In a nutshell: Feed all the family with the ultimate freshly-baked Poilâne sourdough loaf. Large enough to last all week so you don't need to keep rushing out to buy bread.
The famous hug-sized Poilâne signature sourdough loaf (miche) is made with just four ingredients: sourdough, stone-ground French flour, water and sea salt from Guerande. A round loaf with a thick golden crust baked in their traditional wood-fired oven with the distinctive 'P' of Poilane as a signature on top. Poilâne breads are created through a slow fermentation technique with their sourdough starter. A kneading machine is the single mechanical tool used in the creation of their breads. Their bakers perform every other meaningful gesture by hand—shaping, weighing and placing the loaves in the oven. No loaf of bread is identical from one batch to the next. But, the consistent quality of their creations is always superb and the result of authentic artisan craftsmanship.
The beauty of this traditional loaf is the way it keeps changing through its life cycle:
Stage One when freshly baked, it's light and airy and perfect for slicing. Needing little more than some decent butter with a topping of jam, Marmite or, my preferred option, anchovies.
Stage Two after a few days when it's getting a little denser, is the time for toasting or grilling thicker slices and making 'Tartines', the open-faced slices with all types of exciting sweet and savoury toppings beloved by the French.
Stage Three if there's anything left, it's just as useful and you can make fabulous croutons or breadcrumbs.
Still a groundbreaking, and deeply satisfying, loaf that's always worth seeking out.
When in Paris, I always visit the original flagship Poilâne bakery on 8 Rue de Cherche-Midi, a tiny temple celebrating their creations, and in London, we are lucky enough to have an authentic copy of this shrine at their bakery on Elizabeth Street. My weekly ritual is to buy a large Miche only available from this store in London - it lasts all week and there is rarely any left over!
Now, for those who cannot make the pilgrimage to their Paris or London stores, you can pair their breads and biscuits with our products (think terrines, anchovies, tuna, sardines, tapenades, caper dips and jams) so you can also try them at home.
Details: 1.9kg Loaf or 950g Half Loaf, suitable for freezing. Stored in a cool, dry and place either in its bag or wrapped in a cloth this loaf will keep fresh for 5 days. No additives or preservatives.
Long before the urban bread revolution and the rise of the high street bread chains came along, there was Poilâne. Created in 1932 by Pierre Poilâne, this celebrated Parisian bakery has stood the test of time by preserving the purity of its ingredients and making the highest quality sourdough breads and other baked goods in its wood-fired ovens. Pierre retired in the 1970’s and his son, Lionel, then in his mid-twenties, took over and revolutionised the family business by also selling their breads though a network of other stores and restaurants around Paris; all proudly displaying the sign “Ici, pain Poilâne”( ‘Here, Poilâne bread’) almost as a badge of honour. Quite simply, at a time when bad bread was increasingly being eaten even by the French, he was practising and preaching the sourdough gospel. His passion for bread was legendary and some of us were lucky enough to be invited into his inner sanctum above the bakery where he had amassed an enviable library of books on the subject.
Then, tragedy struck on 31st October 2002 when both Lionel, and his wife Irena, were killed when he crashed his helicopter in a thick fog into the sea off the Brittany coast. Aged eighteen, his daughter Apollonia took over and has preserved and expanded the family business globally whilst still staying true to its founding principles—making high-quality bread for all—and in creatively joining the arts of both living and eating well. Three Poilâne generations - Pierre, Lionel, and Apollonia - have followed in each other’s footsteps, each driven by the same purpose and mantra: to offer breads made from diverse grains and slow fermentation, prioritizing quality over quantity.
As Alice Waters says: “The Poilâne bakery and the Poilâne family have revolutionized the way we think about bread, and it is deeply important that we preserve and learn from their legacy.”