Thursday, 29 October 2015

La Baguette Magique - the French Baguette

An unmistakable symbol of France, the Baguette is on every table, at every meal.
By Louise Gaboury. franceguide 2009

As Paris awakens, the mouthwatering smell of french bread wafts through the streets. The sun is barely up and Parisians are already rushing off to the boulangerie to buy their first baguette of the day. This almost mythical bread takers six hours to make and only keeps for just about as long. To ensure a daily supply, the bakers doorbell will be chiming from dusk to dawn.

Baguette Basics
Since September 1993, the appellation of the traditional French baguette has been rigorously controlled. The length (twenty four inches), weight (nine ounces), and ingredients (flour, salt, and water, without added fat or sugar) are defined according to a decree that prohibits additives and freezing. These regulations have contributed to the safeguarding of the true nature of French bread and have allowed artisan bakery products to set themselves apart from industrial products available in supermarkets.

The President’s Bread
For the past fifteen years, the city of Paris has been honoring the city’s best baguette of the year. The aim of the contest is to highlight the work of bread artisans and the flavor of an authentic baguette.
Jury members spend an entire morning randomly admiring, smelling, touching and tasting some hundred baguettes. Once they’ve verified the baguette’s length and weight, they judge the look, smell, crumb, and last but not least, the flavor. The crumb must be airy, full, and cream-colored. The happy winner becomes the supplier for a year to the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President.

The secret is in the flour
Arnaud Delmontel won the 2007 prize for the best baguette in Paris thanks to his “Renaissance” baguette with Guerande salt and in 2008 he was part of the jury the crowned young Anis Bousbsa. “The secret of a good baguette lies mainly in the quality of the basic ingredients,” says Arnaud Demontel, who uses flour from the Viron flour mill in Chartres. “Then the manufacturing process must be undertaken with a lot of precision and … love!” no doubt about it, Dumontel is crazy about bread. Even if he doesn’t particularly enjoy waking up before sunrise, the thought of breathing in the smell of bread helps him tear himself out of bed

Elsewhere in France
“there are 650 miller in France and their wheat yields different breads but good bread can be found all over,” he continues. Practically every region of France cultivated wheat and many of them are reintroducing local flours, many of which had sunken into oblivion. Revived in September 207, the milling wheat of Apt is grown within the Luberon Regional Nature Park on ecologically managed farms. The baguette ardechoise was created in 2003 on the other side of the Rhone and is made with three types of flour; wheat, rye, and chestnut, which bears a stunning resemblance to breadfruit, of all things!

France celebrated bread for one week every year stating on the Monday preceding May 16, in honor of Saint-Honore (the patron saint of bakers)

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