Apolonia Poilane

A Lesson in Baking from Apollonia Poilâne

Clara Strunk

For Apollonia Poilâne, going into the family baking business was not so much a choice as a calling. ‘I started working at the bakery basically from birth, when my parents decided to use a bread basket as my crib!’ she laughs. ‘More seriously, I started working at Poilâne when I was five or six, when I learnt how to count by giving change to our clients.’ Growing up, Apollonia always expected to take over the iconic Parisian bakery, founded by her grandfather in 1932. Sadly, she took the reins much earlier than expected at the age of 18, when her parents passed away in a helicopter accident.

Now 36, Apollonia has turned Poilâne into a household name across the world, counting Ina Garten and Martha Stewart as fans of the company’s exquisite, traditionally made bread. ‘I feel such incredible pride at being in charge of this family business,’ she says. ‘Most of my friends are on job number two or three. I feel like I’m on job 20! On my resume I only have one line, yet it feels like so much more than that: I work at the bakery, I write books, I do research. I never feel fatigue, or the need to do something different.’

Like everything else Apollonia turns her hand to, the Poilâne cookbook (which was released in the UK last year) was an immediate success. ‘I actually really like writing, it’s a fun process,’ she says. One of her favourite recipes from the book is this one, a simplified version of melba toasts. ‘They’re perfect for all kinds of dips, or to dunk into hot soups,’ she says. ‘They can be easily flavoured with a sprinkling of fresh herbs – I especially like finely chopped rosemary – or by using a flavoured oil or rubbing the dried slices with a clove of garlic. People are often looking for something no-fuss to make, but that really makes a difference and looks nice. If you’re spending a lot of time on your table, you want something that looks good as well!

Poilâne Melba Toast

Prep time

10 min

Cook time







  • Poilâne-style sourdough or rye bread, very thinly sliced
  • A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil


Step 1

Preheat your oven to 120°C (250°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2

Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Step 3

Lightly drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil over the bread slices, ensuring they are evenly coated.

Step 4

Bake the bread slices in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, flipping them once halfway through the baking time. The timing may vary depending on the thickness of your bread slices. You want them to become dry and cracker-like.

Step 5

Once the bread slices are crispy and golden, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely on the baking sheet.

Step 6

Once cooled, break the baked bread slices into pieces of your desired size to make bread chips.

Step 7

Store the bread chips in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep well for two to three weeks.

Step 8

Enjoy your homemade bread chips as a delicious snack or serve them alongside your favorite dips and spreads for a tasty appetizer!

Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery by Apollonia Poilâne can be purchased  here