In the tiny village of Ojochal, Costa Rica, the roads are all made of dirt and you require a four wheel drive to access some of the more remote houses. Somehow, thought, it has become a centre of culinary delights with two really good restaurants and, among other things, an excellent bakery – Panaderis del Frances – run by a Frenchman named Frank.
For 25 years, Frank has lived and worked in Ojochal, baking French style bread – baguettes, boules, batards, crusty loaves and more including his lovely coconut muffins. Although he does not have access to good flour (he is forced to use the same rubbish white flour that everyone else has) he bakes delicious bread because he slow-ferments his dough, uses a poolish (a proportion of the dough is prepared in advance and so it adds flavour and texture), and highly hydrates the dough so it is flavoursome and chewy.
Without a doubt it was a great bread high light in a country where bread is not the highlight!
If you would like to learn more about a poolish – what it is, how to use it and why it makes proper French bread taste good, come and take the French bread class with us!