Indisputably the best bakery in Paris (read, in the world),
Poilâne has kept its top-notch reputation since it opened in the
1930s, and has stayed in the same family ever since.
Third-generation baker Apollonia Poilâne was handed this recipe
from her father, who probably received it from his father before
him. "This sandwich loaf has a fine crumb and a slightly sweet
flavour from the addition of milk, and it slices cleanly. The bread
is good with savoury fillings, but I love it spread with
chocolate," Apollonia says.
Makes one 23 x 13cm loaf
- 294g bread flour
- 98g plain flour, plus more as needed
- 13g granulated sugar
- 5g active dry yeast
- 8g fine sea salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
- 236ml lukewarm whole milk
- 3 scant tbsp lukewarm water
- 42g unsalted butter, softened
- Neutral oil, such as rapeseed, for the pan
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment,
combine the flours, sugar, and yeast. Mix in the salt and pepper.
Gradually add the milk and water and knead until a dough forms,
about one minute.
- Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, waiting until it's
almost completely blended before adding the next, until all the
butter is mixed in and the dough is elastic and sticky, about three
- Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a
warm (preferably 22°C to 25°C), draft-free place until it is almost
doubled in size, two to three hours.
- Oil a 23 x 13cm loaf pan. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn
the dough out onto the surface and briefly knead it gently to press
out any large bubbles, being careful not to deflate the dough too
much. Gently stretch two opposite sides of the dough and fold them
into the centre. Stretch and fold the remaining opposing sides of
the dough to form a ball. Shape the dough into a log about the
length of the pan and transfer it to the pan seam side down,
tucking the ends underneath if necessary to create a smooth, even
surface. Oil enough plastic wrap to cover the dough and cover the
pan with it, oil side down.
- Let it rest in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has
risen to just about 1-2cm from the top of the pan. This could take
anything from 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours, depending on the temperature
where it is rising, so keep an eye on it.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the damp tea towel and wrap
the pan tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil, oiling the part
of the foil that will be in contact with the dough. (Be sure the
short ends of the pan are well wrapped, too, or some dough might
escape during baking.) Bake for 35 minutes.
- Carefully remove the foil, return the bread to the oven, and
bake until the top is light brown, 10 to 15 minutes more; the
centre of the loaf should register between 88°C and 93°C on an
- Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert the
bread onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.