Baker born and bread

first_img“Poilâne is my favourite living Frenchman!” proclaimed one of the world’s favourite dead Spaniards, Salvador Dali, in 1977, or so the Poilâne bakery claims on its website. Of course, the master surrealist was still alive and well and chomping at the staff of life when he bestowed this accolade on one of France’s then foremost bakers, Lionel Poilâne. Even though this artist and artisan may have shared little in common, both carved a profitable trade from their non-conforming talents.Having resisted mechanisation and industrial processes, instead, ploughing an isolated furrow by cultivating its own craft methods, the Poilâne bakery has always been something of a “black sheep” in France, says Apollonia Poilâne, heir to the ?15m turnover business. Thrust into the front line at the unbaked age of 18, following the tragic death of her father in a helicopter crash in 2002, she also inherited a reputation as heavyweight as one of Poilâne’s hefty 4lb sourdoughs.Now 22 years old, Apollonia is undaunted by carrying the mantle of this top-end bakery. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved in the business.”Ever since I was a child I used to say to my father ’I want to take over the business, I want to take over the business!’” she exclaims in a light French accent laced with an American twang, picked up while studying economics in the States. And she never felt any pressure to continue the family’s bakery lineage.”My father was forced into the business so there was a strong effort from him not to do the same to me,” she recalls. “I grew up in this company, my crib was made from a bread basket, and learning more about breadmaking techniques is what drives me on a daily basis.”Hailed by many as one of the best bakeries around, it’s certainly one of the most expensive, at nearly £10 for a white sourdough loaf. The slowly-slowly approach Poilâne takes to building on that reputation is perhaps unsurprising given that its empire has extended to just two shops in its native Paris in more than 70 years of trading, and a third in London, which opened in June 2000 – a short walk from Victoria Coach Station – and now accounts for about 20% of total turnover. There are presently no plans to open any more shops.Much is made of ’retro-innovation’ – the term coined by Lionel, who took over from founding father Pierre Poilâne in the early 1970s, to describe Poilâne’s approach to baking as using the best of old and new methods. There is decidedly more ’retro’ than ’innovation’ at work. The unhurried evolution explains a limited array of breads, around a dozen, with only half delivered wholesale to restaurants, delis and stores.New product development is something of an alien concept, with no new products in the past four years. Though Apollonia does not rule out introducing new products, the focus is very much to continue what it does best. Each shop has its own production on-site and the only machinery with a plug is a mixer and a slicing machine.”We arrived at a level a long time ago and decided the best way of making bread was to use a mechanical mixer as that gives us a homogenous dough; but we also use a wood-fired oven, which is on the retro side,” she explains. “Our motto is ’quality rather than quantity’ so we stick with a small amount of products that we do well, rather than adding another dozen that are so-so.”Apart from water, all ingredients used are the same as those sourced in France for the Paris outlets, including the original sourdough starter, which “astonished the customs people when my father brought it over on the Eurostar!” she recalls. So how does she source the right ingredients?”Nuh-uh, that’s one of the house secrets!” she laughs. What we do know is that the flours used contain spelt from wheat grown by farmers who, it is claimed, use lower levels of nitrogenous fertilisers by ploughing the topsoil in as late as possible; no pesticides are used; the stone-ground flour preserves 85% of the original grain and contains 15% bran; an aromatic salt is sourced from the marshes of Guérande in Brittany; and a wood-fired oven, modelled on a 19th century French type, helps flavour the crust. All this culminates in the unique flavour and a loaf that retails at a price to scare the life out of a typical British consumer used to paying pennies for their crumb. Do people ever drop their jaws at the price?”Not to my knowledge,” she replies, clearly used to defending this question. “I’m sure it does happen but it’s our job to explain to people all the work that’s been put into the bread. Compared with a 250g baguette made industrially, yes, it is expensive. But it’s a 4lb bread, with top-quality ingredients, hand-made and we take the time to do it well. The quality justifies the difference.”The staff of lifeAny trained bakers hoping for a job in this esteemed establishment would have been better off skipping school. All training is in-house and Poilâne requires a clean slate – only people with no baking experience. Lionel Poilâne put the nine-month development programme in place. In month one, the apprentice simply observes the baker; by month nine, the roles are reversed.”Ideally, our bakers would not have touched a loaf of bread in their lives,” says Apollonia, before quickly correcting herself: “I should say, will not have been bakers in their past! Our methods – although simple – are unique. People have forgotten how to use their five senses when they make bread. This is what we emphasise. It’s easier to train a baker from scratch than it is to retrain.” Drop-out rates are virtually non-existent.Twenty people work in the London bakery across sales, deliveries and production. Not all are French – Brits, Poles, Czechs and other nations are represented. Poilâne’s client base is “very heterogeneous, and mainly British,” but a French speaker is always on hand to placate her country folk. “At one point, we didn’t have any French-speaking staff and it created a scandal in the French community. This was embarrassing, because if they are too lazy to learn English, then why are they here in the first place?!”With competition hotting up on the high streets for French breads, with the likes of bakery chain Paul stepping up its expansion plans in London and beyond (British Baker, 18 August, pg 8), does she train a keen eye on her competitors, French or British, around the capital? A Gallic shrug and a “not really” is her reply reflecting her confidence in the bakery’s products, techniques and process.”My father and I shared the same vision for this company, to perpetuate quality over quantity,” she says. “My aim is to one day hand over the company – and it is a long-term aim – to the next generation of Poilânes. In the meantime, it is my job to do everything possible so that the company not only sustains itself but booms.” Whether that takes the form of another shop or a new product, she’s not yet decided, before adding, in a spirit in keeping with this septuagenarian business: “These decisions cannot be taken lightly.” n—-History: Founded by Pierre Poilâne in 1932Owner: Third generation Apollonia PoilâneProducts: 1.9kg sourdough, raisin, rye, walnut, 1.9kg decorated breads, milk, brioche, butter cookies, apple tarts, turnovers, custard cake and pain au chocolatTurnover: ?15m, 20% of which is in the UK. Wholesale accounts for roughly two-thirds of turnoverWholesale: Waitrose, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, delis and restaurants Locations: Two shops in Paris, one in London, with on-site bakeries—-=== Consumer watch ===Would you shop at Poilâne? Two who do…Constance Andel, paralegal and information specialist from Austria:”I’ve been shopping here for more than three years and I’ve tried many different kinds of bread in the UK. This is the best. It’s a lot cheaper than Harrods or Selfridges. The croissants are amazing and I love to come here and treat myself.”Bearne Ruth, pensioner, originally from Jerusalem:”I’ve been coming here since it opened. I buy the croissants regularly but they’ve usually all gone by 3pm. I know people who order this bread from Los Angeles and I’ve been to the Paris shops. You must try the apple tart!”…and two passers-by who don’tJoe Bastick-Vines, unemployed, Streatham, London:”I don’t see why anyone would spend a tenner on a loaf of bread. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than a nice loaf, but I’m just as happy buying Kingsmill at the supermarket for a pound. Unlike the French and the Italians, I don’t think the Brits are generally bothered about the quality of our bread – certainly not on a day-to-day basis.”Catherine Harvey, HR assistant, Wandsworth, London:”I work nearby and must have passed it many times. I’ve never been in but I like nice bread and pastries so maybe I’ll try it. I’m not surprised at the price though – around here, people generally have lots of money to spend.”last_img read more

1908 Superior Fruit Loaf

first_imgThis excellent recipe comes from The Modern Baker, Confectioner and Caterer, edited by John Kirkland and printed in 1908.The book was aimed at the baking trade and gave the following advice: “It is often useful to make a speciality of a fruit loaf and this should be done by making it of a superior quality and different in shape from the ordinary, but when the quality and shape are determined, no effort should be spared to keep it always alike. A very superior loaf may be made thus.”  Makes 10 large loaves For the spongeWarm water: 1.2 litres/2 pintsDried active yeast: 60g/2ozor fresh yeast: 120g/4ozSugar: 60g/2ozStrong white flour: 900g/2lb For the rest of the doughWarm milk: 1.7 litres/3 pintsWater: 550ml/1 pintStrong flour: 900g/2lbPlain flour: 1.4kg/3lbButter: 225g/8ozRaisins: 1.4kg/3lbSalt: 35g/1½ozSugar: 60g/2ozIcing sugar to dust Method1. Mix the sponge ingredients together and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.2. Combine the sponge with all the other ingredients and knead into soft dough.3. Leave it to rise for 1½ hours.4. Shape the dough and put it in large (1.5-litre/2½-pint) loaf tins. Leave it to prove for 30 minutes.5. Bake for around 45 minutes at 205?C/400?F.6. Remove from the tin as soon as you take it out of the oven. Sprinkle with icing sugar and leave to cool.last_img read more

Wallace and Gromit’s bakery adventure

first_imgThe makers of the latest Wallace and Gromit outing, A Matter of Loaf And Death, have revealed more plot details of the film, which will see the pair running a bakery called Top Bun.The storyline will revolve around the murderous Cereal Killer, who targets local bakers. While Top Bun’s business does well as the competition is killed off, Gromit worries that the pair may become victims themselves. Meanwhile, Wallace is oblivious to the threat as he has fallen in love with former star of the Bake-O-Lite advertisements, Piella Bakewell. However, he soon makes a discovery that points to the identity of the Cereal Killer, but will the truth ever be revealed?The 30-minute programme will premiere on BBC One this Christmas and was produced by Aardman Animations.last_img

Food in the news

first_imgAccording to Verdict Consulting, the price of a traditional English breakfast has fallen for the first time in a year. For a family of four, it now costs an average of £16.01 compared to £16.06 last month.Research by Mintel’s Global Products Database suggests the economic downturn has not created a ’health crunch’ when it comes to new product innovation (NPD), says the Food and Drink Federation, which commissioned the research. Mintel found that nearly 250 reformulated products were launched in the first six months of this year, similar to the same period in 2008.According to figures from, consumers living in the north east and Scotland are the least healthy in the UK, spending £153 on snacks and cakes and £403 on fruit and vegetables in the north east, compared to £124 on snacks and cakes and £523 on fruit and vegetables in the south. The baskets of 250,000 consumers who shop at Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado were analysed via their website.Food price inflation fell to its lowest level in 14 months according to the latest Nielsen Shop Price Index for the British Retail Consortium, which reported total annual inflation of 0.7% in June, from 1.3% in May. Shop price inflation was driven by food which reported annual inflation of 5.6% in June.last_img read more

Soft drinks remain buoyant in tough times

first_imgSales of soft drinks in the impulse channel have grown ahead of the grocery multiples for the first time, reserving its 3% decline last year, according to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Report, published this week.Impulse sales rose 7%, while sales in the foodservice channel also reversed their 2009 decline, up 9.4% in value to £284m. Cold hot drinks saw the biggest value rise, up 93%, which the firm said was driven by Starbucks Discoveries and Double Shot launches, and the “transformation” of Lipton Ice Tea.In the impulse sub-category, cola held the highest share at 26.4% of the market, up 4.3%. Second was glucose stimulant drinks up 19.4% to a 22.7% share, followed by fruit carbonates, up 8.9% to a 9.3% market share.Commenting on how bakery high street outlets can capitalise on the growth of the soft drinks market, Kate Fletcher, business unit director – convenience & impulse channel, said bakery retailers need to ensure they get a balanced range of products “making sure they are covering the major segment of the market”.She said a general point would be to have choice within each category, perhaps of two or three options, as well as ensuring you offer something for children, with juicy drinks key players in this market.Murray Harris, Britvic customer management director, added: “2010 was another a tough year for UK consumers, but soft drinks remained resilient. Although people were watching their pounds, they were still willing to spend a comparatively small amount on a soft drink, whether it’s at the train station on the way to work or at their local retailer on the way home from school.”The report is based on independent Nielsen and CGA market data.last_img read more

Krispy Kreme in Glamour magazine tie-up

first_imgKrispy Kreme has teamed up with popular women’s magazine Glamour to develop a limited-edition doughnut, based on Glamour’s trend predictions that the 1970s and bright colour influences will be key for Autumn/Winter 2011 fashions.The Glamour Glaze doughnut will be promoted for a six-week period (29 August – 2 October), in 45 stores and 300 Tesco cabinets, via point-of-sale material, PR and social media channels. It will be available in Strawberry Glaze, and new Orange Glaze varieties.This is not the first time the two brands have come together. A collaboration earlier this year contributed to an 8% like-for-like sales increase at Krispy Kreme. It also boosted its website traffic 110% on a like-for-like basis.A spokesperson for the popular doughnut brand said the main aim of the partnership was “to create a positive image between fashion and food, at a key time in the fashion calendar”.“The Original Glamour Glaze collection was extremely popular, resonating well with our customers and fans of Glamour magazine alike,” commented Judith Denby, Krispy Kreme UK’s chief marketing officer. “The new collection represents a fun and exciting way of celebrating fashion at a time when it is on everybody’s lips.”>>Krispy Kreme dismisses Enfield riot tweetslast_img read more

In Short

first_imgBB’s flagship to openBB’s Coffee and Muffins is due to open its 3,500sq ft flagship in the St David’s Centre in Cardiff at the end of September. MD Andrew Moyes also told British Baker its rebranded outlet in Watford, opened this spring, has seen trading performance up 35% like-for-like. The firm plans to have a further three rebranded units completed before Christmas.Online bakery gameNorthern Ireland’s Genesis Crafty has launched a free-to-play online game called ’Knead for Speed’, which helps tell the company’s story through social game play. The game features the company’s six McErlain brothers as stick men, working to bake the perfect products. See extensionGenius Foods has extended its range of gluten-free bakery products with new teacakes, fruit loaf, seeded loaf and brown and white rolls.Seals firm opens siteThe Seal Company is about to open its first production unit in the UK, in Devon, which will manufacture replacement fridge and freezer seals. The company said it has a range of seals to suit virtually all commercial appliances in use in the UK today.last_img read more

Man killed in crash on County Road 8 in Middlebury

first_img Twitter IndianaLocalNews (Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC) A man was killed in a crash in Middlebury.The collision happened around 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, on eastbound County Road 8.Investigators say Robert Heign, 58, lost control of the vehicle he was driving and struck a tree.He was taken to Elkhart General Hospital where he later died.The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating factors that led to the collision. Pinterest Pinterest Google+ Man killed in crash on County Road 8 in Middlebury Twitter Facebook WhatsApp Google+ WhatsApp Facebook By Jon Zimney – March 9, 2020 0 338 Previous articleDeadline for Michigan early voters to change their votes approachingNext articleLake Michigan water level at record high…again Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney.last_img read more

Indiana’s newest coronavirus hotspot is Elkhart County

first_imgCoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Indiana’s newest coronavirus hotspot is Elkhart County WhatsApp By Network Indiana – June 20, 2020 0 953 WhatsApp Google+ Twitter Pinterest Twitter Facebook Facebook Google+ Pinterest (Photo supplied/Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) (ELKHART, Ind.) — Indiana’s newest coronavirus hotspot is Elkhart County.Elkhart County’s coronavirus cases have doubled in three weeks. Indiana’s sixth-largest county now has the third most cases in the state. One of every 83 residents has now tested positive — only Cass County, with an outbreak which tore through the Tyson pork-processing plant in late April, has a higher rate of infections.Elkhart County Health Department director Lydia Mertz says unlike Logansport, the Elkhart County outbreak isn’t traceable to a single facility. She says too many residents let their guard down, especially over the Memorial Day weekend, and gave the virus a foothold.Cases are rising even faster in neighboring LaGrange County. Cases have doubled there in just 12 days. LaGrange is now requiring people wear masks in public. So is Saint Joseph County, to Elkhart’s west. Elkhart isn’t. Mertz says a mask requirement would create difficult questions of how to enforce it. Instead, she says she’s counting on Elkhart County residents’ commitment to do the right thing to protect their neighbors. She says the county will mount an intensive education campaign to get across the importance of wearing masks and taking other precautions. The county will launch a broadcast and Internet ad campaign, and may purchase billboards.Elkhart County commissioners asked Governor Holcomb to leave the county out of last week’s lifting of restrictions on bars and nightclubs in the rest of the state. State health commissioner Kristina Box has said the state considered extending restrictions in Elkhart and LaGrange, but decided not to. And the commissioners opted against imposing restrictions themselves, as Indianapolis and Gary have. Mertz says that’s always an option if the surge continues.The state health department is wrapping up three days of stepped-up testing in Goshen, Shipshewana, Topeka and LaGrange, with particular attention to Hispanic and Amish communities. Previous articleIndiana may become testing ground for driverless semisNext articleDeadly weekend on roads in Elkhart County Network Indianalast_img read more

Press release: Sex offender’s sentence extended for repeated child abuse

first_imgMohammed Waqar, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13, has had his prison term increased today after Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP referred his original sentence to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient.Waqar, 33, sexually assaulted the child on a number of occasions over a sustained 10 month period; he also forced the victim to watch a sexual act after showing her pornography on his phone. He showed no remorse for his actions during the trial, insisting that he was innocent.He was sentenced in December to 2 years in prison at Bradford Crown Court. He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 5 years and ordered to sign the sexual offenders register. The Court of Appeal agreed that his sentence was too lenient and increased it to 4 years in prison.Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said:“Sexual abuse is one of the most psychologically damaging things that can happen to a child. Mohammed Waqar is guilty of repeatedly and consistently abusing the victim. I’m pleased the Court of Appeal has agreed to extend his sentence.”last_img read more