Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of bread in France ?What is the role of bread in France ?

From the Middle Ages onwards, bread was the basis of food in France. Dense and hard, it is dipped in soup. It was not until Parmentier and his research on potatoes and bread that production improved. In 1778, he wrote a reference work, Le Parfait Boulanger, and founded the first free bakery school in Paris with other scholars. Some see the lack of bread as the driving force behind the French Revolution. When the revolutionaries took over the Bastille in 1789, they expected to discover a stock of wheat, and later, when symbols had to be found for the Republic, the sheaf, the ear and the gesture of the sower were a natural choice. At the beginning of the 19th century, the first bakeries and pastry shops opened in Paris. In the midst of gilding and paintings under glass, they launched the vogue for English bread (made with brewer's yeast), Provençal bread and then Viennese bread. Wheat bread (white) replaced wholemeal bread (black), which had been the most widespread until then. The latter remained the prerogative of the poor and the countryside until 1950. Bread became a simple side dish in the middle of the 20th century. At that time, 325 grams of it were consumed per day per inhabitant, almost three times less than in 1900. New methods of intensified kneading gave it a new volume and whiteness, to the detriment of its texture and flavour. The industrial bakery is completing the process of denaturing it. The public and nutritionists are turning away from it. Nevertheless, bread remains omnipresent in everyday language with a number of tasty expressions: "It's as long as a day without bread", "I don't eat this bread", "I've eaten more than one loaf" (i.e. I've travelled a lot)... Begun in the 1970s, the return of speciality breads and farmhouse breads was confirmed in the 1980s, when the whole artisanal sector was re-mobilised. The bread machine enters the homes. Consumption finally began to rise again in 2002. Bread is once again an everyday pleasure, the jewel in the crown of the French art of living. The Eric Kayser bakeries are one of the key players in this revival.

What is leaven?

Sourdough is a symbiotic culture of leaven and lactic acid bacteria growing in a mixture of flour and water. It is used to make sourdough bread, to which it gives a specific taste, different from that of yeast-matured bread.

What are the origins of leaven?  . . .

For a long time, the addition of leaven was the only way to make the bread rise. It is very difficult to date the discovery of leaven, but the first representations of it date from the Ancient Egyptian Empire. Depending on the version, leaven was discovered by the Babylonians or by the Hebrews. But the most frequently cited origin is that of Egypt: a person would have been late in baking his cereal dough, and the dough, under the effect of fermentation, would have begun to swell, thus creating the first leavened bread. The Egyptians and before them the Sumerians mastered the fermentation process: they made beer and bread together.

What are the qualities of leaven? 

A sourdough bread is nutritionally more interesting than a bread made with baking powder. Indeed, sourdough favours a better assimilation of minerals and a greater degradation of gluten, sometimes responsible for allergies. Sourdough bread keeps longer than bread made with yeast, because the acidity provided by the leaven slows down the "retrogradation" of the starch. Through this spontaneous phenomenon, the starch tends to return to its initial structure, favouring the exchange of humidity between the bread and the surrounding environment. The retrogradation is largely responsible for staling. The baker's art consists in using techniques that slow down this natural mechanism.

Leaven maintenance

The leaven remains active on average within 3 days after cooling. It is therefore at this frequency, every 3 days, that it should be refreshed, adding 50% of its weight in water and flour. For example, if you have 300g of sourdough left, add 75g of flour and 75g of water. Remember that leaven is alive and you must feed it to keep it alive. If you go several days without making bread or if the room temperature is high, close the jar tightly and put it in the refrigerator. It will only keep for a few weeks. Depending on how often you knead, you can change the initial amount of sourdough.

Are you a business chain ?

No, on the contrary! We strive to create structures on a human scale, flexible and creative, defending the values of craftsmanship above all. Wherever they are in the world, our bakeries have a soul. Far from forming a chain, each one reflects its neighbourhood, its city and its country. For each new bakery, Eric Kayser creates a bread: the first was the Monge baguette at 8 rue Monge, then there was the Assam bread, a large 400-gram loaf reminiscent of the good bread of yesteryear. For the bakery at 85 boulevard Malesherbes, he developed a very honeycombed baguette that is not shaped: the Malesherbes baguette. Other examples? The eternal log for the bakery 19 avenue des ternes, very rich in trace elements; the healthy Odéon bread, a cereal bread; the good BAC, a large square bread with Guérande salt that is sold at 18 rue du Bac... Thus each bakery writes a chapter of our creative tradition.

How to apply?

Refer to our «Jobs & Careers»pages to discover the spirit of Maison Kayser, our professions and apply online.