8 Most Popular Types of French Bread

As I’ve mentioned before, wine is an important part of French cuisine. Now, bread is just as important, maybe even more so. Traditionally in France, bread is consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is so essential for meals that people would hazard heavy rain, strong winds, or even flood just to visit the local boulangerie for some baguettes. But baguettes are not the only kind of bread you can find in France. Now here are eight types of French bread that have become popular around the world today.

1. Baguette

Now, who doesn’t know this world famous bread? Despite its popularity, the baguette is considered one of the simple breads because traditionally it is made of only flour, salt, yeast, and water. It is also often baked and consumed in the same day because it does not have preservatives and would go stale the next day. The baguette is closely linked to French cuisine. It is even synonymous with the term “French bread” in some countries. And it can be used to accompany almost any French dish or any kind of French cheese. Yes, it may be a simple bread but it is one of the most versatile ones out there.

2. Pain de Campagne

Pain de campagne literally means “country bread” in French. Typically, it is a large round or rectangular bread made with natural leavening, salt, water, and a mixture of white, rye, and/or whole wheat flour. It tastes a tad like the common sourdough, but less sour. This bread could be as heavy as four to twelve pounds and has a thick crust, which makes it last longer than the baguette.

3. Ficelle

Ficelle means “string” in French. It is a typical French bread and actually has the same ingredients as the baguette. The only difference between the two breads is that the baguette usually measures up to two inches in diameter while the ficelle is thinner, usually one inch in diameter. Most of the time the two have the same length but some boulangeries bake ficelles much shorter than baguettes. It is advisable to consume ficelle fresh from the oven as its crust dries up faster than the baguette because it’s much smaller in diameter.

4. Bâtard

Bâtard is made with the same dough as the baguette. Just like ficelle, its name has more to do with its shape rather than its ingredients or the process with which it is baked. You see, the word bâtard in French means “bastard”. In fact, it is called the “bastard baguette” by some. It is called that because it is considered an inferior version of a baguette. Compared to the baguette, bâtard is bigger in diameter but shorter in length. Now, the bâtard may be inferior for some strict traditionalists but some people actually prefer this to the baguette since it has a bigger diameter, which makes it perfect for those lovely turkey sandwiches.

5. Pain de mie

This type of French bread is not usually found fresh in boulangeries. It is because pain de mie is a loaf of sliced white bread, similar to the white cream breads in the U.S. Its name literally means “the interior of bread”, which suggests the absence of a hard shell or crust. It is made with flour, milk, yeast, salt, butter, and sugar. It is sweeter than most French breads and is often bought already packed. It is the most popular bread for sandwiches and can be great for making toasts.

6. Fougasse

Fougasse is a flat rectangular bread that is quite similar to the Italian bread focaccia. It is believed to have been developed centuries ago to test the temperature of stone ovens. In France, it is most often associated with the Provence region where it is believed to be a speciality. The main ingredients of fougasse are flour, milk, yeast, water, olive oil, and various herbs. Sometimes bakers include other things inside the dough such as cheese, meat, or fruits. This is done by folding the dough over the fillings. Then, the dough is shaped into a tree, a leaf, or a wheat stalk before it is put in the oven. Kind of cute, isn’t it?

7. Croissant

Now, who hasn’t heard this delicious sweet bread? Anyone who has visited a cafe knows this one. Why? Well, because croissants are the perfect bread to munch over a yummy cup of cappuccino or mocha latte, that’s why. Actually, a croissant is considered a pastry-bread hybrid. Its dough is made with yeast, milk, flour, salt, sugar, butter, water, and egg. And of course, a croissant would not be complete without its filling. Like in fougasse, fillings can be varied. The most common are chocolate, almonds, cheese, ham, and raisins. In France, though, it is often baked with almond fillings or none at all.

8. Brioche

Brioche is another sweet French bread that is fast becoming popular today. Like croissant, its dough is made with flour, milk, yeast, salt, butter, eggs, and some sugar. It is often baked in these fluted round flared tin molds and is haped by making two dough balls, with one dough smaller than the other. The smaller dough ball is placed on top of the bigger dough ball before it is glazed with egg and sprinkled with a bit of sugar. Sometimes it is baked with fruit filling or topped with pate or other meats. Absolutely delicious!

Is your favorite bread in the list? If it isn’t, what is your favorite French bread? How do you eat them? Favorite or not, French breads are some of the most delicious baked goods in the world and anyone who loves to eat should really try them.

Lobster Cobb Salad

This Lobster Cobb Salad is a good dish for people trying to stay fit. Lobster is rich in protein and essential vitamins while it’s quite low in fat. And aside from the healthy dose of protein from this excellent seafood, you also get vitamin C and fiber from the assorted greens. Moreover, avocado is not only rich in vitamins but also antioxidants. Now, what do you get from the yummy pancetta and  Ricotta cheese? Well, since pancetta is basically just bacon, you get more protein from that, of course. And Ricotta cheese is the same as other cheeses out there, it is rich in calcium and protein. Seriously, this dish is not only a feast for the eyes, but also an excellent dose of healthy living. But don’t just take my word for it. Go ahead and try this recipe out for yourself.

Serves: 4

VANILLA VINAIGRETTE

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6 oz grapeseed oil
To taste, kosher salt
To taste, freshly ground black pepper

 

SALAD

Two 1¼ -lb lobsters
As needed, Court Bouillon
12 oz mixed greens (baby romaine, Bibb lettuce, frisée)
1 zucchini, small, thinly sliced lengthwise to form ribbons
4 slices pancetta
4 Tbsp fresh ricotta
1 tsp Spice de Cosette
2 eggs, hard-boiled, cut in half
1 avocado, quartered and sliced
4 flatbread pieces
2 vanilla beans, split
2 Tbsp lemon zest

 

VANILLA VINAIGRETTE

1. Combine the vanilla bean and seeds, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Cool and reserve.

2. In a bowl, combine the vanilla syrup, vanilla extract, vinegar,and mustard. Whisk until incorporated.

3. Slowly stream in the oil while whisking continuously to form an emulsion.

4. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper; reserve.

 

SALAD

1. Poach the lobster in the Court Bouillon for 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Remove the lobster meat from the shell and divide it into 4 portions.

3. Divide the lettuce into 4 bunches and wrap with zucchini ribbon.

4. Place the pancetta on a Silpat and cover with another Silpat; place a sheet pan on top, and bake at 350°F until crisp, about 15 minutes.

5. Mix the ricotta with the Spice de Cosette. Form quenelles and place on flatbreads.

6. Place the lettuce bundles in the center of 4 large plates. Arrange the lobster around the bundles and top with egg, avocado, and flatbread. Drizzle 1½ oz Vanilla Vinaigrette over each salad. Garnish each with 1/2 vanilla bean and 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest.

 

This dish would require at least an hour to prepare so you better get all the ingredients bought and laid out to avoid turning that into two hours or more. And make sure you follow the recipe. This may just be a salad, but you still have to follow a process. Now, this scrumptious Lobster Cobb Salad would be great with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. If you ask me, I’d go with the Chardonnay. But then, some people prefer the dry, light-flavored body of Sauvignon Blanc for shellfish. To each his own, I guess. However, if you plan to serve this at a dinner party(and you want to impress guests), I think it would be better if you do a “taste test” first. Buy both bottles of wine to better judge which of the two really goes well with this salad. And invite a friend to do the taste test with you. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, after all. Bon appétit!