Paris bakery Maison Kayser brings its to-die-for baguettes to NYC.
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No sooner had Maison Kayser opened its first U.S. outpost, on the Upper East Side, a couple of weeks ago than the famous Paris bakery decided to launch two more locations in the city: in the Flatiron and near Bryant Park. The 4,000-square-foot UES branch offers a full French menu in its restaurant space and sells pastries and breads from a counter up front.
Everything is delectable, to be sure, but it’s the baguettes—at once lighter and heartier than the ones you’re used to—that will have foodies lining up around the block. The bakery sells three types: the monge (a traditional baguette named after the street in Paris where the first Maison Kayser opened), the cereal (whole grain), and the signature epi baguette, which is made in the shape of a wheat ear and is especially great for families because it’s easy to break apart to share. All of them are baked on the premises, and each has three specific components that, according to executive master baker Yann Ledoux, are the keys to Maison Kayser’s success.
The starter: The first and perhaps most important ingredient is the homemade liquid levain. Comprised simply of flour, water, and a touch of honey, the levain gives the bread its flavor, acidity, and texture. Fermentation and ratios have to be just right to make the dough perfect. Maison Kayser is one of the few places that use a liquid mixture, which Ledoux says makes the bread lighter and airier.
Time: Greatness cannot be rushed, and neither can Ledoux. Each of his baguettes takes 12 hours, from mixing to baking, to create. In fact, the bakery considers time so important that it touts the 12-hour process on the wall next to glass windows through which customers can watch bread bake in large industrial ovens.
A hint of gold: The final ingredient that sets Maison Kayser’s baguettes apart is gaude flour, which is made from roasted corn. Gaude gives the bread a nutty, sourdough flavor and a yellow-ish hue. The result is less white-floury than a typical baguette.
Of course, Ledoux offers a caveat, lest you think you can now recreate his magic. Each loaf is unique, he says, and the recipe, times, and ingredients are constantly adjusted according to the elements of the day. “I can give you the recipe, but if you don’t have the feeling, it won’t be the same,” he says.