Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia

Last fall, I decided that I would start to do things that scared me. Not Jackass-type or illegal things; things that at first thought really excited me, but when that annoying, loud voice would chime in with, Are you nuts? You can’t do that! I would bail on the idea. When I read that Tuesdays with Dorie, the online baking club, was starting up again and was going to bake through all the recipes in Baking with Julia, I knew it was a sign. I love and respect Baking with Julia as a book, but the thought of actually baking stuff from it terrifies me. There’s bread in that book and pies with real crust, which scares the crap out of me and which I chronicled last week. And, oh, yeah, there’s a flippin’ wedding cake in that book! Horror, horror and more horror. I joined Tuesdays with Dorie immediately.

 My first attempt at the starter recipe, White Loaves (pages 81-82), was an epic fail. The dough didn’t rise, the bread was as heavy as a brick, and the kitchen looked as though the gents of the World Wrestling Federation had stopped by for a scrimmage.

The recipe calls for a stand-up mixer, which I don’t have. Instead, I halved the recipe and used my food processor. When the bread was not the equivalent of the bread in the book, I thought, Of course, I need a KitchenAid mixer. I can’t make bread without a KitchenAid mixer. After I took a few minutes to breathe, I realized that my hearty Western European and Finnish ancestors made bread without the help of any electric devices, and if they could do it, heck, so could I.

I used bread flour of the second loaf, which was a vast improvement, but it didn’t look exactly like the bread in the book. True, I had used a larger loaf pan, but I didn’t get exactly the results pictured in the book. The bread, however, was delicious—the golden crusty outside protected the spongy, fragrant inside. Dan and I ate it, buttered, with my favorite lentil soup, and Max happily brought the remainder of the loaf back to his bachelor pad to share with his roomies.

 I was feeling a little disappointed in my bread until I saw the January 29 episode of Downton Abbey. When Mrs. Patmore, the cook, brings a loaf of bread into the kitchen during one scene, I quickly paused my DVR. Mrs. Patmore’s loaf of bread looked almost exactly like mine! She cut it into thick slices as she talked to the kitchen assistant, Daisy. I watched that scene about three times, not paying a bit of attention to the dialogue. I just wanted to see Mrs. Patmore slice that beautiful bread.

Next recipe: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets. With real piecrust. Gulp.


  1. If its good enough for Downton Abbey its good enough for all! We loved this bread even though we don't eat white bread too often. It was so good.

  2. I think your bread looks beautiful and delicious! I really liked this bread and plan to make it a gain. I did one of mine with cinnamon swirl!
    I just bought my daughter Downton Abbey season 1 for her birthday. She loves that show! Welcome to Tuesdays!

  3. That loaf is so beautiful it's bringing tears to my eyes. Warm, with butter, and lentil soup? Perfection. Looking forward to the next in your series!

  4. I think your loaf looks wonderful - nothing to be disappointed about there!

  5. I haven't watched this week's Downton yet, but I'll be looking for that bread! It looks great, and I'm sure you will feel like an expert baker after this book is through.