Food, Home & Lifestyle

Poilâne-Style Wheat Loaf: Mixing & Shaping

Apollonia Poilâne

Lesson time 18:49 min

Using the sourdough starter made in the previous lesson, Apollonia shares the secrets to mastering Poilâne’s crown jewel—its world-famous country-style wheat loaf—from mixing to proofing and shaping.

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Topics include: Mixing, Kneading & First RIse · Shaping & Second Rise


[MUSIC PLAYING] APOLLONIA POILANE (VOICEOVER): In the 1930s, St. Germain des Pres was an up-and-coming neighborhood. There was a bakery here since the French Revolution. And my grandfather, when he started, had a lot of competition. At the time, the Parisians were favoring whiter breads, typically the baguette. To distinguish himself from his competition, my grandfather baked wheat sourdough loafs. In baking, these big hugs of breads, my grandfather found his audience. This neighborhood was filled with artists and craftsmen that could barely pay for their rent. And so they would get some sourdough and it would keep. And that made a world of difference for them. Because smaller and whiter breads keep less long. And that's what set off my grandfather's success. Yeast is faster. It's instant. It doesn't call for any maintenance. The beauty of sourdough is that it has a distinctive flavor. It keeps your bread longer. It gives it a more specific aromatic signature. But it's a lot of work. And in choosing a sourdough method, my grandfather made a choice that was harder, but just so much more rewarding, because it had a story. It has a flavor. The recipe that we do today at Poilane is the same as we did when my grandfather started. So in this chapter, I am baking an at-home version of the bread we do at the bakery. The recipe that I'm gonna guide you through is one that reproduces some of the key gestures, but also some of the key qualities of my bread. It's got a thick crust, a dense crumb. The air bubbles are rather small and very well spread out. And those are the qualities we're going to look for in the final loaf. So while this is one of the hardest recipes in the curriculum, do not be deterred by it. You can start or finish by this recipe. Ultimately, it's about building your confidence and your library of gestures. So in this recipe, we are going to use the sourdough starter, the yeast, sea salt. We have wholegrain flour. We have all-purpose flour. And we have water. In my at-home methodology, I have used two different types of flour to recreate the flour I use at the bakery. Now, the difference between the two is have much of the grain do we extract? In the all-purpose flour, you have less of the outer envelopes. And the whole grain, it's the whole grain that's ground. If you have that option, make sure that your flour is stone ground. When you stone grind flour, it tends to keep the natural oils that are in the flour. The other methodology heats up the grain. The oils come out. And the flour is drier. And this throws off, a little bit, the equilibrium. So the first step is preparing the yeast. I use active dry yeast here to boost the starter. I'm mixing the water to activate the yeast. After a couple of minutes, if you mix with a fork, you'll see these little air bubbles, showing that it's slowly activating. I know that sourdough is methodology that tends to scare people. And I thought that it would be useful to star...

About the Instructor

As a third-generation baker and CEO of the renowned Parisian bakery Poilâne, Apollonia Poilâne keeps time-honored traditions alive with every loaf. Now she’s sharing the joy of making bread from scratch with her recipes and hands-on demonstrations. Learn how to make your own starter and a variety of French breads, including rustic wheat, rye, and brioche. Taste, smell, and feel your way to fresh, warm bread at home.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Apollonia Poilâne

Poilâne CEO Apollonia Poilâne teaches the renowned Parisian bakery’s philosophy and time-tested techniques for baking rustic French breads.

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