Monday, February 04, 2013

Laissez-les bons pains rouler!

As you may guess from the title, I went to a French bakery with my French conversation group last Friday. The actual phrase is: "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" but I thought you all would get the humour one word change makes. (Let the good bread roll!-instead of Let the good times roll!) Anyway....

I unfortunately did not take my camera. However, I made friends with a lovely Kiwi (Mme B) and she happily sent me photos of all we saw that day. Be forewarned, the following pictures will make you hungry.

In order to get to this:

You must first start with this:

 No, not him! The bread dough.

See the large vat of dough being prepared?

Not that large, you say? How about we add a worker in for scale.

 They make about 1000 baguettes a day. How's that for breakfast!

These are the Traditions (the baguettes that have only 4 ingredients -flour, water, yeast, salt). The Baguettes have up to 72 ingredients depending on whether they have grains in them or not. Traditions are made by strict rules. They have the same ingredients all throughout France (same flour, salt, etc). The only things in which they can differ are the resting time and how they cut a design on them. And that, my friends, is where every bakery has fun. The longer you let a bread rest and rise, the stronger the taste and darker the crust. Each bakery makes it a little differently and each bakery slices the bread (scars it) differently too.

Mmm...I smell deliciousness! Oh hello custard tarts the size of the sun! They were huge!

We had to pass them on our way to see the Croissant Man!

He made this look easy. And he was so fast! He's snipping the middle of the bottom of the triangles. Why, you ask? So that when he rolls them, they elongate and don't become just one huge ball of dough. Smart!

It's a delicate art of rolling.

We were all encouraged to try, but we had to have very clean hands. So after washing up, I got my chance!

It was so much fun! I was very slow compared to him. You blinked and he was on to the next one. Yeesh!

Here he is explaining everything there is to know about croissants. For example, did you know that for every 3 kilos of dough, they use 1 kilo of butter? That's a recipe with a lot of butter. But you all knew that, I'm sure!

He also told us that the bakers have a two year intensive apprenticeship that they have to do before they are allowed to work alone. Awesome!
The un-awesome part is that everyone has to start work at 3am everyday. They at least get to go home about 13h (1pm).  But still, that's a very early day.

He made sure to tell us that each worker needs to know the job of the other one. That way, if someone goes on vacation, another person can fill in for the absent person without too much of a change in production or quality.

He said that the guy in pastries
This guy! L'homme des tartes de pomme

would be filling in for him next month. And, the only difference between "p√Ętisserie" and "pain" is the addition of cream (milk, butter, etc) in the former with none in the latter. Learning something new everyday!

By the by, this bakery doesn't sell yesterday's bread. The manager said that it would be shameful to deny people the opportunity of the best bread and pastries possible. So, they "throw it out" which actually means that the workers take "les restes" home for their families or for the farms nearby (don't worry, we asked). Very nice of them, I think.

Well, that ends the tour here. Hoped you enjoyed it! (I know I did!)

1 comment:

  1. I should of eaten breakfast before looking at all those pastries. :) Looks like a fun time. I bet it was delicious too.