Our Flour

What makes our bread so distinctively good? We owe most of the credit to the artisan bakers who hand roll and shape loaves, rolls, baguettes, and flutes in what is truly a time-honored process. However, our bread also benefits greatly from using only the highest quality ingredients. Our flour is certainly a key component, determining the structure of the bread from the crust to the crumb. That’s why at Le Pain Quotidien, we use a unique proprietary blend of flour painstakingly developed to produce a bread with a wonderful aroma, complex flavors, and nutritional value, too.

Our founder Alain Coumont spent two years with King Arthur to create this blend for our breads. It is what is known in the business as a “high extraction flour.” Extraction is the rate at which the kernel of wheat ends up in the bag of flour.  Whole wheat flour, for instance, typically has an extraction rate of 100%, meaning that all of the wheat kernel (the bran, germ and endosperm) are milled and go into the bag of flour.  White flour, which is mostly endosperm, has an extraction rate of about 75%.  Our flour falls between the two, with an extraction rate of about 90%.

The inclusion of a high percentage of the wheat bran gives the flour its color and rich aroma and flavor.  It also provides a good amount of dietary fiber.  The wheat germ, most often removed in the milling process, is left intact and ground during the milling process releasing its flavorful, beneficial oils into the flour.  These oils not only contribute body to the flour, and a richness to the finished loaves, but also act as a natural preservative giving our breads superior keeping qualities. The germ is also a good source of vitamin E.

Our flour provides much of the nutritional value of whole wheat flour while retaining the pleasant, mellow eating characteristics of breads made with white flour. The nutritional value of the bread is improved even more by the fact that we leaven our big breads slowly with a levain.  Breads made with levain (as opposed to those made with commercial yeast) are easier to digest and their nutrients are more available to the body.

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Homemade Almond Milk
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If you’re an almond milk drinker, have you ever considered making your own? Homemade almond milk is not only very simple to make, it’s also so creamy and delicious that you’ll never want to buy it from the store again! If better flavor isn’t convincing enough, making your own almond milk means skipping all of the additives commonly found in store-bought versions.

The ingredients are as simple as almonds, filtered water and a little bit of sweetener of your choice. We suggest using agave nectar or honey as well as a touch of vanilla extract for flavoring. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even add some raw cacao powder for a chocolately taste or a bit of cinnamon. Get creative!

The key to making almond milk at home is using a powerful blender, like a Vitamix. If you think yours isn’t up to the task, you may want to increase the blending time a little bit to ensure that the almonds are ground as finely as possible.

Before getting started, make sure that you have a good strainer as well as some cheese cloth on hand. You can even find nut milk bags at a kitchen store for this very purpose! The almonds need to soak overnight, so it’s a good idea to plan for that. While it’s possible to get away soaking them for only a few hours, you’ll get a creamier milk by soaking them for at least 8 hours.

Instructions:

  1. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover them completely with water. Soak them uncovered overnight.
  2. Drain the almonds in a strainer and rinse them thoroughly with cool water.
  3. Combine the soaked almonds and 3 cups of filtered water in a blender.
  4. Blend the mixture on your blender’s highest speed for about 1 minute, or until completely blended. The mixture will take on a milky, opaque appearance. You may see some fine almond bits in there still, but these will get filtered out.
  5. Line a strainer with a cheese cloth and place it over a medium sized bowl. Pour the mixture slowly through the strainer.
  6. Once the strainer begins to fill up, lift the cheese cloth and gather the edges together to squeeze out the liquid. Gently coax out the milk until you’re left with a moist paste in the cheese cloth. Be patient and take it slow – you don’t want any of that almond meal to escape! This will also ensure that you don’t break through the cheese cloth. Once all the liquid is released, set the almond meal aside.
  7. You should be left with about 3 cups of creamy almond milk. Mix in the pinch of salt, the vanilla and your choice of sweetener. You can even add a bit of cinnamon or raw cacao powder for more flavor.
  8. Store your almond milk in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

Chef’s Note: Keep that leftover almond meal! You can use it as a flour substitute in your baked goods, or even as a thickening agent in soups. To do so, simply spread out the almond meal on a baking pan and place in a low oven (200˚F) for about 2 hours to draw out the extra moisture.

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How to Store Our Bread

Because we use a traditional process to create our breads, they may have a shorter shelf life than the commercial breads you’re accustomed to consuming. This is because most commercial breads are made using preservatives that extend the life of the loaf. We leave out additives when we make our bread to achieve a better flavor and create an overall healthier product for our customers.

Our Bread Storage Suggestions:

  • If it’s crusty (like baguette, wheat, rye, or five grain) keep the bread in something that will breathe—a paper bag, a towel, a bread box—at room temperature.
  • If it’s soft (like brioche), keep the bread in plastic, also at room temperature.
  • Bread should never be stored in the refrigerator; it’s the perfect temperature range to make the bread stale quickly.
  • For long-term storage, our breads can be frozen very successfully.

TIP:
To reheat crusty bread that has become dry, brush the crust with water and place it directly in an oven for a few minutes until the bread is crisp on the outside and warm on the inside. Have any bread storage tricks that we didn’t mention? Share with us! We love talking bread.

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