The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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tfreese's picture

Internship in France

January 16, 2013 - 2:19am -- tfreese
Forums: 

Through a mutual friend I was invited to do a brief internship at a very small bakery, in France.  The bakery has asked me to look into what the French government requirements are.  They have never done this so, they do not know. The length of my visit would be about 3 weeks. So the question is, anyone familiar with the French governments requirements to do this?

Thanks

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

http://vimeo.com/48925507

My guy, Paul, is a lover of bread. In particular, he loves a good baguette. Through him, I have been initiated into the life of baguette enthusiasm.  A good baguette is dark and crusty on the outside, fluffy and light on the inside. That seems simple enough, most baguettes should fit that description vaguely, but there is a scale within that description. In France we found that the artisanal handmade loaves are usually best and everything else is, well, not best.

In France, bakeries prepare baguettes and other breads daily, usually preparing a morning batch and an evening batch in order to provide the freshest loaves all day long. In order to stock the shelves with the freshest breads when the shop opens at 6a, Boulanger William Courderot begins his day at 1am. When we arrived to meet him at 5am, he was well into his daily routine. Each day, Courderot rolls out 600 traditional baguettes and each day they fly off the shelf.

There are many types of baguettes. The hand rolled ones are usually called tradition or l'ancienne, they are made in the old French way. You can literally taste the love with which they are made. This is why I advise you to steer clear of the standard machine made baguettes! They are usually lighter in color, less crispy. They are longer and more uniform, there is no trace of flour on the finished crust, and they are maybe 10 cents cheaper. I'm not sure why anybody buys them.

In the states, it's getting more and more possible to find quality bread but it's still always fun to see what you can do yourself. When we were in France, I made a pact to learn how to make a good baguette by baking them daily. But after a couple of sad attempts, I gave in to the fact that everywhere I looked I saw perfect baguettes for €1 or less. I was in the land of incredible baguettes and I wasn't about to waste time and empty calories on bad ones! It takes a lot of patience to come up with a method that works for you in your setting. It's tough for a recipe to account for the moisture or dryness of the air in your environment. Consumer ovens just don't get as hot as industrial ones. But have no fear, Julia Child is here! Julia offers a thorough recipe with helpful pictures in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, and you can see her recipe sans photos here.

One useful tip I can offer to fresh bread lovers: the best way to keep baguettes and other breads fresh and tasty is to wrap them in aluminum foil and freeze. If you have a big country loaf, cut it into smaller more manageable meal-size pieces and wrap each piece separately. When you want to eat some bread, place it in the oven or toaster oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes. When you can easily squeeze the baguette in your hand (with a glove of course), remove the foil, turn off the oven and put the bread back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so to crisp it up. Enjoy!

William Courderot's French Baguette

Ingredients

1 kg farine / ~7 cups flour

650 g eau / ~3 cups water

20 g sel / ~3.5 tsp salt

20 g levure / ~5 tsp yeast

Method

Mix all ingredients in kitchenaid or cuisinart mixer until smooth. Let rest for an hour and a half.

Flour prep area and separate dough into three equal pieces. Generously flour a linen cloth. Gently fold the dough over itself and roll while pushing the dough outwards until it becomes a long snake. Notice how little Courderot handles the dough as he forms it into baguettes. Don't handle the dough more than you have to. Place the baguettes on your floured linen cloth, cradling each loaf in fabric so they don't touch one another. Leave to rest for one hour.

Preheat oven to 550°F (or as high as your oven will go).

Use a new razor blade or very sharp knife to score the bread with evenly distributed diagonal marks, about 4-5 scores per loaf. Fill a cast iron pan with ice water and place it on the bottom rack of your oven. This helps keep a good amount of moisture in the oven while the bread bakes. Place the baguettes in the oven for 20-30minutes or until they are crusty and brown. When they're done, let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before you break bread.

Enjoy!

-Cookingbyheart.org

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

We just returned from 2 weeks in Europe, the first 10 days in Italy, traveling with one of my sisters and her husband. We then spent 4 days in Paris and one in Brussels.

I've generally found it difficult to find bad food in Italy, although it's not all wonderful. I think the best meals we had were actually at the B&B at which we stayed South of Siena. Our hostess, Laura, kept saying she was "not a professional," but the best Italian cooking is, after all, "home cooking." Laura made totally amazing tarts and breads, with butter she churned herself, for breakfast each morning, and one special dinner. The dinner included ribollita and pasta with a tomato sauce, both of which were extraordinary.

As an aside, I would recommend this B&B/Agratourismo, Il Canto del Sole, to anyone wanting to stay near Siena. The setting is beautiful, in the Sienese hill country. Our hosts, Laura and Luciano were incredibly warm and helpful. Laura's cooking was simply fabulous. The evening she cooked dinner for us, Luciano learned it was my sister's birthday and presented us with a bottle of champagne with our dinner.

The bread we had in restaurants in Italy was boring with the one exception of a very rustic sourdough that I'm pretty sure was baked in house in the wood fired oven they used for pizzas. 

Paris was an entirely different story. We had some excellent food, and the generally quality of the bread was quite good. I was able to visit 3 of the boulangeries I most wanted to visit - Phillip Gosselin (across the street from our hotel!), Eric Kayser (in Gallerie Lafayette) and Poilane on Rue Cherche Midi. 

We did not know one of Gosselin's boulangeries would be so close, but I was delighted. His is the "pain a l'ancienne" on which Reinhart based his very popular formula. We had Gosselin's "Baguette Tradition" a couple of times. It is a very rustic, thick-crusted baguette with an open, chewy crumb and a delicious flavor.

Gosselin Baguette Tradition

Gosselin Baguette Tradition crumb

Poilâne Miches

Poilâne miche crust

Poilâne miche crumb

We made a special trip to Rue Cherche Midi, arriving at Poilane at about 3 pm on a Friday afternoon. The miches were still warm from the ovens. The aroma of the little shop almost brought tears to my eyes it was so wonderful. The shop was empty of other customers to my surprise. I guess it was just a bit too early for picking up bread after work, but the breads were waiting for the evening line-up. My wife and I were offered lovely little butter cookies to nibble on while we admired the breads. I bought a quarter loaf. (They sell miche by weight.)

We bought two of Eric Kayser's breads - a mini-"Baguette Monge" and a Pain au Cereal. The former was beautiful to look at but was quite ordinary in flavor. The pain au cereals was delicious. It's a pain au levain with some whole grain (wheat, rye or, perhaps spelt) and seseme, flax, millet and poppy seeds in the dough and on the crust.

Kayser demi-baguette Monge

Demi-baguette Monge crumb

Kayser Pain aux Cereals

Pain aux Cereals crumb

We ate the Kayser breads and our miche with wonderful cheeses and tomatoes from the Gallerie Lafayette food court. The Poilane miche had a very crunchy crust and a chewy crumb. The crust was very sweet. The crumb was surprisingly sour. (This was probably no more than 3 hours out of the oven.) The flavor was wonderful - quite similar to the SFBI Miche, actually.

But "man cannot live by bread alone." There is also ....

Gelato in Florence

Pecorino in Pienza

Salumi in Bologna (at A.F. Tamburini)

Tagliatelli with Ragu in Montepulciano

Wonderful wine (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano)

A little something sweet for dessert (from Ladurée in Paris)

And, most of all, good company with which to enjoy them.

Susan, Evan and Ruth enjoying a taste of Brunello in Montalcino

Happy baking and happy travels!

David


nate9289's picture
nate9289

As I promised on my last entry, I took pictures of my bakery during work this morning.  I'll explain some of the methods and processes that we employ as well, since each boulangerie does things its own way.  We are an artisan bakery and use no pre-fabricated frozen dough or chemical additives.  The levain for most of the breads (excluding the standard baguettes) is all natural, made with apple juice we press ourselves.


I work with a small staff of two bread bakers and one pastry chef - the patron or boss makes the specialty cakes.  The bakers work from 3am/5am until 9am/11am every day, and the pastry chef from 5am until afternoon.  Breads not baked in the morning are baked by the boss in the wood-fired oven two or three times during the day, but all the work is done before 10am except for the specialty cakes.  The short hours and small staff keep costs way down while managing to put out between 800 to 1100 loaves daily in about 30-40 different varieties.  While some credit should be given to the equipment, most belongs to the two bakers themselves who are incredible to see in action.  I'm thankful to be learning from them!  So, the pictures:



 


We use an 8-deck hearth oven at 310 deg. C, or 590 deg. Fahrenheit.  Loaves are taken out of the retarder in the morning and let proof before going in the oven.  The first baker arrives at 3am and takes them out, mixing other doughs to let bulk ferment during the early morning hours.  Around 5am the other baker arrives and the oven gets going.  One baker forms baguettes to be retarded that afternoon and night while the other bakes the breads from the day before.  At 9am everything for the day has been baked and we weigh all the specialty doughs, which have been fermenting, and fashion all the loaves, and then they go in the retarder until the next morning.  This is the process for 90% of the breads.



 


 


The specialty doughs go in the spiral mixer and the normal white dough goes in the large oblique mixer.



 


 


Baguettes during pre-shaping:



 


Here are some loaves about to go in the oven.  The dark ones are baguettes aux céréales and the one with the ring is bread made with hazelnut flour.  The second picture show baguettes nouvelles, explained below.




 


For the baguettes nouvelles (new baguettes), the dough undergoes a 72 hour bulk fermentation in the refrigerator and then is formed with a hydraulic machine to not deflate the gas.  Notice the machine and the metal grill below:



 


Here are some loaves fresh from the oven: round miches, large pain paysan, regular baguettes on the oven loader, dusted baguettes de tradition, and baguettes nouvelles in the case.


 


 


 



 


My favorite bread we bake each Saturday is the grand pain paysan, a slab of dough weighing 5kg, or 11lbs!  It's sold by the kilo.



 


I don't do much with pastries - one absolute master pastry chef makes them all.  Fresh strawberries are all the rage right now, and we're doing a buy 3 strawberry pastries, get 1 free deal.  The picture with the almonds and raisins shows mini-kugelhopfs, the special pastry of my neighbor region Alsace.


 


 


 


Finally, some pictures from inside the store.  Most boulangeries suffer from either an overly-elaborate or overly-dull store space, often too small.  Not the case here!  From the enormous wood-fired oven imported from Mexico - producing an unbelievably tasty bread - to the lime green walls, it's a great place to find whatever suits your palate.


 


 


 


 



 


At home after a long morning of work, enjoying a baguette nouvelle.  Hope you've enjoyed the pictures!



Nate


 

houstonwong's picture

A visit to Poilane in Paris

November 21, 2010 - 9:57am -- houstonwong

Hi,


 


On my trip to Paris last month, I got a chance to visit the famous Poilane bakery. I've been wanting to visit it since reading about it in BBA as well as hearing what others have said about it. And finally, I had the chance so I thought I'd share with everyone.


I arrived in the neighbourhood at around 11AM on a Thursday, so it wasn't very crowded. Nice neighbourhood, btw:


rue du Cherche Midi


 

houstonwong's picture

A visit to Gosselin in Paris

November 21, 2010 - 9:34am -- houstonwong

This is one of my first posts, though I've been a long-time and avid viewer.


Last month I was in Paris and had a chance to visit a few bakeries. So I thought I'd share some pics here with everyone.


This post is about Gosselin's bakery. I went to the one on St Honore St (the original?) but these photos are from his other bakery on St Germain St.


Shop on St Germain

Ziege's picture
Ziege

I returned to the US a few weeks ago from a year living abroad in France as an exchange student, and it is interesting to be back. I am full of memories of the Mediterranean landscape and mes pensées often drift to the days that I spent biking up the Mont Ventoux and eating dinner with my host family, who thought that I was crazy for baking my own bread ("You call that bread?! That looks more like a moist brick to me!" my host dad would call out) and for biking 12 miles to get to school every day. I could ramble about my past year's experience for hours, but instead I'll spare you tales of coed bathrooms (that was a surprise...my first day of high school in France when I discovered that young men and women share les toilettes) and my first encounter with modern dance and write about something a little more related to this blog: the plight of my sourdough starter in France, and its revival aux Etats-Unis.


August 2009, my starter embarked for its first voyage out of the US. Packed in a tupperware container, and sheathed in multiple plastic bags labeled "sourdough starter for making bread" (I feared that the airport officials would confiscate my suspicious-looking container full of ooze), it boarded the flight at San Francisco. And many, many hours later, we arrived together in Montpellier, France. That would be the end of our amicable friendship. As the months went by, I would feed my starter with French (T 150) flour just as I had in America, however it seemed to become less and less responsive. On its fiestiest of days, bubbles the size of strawberry seeds would form; otherwise, the starter was about as active as my neighbor, who sat in front of the TV all day and complained that the day was too long. 24 heures- c'est trop longue! At least he had an excuse. He was in his eighties, whereas my starter was less than a year old. So, needless to say, my bread that i produced from the starter was quite dense and multiple times I had to make a loaf or two of yeast bread to raise my confidence in my bread-making abilities. Not that there's anything wrong with yeast-risen bread, but I had been trying for months to make good bread with my sourdough starter.


 


 


Here's what a typical slice of my 100% whole wheat bread that I made in France looked like:


 



(in the background you can see my sprouting avocado plant)


 


Needless to say, France was not too impressed by my bread baking skills. Oh, I exagerate. A few good loaves came out of that starter that had journeyed so far- in particular, one walnut loaf that I assume was tasty as I left it on the counter at a friend's house and when I went looking for it a few hours later, the loaf was gone and in its place was a dusting of crumbs.


 


July 2010- as I packed up my bags (the night before my flight), I wrapped up my starter, still in that same tupperware container, and this time labeled the bag with, "levain pour faire du pain/sourdough starter". This label was partially for airport security, and served in addition for the starter itself, who I think had forgotten that it was supposed to be a leavening agent and was considering itself instead as some sort of sauce bechamel gone rancid. Anyway, a few connecting flights and plane meals later, I arrived home. Home! After a year of struggling to remain a vegetarian in le pays du foie gras and a year of daily adventure, I was home. It was sad and nice at the same time. I immediately rummaged through my suitcase to verify that the levain hadn't been confiscated- and sure enough- it was still there! I fed it with some Stone Buhr flour (which my local supermarket doesn't carry anymore...darn!), and went off to visit my friends whom I hadn't seen for nearly a year. When i got back the next morning, I was blown away by the activity of my starter. It had actually doubled in size! And there were bubbles not the size of blackheads, but the size of popcorn kernels! Wow! I've been making bread since my return, and I have been more than satisfied with the results.


 


Here's a walnut loaf:


 



 


and here's a plain loaf:


 



 


that are both 100% whole wheat (of course).


 


I am puzzled by the inactivity of my starter in France- the only possible hypothesis is that my starter simply didn't pick up the French language like I did, and so the American yeasts were unable to communicate with the French yeasts. Sacre bleu! In any case, my starter is thriving and well back on top of the microwave at home, and the bread is much lighter and tastier. And thanks to Minioven- who instructed me to "clean the cage" when it comes to feeding a starter. I had posted a blog back when I was in France complaining about the sluggishness of my starter, and she emphasized the importance of dumping out half of the starter at each feeding, and increasing the amount of flour that I was nourishing my starter with. I think that these two pieces of advice have helped a lot.


copyu's picture

Ancient baguette discussion

April 18, 2010 - 5:52am -- copyu
Forums: 

Hi all,


I was searching the 'net for possible tips on re-creating Boulangier Paul's "flute ancienne" and came across this rather old, but interesting, bulletin-board/blog/discussion. There are some really good posts, there.


Someone asked the question: "Why are French baguettes better than others?" There were some interesting answers. This may be useful to bakers around this neighbourhood. No questions from me, for a change...just posted FYI...

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