The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

For Our Far Flung Correspondents...

proth5's picture

For Our Far Flung Correspondents...

For those of you following baguette quests, a new "Best Baguette in Paris" has been named:  M. Frank Tombarel at his boulangerie Le Grenier de Felix, 64 Avenue Felix Faure (XVeme).

We have high hopes that Janedo can quickly make a trip there to learn his secrets.... :>)

Happy Baking!


leucadian's picture

I found a ViaMichelin story on the competition, which was very interesting:

One of the judges accused Anis Bouabsa (and the other 'young bakers') of not knowing how to bake a baguette! It had something to do with the scoring of the competition, but didn't go into much detail. What's up?

But I especially enjoyed the photos that accompanied the story. It was like taking a quick tour of the best bakeries in Paris. Really fascinating. In the last photo, the scoring seems odd, with a very long slash at one end (Raoul Maeder, photo 10), and the crust is also very dark. The text accompanying photo 4 (Christophe Vasseur) says his 'pain des amis' bread is almost 1 meter long, and then cut into round loaves, which clearly doesn't make sense. I notice that most of the photos show baguettes with 5 slashes, and a few 7.  One photo (#5, Veronique Mauclerc) shows the baker holding a monster loaf, surely 2-3 kg. Several bakers presented 'Retrodor' baguettes. Is this a type of baguette or a brand of flour?

This just points up the need to do a bread tour, or at the very least some on-the-ground reporting. Volunteers?

proth5's picture

Nice link - thanks for that.

Retrodor is a brand of baguette.  Viron is a milling concern that owns this brand and they train bakers on their formulas (using their flour which comes from wheat grown in Beauce and Eure et Loir) to create a "value add" brand name bread.  The flour provided is type 55 and contains to additives (like the notorious fava bean flour.) Ah, the French!

One thing that they do go on about on the Retrodor website is the mixing process that creates "tiny pockets" in the dough.  This has been discussed on this site and is really the secret to those light as air baguettes.

I had a nice tour of Parisian bakeries last year in connection with la Coupe du Monde. (I was tour guide and translator for my tour and would be happy - for the price of my hotel and food -  to reprise this role:>)) I like Paris best in the fall,  but just thinking about the whole thing makes me wish I had booked tickets for right now...

One thing that one of the bakery owners told me was that apprentice bakers were plentiful - but he had problems finding the "counter ladies" to actually sell the bread.  I keep wondering if this could be my "retirement career?"

Happy Baking


mountaindog's picture

I love that idea! "Boulangerie counter lady" sounds perfect for me too, much easier than being a farmer when I retire...I therefore just informed my husband we will be retiring to France...since he's from there, he has no problem with that concept, but warned me I'd have to significantly improve my rusty French to be a good counter lady...

Thanks for the story, we'll be in France this September and I plan to thoroughly research the baguettes (as well as the country breads) while there with a more critical eye than during previous trips!

proth5's picture

Paris? or The Farm?

Tough one...

LindyD's picture

Great story, but the best tasting baguette wound up third?

proth5's picture

about the scoring.  Take a look at the winner - this is certainly a more photogenic bread - perfectly symetrical, beautiful scoring, promenent ears (that sliver thin line of crust in between the slashes - as "my teacher" would say - "So sexy.".)  Third place -not so much so. (In fact, they are a bit of a mess)  So if taste counts equally to appearence in the scoring, it doesn't take much to move the more "beautiful" baguette to the top.

This is why these contests are more about promoting the idea of good bread  and good artisan bakers than finding "the best" because there really is no such thing.

Sic transit gloria mundi