Laurent Agliatais the son and grandson of bakers, and as a young boy in Grenoble, France, he learned how to bake alongside his father. After running his own bakery at home for a few years, Laurent and his family moved to Québec in 2000, opening L’Amour du Pain bakery in Boucherville in 2002. We sat with this passionate artisan to talk about Baldwin bread—made from our beer and spent grain!
A business that brings happiness
Our meeting with Laurent was scheduled for 8:30 a.m.—when our day was just beginning and his was almost done. His workday had in fact started at 11 p.m. the night before. “I’m used to working nights,” said Laurent, who began working at his father’s bakery when he was 13. “I’ve been doing it a long time!” He told us how, in those early years, his father would take him outside and say, “You see all those people sleeping? Tomorrow morning, they will be so happy to pick up their baguette or croissant. Our business is all about bringing people happiness.” That’s when Laurent knew that this was his life’s calling, and he’s never wanted to work as anything but a baker—a profession filled with passion and happiness. As his wife likes to say, it isn’t blood that courses through Laurent’s veins—it’s flour!
Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow
When it comes to running a bakery, says Laurent, there are as many ways to make bread as there are types of bread. Every loaf comes with its own set of rules, from temperature to humidity level, type of wheat, and more. There’s no one way to do it, since every bread has its own unique personality. It’s like making wine, where two neighbouring vineyards can both create great products using different methods. “In this job,” says Laurent, “you have to ask yourself every day how you can bake bread that’s better than yesterday’s, yet not quite as good as tomorrow’s.” That’s another bit of wisdom he learned from his father. As well as all the technical aspects involved, Laurent believes that passion is a key ingredient in making bread that’s both delicious and delightful to look at.
Laurent’s work methods at L’Amour du Pain are simple: use a natural yeast (started in 2000 and “fed” every day since), 100% natural Québec flour that’s sustainably produced (Moulins de Soulanges), and a long fermentation process (24 to 48 hours) to help produce aromas as well as the honeycomb structure found in baguettes.
After many years in the business, is there still room for creativity? “Yes!” says Laurent, who creates, tests and develops projects and insists there’s never a dull day when it comes to baking. “Even though I’ve been a baker for many years, I’m still learning—and I don’t see that ending any time soon.” His bakery has been growing steadily over the last 10 years, thanks to new techniques (cooking and fermentation methods), new consumer trends (his clients are requesting more and more whole-grain breads) and experimenting with new ingredients (grains, seaweed… and spent grains!). Laurent and his team were over the moon when Boldwin knocked on the door at L’Amour du Pain with the idea of creating bread using our beer and spent grains. “Projects like that are what make our work such a pleasure!” says Laurent.
Creating Boldwin bread
To make Boldwin bread, the key challenge was replacing the water content with beer. Because the gas in beer affects the fermentation process, the bakery discovered—after much testing—that the quantity of yeast in the recipe had to be lowered, and that Boldwin rousse beer produced the best results. The spent grains were treated much like wheat bran, giving bread the its rustic quality. The bread’s humidity levels were balanced out by lowering the required liquid ingredients. After a week and a half of testing, the recipe was perfected. “When this is your profession,” says Laurent with a wink, “it’s not too great of a mystery!”
Boldwin beer and spent grain bread is now available at L’Amour du Pain bakery on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, or by special order. Customers love it so much they come in on weekends and ask for it by name!
Which bread makes this baker’s mouth water? Before answering, Laurent took a moment to say goodbye to his son, who was finishing up the night shift at the bakery. Then he turned to us and explained how he prefers to pick bread that pairs well with a meal. “And even if you have 250 types of bread on offer,” says Laurent, with a twinkle in his eye, “there’s just nothing like a good baguette.” This from a man who doesn’t go a day without taking a bite of his baguettes! In the bakery, just as in life, tradition and creativity make the perfect pairing.