Friday, March 28, 2014

L’association Salut Les Co-Pains

When you're invited to work alongside a French baker, you don't waste a moment—you jump at the opportunity. That's what we did when friend and baker Didier asked if we wanted to join him for a day at a small wood-fired baking space in a building owned by the Marie (city) of Montreuil just ouside the Paris City Limits. He and friends form L'association Salut Les Co-Pains, a small group of passionate bakers and want-to-be bakers. It's a unique group because while the French have a strong association with bread, most visit local boulangeries every day (sometimes several times a day). The day was sunny, the "laboratory" was in a brightly lit room in a building next to a great park, and we had a blast mixing, proofing and (finally) baking two kinds of breads in a wood-fired oven.


Whole grain breads (some with dried fruit) were sold to neighbors from friends a make-shift stand near the oven which was next to a busy park.

Young men and women spent hours and hours playing ball (and other games) in the park, getting plenty of exercise away from their computers or keyboards.

View from the baking space to the outside oven...

About the size of Tree-Top Baking, the space is compact and just right for small production.

The oven

Didier loads the oven with wood


and grows

We'll be baking in a couple of hours.

Love those embers

Burning down — waiting for the dome to turn white hot.

Organic Spelt (left) and Rye flours come in 25 kilo bags...a bit heavier than our 22.5 kg (50 pound) bags.

Sourdough starter

scaling water and flours

mixing begins


Coming together

We added dried fruit — mango, apple, cranberry — and walnuts to one dough.

Checking the temperature

Didier (left) and Larry cut veggies for pizza lunch and association member Diana


pizza dough

lots of veggies

into the oven

out of the oven


The meal ended with an apple tart...

Larry scales loaves



The oven's hot enough, ashes are raked out and we're ready to start.

White hot!

Scoring the loaves

Into the oven

Cleaning the baskets


Out of the oven


With cereals

Readying the sales area.

So very French

Waiting on a customer

Neighbors visit and buy