The Wood-Fired Blog

Baguette à l’ancienne

From William Alexander, author of 52 Loaves.

I hate to burst anyone’s fantasies, but the typical baguette in a Parisian bakery, that very symbol of French cuisine, simply isn’t very good, made quickly by machine, from pumped-up flour. If you ask for a baguette à l’ancienne, however, you might pay a little more, but get an artisan baguette, made slowly, with a wild-yeast starter. This is my own interpretation of such a baguette. Take solace in the fact that, no matter how badly you might think it comes out, it is better than half the baguettes sold in Paris.

I agree with this in two ways. First, I think it is true that bread from Parisian Bakeries is extremely variable and lots of it just isn’t that good. Not as bad as my local Save Mart, but as Mr. Alexander says, “made quickly by machine, from pumped-up flour”. Not good.

I also agree that your own bread will be far better than just about anything you can buy locally, and better than most of the mass-produced bread made in France. Interestingly, the same thinking applies to your own wood-fired pizza and Italy.

Enjoy making your own!