399px-Baguettes_-_stonesoupThe Wall Street Journal recently reported on the growing rift between the baguette makers and consumers in France. Apparently an increasing number of Frenchmen prefer a soft and chewier variant of the country’s national staple. Interestingly, the Journal‘s David Marcelis points out the baguette did not actually come into existence until the 1920s: “a byproduct of a protective labor law that prevented French bakers from working between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. That made it impossible to prepare traditional round loaves by breakfast time. Bakers had to turn to a new kind of bread, whose thin shape made it faster to prepare and bake. The baguette—French for ‘little stick’—quickly became a breakfast essential throughout France.”

“Bakers say proper baking time allows for an exchange of flavor between the crumb (the inside of the bread) and the crust, and creates the perfect balance that makes the baguette so special: a crisp, caramelized crust enveloping a soft, airy crumb,” writes Marcelis. But some bakers are rather market-conscious: They’ll give the customer what he wants, even if it is undercooked and technically wrong.

Maybe the French are just becoming more American. Is it only a matter of time before they fall in love with cookie dough?

Photo courtesy of Jules Clancy

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