Answers to Your Questions

What is leaven?


What is leaven?


Natural leaven is a culture of “wild” yeasts contained in flour, frequently accompanied by other micro-organisms. It takes this culture about a week to acquire enough ferments to trigger fermentation in the final dough. Leaven gives bread a certain acidity; highly-leavened bread goes well with strong-flavored foods such as pork products, sauerkraut, certain sauces and some kinds of cheese.


What do the expressions “type 55 flour” and “type 65 flour” mean?


Bread is made with type 55 flour, which is produced by extracting 75 pounds of flour from 100 pounds of wheat. For type 65 flour, around 80 pounds of flour are produced from 100 pounds of wheat. These numbers refer to ash or mineral content after super-heating a sample of flour. The higher the number, the more cellulosic matter, the more bran is contained in the flour, and the darker the color. Some consumers prefer breads that are whole wheat or close to it; for these breads type 110 or 150 flour is used.


What is the “poolish” method for making bread or baguettes?


Bread made the “poolish” way is based on a mixture of equal parts water and flour to which a modicum of yeast is added. The blend is allowed to ferment for several hours before it is incorporated into the final dough. This procedure originated in Poland and was imported by Viennese workers who came to France at the end of the nineteenth century.

How does a “baguette in the French tradition” differ from industrial baguettes?


Baguettes “in the French tradition” made by the methods described in the Bread Decree are totally different products from industrial baguettes. The Retrodor Baguette, for example, is made without additives or “improvers.” After a protracted first fermentation, giving it several hours to rise and mature, the dough generates a bouquet of aromas and a panoply of tastes. It is never frozen during the production process. In other words, the Retrodor Baguette, respecting the French tradition, is just about the opposite of an industrial product.

How long will a baguette stay fresh?


It should be sold while it is still “singing,” straight from the oven. A baguette made according to the specifications of the Bread Decree should be optimally fresh for four hours.

 

What is the best way to use and store a baguette?


It should be cut at the last minute, with a long, thin, serrated knife. To be stored, it should be wrapped in a cloth, protected from the air, in a cool place.


Are baguettes fattening?


No! There are fewer than 250 calories in 100 grams. Bread not only satisfies hunger, it is also one of the foods best able to meet our daily energy needs. For more information on the health benefits of bread, see the section “Bread Is Good for Your Health” on this site.

How can good food be accompanied by bad bread?


This is an embarrassing paradox that even a country as passionate about gastronomy as France continues to tolerate. We urge diners to protest—politely but firmly—when their sumptuous meals and costly wines are served with breads that are barely edible. And we exhort food critics and writers of restaurant guides to include an evaluation of bread in their ratings.

**Where can I find a baguette Retrodor?

**See the list of bakers on this site.