Sunday, March 6, 2011


I've had a long love affair with Julia Child.  I remember when I first became aware of her in the mid '60's.  Her unmistakable voice made me stop as I passed through the room (the "new room" that was the former garage) with the television.  I was at my friend since 5th grade house and her family watched PBS.  We didn't, so I always felt high brow at E's house when PBS was on.  I must have been fascinated with Julia's control of the scene, the elegant things she talked about (fois gras - whatever that was), and her pearls.  Those pearls.  So lovely.   Anyway, before too long E and I realized that her mother was in possession of a chafing dish (gasp), and was also absent from the house (double gasp).  I honestly can't remember if it was Cherries Jubilee or Crepes Suzette that we decided to make.  Here's what I do remember:  brandy and fire and fear.   In that order.  We were somewhere around 11 or 12.  Nonetheless, it began a journey for me that will never be finished and is always interesting and has been a gateway to other creative jaunts.
Whenever I'm feeling high-brow in the culinary sense I go back to my smeary editions of Mastering and try something new that stretches me.  In more ways than one, I might add.

Lately, I've been reminded of Julia's baking genius with her recipe for Pain de Mie (White Sandwich Bread - for sandwiches, canapes [cuz I make lots of those, pfft], toast and croutons).   It's from Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume Two.  I think it's the nicest loaf of sandwich bread I've ever made.  It's a close-grained loaf, absolutely fab for grilled sandwiches and toast.  We love it plain or toasted.  It shouldn't be confused with a chewy crusted rustic loaf (also heavenly), but an everyday workaholic loaf of bread for your family to enjoy in sandwiches, slathered with butter or jam or with morning eggs.  Merveilleux!
Because of copyright concerns, I won't be posting the entire recipe, but I'll show you some of the process.  It can be found in the Volume Two book on page 75.  Or leave me a comment with your email and I'll be happy to send it to you.
My deary, smeary Mastering, Volume Two.

I use my food processor (Julia says it's okay).  I throw in 3 1/2 c of flour (a word here:  I prefer King Arthur, I swear it makes a difference), pulse it a few times and, with the machine running pour in the wet ingredients:  yeast dissolved in 3 T warm water and 1 1/3 c warm water in which 2 t of salt have been dissolved.  I run the machine until the whole thing looks like this (above).  It's really shaggy.  Dump it out onto a very lightly floured board and knead in 4 T of butter with the heels of your hand (or feet, it's your kitchen).
Form the dough into a ball and put the wad in a large-ish bowl.  Cover it and wait for it to double (another word:  I set the bowl on a folded towel to insulate it from my cold tile counters and set it under the light over my stove - perfect temperature).  When it has doubled (could take 2 hours), flop it out onto a floured board, push it into a rectangle, fold it, rectangle it, fold it again and back into the bowl for the second rise.
Before the first rising.  This is the only bread that I cover with plastic wrap during the rise. Don't know why, but it is and it works.
All poofed and purdy, ready to be smacked and folded.
Bread rectangle.  Soft, yeasty and lovely.
Here's a hoot:  the pan that Julia suggests is $33 (on sale).  It's one of those with a sliding lid thingy.  She also illustrates this pauper method and it works fine.  Be sure to oil the baking pan that's acting like a lid.  Make sure you weigh the loaves down securely.  Those suckers are powerful.

There, I didn't actually give you the recipe, did I?  I'll show you the finished loaves later.  If I remember to take a picture before I accidentally eat them.

Bon appetit!

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My first link, people!!


  1. OMGosh, I love this!!!!!

    Will you send me the recipe? And describe the pan thing....I don't get it. I'm slow. LOL!!

  2. So obviously I have no idea how to post a comment

  3. Well now I guess I know.I had a google account for the Mass Maritime Parent Blog, so I guess it works for yours. Anyway, I tried to comment before! We were about 15 when we did the crepes thing. We were talking about your blog at work today and were trying to figure out when Julia started on PBS. It was 1963 and I don't think we got right on it. Plus, I think mother would never have left us alone with a chafing dish and matches when we were 13. We were writing our Beetle novel anyway!