French Breads for Your own Baking
The more common types of bread that you might find in French bakers are:
Baguette. In France, a true baguette must weigh 320 grams and have seven cuts along the top. Most people would call any bread that is made from a lean dough that is shaped into a long stick about 5cm in diameter and about 60cm long, a baguette.
Ficelle bread is similar to a baguette but although it is about the same length it is noticeably thinner. Ficelle means string in French.
Gros pain is a large family sized type of baguette, often sold by weight.
Croissants are made from a buttery, flaky pastry and are shaped like a crescent.
Boule bread is available in different sizes. It is a traditionally shaped French loaf that looks like a squashed ball. Boule means ball in French.
Pain de campagne (country bread) is typically a large round loaf with a thick crust. The dough is allowed to ferment for several hours, which lets, natural bacteria and yeast grow. It is then rounded and placed into a banneton (linen-lined basket). After the dough has risen, it is slid into an oven and baked at about 450 F (240 C) for around an hour.
Pain viennois is shaped like a baguette but the crust is softer, the texture finer and the taste sweeter. It is glazed with milk and sugar before baking.
Pain ordinaire is sometimes referred to as peasant bread but it simply means ordinary bread. It’s easy to prepare and is really just table bread – being found in a basket on tables at meal times.
Pain perdu. This is perhaps not a true type of French bread. It’s French toast which can be made with any type of bread and eggs.
Pain complet is made from wholemeal.
It is made with a mixture of white bread flour and whole wheat flour.
Pain au froment is made from wheat flour. It could be 100% or might be “Froment 75%”, in which case the remaining 25% might be rye or spellt.
Pain pavé. Pavé means cobblestone in French, and that is what this type of bread looks like. It is usually based on a rye dough starter.
Pain de mie is sandwich bread. It is the sort of sliced loaf that is wrapped in a sealed bag and sold in supermarkets.
Pain Poilâne. Lionel Poilâne was a very famous Parisian baker. He re-introduced bread made with stone-ground flour, sea salt from Guérande and baked in a wood-fired oven.