Maison Kayser, my new found love ❤
In 1964, Eric Kayser was born into a family of professional bakers – his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all traditional French bakers. Naturally, he quickly realized his calling for baking and at a young age of 18, became a companion of the prestigious Tour de France of baking for five years. Then, he bacame a bakery trainer for the Institut National de la Boulangeri Patisserie (INBP) for nearly ten years.
In 1994, Eric Kayser and Patrick Castagna, an audit consultancy and training body for bakers and pastry chefs, invtented the Fermento Levain – a machine which maintains natural liquid leaven at an ideal temperature. As a living element, this yeast is taken cared of everyday with the baker feeding it by adding water and flour to balance the fermentation.
Finally on September 13, 1996, Kayser opened his first french-japanese bakery at 8 rue Monge in Paris. It was an instant success and garnered much critical acclaim. Today, there are over 80 stores worldwide with 18 in Paris alone and at least one in most of the world’s big cities such as Japan, Ukraine, Athens and Morocco. Products and services in the bakeries vary from country to country, each adapting and accommodating to the local tastes and flavors.
If you’re still not convinced about this French master who is world renowned for quality and innovation in the field of baking, let’s talk about the quality of their products. To Eric Kayser, quality means always using the most natural products at every step in the production. Take for example flour, a crucial ingredient in the making of bread. Not all flour is the same everywhere. Its quality often depends on that of the harvests but Kayser doesn’t let this stop him from sourcing the best ingredients. He continues to follow rigorous specifications, looking for the best wheat, the right buckwheat, fine rye…
Next, butter. Excellent worthy cakes and pastries need high quality butter. But in countries without a dairy production tradition, this is a great concern. Consequently, in Japan, Kayser turned to a dairy producer for a tailor-made butter so as to produce croissants that are as decadent and heavenly as in France. As a result, sales are limited to only 2 croissants per person in Japan in order to meet demands! :0
All breads, pastries and brioches are produced each day in the baking rooms of each of the bakeries using the Fermento Levain. After this exclusive leavening, the bread undergoes slow kneading and long fermentation, before being shaped by hand, placed on a linen cloth and baked on-site in an open hearth oven. In addition to these fine creations, grocery products, sandwiches, salads and quiches are also available.
I first heard of Eric Kayser from the concierge at Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, the hotel I was staying in during my visit to Paris last summer. We were asking for directions to Ladurée and he asked, “Going there for their macaroons?”
“Nope” we said, “for breakfast!” (their Hot Chocolate, Truffle Omelet and Scramble Eggs are to die for btw)
He looked at us, astounded. “Why don’t you try Eric Kayser? It’s a bakery just around the corner! Eric Kayser himself is most commonly referred to as the ‘ambassador of French bread to the world’. I’ve recommended this place to many people and they all love it.”
And so we decided to give Ladurée a miss since we’ve had that the day before and try Eric Kayser instead.
I tried the Pain Aux Noix (walnut bread) and was absolutely amazed with the texture and burst of flavors in my mouth. A crispy crust against a rather soft, smooth interior, I savored each and every bite. It was full of walnuts and I absolutely love the fact that the walnuts added depth, and also gave the bread slight sweetness and a subtle aroma which hits you when you bring it close to your nose. It definitely tastes and smells quality bread. It was the first time I was absolutely satisfied with bread, a bread that is full of character and simply perfect.
And then there was the Pain au Chocolat (no picture I apologize!). It was buttery, flaky, soft and filled with lots of dark chocolate – everything a good flawless croissant should be. Simply divine.
And then we left, contented, but knowing that we simply needed to return some time before leaving Paris. But time prevented our next visit and we eventually left Paris yearning not for the fashion or sightseeing but for the food, especially Eric Kayser.
When I heard that Paul Bakery was opening in Takashimaya, I jumped for joy. But when I read about Maison Kayser opening in Scotts Square, I jumped and squealed and ran all over the house to announce the great news to my parents, who had barely woken up then and faces lit up after hearing what I had to say.
Finally after much anticipation, Maison Kayser opened just one week ago and we were there for their soft opening. We walked quickly and squeezed our heads through every possible space between the crowd, gazing with jaw wide open at all they had to offer. Basically, we wanted everything but we resisted, as we knew that if we got everything, we had to finish them all immediately in order to truly savor the true flavor and texture of Eric Kayser’s bread.
Pain au Figue ($3.40): this bread contains dried figs and its taste matches best with prosciutto. When I saw this, I immediately knew that I had to have it (Figs are my favorite dried fruits). Like almost any other Eric Kayser breads, this had a crispy exterior that had an audible crunch when you bite into and an exceptionally soft and fluffy interior. There was a generous amount of figs studded inside, adding both texture and sweetness. Its no ordinary bread with figs. It’s Eric Kayser’s Fig Bread.
Ananas Coco (this one had no description but im guessing it means Pineapple Coconut) ($3.70). This too had a crispy exterior. But its interior was much softer than the Pain au Figue. It was definitely interesting as the little cubes of pineapples were sweet and juicy. There was no taste of coconut though and if you hadn’t told me what it was supposed to be, I would have just thought that it was a Pineapple bread.
Pain aux Yuzu ($3.30): this bread is made with whole-grain dough and the flavor of yuzu. Such an innocent looking bread, but definitely bold. Crispy crust, but the interior was not as soft as the Pain au Figue and the Ananas Coco and I’m guessing it’s because of the wholemeal flour in the whole-grain dough. As a result, there was a slight nutty flavor which I enjoyed nevertheless. The yuzu flavor was subtle in the sense that it doesn’t hit you immediately, but you know that there’s an unmistakable tangy taste. And as you take a bite more, the yuzu flavor becomes more distinct and evident. Together with the nutty flavor of the bread, it was indeed a unique combination.
Viennoise Chocolat ($3): this soft bread is baked with chocolate, and goes well with coffee. This was one of the samples. Now this is something different. No more crispy crust and fluffy interior. But instead, this was light, delicate and so soft and buttery that it melts in your mouth. The softest bread I’ve ever tasted. And what better filling than chocolate? Chocolate makes the world go round.
Sandwiches are made to order to ensure freshness. You can also choose your bread. Tuna Sandwich on Baguette ($8). The filling was mediocre. But what makes this sandwich even more special is none other than, of course, the baguette itself. Again, crunchy, crispy exterior with a soft interior makes you want to finish the sandwich no matter how huge it is, and no matter how uninspiring the filling might be.
Vegetarian Sandwich on Baguette ($8): tomato, latuca sativa (lettuce), fresh basil, and mozzarella. The mozzarella was smooth and as always, its mild creamy flavor was highlighted by the fresh basil and olive oil. The sweet tomato provided a pleasant contrast, and as always the baguette was as good as ever.
Service was fantastic as staffs were knowledgeable, friendly, polite and quick yet not impatient. Most of them were Japanese but there were a few locals too. Eric Kayser himself and his partners were there to assess the situation and went round each table for feedbacks. I almost wanted to say, “You know what Eric? You’re a genius and there’s nothing more in this world that I love other than your breads.” But of course, I was too shy :p
One problem though: Eric Kayser’s bread are perfect. But given Singapore’s hot and humid weather, the breads would turn hard and chewy within HOURS. ): ): ): T.T Nevertheless I foresee myself coming here so often anyway simply because I cannot resist a good quality bread. But of course, I’ll make sure I eat them straight away!
The official grand opening of Maison Kayser Singapore is tomorrow, December 12 2011!
“Good bread doesn’t lie: it says everything about the quality of its ingredients and the know-how of its creator. Being a good baker means making a little miracle every day: transforming simple foods, water, leaven, salt and flour into complex and varying flavors. That’s my passion, and I want to share it and introduce it to other craftsmen both in France and around the world.” – Eric Kayser