I may have found the perfect winter quarantine book. This is a mechanic’s handbook to creating perfect boulangerie–croissants, brioche sucre, apple tarts, vienna rolls, and all sorts of bread loaves. Those delicious things you used to enjoy in the bakery when we all went outside. The treats you could enjoy over an afternoon coffee in the cafe with a friend. Remember all that?
If it’s any comfort, you can re-create them at home, though it will take time–but you’ve probably got that. Also get some flour. And get then get started.
But first understand that you will be an apprentice in your own kitchen. Landemaine worked with Pierre Herme and Paul Bocuse, at Lucas Carton and Le Bristol. He has since opened his own chain of Parisian bakeries an his watchwords are work, excellence and pleasure. Humble yourself and start kneading.
The book begins with the building blocks of bread–various starters and basic doughs–each one with an explanation of the ingredients and how they work together as well as some baker’s tips about shelf life, when it’s ready, and how you can use it.
After the basics, you graduate to the recipes–the twists and cuts to shape, the fillings and finishes that make them perfect. I have begun my devotion with Vienna dough, a milky and just barely sweet that is what white bread should be. It can be fashioned into baguettes, a cheese bread, a seeded bun, or speckled with dried fruit. I’m envisioning quiet breakfasts and a calm table.
I’m hoping that the recipe will become second nature but that I’ll never lose my attentiveness.