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Baguette de tradition: what is it and where?

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Host's Note: I have split these off from the now deleted PLAN for the baguette de tradition tasting topic so as not to lose Ptipois' contributions to the discussion of what constitutes a baguette de tradition.

Unfortunately I will not be with you this time; I have to attend the Européennes du Goût festival in Aurillac and will linger a bit in Auvergne after that. I will probably not be back until the 14th of 15th of July. If this could be a little later... (Sorry for being demanding but I'd really love to be there!)

You cannot go wrong with boulangers like Kayser, Le Boulanger de Monge, Poujauran (in restaurants), etc. In any case make sure you get "baguette de tradition française" or "baguette tradition", both types of bread being regulated by a law decree (décret Balladur, September 1993). Not all bakers make this baguette, but when they do they have to mention it clearly, and its fabrication will always be done according to the same rules — with of course the many variations brought by each different artisan.

Tto make a long story short, Baguette de tradition française is a revived version of traditional French baguette, which had almost disappeared between the 1950s and the early 90s. During the 80s, the baguette situation in France had become very dire indeed, so thanks to the efforts of the Syndicat national de la boulangerie the government was motivated to edict a law defining "pain de tradition" and "baguette de tradition". Here are the criteria:

- The legal denominations are: "pain (or baguette) de tradition française", "pain traditionnel de France", "pain traditionnel français" or any denomination containing those terms.

- Bread dough has to be mixed, kneaded, leavened, shaped and baked on the premises.

- The bread, whatever its shape, should never be frozen at any point and should contain no additives (accepted additives, in small quantities, are soybean flour (never more than 0,5%), fava bean flour (never more than 2%), wheat malt flour (never more than 0,3%). The dough should only be composed of wheat flours suitable for bread-making, drinkable water and kitchen salt.

- Leavening should be achieved through the exclusive use of natural bread yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).

As long as those conditions are met, it is up to the baker to determine which type of leavening he will adopt: poolish (a liquid starter made a few hours beforehand), direct use of yeast, or levain (sourdough). The shape of the bread is also up to him.

Edited by John Talbott only to add Host's Note and link.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

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Was I the only one who thought Alexandre Planchais' incredible baguette (rated 8) was far above the lot?

It is a type of crisp and airy, slightly sourish bread that one used to find in the Western regions of France back in the 60s, and which I thought had completely disappeared since. I was desperate to find that bread again and I was amazed to find that it still existed (and in Paris too).

I chose this one because, strictly speaking, it is the real traditional baguette. However delicious they are, "baguettes de tradition française" are now made according to contemporary criteria and do not reproduce the "old" taste and texture. They are rather a modern interpretation of what good bread should be like. Which doesn't make them any less good, but if you want to have an idea of what country baguette used to taste like before the days of industrialized bakery, this is what you shoudl try.

Edited by John Talbott only to add link.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

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This week’s Figaroscope’s Colette Monsat et al, did a rating of the best baguettes a la tradition:

1.Bazin, 12th

2. Colin, 2nd

3. Julien, 1st

Secco, 7th

5. Duchene, 8th

Dupuy, 9th

Desgranges, 16th

8. Connan,17th

9. Delmontel, 9th

10. Martin,4th

11. Bon Panneton, 15th

Delices de Sevres, 7th

13. Duc de la Chapelle, 18th

Bechu, 16th

15. Maeder, 17th

Mulot, 6th

17. Artisan du Pain, 8th

Manac’h, 9th

19. Vandermeersch, 12th

20. Panetier, 2nd.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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