Sunday, 2 December 2012


Au Petit Versailles bakery Paris

As I trudged along our local high street yesterday morning past the growing number of charity shops and bars to the last remaining grocers I was struck by the huge difference between here, and the street on which my friend lives in Paris.

 She’s also in a residential area but they still have lots of small independent shops and numerous bakers. My recent visit saw me idly sampling bread and patisseries from as many local shops as I could in a weekend!

My favourite has to be Au Petit Versailles du Marais Patisserie in rue Francois Miron.
Only in Paris do the bakers have chandeliers and elaborate painted glass tiles!

Au Petit Versailles Paris

They treat food like we treat precious jewellery and life style shops.

Customers purchasing bread in Paris

How did we as a nation get so far removed from our food when a few hours away in France they still have local bakers that produce fresh bread several times a day? 

How did we become more accustomed to buying our bread ready sliced and in a plastic bag when our European cousins still value freshly baked loaves?

French bread shop

Listening to the Radio Four food Awards today gave me hope that there are still pockets of people who value real food and are making fresh healthy options, but sadly for most of us they seem to be the exception. Sadly there isn’t anyone doing that near where I live.

So if you want an easy bread recipe that will remind you of life elsewhere, here is a recipe for French Bread.


Preparation time 5 minutes and 1 and ½ rising time
Cooking time 30 minutes

11 fl oz (1 1/3 cups) water- slightly warm
450 g (4 cups) unbleached strong white bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp dried yeast


1.     If using a bread machine put the water in first then the flour and put the salt and yeast in separate corners then put on a dough cycle.

DON’T WORRY  If you don’t have a bread maker put the flour in a bowl with the salt mix the yeast into the water and then gradually mix the water into the the flour and combine the mixture by hand until it becomes a gloopy mass.

Cover and let rise until doubled in size, this takes about 1 ½ hours.

2.     When the dough has risen or the cycle has finished remove it from the pan or bowl and put it on a lightly floured work top and knead gently for a minute or two until the air has been knocked out.
3.     Lightly grease a baking sheet and shape the dough on it and leave for about ½ until the dough has risen again.
4.     In the mean time pre-heat the oven to 190. When the dough has risen to nearly twice the size again pop in the middle of the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
5.     Remove from the oven when it is golden and hollow when you tap the bottom and let cool on a wire rack until you want to eat it.

  I let it spread rather than confine to a baguette shape.

Home made French bread. 

 It only has a few simple ingredients, with no nasty hidden preservatives so it does need eating in a day or so, unlike the supermarket packet bread that scarily seems to keep fresh for days.... I am still trying to keep Teen V on healthy immune boosting food to combat the lingering Glandular fever so this recipe is a welcome break from the wholemeal and grainy nutty breads I have been making,
 and makes delicious French toast!

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