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james 07-05-2007 03:43 AM

Forno Poilane
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Here are a couple of photos of the oven at Boulangerie Poilane in Paris. There are three different bakeries -- this one is south of the river in St. Germain.

The oven has a very low dome and it's very rustic, with rolling bricks, exposed mortar, etc. It's a white oven, with the fire below. My French is pretty much non-existent and they weren't very talkative, so I did not learn a great deal. Still, they let me downstairs to photograph the oven, despite the fact that they were extremely busy.

The floor was large -- probably about 6', and almost square. They had finished baking for the day, and the oven was still warm. I've read that they have a 4PM baking on certain days, and that a line forms to get the warm bread.

Jim, what do you think?

CanuckJim 07-05-2007 04:39 AM

Re: Forno Poilane

Well done; you made it into the inner sanctum of a bread shrine. Poilaine breads are revered around the world. I read that Robert DeNiro has his flown to LA on a daily basis. The oven design is very interesting; I've never seen one so low before. If they're baking at 4 am, that means they're prepping through the night. Can't tell from the manufacturer's plate, but I wonder how old the oven is.

Did you manage to buy any bread there? If so, what was it like?


dmun 07-05-2007 05:34 AM

Re: Forno Poilane
The counterweighted vertical door is very cool. That oval cast iron counterweight is a nice touch

Unofornaio 07-05-2007 07:06 AM

Re: Forno Poilane
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ahhhh I need a cigarette now...;)

This is "THE" oven for bread as far as I am concerned. everything else pails in comparison. This is an example of the design I have been looking for YEARS.. if anyone has any design info on this or similar ovens please, please get in touch with me.

I forgot this was a white oven I had it confused with another French design that uses a "Guillard" (probably not correct spelling). The one I was thinking of has a hearth that is slightly inclined toward the back and in the front there is a hole with a collar that the Guillard sits on and directs the flame into the oven, the fire box is directly below this collar. When it is fired it looks like a flame thrower shooting into the oven. the guillard has handles on the side that the baker can hook onto with a pole to direct the flame, after it is fired the guillard is removed and steel plate placed over the hole. the process then returns to standard black oven procedure..heat sink, mopping, etc.
With this guillard oven you get the black oven ease of build with the advantage of no mess in the chamber and no rake out but you still cannot bake in it while being fired like the Poilane oven.:D
EDIT>>>>>WRONG this is the oven I described.....I pulled up some old photos and the collar is clearly visable in the front..bummer my quest continues..:(

james 07-05-2007 02:03 PM

Re: Forno Poilane
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Nice photo. Did you take that?

Jim, I will check, but I think it is 4PM -- isn't it still dark at 4AM :-) I was there midday, and the oven was still 4+ mississippi.

Here is one more photo with a better view of the cooking floor.

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