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On Bread...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

For you who have had a fresh French baguette for breakfast with creamy butter and marmalade with your espresso, what is it that makes the French baguette different than those made in America?  I have had this argument with a few.  Some think it is the soil which grows the wheat, others think it is the water.  The difference in flavor and consistency is easily identified.

 

Thoughts?

 

Also, what your ideal way to make a dark, crusty, porous bread in loaves for dipping in olive oil and herbs or making sandwiches?  It seems more and more establishments are turning to ciabatta and flat breads with herbs as their serving bread.  

 

Thanks!

 

TK

 

post #2 of 8

What makes European breads different from American is that they contain (usually by law) only: flour, yeast and salt.  No sugar, no milk, no butter or oil or anything else, unless they;re sold as specialty breads. 

That's the primary difference. 

They also are usually left to rise a long time etc, but you will never get the same crust or texture or taste, as far as i know, with milk or sugar or fats added. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #3 of 8

Putting aside the aerated types, such as Wonder, the difference is that European breads tend to be firmer and more chewy, whereas Americans prefer a light, airy crumb. Even back in the day James Beard noted this difference, and provided an American style bread that used milk instead of water, and added a little butter.

 

Contributing to the difference is the flour used, the yeast, even the water. And the methodsused to combine them. In other words, there's no simple answer. Even in France there are vast differences, one bakery to another, and people have actually come to blows over who makes the best baguette.

 

We are, of course, talking about white breads. The fact is, there is a long line of European breads that do use amendments and enrichments, especially for, but not limited to, celebrations and holidays.

 

It should be noted that, with the growing artisan baking movement, more and more Americans are making European type breads at home. And the number of artisan bakeries seemingly grows on a daily basis. Whether this reflects a fundemental change or merely a fad depondent sayeth not.

 

Aside: Siduri, you got sumpin agin water? Bread is made from four ingredients, not three, and, where the law runs, all four are specified. When you think of it, there's a fifth: magic; the alchemy that coverts those four humble ingredients into the wonder of bread.

 

Also, what your ideal way to make a dark, crusty, porous bread in loaves for dipping in olive oil and herbs or making sandwiches?

 

TKChef, you're asking an awful lot from one loaf. Those are different requirements, and you need different approaches and forumula to achieve them. For instance, a good dipping bread is open and porous, with random sized holes. A baguette typifies that construction. On the other hand, for sandwiches you want a tighter crumb, with smaller, consistenly sized holes.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 8

For the type of baguettte I like to have, there is an element of water spraying  of the baguette or a tray in the oven with water to almost steam the loaf.  Then end result is a lot more crispy, apparently.  You would need to ask an expert on this, but it is what I have have read.  Take it with a grain of salt as advice from a non-baker, but widely read, contributor.

 

This may be a question better put in the baking forum where those in the know are able to advise you :)

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #5 of 8


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

 

Aside: Siduri, you got sumpin agin water? Bread is made from four ingredients, not three, and, where the law runs, all four are specified. When you think of it, there's a fifth: magic; the alchemy that coverts those four humble ingredients into the wonder of bread.

 


OOPS!  I was thinking of water and forgot it. 

Yes, and magic, not to mention biology and  technique - but i think what TK is asking is why the baguettes you buy in the stores in the states are not like the ones in france, and technique apart, i think mainly they have a list of ingredients that would take the entire length of the baguette to list if you printed them in 12 point type!

 

However, if truth be told, the breads in europe are getting worse and worse and i've had some pretty darn good ones recently in the states (paying, of course, through the nose) because now, here, though the ingredients are prescribed, the actual composition of those ingredients is not.  So you have flour with flour conditioners in it, of various kinds, and they rise them much less time, and now most of the bread bought in bakeries or the local little alimentari (small food shops where you used to get the good bread) is crap - dry and tasteless even when toasted, and becomes hard in a day.  The standard crispy roll called a "rosetta" that used to be wonderful tasting - crispy outside, with a big hole inside to fill with stuff for sandwiches, and the crumb chewy, and toasted the next day for breakfast, it wojuld fill the kitchen with aroma, now is tasteless, dry, and odorless.  The next morning it's so dry you can't cut it without it crumbling to pieces, and so hard I call it a "rosetta stone".  Goodbye long rising, good bye good flour, good bye taste, good bye, for me,  to store-bought bread.

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 8

I live at only a 15 minute drive from France, we even have a lot of artisanal bakeries in my own neighbourhood who make outstanding bread and baguettes, but only in France you will find the real one-and-only baguette. And... only in real artisanal bakeries, not the guys who bake that frozen stuff which is not even close to the right stuff. Also, a real frenchman will never buy a baguette that's older than a few hours!

The secret? I'm sure Siduri is quite right.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

EXCELLENT thoughts!  I think the baguette question came to mind because when I think of that perfect moment of relaxation, watching busy people walk past as I sit outside at a cafe lost in thought and feel the warm sun break through on a cool morning, one comes to mind.  The American ones don't no matter how flavorful they are.   I have to agree with Chris.  I have had them in other European countries as well, just none like the French one. 

 

DC, I did not put it in a baking forum because the question was not just about baking.  I do personally believe chemistry as noted plays a part, and in my case, location.

 

KY, touche' on the crusty porous bread sandwich.  Just wishful thinking ~

 

Suduri, great point.  After an american store-bought baguette, I have to have my riboflavinoid levels checked as so many were added to the wheat for my good health...

post #8 of 8

Watching people in France pass by with a baguette under their armpit protected only by a small square of paper, made me understand what a sign I saw in a Provence shop was referring to: "pan bagnat" lol.gif

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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