What is a leavening agent ?

A leavening agent is a symbiotic culture of yeast and lactic bacteria, which forms within a mixture of flour and water. It is used in the production of leavened bread and gives it a unique flavor that is distinct from yeast-risen bread. The signature acidic taste of leavened bread is caused by the lactic and acetic acid produced by the lactic bacteria. This method produces bread that is more acidic and more flavorsome than standard bread.

Where did the use of leavening agents originate ?

For a long time, adding leavening agents was the only known way to make bread rise. Nobody knows the exact date at which leavening agents were discovered. However, the first records of their use date back to Ancient Egypt. According to other sources, leaving agents were discovered by either the Babylonians or the Israelites. The most commonly cited story, however, is from Ancient Egypt. Legend has it that someone forgot to bake a batch of multi-grain dough and that this dough expanded under the effect of fermentation, thereby creating the first-ever risen bread. The Egyptians, and the Sumerians before them, were masters of fermentation and produced both beer and bread.

What are the benefits of leavened bread ?

Leavened bread offers greater nutritional benefits that bread produced using chemical yeast. Leavening agents enhance the mineral content of the bread and also reduces the gluten content, which is often the cause of allergies. Leavened bread also keeps longer than yeast-risen bread, since the acidity generated by the leavening agent slows the "retrogradation" of the starch. During this naturally occurring process, the starch realigns its structure to its original form, causing the exchange of moisture between the bread and the atmosphere. Retrogradation is also largely responsible for settling. The baker's task is to use special techniques to delay this natural mechanism.

Is Maison Kayser a chain ?

Quite the opposite - Our aim is to create small, flexible and creative organizations with an emphasis on traditional techniques and values. Our bakeries are located around the world and each one has its own "soul". Rather than being part of a chain, each bakery is a reflection of the neighborhood, city and country in which it is located. Whenever we open a new bakery, Eric Kayser creates a special signature bread. The first was the "Baguette Monge", for the 8 Rue Monge bakery. Then came the "Pain d'Assam", a large 400 g pain produced using time-served methods. For the 85 Boulevard Malesherbes store, Eric developed an unshaped baguette with large air pockets, the famous "Baguette Malesherbes". Other examples include the "Bûchette Éternelle" for the 19 Avenue des Ternes bakery which is rich in dietary minerals, the "Pain Odéon Santé" which is a multi-grain sliced loaf, and the "Bon BAC" which is a large, square pain made with Guérande sea salt and sold at the 18 Rue du Bac store. Each new bakery therefore adds a new and creative chapter to the Maison Kayser story.

Do you operate franchises ?

No. Whenever we open a new bakery, especially outside of France, we prefer to develop licensed partnerships. This helps to protect our signature quality and identity while ensuring that the new outlet fully reflects the neighborhood, city and country in which it is located.

Why don’t you make standard baguettes ?

Standard baguettes do not reflect our idea of quality. They are produced using chemical yeast, have a short shelf-life, offer minimal nutritional benefits and lack a distinctive flavor. Because we use our very own natural leavening agent, all our baguettes boast these important qualities. Our breads also benefit from our high-level expertise and top-quality, carefully sourced flour.

How do I apply for a job with Maison Kayser ?

Go to the "Join Our Team" section of our website to learn more about our values, and click "Apply Here" to submit your application online.

Can I order online ?

We are currently developing an online store where you will be able to purchase our products. The new store will go live in the near future. In the meantime, you can still buy our books and send us your special orders via this website. If you live in the same city as one of our stores, you can use the "Contact Us" page to send us your mailing address and telephone number. The Store Manager at your closest bakery will then be in touch to discuss your requirements.

How important is bread in France ?

Bread has been a staple food in France since the Middle Ages. Back then, it was a dense, hard product that was traditionally dipped in soup. It wasn't until the 18th century, when Parmentier conducted his famous research on potatoes and bread, that production methods improved. He wrote his seminal work, Le Parfait Boulanger (The Perfect Baker) in 1778, and joined forces with several other scholars to found the first free bakery school in Paris. Some historians have argued that a lack of bread was the catalyst for the French Revolution. When the Revolutionary forces stormed the Bastille in 1789, they hoped to find reserves of wheat within the compound. Later, when searching for symbols of the Republic, they naturally settled on the wheat sheaf, the ear of corn and traditional baking techniques. The early 19th century saw the opening of the first boulangerie-pâtisserie outlets in Paris. In an era of gilt (gold leaf) and hand-painted glass, they kick-started a new trend for pain anglais (made using brewer's yeast), pain provençal (Provençal bread) and later, pain viennois (Vienna Bread). White bread subsequently overtook whole-wheat bread as the most popular form, with the darker variety remaining the staple food for the poor and rural communities until 1950. In the mid-20th century, bread became little more than a basic accompaniment. Average consumption had fallen to 325 g per person per day, almost three times lower than in 1900. As a result of new more intensive dough mixing methods, bread for sale had become larger and whiter than ever. This, however, was at the expense of texture and flavor. Industrial baking had ripped the heart and soul out of bread and both the general public and nutritional experts began turning their backs on it. Nevertheless, bread remained a common feature of everyday language, inspiring a variety of French expressions such as "long comme un jour sans pain" (as long as a day without bread), "je ne mange pas de ce pain-là" (I don't eat that type of bread, roughly equivalent to the English saying "it's not my cup of tea") and "j’ai mangé plus d’un pain" (I've eaten more than one type of bread, meaning "I'm well-travelled"). The 1970s marked something of a turning point, with the return of specialty and rustic breads. This trend accelerated in the 1980s, a decade that saw the re-emergence of the artisanal traditions. The bread-maker device became a common feature of many households, and consumption levels finally began to rise again in 2002. Bread has once again become a daily pleasure and an icon of the French way of life. Eric Kayser's bakeries have played a pivotal role in this revival.

How can I buy your books ?

Go to the "Our Books" section of the website.