At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us acquainted ourselves with the old school methods of sourdough bread baking. So much so that flour was selling out across the country and even yeast packets were tough to come by. Well, the flour is back on shelves and for many, the sourdough starter has died. I was among this group of ardent bakers, able to tell you what a lame was and could recount to you my hydration levels. My attention turned to other cooking projects over time, like many of you. But famed Parisian baker Apollonia Poilane hopes to get our culture growing again and our carb obsession rekindled.
Poilane has launched her own Masterclass, going into great detail about the techniques and tools you need to make you a better bread baker. She’s carrying on the tradition of her grandfather and father before her who ran the bakery. The business has grown to a half-dozen shops in Paris and London as well as a global shipping operation. At its core is the sourdough country loaf her grandfather Pierre loved eating while growing up in Normandy. But the bakery makes so much more than that now.
In her class, Poilane goes devotes considerable time to mixing, shaping, scoring and baking a traditional loaf. Then, for those who want new challenges in their bread baking, she shows how to make yeasted breads like pan de mie and brioche and then a gluten-free corn flour bread she first developed while a college student in America.
And then for those of us making multiple loaves of bread when experimenting with baking, she offers recipes to use bread as an ingredient. What’s helpful about her approach here is breaking down bread into stages of freshness, from fresh-baked to fresh to dry to stale. At each stage, the bread is good for different types of recipes, like tartines with fresh, granola with dry and even making use of stale loaves by turning them into a pesto.
This is the latest and one of the most useful of Masterclass’s cooking series as it really goes deep into a single discipline that really lends itself to such rigor. But if you do get Poilane’s class, you can also opt to also learn from Massimo Bottura, Thomas Keller, Gabriela Camara and more. Or, you could always just buy your bread directly from Apollonia and save the flour on the shelves for other shoppers.