Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Morning at the Boulangerie

It was a fly on the wall sort of day. As we walked in the door, one of the large mixers was eating its dough (truly). A mechanical take off on the blob... but backwards? Jean Pascal did a quick hello and the baker's hand shape (back of hand to back of hand) before returning to the onerous task of peeling dough off the underside of this motor. We watched, a bit taken aback, but fascinated nonetheless, as he scooped up the heavy orange dough (for his orange and chocolate flavored fougasse) and carried it in three portions over to the alternate machine.

To get out of the way, but also because it's great fun, I took my group back to the baguette corner. There, the tallest of the bakers was hunched over preparing his boules of dough for their rise, and rolling out the dough already properly risen, laying the long ropes of sticky pale dough onto the special baguette racks, to be put into the special chilling/rising/ and convection air oven to bake for the next morning's crowd. Careful and constant repetition of a most important task. After all, bread is the staff of life, and where would the French be without their baguettes?

We then mosied over to another corner of the shop where a young stagiare was making an apple tart atop a layer of pastry cream atop puff pastry dough. Hmmmm

Then a moment's pause for a cup of coffee, before we watched Jean Pascal and his long-time employee weigh out and then perfectly form boules of lemon fougasse dough. And roll, and roll, and roll,.. under the palms and perfectly curved fingers, with just the right touch.

It's mesmerizing.