Reminiscing about the sad state of bread in the US, the Boulangerie Frederic Boyer in Sarrians near Avignon came to my mind just the other day. What a stark contrast! You wonder what industrialization of the food supply has done to creativity, taste and the general well being including all that plastic!
Frederic bakes traditional bread day after day in an ancient wood-fired oven dating back to 1713. Now, in order to test the temperature of the oven, he first bakes the Tourton de Baucaire (see photo above). He doesn’t own a thermometer, doesn’t need to. Once the Tourton test is satisfactory, he puts the other traditional pieces of bread in the oven, the ones without the space in the middle.
I asked Frederic if the correct name is Baucaire or Beaucaire? Both are in use for the bread. Beaucaire near Tarascon on the Rhône used to be written Baucaire, I was told, that’s where this bread originated.
Frederic’s Tourton de Baucaire has become so popular in the region that he bakes a fairly large quantity. It’s normally sold out by 10 in the morning. His main specialty is the Pain de Baucaire, which is a deft country bread, larger and without the opening in the middle. Tastes the same as the Tourton, firm texture like a San Francisco sourdough, but without the yeast taste.
So, if you happen to visit the Southern Rhône wine country, stop by early in Sarrians and buy a Tourton de Baucaire. It’s great for in between wine tastings. Or to accompany a typical Provençal lunch. Wonderful with a Tapenade or Anchoiade and some virgin olive oil. Un Pain au Feu de Bois délicieuse!