From May 14 to 20, France celebrates bread with workshops and tastings all around the country. This is a great event to remember the ancient tradition of bread-making and to learn more about this area of French culinary expertise
The first French bakery opened during the 6th century, but it was only in the beginning of the 11th century that the bread became the basis of meals. Christian tradition contributed to the development of the product throughout the Middle Ages. Bread was more than a simple basic food.
Two types of bread were made: white bread was affordable only to the nobility, and the poor made their own bread with cereals and a resulting darker color.
In the 18th century, agronomic sciences transformed the bread-making process and flour became whiter. In 1793, bread became the bread for the poor and rich alike.
In the 19th century, the first bread-making machines appeared, in particular the kneading machine. This machine contributed to make the profession less labor-intensive.
Thus, the profession and expertise of bakers is a century-old profession.
Different types of bread
Nowadays, French people eat about 165g of bread a day. It is less than in the Middle Ages, when this quantity was 600g. More than 100 different breads exist in France. 97.6% of French people buy bread everyday in more than 35 000 million bakery.
White Bread : made from “T55 flour,” a classification of flour indicating that it contains 0.55% of minerals. This flour is extracted from the heart of the wheat grain.
Whole wheat bread : made from flour T150, which means from a flour containing than 1.5% of minerals. This flour contains the heart of the grain and its envelop.
Special bread : typical bread with ingredients added like dry fruits, nuts. Sometimes made from other types of flour like rye flour or maize flour.
How to make a good bread
Ingredients for French bread baguette recipes:
- 4 cups Flour
- 1 tbsp. Dry Active Yeast
- 1-2 tsp. Salt
- 2 cups Warm Water
- Oil for bowl
How to make it:
- In a bowl, mix together the flour and the salt.
- In another bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and half of the flour/salt mixture. Using your hands, mix until it forms a dough. Then, cover with a dish cloth and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours. It should triple in size.
- Gently mix in the rest of the flour/salt, using your hands.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It should be supple and elastic when you stop kneading.
- Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 1 hour. It should double in size.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Knead again. Then cut dough into 3 parts and form each part into a long baguette. Place on a baking sheet. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Place a bowl of water in the oven. Bake baguettes for about 25 minutes (maybe less). Remove the bowl of water after 15 minutes of baking. Voilà!