pinched. I stretched, weighed down, flipped and scored, but most of all, I took my time, the bread’s time and it was so, so worth it.

Sometimes simple is perfect.

You can get the detailed instructions from one of this month’s leaders, i like to cook.

Really, go bake some now….

Walnut Crumb Banana Muffins


Upon noticing an onslaught of bananas in my frozen hoard and an indecent craving for sweet comfort food, (like I haven’t been eating enough of that lately) I hit my freezer stash and thawed a few bananas.

Even though they go against a local market movement, they were light, sweet and deceivingly healthy (ish). The candied walnuts further pushed these banana muffins to almost gourmet status.

Well, you be the judge:


BANANA MUFFINS

3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

WALNUT CRUMB TOPPING

1/2 Cup Walnut Halves or Pieces
1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Margarine
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
With a fork, mash the bananas in a large bowl.
Add the oil, brown sugar, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Once well combined, add the sifted flour in batches, mixing only to moisten.
Line cooking tin with muffin papers and add enough batter to fill them 2/3 up.

In a small bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of the topping margarine. Toss the walnuts in the melted margarine, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar to coat evenly; set aside.
Combine the remaining margarine and brown sugar with the flour,oats and salt. Mix completely with a fork.
Add spoonfuls of the topping to the waiting muffin batter and top evenly with a few of the sugared walnut pieces.

Bake at 350º on the centre rack for 18 minutes, until firm and golden or insert and remove a toothpick. The muffins are moist but it should come out fairly clean.
Allow muffins to rest in the tin before moving to a rack to cool.

Makes about 10 -12 muffins.

Cindy over at Where’s the Beef tried them out, giving some really great play by play photos along the way!