A couple months ago, I got struck by inspiration. I had just brought pearl sugar back from France, imported specifically to make my beloved chouquettes. A recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated (one of my all-time favorite magazines) had featured a recipe for croissants. And while perusing La Tartine Gourmande’s archives, I came across her brioche recipe. Like Beatrice Peltre, brioche is probably my favorite viennoiserie along with pains aux raisins. And the recipe looked so simple, so accessible.

It never occurred to me that I could make my favorite French viennoiseries, pastries and breads in my own kitchen at home. Any of my close non-French friends can tell you that I am somewhat of a dessert snob. I despise overly sweet American desserts, don’t care much for cupcakes and frosting, lament the state of croissants and eclairs in this country, and generally speaking would rather go for savory snacks rather than sweet ones. But I love French baked goods. And if I could really make them at home, why not?

I watched a few YouTube videos on breadmaking, ordered Baking With Julia from Amazon, and even got myself a Kitchen Aid mixer (a Kitchen Aid!). One of the first things I made from the book, a simple white loaf of bread, did not turn out exactly like the picture (it tasted wonderful though). So I did what any sensible girl would do. I turned to my old friend the Internet to see if anybody else had had a similar experience.

And who knew? A google search for “baking with julia white loaf” led me to a wonderful discovery. There is a whole community out there baking with Julia! Or rather baking with Dorie, Dorie Greenspan that is, the author of Baking With Julia. In 2007, a small group of bloggers decided to cook their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours and share their experiences online. Their group was called Tuesdays With Dorie and became an internet sensation. And after four years in December 2011, the online group finished all 370 recipes of the book. You can hear Dorie Grenspan herself talk about it on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

With that first chapter closed, the group decided to tackle Baking With Julia and posted their first recipe just a few weeks ago. And can you guess which recipe it was? Yup, the white loaf of bread. How convenient for me. The more I read about the group, the more I thought about joining. I am the kind of person that gets very excited about certain things but has trouble maintaining that excitement. So the idea of community learning, and motivational cooking really appealed to me. With so many other people baking from the same recipes, it seemed I could really learn and grow.

So here we are. Baking with Julia begins.

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