The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pictures! Boulangerie Apprenticeship in France

nate9289's picture

Pictures! Boulangerie Apprenticeship in France

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!




AnnaInMD's picture

"be with you" at your bakery.  The bakers must truly be masters to bake so many loaves and pastries per day.  Everything looks wonderfully inviting and sumptuous.

Loved it ! Thank you :)

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

Man thanks for the pics!!!!!

Awesome material..... You are a lucky guy to be able to work in such a place!!!!

Congrats and thanks again!!!! =)


fishers's picture

Thanks for posting - - now steal some of those recipes!  (can you imagine any of us would need more recipes?)


swtgran's picture

Definitely enjoyed the pictures and would have loved to have enjoyed some of the bread.  Terry R

ananda's picture

Hi Nate,

You bring your workplace to life in words and pictures.   Just as Anna writes: it's great to feel part of the action.

Best wishes


varda's picture

Wow that was interesting.   Thanks for posting.  -Varda

em120392's picture

Nate-this is soo cool! i'm totally jealous! i'm interning at a bakery in Princeton NJ which is pretty great---but you're in france?! wow!

keep posting! i can't wait to hear about it! =]



nate9289's picture

Thanks to all for the kind feedback!  If I do sneak some recipes, I'll be sure to share them.  I'm sure that reading TFL has enlightened and improved my work ethic at the bakery, so it was nice to be able to share the bakery with all of you for a change!

basbr's picture

Wow! This is really interesting... Thank you for taking the time and don't stop writing!!