Panifica bakery

Panifica bakery bread selection

I used to cross Paris to buy a loaf of bread. That was when I was more of a débutant and kept a list of bakeries that I wanted to visit, and I’d make it a point to check off as many as I could, to try their bread.

But few in Paris go farther than their local boulangerie to get their bread. Since it’s something you do almost daily, one goes to a place that’s convenient. An added bonus is that like most places in France, when the staff gets to know you, they will bend over backwards to help you. So you ask them for the darkest baked loaf of pain au levain, you’ll get it. Or they’ll rifle through the basket to pick out your baguette for you, baked just as you like it.

I’ve been part of extended conversations with clerks who will show me the different baguettes, cooked to various degrees, while I give them the oui or non – until they Goldilock’s-like pluck out just the right one. No matter how many people are waiting behind me, they accept it, because when it’s their turn, they’ll do it too.

Panifica bakery Francois Berault

You don’t need to do that at Panifica because all the breads are bien cuit (well-cooked) and the owner and head baker, François Brault, told me he doesn’t do any breads that are pas trop cuit (not well-cooked), because he doesn’t like them, and that was a sign of bad bread. I have to agree. And so do plenty of others, you’ll notice, when you walk into his bakery and see the line of people waiting to buy his marvelous breads. Most seem to live in the area, but this is one of the bakeries in Paris that’s worth crossing town for if you don’t.

Panifica bakery tartlets

I’d been meaning to go for a while, trading messages with François while I navigated the waters of l’administration, begging off a visit while tackling the mountains of paperwork that have a tendency to pile up if I don’t feed/fend it off daily. And there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that’s always standing in the way of my mission here (namely, to eat chocolate, bread, and cheese), so I finally took a breather from everything, shut my front door behind me, and did the martyr’s walk to up Montmartre, to meet him at the bakery.

Panifica bakery brioche

It was a fantastic sunny day in Paris and I was jealous of all the people eating at tables outside, overlooking the shady avenue. But they were probably jealous of me because François took me down to their kitchen where to show me where they bake the bread. He and his crew were done for the day (they start at 4am, which is a little too early for me…) but I got to feel the doughs, see the ovens, and talk about French flour and all the grains that he uses, some of which you don’t normally see in Parisian bakeries.

Panifica bakery bread baskets

All the flours and grains used in the bakery are organic. But since taste is most important, the bakery uses a very high-quality traditional French butter for their croissants and other pastries, which is because he couldn’t find an organic butter that tasted as good as the one he uses.

When we came across one of the many flats of eggs in the bakery, he said he wanted to talk to my readers about egg storage, which I often have to assuage visitor’s fears about, because the French store eggs at room temperature. François told me that was possible because they don’t wash and sanitize eggs in Europe, leaving their natural protective coating on then, which gets stripped off when they are washed. So the eggs keep just fine for weeks at room temperature. He did wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling them. “Mais, oui…” he said, as he scrubbed them clean, “Of course…”

Panifica bakery baguettes

Most bakeries in France make very little on baguettes (I’m told the profit is about 30¢ each), so he decided to just sell them for €1 each and just let everyone have a “deal” on them. Even though (like Gus), François worked in the financial world before, he decided to switch gears and roll bread dough, rather than manage the other kind of dough. Which I’d say he’s doing pretty well at.

Panifica bakery cannele

Panifica bakery lemon tart

But the focus at Panifica, and what I was there for, was the generous selections of earthy breads lined up behind the counter and in baskets.

Swedish bread

Tourte de meule is made with a high percentage of whole-wheat flour, and smaller loaves, meules au lin, have flaxseeds kneaded in, whose oil gives them loaves a softer crust. I generally prefer crusty breads but was curious and took one home and served it with tarama that night, and it was a big hit.

Panifica bakery whole grain bread

Tourte aux Alouettes (above) has whole-wheat and rye flour, as well as crunchy whole grains riddled throughout. I took a stub of that home as well, which was breakfast the next day, excellent toasted and slathered with salted butter and dark honey.

Panifica bakery Kamut bread

Compact rounds of kamut bread are made are with 100% kamut, an ancient wheat that’s not used very much in bakeries around town. But my favorite kinds of breads are those that are packed with grains. He makes two. The Norwegian (below) is a blocky loaf of spelt, rye, and whole grains, with a touch of molasses.  And smaller, perfectly square loaves, Suedois (Swedish) are made of buckwheat and sunflower seeds, which are baked on top and inside each loaf. (If you live in Paris, or you don’t have to worry about baggage allowance, the bakery sells their organic buckwheat and wheat flours by the bag. And the price is the same as supermarket flour.)

Norwegian bread

Many people are interested in low- or no-gluten breads, or breads made with alternative grains, and the François offers up a few different types. Petit épeautre bread is make with einkorn and some of the grains are toasted, to enhance their natural sweetness.

Panifica bakery gluten-free and low gluten breads

Being France, of course buckwheat is represented in Sarrazin (the loaf on the left), made of 100% buckwheat and using a buckwheat levain (natural yeast) which is gluten-free. François told me that was a very popular bread in the neighborhood, nodding his head in affirmation.

But the beauty of the breads also extends to the outside of the bakery, where I can’t imagine a better place to eat on a nice day. (Weather permitting.) The bakery has a super-fancy Swedish bread slicer that allows them to cut the breads extra thin, to make triple-layer sandwiches. Some are filled with smoked salmon, other with roasted vegetables. Focaccia sandwiches are on offer, as are quiches.

Panifica bakery focaccia sandwiches

For dessert, although I didn’t try any, because my bag was loaded up with bread (because who knows when I’ll ever be able to leave the house again…now that I’m on a book deadline), I spotted roasted fruit salads, a creamy panna cotta with rhubarb, le cheesecake, silky chocolate tartlets, and a few Kouign Amanns left after the lunchtime rush, ready to go.

Panifica bakery Paris-21

Panifica
15, Avenue Trudaine (9th)
Métro: Anvers
Tél: 01 53 20 91 18

Open daily, 7:30am to 7:30pm (Closed Saturday and Sunday)

 

 


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49 comments

  • July 18, 2016 9:21am

    Ohhh… I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, and your stories make it sound even more appealing! Here in the Netherlands the bakeries wouldn’t accept you to take time to find the perfect loaf I’m afraid – they pick them out for you and that’s that. I’m fascinated, now I want to visit Paris even more.

    • July 18, 2016 10:55am

      Book a trip immediately. You will not regret it.

    • July 18, 2016 7:38pm

      YES, just come!!! :)
      Bienvenue

  • July 18, 2016 10:56am

    That bread selection is making my mouth water. The dark breads look absolutely amazing. I would happily try them all out.

  • July 18, 2016 4:33pm

    What a lovely looking bakery! The Norwegian loaf looks perfect.

  • July 18, 2016 4:58pm

    Can’t wait to check it out. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Nancy Brismeur
    July 18, 2016 5:01pm

    I am there. If only some could be here. (Florida) Nothing like French Bread. (new York Bread isn’t bad either). Thanks!

  • Laura Rita
    July 18, 2016 5:21pm

    Just added to my list. My Paris trip in October is one big food adventure.

    • Meg
      July 18, 2016 9:24pm

      Doing the same for a month in September. Want to share research with each other?

  • Susan
    July 18, 2016 5:28pm

    A few weeks ago I asked for a description of breads other than baguettes, since I’d like to venture into new territory. So — un grand merci! Extra thanks since this bakery is in my neighborhood. One question: are the bread shapes traditional (i.e. will I find similar loaves in other bakeries in the same shapes?) or are they a matter of the baker’s choice? Merci bien!

  • Frieda Lighthouse
    July 18, 2016 5:45pm

    On our list for the next (eventual) trip to Paris! Also–made your whole wheat croissant recipe from 2013 this weekend, and they were absolutely perfect! Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Frieda Lighthouse
    July 18, 2016 5:46pm

    We’ll go there on our next (eventual) trip to Paris! Also–made your whole wheat croissant recipe from 2013 this weekend, and they were absolutely perfect! Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Amanda
    July 18, 2016 6:35pm

    These breads look great! Since M. Brault uses such a large quantity of whole flours and grains, I was wondering if you knew whether the loaves go through a multi-day process of soakers and sponges, or if it is possible to make the loaves come out well without a long pre-fermentation process? Thanks!

    • July 19, 2016 8:54am

      The key ingredient in good bread is time! Sourdough and long proofing are there for taste, upkeep and digestability. Rush it and it may look good but will be totally disapointing!

  • July 18, 2016 7:36pm

    oh my….. This must be my most ever, ever loved topic, David. And to top my happiness; only a short time ago when we were up Montmartre during the week (very rarely happens), I saw a looooong line of customers waiting and the beautifully ‘tanned’ breads – and as it was sort of lunchtime – I went in and bought baguettes… They were as good as bread gets and I was thrilled to find not a tired but a cheerful smile when I asked for ‘two baguettes, bien bronzées’ (well cooked). What a beauty they were – and now I can look at it whenever I want and get those heavenly pictures too. Thank You – you’re über-wonderful and generous.
    You’re right about the friendliness and ‘accommodation’ of our wishes. It took a bit time in my bakery but then everybody knew all about my wishes including ‘you don’t want it sliced, that’s right?!’ – I think they are trained to ALWAYS ask, even after more than eight years of our custom. They put a loaf aside when I’m in a hurry and just ask for ‘my usual’ and find it upon my return, nicely packed in a golden bag, smelling of heaven…. I just need a tartine now, with lovely butter, cheese & charcuterie!

  • July 18, 2016 8:00pm

    Yum Yum at last some bread in Paris with grains on the inside too! Let me at em!

  • Becky
    July 18, 2016 8:50pm

    Great photo!

  • July 18, 2016 9:24pm

    Beautiful bread! I order all my flour from Parma, Italy (Molino Grassi), having great delicious results. It’s well worth the price, and I can tolerate the gluten – as opposed to USA flour which seems to be subjected to Roundup (pesticide).

    • Esther
      July 19, 2016 12:19am

      It is true, good flour, milled properly is more tolerated than mass flour mills for those who have issues with gluten.

  • Olivier
    July 18, 2016 9:36pm

    J’ai l’eau a la bouche en bon français gourmand. Quel délice pour les yeux et papilles. Il faut le mettre dans le carnet des “bons endroit pour y il mange. Good luck & bon apetit!

  • July 18, 2016 9:51pm

    Wow, what a skilled artisan. So inspiring! Any tips on how to get such a crunchy crust in a home oven, I’ve never been able to achieve it. Good luck with your next book :-)

    • Jackie
      July 19, 2016 3:34am

      I have successfully used Julia Child’s method: Mastering the Art of French Cooking II (1970), pp. 53-74.

    • July 19, 2016 8:57am

      Cooking good bread in a home oven is challenging. You need high temperature and a baking stone, then steam to produce a shining crust. You’ll find instructions on internet. You also need bread flour not just AP. Good luck!

      • July 19, 2016 9:11am
        David Lebovitz

        Yes, I agree. That’s one of the reasons I don’t make my own bread: it’s very hard to get the same results at home. Still, there are people that do and they like to make their own bread. Peter Reinhart has written some great books on making bread, which you might want to check out.

        • July 19, 2016 11:49am

          thanks François and David for your replies, yes, i really should try and get a baking stone! Bonne nuit from NZ

      • Kiki
        July 19, 2016 10:38am

        merci François; ça explique tout…. J’ADORE une belle croute bien cuite!

        Et l’info concernant les oeufs était très intéressant; merci à vous and to David – en fait, je voulais remercier D. avant pour cette info. J’en revenais pas et je mets toujours encore mes o. au frigo (a long life’s habit!)

      • Jeanne
        July 20, 2016 6:27am

        Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson has a good description/method for making really good yeast and bread at home. It turns out really good. I am still working to get mine just right.

  • Constance
    July 18, 2016 10:19pm

    Delicious reading, thank you and I was so excited and gratified to read that he does Kouign Amanns. Hopefully his theory of bread baking extends to well carmelized bottoms of the KA’s.
    Will definitely try on next trip. Were just in Paris in early June and in Montmartre, sorry I missed this special bakery.

  • Esther
    July 18, 2016 11:25pm

    I want to live with you, a basket in the kitchen where I shall curl up into sleep, I will wash your dishes, be quiet as a mouse, nibble on cheese crumbs. Be forever grateful of the experience. I type, I could help you with your book. You have a most excellent life, and I look forward to your next book. If you come to Butte County to visit Dave Miller, or some of the bread folk in Chico, I offer a spot to stay in the hills.

  • July 19, 2016 1:22am

    Buckwheat contains no gluten, so wouldn’t bread made only with buckwheat be very heavy?

  • MikeT
    July 19, 2016 2:27am

    what is that wonderful butter they use? I wonder if we can get it here in the States.

  • KarenTheCondimentQueen
    July 19, 2016 4:20am

    Oh the bread in Paris! But the sandwiches are so dry and tasteless…Why do they not use some wonderful aiolis or something?

  • R. Brite
    July 19, 2016 12:30pm

    I’m one of Panifica’s lucky neighbors (just across the boulevard in the 18th). Best bread and pastries for blocks around, by far.

  • PeterCL
    July 19, 2016 8:09pm

    An amazing place, to be sure. David, next time you are in the neighborhood, our favorite place for coffee —KB— is at the (west) end of the block.

    Here’s a wonderful video (in French) of Panifica and what one person thinks of the breads. Anyone know where I can get a knife like that??

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ml85e5Yjj8

    • Kiki
      July 21, 2016 7:26am

      @ Peter; tks for pointing out that gorgeous video – made me hungry again…
      I think the knife is a bit of a ‘joke’; it looks like one of those truly giant Swiss ‘pocket’ knives (Victorinox) you see in shop windows in our lovely tourist places. And yes, since you ask, I think you can actually buy them too although I have never, up to now, seen anybody using one. And, of course, the ones I’m talking about are those with an array of blades & tools & corkscrew which obviously is not what you want….
      I would suggest you ask Mr Kaplan directly. I’m sure he will be happy to reply.

  • July 19, 2016 10:21pm

    Darn, I want that Kamut bread so bad. We can’t wait to come visit François bakery real soon. Totally not in our neighborhood, totally worth to bus ride.

  • July 20, 2016 8:59pm

    Oh Daveed, next to anything you’ve written about ice cream this has to be my favorite post. Francois is spot on about bien cuit — there just is no other choice. Depending upon the size of the loaf, I have been know to “pull out” the inner soft part of breads just so I can eat only the outer dark and crunchy crust. I shall be visiting Panifica on my next trip to Paris. Merci! (Brown potato chips are the best too!)

    • R. Brite
      July 20, 2016 9:05pm

      Suzette, wait till you try toasting a thin slice of the Norwegian loaf. It is already baked pretty dark, and you would think that toasting it would burn the dark outer crust. Au contraire, it just intensifies the flavor.

  • June2
    July 20, 2016 9:12pm

    Everyone interested in bread, including gluten-free should watch Dan Barber speak about wheat on this talk:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbdj76Og9HE

    It begins a little slowly but what he has to share is fascinating! Enjoy!

  • Athens Francophile
    July 21, 2016 4:13am

    Oh my, that bread looks amazing and makes me wish it were in my neighborhood.

    One comment on the eggs, though. As a board-certified poultry veterinarian, I can tell you the “we don’t wash off the cuticle so room temp is ok for eggs” is a complete myth. If I had one euro for every time one of my French clients tells me that, I could buy Francois’ entire stock of baguettes.

    Salmonella crosses into the eggshell within 90 seconds of being laid by the hen because the egg and her manure come out of the same hole. The only way to prevent the salmonella from multiplying to levels high enough to make you sick is to refrigerate the eggs as quickly as possible and keep them refrigerated.

    Eggshells are porous by design so that the embryo can breath. Washing or not washing doesn’t change that.

    So French eggs are yummy because they feed the hens different grains but they are best for you if you refrigerate them.

    • Kiki
      July 21, 2016 6:52am

      @Athens francophile; now I’m really confused… (and I believe you): Finally I thought I had an explanation why the French eggs are not refrigerated and now you ‘spoil the fun’ with your post… In any case, I will continue to put my ‘bio eggs’ in the fridge, I always did and will continue to do so – and gosh, I can get fabulous organic eggs here.
      Thank you for your ‘grains of wisdom’ : )

  • lucio bovolini
    July 21, 2016 8:04am

    Aroma of bakery is the best one.. I love eating cakes and pastries.. I am loving it..

  • Zada
    July 21, 2016 6:30pm

    Did I pass you on the Seattle waterfront yesterday afternoon? Striped polo shirt? Love your blog and enjoy your cookbooks. And welcome to town if in fact you’re here! (I live on Bainbridge Island and was on my way home – but welcome anyway!)

  • janice
    July 23, 2016 12:08am

    Kouign amann has become my favorite thing bar none to eat. ever. Found a place in Los Angeles that makes them and when I was in Paris this past fall I found one there too.

  • Jennifer
    July 23, 2016 10:17am

    Uniquement bien cuit? I’m planning my trip from our vacation spot in Montparnasse as I type…

    I’d love to see (or link?) a post on the profitability of bread in France. Something in that paragraph doesn’t quite make sense: 30% profit?! That’s enormous! Even the link to the baguette diagram shows 8% profit, which is great. So, I’m confused. If most bakers are making 8% profit (after costs) on something that is price-controlled (although, am I not quite remembering that M. Sarkozy changed that along with the vacation rules?), then I’m seriously considering a career change! :)

    • July 23, 2016 10:43am

      Hi Jennifer, The cost structure for a French bakery is roughly 25% ingredients 40% labor, the rest for rent, energy, accounting, banking fees, interest charge, amortization of equipment and shop improvements etc…

      Since no bakery makes baguettes only, it is somewhat arbitrary to calculate baguettes profit. Just obvious that labor is the main cost. There is more labor in baguettes than some other breads. Say 1€ baguettes, how many should you make in a day to earn a decent living. (Hint: At 1€, many many.)

  • Will
    July 24, 2016 12:54pm

    Excellent post. Nothing beats good bread. A Maison Kayser opened a few blocks from me. Now, daily baguettes. Life changing.