Seven boulangeries, three chocolatiers and a gelato shop. That’s what I’ve unofficially counted in my neighborhood. (What can I say? I know how to pick ‘em.) While I have yet to make all the rounds—believe it or not, I’ve been to fewer than half of them—the ones I have tried have definitely not disappointed. Maybe that’s why it’s taking me so long to sample the others: I keep returning to the ones I already know and love.
And how could I not? One of the boulangeries is the famed Eric Kayser.
A fifth generation baker, Kayser opened his first boulangerie in 1996 in the fifth arrondisement and now has a half dozen locations in the city. He invented a machine that creates and maintains a liquid leaven that he uses in his breads in lieu of yeast, which enables slow rising and causes a lactic fermentation that gives delicious hints of milk and honey. He makes over 60 kinds of bread—using preservative- and additive-free flour—including a simple baguette that is crusty, doughy, springy and sublime. All that is to say, Eric Kayser is best known as a breadmaker.
But because there’s usually a line snaking out the door, I’ve found myself all too often staring at rows of beautiful croissants, tuiles, madeleines, financiers, biscuits and cakes while patiently waiting to buy my baguette.
All this while being enveloped in the irresistible smell of fresh baked goods. How could I not be seduced? They must be good, right?
Right. Good does not even begin to cover it.
The pear grapefruit cake was thick with almond paste—one of my favorite flavors—which was cut by the bright juicy slices of grapefruit. Citrus and savory: a winning pair.
The opera cake was a beautiful blend of chocolate and praline in several forms: mousse, glaze, fondant and a crispy, airy wafer. So many flavors and textures emerged, so rich and dreamy…
I’m such a chocolate devotee, it’s rare that another dessert trumps the chocolate option, but the raspberry pistachio cake did just that. More almond paste, more shortbread, but made better by the delicious combination of fresh, fruity raspberries and nutty pistachio.
I’m lucky I had a little help with these heavenly numbers. Next time, I fear, I may be on my own.