The Art of selling Bread by Weight

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Miche and baker's loaf sourdough Bellbird Bakery
Have you heard of the Baker’s Loaf?

At Bellbird, we have a special treat for you – we call it the the Baker’s Loaf. While our regular loaves come at a fixed price, the Baker’s Loaf operates a little differently.

So, what exactly is the Baker’s Loaf?

It is a medley of the leftover sourdough dough from our morning shift. When the bakers prepare the regular loaves, they weigh the dough to make sure they all turn out the same size after baking. At the end of each shaping shift, they are left with small pieces of various sourdough types. Instead of letting them go to waste, our skilled bakers craft the unique Baker’s Loaf!

Its size, shape and composition varies every day, depending on what other sourdoughs were made that day and who was around the shaping table. Some days the loaf is so small that we do not put it out for sale. It is typically much nicer when it is a decent size (keep reading for the why 👀).

Now, why is the Baker’s Loaf priced by weight?

This might seem a bit unconventional in New Zealand, but it is a fairly common practice in France. French bakeries have a longstanding history of baking large loaves and selling them by weight. Alice and Jeremy recently returned from Europe and can attest that this tradition is still alive and well in France.

Enters ‘Pain à la Coupe’

In medieval times, bakers sold bread by the loaf, much like we do today. However, because some loaves were lighter than others (either intentionally or due to ingredient variations) but sold at the same price, laws were enacted requiring bread to be sold by weight. Today, this concept is gaining momentum, with more bakeries adopting it, allowing consumers to choose the exact quantity of bread they need.

In France, this practice is known as “Pain à la Coupe“. It’s a celebration of customisation, enabling customers to get precisely the amount of bread they desire, minimising waste, and ensuring freshness.

Typically, bread that is meant to be sold by weight is baked into very large loaves. Large loaves inherently retain more moisture, meaning the bread will stay fresh for longer. The large loaves will be baked for an extended period of time, resulting in a thick crust with maximum flavour. Here’s a refresher about what to look for in a good sourdough.

Bellbird’s homage to French tradition

Our connection to French culture at Bellbird is one reason why we embrace this tradition with our daily Baker’s Loaf. It’s our way of paying homage to the rich heritage of French bakeries and the unique experience they offer.

Now, where can you find the Baker’s Loaf?

You’ll have to visit our Tannery store, and make sure to arrive early, as our Baker’s Loaf can be quite popular. On Saturdays you will also find a big Waitaha Miche!

Wait, what is a Miche?

The Miche, likely made famous by Parisian baker Poilâne, is typically an oversized loaf, usually round, made with levain (sourdough) and often a high ratio of wholewheat flour. Because of its very large size and low crust-to-crumb ratio, it keeps better than say a baguette. This excellent keeping quality was valuable back in the day when people made bread only about once a week. For centuries, French villages had communal ovens where the townsfolk would bring their dough to be baked. Apparently, to be worthy of the term Miche, a loaf should weigh between 1.5 and 5kg!

Our Waitaha Miche can be bought whole (you may want to bring a large sturdy bag for it!), halved (about the same quantity of bread as our Large Sourdoughs) or quartered. You choose!

Miche held by Emily

Vive le pain! (Long live bread! 🥖)

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