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splatgirl 07-02-2010 09:03 AM

Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
I'm just back from 10 days in Paris, my first time.
As a WFO and bread baking enthusiast I was super excited to finally get to try some of the biggies in the bread and pastry world. It was a whirlwind, crazy trip but I did manage to get to the Polaine shop in the 6th, Eric Kayser times 2 or 3, and and the best most memorable ever, Boulangerie Veronique Mauclerc.
Holy cow. How does one choose at places like this when there's only so much stomach space and time in a day to eat bread and pastries?

Polaine: I was expecting to have my socks knocked off by the miche because it's so talked about and so much the classic, IT Parisian bread. I was severely underwhelmed. Good and tasty bread, yes, but honestly, not better than what I make at home in any dimension and did not age any better than what I am used to with mine. This was quite possibly the only way I could ever say it was a let-down to learn that I do, in fact, make pretty darn good bread. We also had the flan naturale (basically a baked custard tart) and pomme tart and sampled a piece of the raisin meteil (I think). The tarts were as perfect and delicious as you'd expect in Paris, but I am a pastry whore, so anything made with nice ingredients and by someone who knows what they're doing is a win in my book.

Eric Kayser: OK, now we're talking. Being as selective as I possibly could, I tried the baguette cereals (multi grain baguette), the pain campagna, the chocolate chip cookie and the croissant amande. The baguette cereals was AMAZING. SO good, so perfect. It looked and tasted like a mostly white flour dough with about six different whole seeds worked into it and then also covering the outside. I LOVED this one. The pane campagna was equally amazing. The chocolate chip cookie (almost unheard of in France) was outstanding...the best I have ever had that wasn't baked by me. Any of the EK outposts will be my first, last and middle stops next time I go. There was just so much stuff that looked amazing that I need to try.

Boulangerie Veronique Mauclerc: I don't know how pastries could be any better, ever, anywhere. I was squeaking and kicking my feet, enjoying croissants and some kind of sweet, flavored brioche rolls for breakfast on a bench in the park. Probably one of the most memorable food experiences of my whole trip. I don't know what I was thinking, but I didn't get any bread!
I've read that this is one of only a couple wood-fired ovens still operating in France which was reason enough to trek out to the 19th for a visit, but the croissants and brioche, utterly and completely mind blowing. That a female-owned boulangerie is almost unheard of is just an extra bonus, AFIAC. I'd even consider staying way out here so this shop could be my daily bread and pastry stop.

I have a couple of photos I'll post in a bit..

david s 07-02-2010 12:19 PM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
We're going to Paris in late Sept. Shall try to check it out,

splatgirl 07-02-2010 01:02 PM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
You will find that Eric Kayser has outposts in several locations and at Lafayette Gourmet.

Veronique Mauclerc is in the 19th, right down the hill from Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which I had read was the most beautiful in Paris and it did not disappoint. It's like a magical little wonderland that I can't wait to return to.
Here is the only picture I managed to get of the oven. I SO wanted to ask if I could go back and take a closer look but the shop was very busy and I speak French like a three year old.

I would not make a special trip to the Polaine shop unless I wanted to buy a whole or half miche or cared mostly about the experience. You can buy half and quarter miche portions (albeit sliced, which is somewhat sub-optimal, imo) at Monoprix.

texassourdough 07-02-2010 02:45 PM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
Bravo! SplatG!

Sounds like you had a great trip! I have only spent a few days in Paris. Spent most of my time in Provence. was before I began serious baking so....I didn't seek great bakeries. Just muddled my way along. Next trip to Paris will be much more targeted. But first I will be going to Italy next June for a one week cooking school experience. (And to England later this month for graduation (my daughter demands I walk across the stage!))

Thanks for sharing.

BackyardPermaculture 07-04-2010 06:04 AM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
Thanks for the report Splatgirl,

I went to Paris once but it was many, many, many years ago, and I took absolutely no notice of the bread. Interesting what you say about Poilane though...

We have no hope of getting to Paris any time soon, but hope to visit this bakery before the year's out - a bit closer to us.


splatgirl 07-27-2010 07:07 PM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
Here is my first attempt at baguette cereales using a recipe I found over at The Fresh Loaf, an adaptation of the one that appears in the Eric Kayser breads book.
Mine turned out looking not nearly as nice as the authors, but considering its attempt number one and I used the flours I had on hand vs. trying to source something "exotic" and my shaping sucked, I'll take it. It's still very, VERY good bread, and I think with a couple more tries and some tweaking I'll have a winner.
inside the cereales on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
I did a double batch of the cereales plus a batch of Leaders Pain Campagne. This was my first batch of the pain campagne from the WFO and it looks at least twice as good as my last indoor oven batch. Still not getting the oven spring and rip like you pros, but useful and edible progress...cereales and pain campagne from the WFO on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BackyardPermaculture 07-27-2010 08:44 PM

Re: Chasing the Holy Grail Breads and Pastries in Paris
They look great!

Did you use a high-extraction flour, or did you improvise it somehow? I made the Tredgold "85 x 3" last weekend (85% extraction, 3 preferments) and used 20% wholemeal since I didn't have high-extraction flour. Came out of the WFO looking a bit weird, but they've got loads of flavour.


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