Ask a pro – Take 1 with Laura, the Baker

At Lisbon Cooking Academy we believe the key to become a good professional in your own field is to mix four simple ingredients: practise, perseverance, commitment and passion.
Then add a bit of madness and you will have not only the best professionals but the most delicious foods and experiences in the industry. Ready to meet the best in class in beautiful Lisboa?
This week we’ve chatted with Laura, our neighbour in Estefânia, natural foods advocate and Head Baker aka padeira chefa at Pão com Calma – we’ve got super impressed not only with her bread but also with her amazing Portuguese. Well done, girl!

Name: Laura
Original from: Marburg, Germany
Industry: All things bread deliciousness
Business: Pão com Calma
Years in business: Two
Living in Lisboa: since 2007

Best bread you’ve eaten in your life

It’s really hard to say because I have eaten many delicious breads in my life. I believe the highlight was my first breakfast at home, with my family in Germany, with Brezel* and sourdough bread (which is still the traditional and most common baking process there). For me, this is what means to be home. Missing it was the reason why I’ve started baking, bringing this old German knowledge to the modern days in Lisbon.

LCA: * Brezel is the German word for Pretzel. The name derives from Latin word bracellus, a medieval term for “bracelet”,  or bracchiola, meaning “little arms”, according to Wikipedia. According to Laura is simply delicious.


Posh bread is such a trend. What do you think is going to happen with the papo-seco?

It is actually interesting that the trend now is to eat darker breads. Traditionally, brown breads, made out of non refined flours, were eaten by the poorest people, paisans – think of broa de milho, corn bread. This means, the whiter the bread, the wealthier it was. My goal is to educate people making more informed choices when it comes to bread, as supermarket bread is full of preservatives and chemical ferments. Bread should be done with three simple ingredients: flour, water and salt, hence the importance of having really good quality ingredients.

Fact: Wealthier does not always mean healthier. Darker bread, meaning made with whole wheat flours, are full of minerals, good fiber and probiotics, if done with the slow fermentation process. Now we’re talking about bread.

Hm.. talking about education, a lot of people complain that artisan bread is super pricey.

Well, personally I have never done the maths but if you think about the density of the bread I sell vs the bread you buy on a normal bakery (think of carcaça or papo-seco), those breads are so light that they are probably more expensive per gram – and we cannot compare in terms of quality, that’s for sure.


A tip to a new baker

To a new baker or to someone that is starting to eat sourdough bread?
( OK, Laura, both)

To a new baker is  to be fearless. Really, põe as mãos na massa aka nah puf na tip to a new baker (literal translation to “getting your hands dirty”), as it is a very natural process.

To people starting to eat sourdough breads, as it is a bit sour, the key is to eat the bread on the next day, as fresh bread is always delicious. Actually, bread sommeliers (they exist, amigos), recommend you to eat rye bread only 24 to 48h hours after being baked. That is when it gets its full body and taste).


Is the future of bread to be eaten?

I hope artisan bread does not become an elite thing. I want to democratize bread and the best that can happen to me is to see old people coming back to buy more bread, saying it tastes exactly like in their childhood, the bread they were eating at their hometown, aldeia. That makes my day. So yes, I guess the future of bread is to be eaten.

A secret

This is not exactly a secret but when it comes to making bread, the recipe is not everything. There are many things involved, such as temperature, humidity, time. It’s all about doing, and getting yourself immersed in the process, with all the senses.

(Bread workshop, anyone?!)

Favourite bread fad: Did you know that many people that think they are gluten intolerant are actually intolerant to the Es, meaning preservatives that go into making modern/supermarket bread? According to many doctors, and bread lovers, if you exclude gluten completely from your diet, you may become completely intolerant. Oh no! Maybe it’s time to give proper bread a try. Today.

We are so, so hungry now.

Try out Laura’s bread at Pão com Calma
Ilha Terceira 44a, 1000-174 Lisboa


All deliciousness,
Your Lisbon Cooking Academy Team