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Quick Guide to
French Bread

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chef thierry bread

“Man shall not live by bread alone…” but in France, apparently they do, and certainly, a number of European countries share the same love for this simple, yet nourishing loaf.

In France, often dubbed the Capital of Bread, bread-making is not just a commercial venture but an art in itself, deeply steeped in tradition and culinary history with actual laws regulated by the French Government.

The lack of bread for the poor was said to be one of the many reasons that contributed to the French Revolution, fuelling dissatisfaction and anger towards the monarchy back then. Stemming from this event, the post-Revolution government ruled in 1793 that “There will no longer be a bread of wheat for the rich and a bread of bran for the poor. All bakers will be held, under the penalty of imprisonment, to make only one type of bread: The Bread of Equality.”

Based on various laws on making bread over the last century, the 1993 le Décret Pain French decree states that traditional French bread must be made only from four main ingredients - good quality water, salt, a rising agent and wheat flour containing no more than 2.8% (in total weight) of bean, soya or malted wheat flours.

Probably one of the most recognisable French breads in the world is the long, thin French baguette. There are numerous stories detailing the origin of the French baguette, one of them claiming that it was Napoleon himself who ordered the bread to be specially fashioned into longer loaves so that his soldiers could easily fit them into a special pocket of their uniform! Made from basic lean dough with a crisp crust and slightly chewy inside, the traditional French baguette is about 65cm long and often used for sandwiches.

Among the other common types of French breads are:

French BreadFrench Bread


This is looks very much like the baguette, except that it is much longer and wider, and has a softer crust. The texture inside is more bread-like and this version is more commonly used for toast, garlic bread or bruschetta.

Ficelle

Ficelle

In English, this is translated as ‘string’ and as the name suggests, it is much skinnier than the baguette and essentially another offshoot of the same bread. Made from the same type of dough, it has a chewy interior and is crusty on the outside.  image source

 

croissant

Croissant

Named after its crescent shape, the buttery and flaky bread is made from multi-layered yeast-leavened dough, slathered with butter in between. The texture is more like puff pastry, obtained through a process of folding and rolling butter into the dough several times called lamination.

brioche

Brioche

A cross between pastry and bread, the soft and buttery brioche has a high content eggs and butter. The velvety dough and rich flavour resemble that of a cake, but with a tender and crumb texture like bread.

fougasse

Fougasse

What the Italians know as focaccia is what the French call fougasse. Usually shaped like a leaf and garnished with fresh herbs, the texture is spongy and light. The bread itself is rich in flavour and more often than not, served alongside dips as a starter.

pain de campagnePain de Campagne


This is French country bread made with a sourdough starter. Shaped like a rustic country loaf, it also contains a bit of rye and whole wheat with a subtle sour edge to the taste. Thick and crusty on the outside, the French version is denser and more chewy on the inside compared to other types of sourdough.

pain au son

Pain au son

A heavy and dense bread that contains at least 25% bran, this nutritious bread is high in fibre and sometimes topped with bran or oats.

boule de pain

Boule de Pain

This rustic round loaf is shaped like a ball with a crust on the outside, and nice and soft on the inside. Proofed inside a round basket, traditionally this bread is made out of just four basic ingredients: water, yeast, flour and salt. It goes well with olive oil or with sliced meats and cheese.

Feeling hungry already? The best part is, you don’t have to travel all the way to France to enjoy these wonderful breads. They are all easily available locally, or even better, you can learn how to make your own French bread under the tutelage of world-acclaimed chefs at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu. Recognised as the top culinary arts institute in Malaysia, the cooking school has a short immersive course offering a Basic Bread Baking Certificate which teaches basic boulangerie skills, and you can go on to learn about managing your own bakery as an entrepreneur by taking up the Diplôme de Boulangerie programme.

Once you have the passport to the world of Le Cordon Bleu, you might even want to consider going further into the world of pastry and take up a Diplôme De Pâtisserie which consists of three certificates – Basic, Intermediate and Superior Pâtisserie. Regardless whether you intend to start a business or just bake at home, know that you will be well-prepared and never have to say “Give us this day our daily bread” again! 

 

 

Testimonials

  • Khoo Win Nee--2

    Khoo Win Nee (Demo Baker at Champor Champor)

    Le Cordon Bleu has given me a good understanding of the workings and the chemistry behind French bread baking. Not only it demands high skills, but as well scrupulous attention to time. I was taught professionally by a masterbaker to become a skilled boulangère.

    Khoo Win Nee- Diplôme de Boulangerie
  • freya_lepetitparis_2

    Freya Yen Fei Chun (Founder of Le Petit Paris)

    Studying at Le Cordon Bleu exposed me to the world of French baking. I loved every minute of it, it's a world on its own. Until today, after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu. I am still learning but I am ever grateful to my chef instructor, who has guided me and laid the foundation to the world of sourdough. It gave me the confidence to venture into the Boulangerie world, to create my own signature and to live my dream.

    Freya Yen Fei Chun- Diplôme de Boulangerie
  • FOTO FLORENCIA(1)2

    Florencia Gladys (Founder of le gout patisserie)

    Graduated from Le Cordon Bleu has made me not only to love, but also to be passionate, confident and to be consistent with my culinary journey. The chefs has taught me how to work with ethics. Recipes & theories given has led me to be more creative & innovative.

    Florencia Gladys - Diplôme de Pâtisserie
  • janice_testi

    Janice Siew (Proprietor of Petiteserie Desserts)

    Graduating fromLe Cordon Bleu gave me the confidence and skills I needed to pursue my dream to have my own bakery. My brand, Petiteserie Desserts was established 3 months upon graduating and I have never looked back.

    Janice Siew - Diplôme de Commis Pâtissier
  • nikom_testi

    Nikom Uatthong (Proprietor of KomPassion and K2 Restaurant)

    You are never too old to learn. Joining Le Cordon Bleu after being a self-taught Thai Chef for many years was the best decision of my life. With dedicated lecturers and staff, Le Cordon Bleu had provided me the foundation of French cooking techniques that enables me to expand my creativity beyond Asian cooking.

    Nikom Uatthong - Diplôme de Commis Cusinier
  • brian_testi

    Abang Brian (Chef/ Owner of Young Chefs Academy Malaysia,TV Host, Cookbook Author)

    There is only one way- the Le Cordon Bleu way,a mantra that has been ingrained in me through my years of training with Le Cordon Bleu which has made me the educator I am today; One who does not compromise when it comes to respecting ingredients and food as I share the joy and value of cooking with kids all around Malaysia.

    Abang Brian - Diplôme de Commis Cusinier & Diplôme de Commis Pâtissier
  • Ryan Boey_alumni_square

    Ryan Boey (Junior Sous Chef at Entier French Dining)

    Completing the 9 months Diplôme de Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia was definitely a gateway to the world of culinary, like a baby in a candy shop. I will always be humbled and grateful for the experience learning classical French techniques from great chefs while working with varieties of high quality ingredients produced locally and international. Therefore, the skills you learn at Le Cordon Bleu will definitely prepare you to play with the ‘bigger boys’ in the culinary world.

    Ryan Boey - Diplôme de Cuisine
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    Amelia Ng

    Champion- 2017 Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition in Frankfurt, Germany

    After joining Le Cordon Bleu there is no looking for me in the food industry. I was able to refine my cooking techniques and that gave me a great head star into the working world as a chef. This is because Le Cordon Bleu does not only retain its classical cooking techniques but also introduces students to cutting edge culinary techniques that are used in the industry today. For that, I am proud to be a part of the Le Cordon Bleu alumni.

    Amelia Ng Mei Vern - Grand Diplôme
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