La Mie Bretonne and the Joy of Kneading
La Mie Bretonne, this Cowansville Institution, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The artisanal bakery has become a true victim of its success: Customers are constantly rushing in for their Viennese pastries and their 25 different types of bread!
They’ve in fact just established a waiting list for their institution and restaurant clientele. This one is added to another list containing some 500 names of individuals who would love to make bread during their bakery workshops, hoping to understand why their dough refuses to rise in their homes! The arrival of a second Frenchman from Brittany, after Jean-Sébastien Béraud, co-owner of La Mie Bretonne with his love, Annie Huard-Langlois, will help to solve their qualified workforce problem, and help operate the enterprise which is running at full capacity with 9.82 employees. – Thank you Revenu Québec for this number!
Another accounting concerns their planning operation. How many breads and brioches must be prepared to provide for at least four seasonal public markets and how many for their one-time events? Because La Mie Bretonne exports: Sutton, Magog, Frelighsburg, Farnham and even Cowansville. Really? “Public markets have been, and still are, very good venues for showcasing our business, and to train ambassadors in the same way as we train those who come to our workshops,” says manager Huard-Langlois.
However, one thing we don’t need to account for is our dough’s rising time. “Unlike other bakeries where they count about 2 hours for their dough to rise, we use long fermentation processes which last 18 hours and with very little yeast,” explains Annie. And what about the yeast-sourdough debate? What does this bachelor degree recipient in Business Administration think? “Jean-Sébastien and I like both. For example, sourdough is fine for making nut bread, but not so much for grain-based bread.” And what about this new beet and apple bread? “We haven’t decided yet!”
One thing is for sure, it will be made with organic Quebec flour or flour from a reasoned agricultural approach, because our enterprise promotes ecology, local purchases, recycling, and reusing returnable take-out coffee mugs. Just by uttering words such as “stainless steel straws,” “compostable forks,” “environmental footprint,” and Annie becomes quite excited! The bakery has just convinced Brome-Missisquoi’s composting platform to accept its baking paper, bread crumbs and coffee grounds, thus reducing their waste by 300%.
Let’s go back in time to August 22, 2009. It was when the tandem just opened for business with the ambition of becoming the “village bakery.” This couple of Montreal expats, stumbled upon Peter Cowan’s town, a virgin territory for artisanal bread, with a mostly French-speaking community, and about 14,000 citizens. All the criteria in the minds of the entrepreneurs and on the business plan they almost implemented in La Malbaie before deciding to establish their kneading board in southern Quebec, on South Street.
The enterprise also has a social conscience. For the past 10 years, local artwork hangs on its walls; individuals are given the chance to pay a baguette of bread forward, to brighten up the day of needy people with a cracking, freshly baked golden treasure … with either yeast or sourdough!