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Le public ignore généralement que le pain, comme le fromage ou le vin, représante un patrimoine considérable, diversifié en d'innombrables variétés régionales. Le boulanger français lui-même par nature est peu enclin au traditionalisme.
Lionel Poilâne, Guide de l'amateur de pain, 1981, 159

J'adore le pain français. Je souligne français parce que je suis américain, et que le pain dans mon pays est généralement immonde (Steven Kaplan, Cherchez le pain, 2004, 9.

Well-made bread
"strengtheth the stomach and carries truly with it the staff of nourishment." 
Thomas Moffat, Health's
, (1595?, published 1655)

    Hearth Breads, Craft, and Community Since 1988

   According to the décret du 1 septembre 1993 de la République Française any bread in France pretending to be traditionally French had to meet these conditions: no freezing whatsoever in the course of its elaboration; to contain no additives (excepting 2% bean flour, 0.5% soya flour and 0.3% malt flour); to be composed exclusively of a mixture of baking (panifiable) flours, potable water, and kitchen salt;  and to be fermented with baker's yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae)  and/or levain. Article four allowed the addition of a tiny amount of yeast in the last kneading phase, 0.2% by weight of flour.
    Of course, the French writ does not extend to Grand Manan. We have used the appellation, or at least the spirit of it, to the extent of using only unbleached and or organic flours, no bean nor soya flours and occasionally, when the enzymatic qualitities of the organic white flours appeared to droop, we have added malt flour, in less than the stipulated 0.3%. Our salt for most of the period since 1993 has been sel de Guérande, and we have employed fresh yeast, with only rare exceptions when either our yeast supply ran out, was shorted by our suppliers, or arrived in unusable states.
    Under the heading of pains de tradition françaises, we make four breads daily, baguettes, boules, demis and miches, in two separate doughs. The larger breads are made with a dough that is fermented in bulk overnight, with divisionn, shaping, baguettes on display rack in shop final proof  and bake early the following morning, while the baguettes are made en directe, usually the first dough mixed and kneaded in the day, around 05h00. Both doughs feature an autolyse of 15 to 30 minutes, slow mixing,  in cooler weather, a bassinage at the end of kneading of 5-10%, and a détente of about 30 minutes before shaping. Division and shaping is manual, as it is for all breads in the bakery, and proofing is sur couche. (Photo of baguettes, 10 May 2007, by Richard Rice)

  (Photo by Richard Rice, April 2005)
miche on display rackThe
miche, which is used as our web logo, is invariably the first traditional bread out of the oven, for the reason that it is a kind of 'patty-cake' loaf. That is, it is shaped either by patting vigorously, or, mostly by by being rolled out with rolling pin. The last stage of proofing, l'apprêt, is effectively omitted, so that the bread is baked usually an hour or so ahead of the other breads from the same dough (baguettes, demis and boules). Also, this is almost always the best bread from the dough, in terms of flavour and keeping, it would seem because it follows one of Raymond Calvel's maxims, "toujours jeune de fermentation".

BOULE   (photo by Richard Rice, circa 2005, in regular production.)

boule on cooling rack The boules and demis are both 'cut' at the same dough weight (500g), shaped, proofed and baked together.  The different shapes, hence their names,  result in breads with slightly different characteristics, mainly a relatively softer crumb and crust for the boules. Essentially, the difference is rooted in the relative thickness and smaller surface area of the boule. Not surprisingly, customers often have decided preferences. And, it should bepointed out, a baker in French is a faiseur de pain en  boules,  un boulanger.

DEMI  (photo by Richard Rice)
demi on cooling rack  

DEMIS   (made at home by the baker, 11 April 2010)

Demis made at home 11 April 2010

© 2010 North Head Bakery, 199 Route 776, Grand Manan, NB, E5G 1A4   506-662-8862