APOLLONIA POILANE: Growing up, I spent most of my Wednesdays and Saturdays in the bakehouse. When I saw the wood-fired oven burning, I took it for granted that this was the way we heat up an oven.
When I started seeing the way we work through our sourdough, I thought that every bread was made that way. I learned how to count in the bakehouse. And all of those fostered my understanding of what would become my craft, my job, and, essentially, my destiny.
In 1932, my grandfather, Pierre Poilane, started his very first bakery on 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi in the heart of St. Germain des Pres. Although the fashion at the time was for whiter breads, my grandfather stuck to what his gut instinct was. He sought to making these old, traditional sourdough loaves he would’ve known as a child in Normandy.
Because, for centuries, people used to eat these country-style sourdough loaves, these big hugs of bread. And this style was counterculture. But it proved him right. After 50 years, whereas there was half a dozen bakeries in the immediate vicinity of ours, we are the only ones still standing.
My father grew up in the bakery, from one day to the next. School was over and down he was in the bakehouse, working with an old master baker to teach his craft. When my father took over in the ’70s Poilane was a burgeoning family bakery. He developed a network of restaurants and retailers. And we started shipping bread around the world. My father grew this company into an international business and tried to show the world that baking really is an essential and beautiful craft. When I was 16, my mother suggested that I start my apprenticeship.
So instead of going on holidays, I basically was working in the bakehouse at Poilane with my master baker, Felix. While I was finishing up my apprenticeship, my parents passed away in a helicopter accident.
The next day, instead of going down to the bakehouse and working with Felix, I went up to my father’s desk. And here I was, in charge of Poilane. I was 18 when I took over the family business. I had little business experience. But I also had the grooming of my father, growing up in an environment where he shared his love and passion with me daily. And that education is priceless 18 years understanding the beauty and wealth, the knowledge, the richness of my craft.
The business I took over grew into a half a dozen shops between Paris and London, baking between 3,000 and 5,000 loaves a day. For over 88 years, my grandfather, my father, and I have nurtured a very specific sourdough to create large quantities of bread in a purely artisanal, handmade way. And that is an object of pride. We have not changed the way we bake breads to grow. And that is something that sets Poilane apart.
In this class, I will be teaching you breads that we do at the bakery. You’re going to learn how to bake breads using sourdough, wheat, rye, learning how to s…
Poilâne CEO Apollonia Poilâne teaches the renowned Parisian bakery’s philosophy and time-tested techniques for baking rustic French breads.
01. Meet Your Instructor
02. Baking à la Poilâne
03. Sourdough Starter
04. Poilâne-Style Wheat Loaf: Mixing & Shaping
05. Poilâne-Style Wheat Loaf: Scoring & Baking
07. Pain de Mie
09. Savory Corn Flour Bread
10. Fresh Bread: Sourdough Wheat Tartines
11. Dry Bread: Savory Pain de Mie Pain Perdu
12. Dry Bread: Sourdough Wheat & Rye Granola
13. Stale Bread: Crouton Variations
14. Stale Bread: Caesar Salad With Flavored Brioche Croutons
15. Stale Bread: Breadcrumbs & Sourdough Wheat Pesto
16. Bread as Art: Decorating Your Loaves
17. Rye Sablés