There aren’t many breads like Poilâne: brown, dense and chewy, with a dark burnt crust full of flavour – almost certainly best toasted. And there certainly aren’t many breads as famous as Poilâne. It’s flown all over the world (they have even built a bakery near the airport to meet the demand), and with a bakery and shop now in London, which distributes to exclusive London delis, the Poilâne phenomenon is international. It’s still run by the Poilâne family, who started the business in the 1930s, and the philosophy behind the success is teaming traditional recipes with modern marketing – what the late Lionel Poilâne liked to call his ‘retro-innovation’. If you’re already a fan of his famous bread, it is certainly worth making the pilgrimage to the original shop, decked out in wood, with rows of the flour-powdered dome-shaped loaves served in quarters, halves or wholes by a dozen ladies in white pinafores.