On January 3, The Gleaner met with Denis Legault and France Mallette, the owners of Le Pain-Couvert bakery which is located just steps from the Powerscourt covered bridge. The pair introduced us to the special universe that is their bakery.
Recent years were not easy for the Hinchinbrooke couple, both of whom have battled cancer. In 2016, Mallette was hospitalized for six months following her diagnosis. Then, in 2017, Legault was forced to spend seven months in the hospital. Mallette’s cancer returned the following year, but the couple continued to fight. Today, in 2023, they can proudly say they are brave survivors.
From hobby to vocation
To escape the gloom of convalescence, they started baking homemade soft bars and cookies for their daughter. This came naturally to Mallette, who is a former baker. It wasn’t long before they began to think about creating their own bread. “Bread is a science,” says Legault. “Anyone can make bread, but making good bread is a different story,” he explains.
Having always had an interest in the roots of breadmaking, the duo began making sourdough bread. Why sourdough? Mainly because it is healthier than bread made with commercial yeast.
As the couple became more deeply involved in the pastime, they began to introduce different elements to their breads and experiment with pastries. On the menu is a variety of cookies, muffins and soft bars, white bread, whole wheat bread, cheese breads, egg breads, chocolate breads, and fruit breads.
Preparation, products, and service
“To make bread, you need to think ahead,” explains Mallette. You must refresh the sourdough starter, produce the dough, let it rise, and then fold it before letting it rest and then shaping it. In total, a loaf of sourdough bread takes about 20 hours to make.
One of the interesting aspects of this bakery is the way the kitchen has been designed to allow the couple to sell their products from their home. Their cooking space includes a professional gas-burning stone oven, flour and fruit bins, as well as a fast and convenient take-out window.
At Le Pain Couvert, all products are lactose-free and are made with local ingredients including flour from the Moulin de Soulanges, Quebec-grown wheat, fresh fruit, and plant-based milk.
Each step is a pleasure
Despite their local popularity and an offer to sell their products in Chateauguay, the two owners are not planning to expand their company. For them, making breads and pastries is a form of art and creation. Each step is a pleasure, and above all they appreciate the human contact involved in selling directly to clients. “We don’t want to chase money; it doesn’t pay,” says Mallette.
Le Pain Couvert is open near the Powerscourt covered bridge in Hinchinbrooke from Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.