April 26, 2011

Say Yum: Paul Preps to Open

Warm loaves in the oven
As you may know, Deacon recently spent a week in the land of bread - we mean France - and ate his way through the country's manifold loaves in a very literal sense. While we were there, we spotted numerous airport patrons noshing on baguettes from a bakery called PAUL and thought to ourselves "wouldn't we die if one was in DC"?

Creating a bread "key"
Which is why we were wriggling with joy (be careful, our tail can be a weapon) when we heard that they were opening their U.S. flagship in D.C. this May. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue just near the Archives metro stop, the bakery will offer Paul's signature fresh-baked loaves daily as well as an array of coffees, teas, and traditional French pastries including macaroons and croissants. YUM. Founded in the late 1889, the bakery is still owned by the grandson of the original owner and today boasts more than 500 shops worldwide, including another US location in Miami.
Letting the dough rise
We spent an exciting afternoon last week over at the yet-to-open bakery (the official date is May 2) learning from the masters - Maxime Holder, Président Directeur Général, Groupe PAUL (President & CEO, Groupe PAUL) and David Dequeker, Chef Boulanger et Patissier, Groupe PAUL (Chief Baker & Pastry Chef for Groupe PAUL). 
Paul uses a high concentration of water in their dough
David taught us the basic process of making the dough and shaping it into traditional loaves and rounded shapes. Let us tell you - it's HARD. No wonder David had such fantastic arm muscles - it takes work to turn your sticky ball of flour and water into a smooth, puffy dough perfect for baking. Maxime assured us that the key to great bread is a combination of ingredients, mixing, and rising time, which all come together to create perfectly crisp crusts with an airy inside full of irregular "holes." He said that he can tell when a baker cuts corners - the interior of the bread is a dead giveaway. We also learned how to "mark" our bread, partly a stylistic addition and also to differentiate the different types of bread as well as to let the steam escape during baking.
David (left) and Maxime (right), talk about the process
We explored the bakery (which has an ample cafe space) while our bread baked in massive high-tech ovens. When the bread came out of the oven, perfectly browned and oh-so-deliciously warm, we couldn't wait to get home and sample. Let us tell you - this will be a dangerously good addition to DC. 
Deacon author McLean scoring her bread
Sample for yourself, starting May 2. A Georgetown outpost is scheduled to open in August. 
*All images courtesy of Paul Bakery

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