A Bakery Tour of Paris

Kathleen Harsh is a Chicago based bakery scientist. On her trip to Paris, she visited a handful of bakeries and reported back on what she found. Paris is considered to be the home of innovation for the bakery scene so it was a great educational experience for her as well as invaluable for the company. What follows are her words on what she saw.

On a recent trip to Paris with friends, I made sure to take a tour of my favorite part of the “City of Lights”- bakeries! Paris is world renowned as the epicenter of baked goods, with a history that includes the creation of pastry classics such as the baguette and the croissant. Many bakeries in Paris have also embraced new trends and flavors to draw in the modern consumer and to cement their footing as the leading bakery city in the world. Here are some highlights from bakeries, patisseries, and cafés in the second and the tenth arrondissements (districts) that I had the great pleasure of experiencing on my trip.

Turmeric Bread from Eric Kayser

In the second arrondissement, I explored Marche Montorgueil, a market street tucked away amongst busy metro lined streets. One could spend multiple days on this street alone pretending to be a local strolling amongst the abundant cheese shops, florists, bakeries, fruit stands, and cafes. My destination was Eric Kayser, a bakery chain with a reputation as a leader in French bakery innovation. I purchased their turmeric bread, a crusty artisan style sandwich loaf made from sweet enriched dough laced with turmeric, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Turmeric is an on-trend spice being used in many different food categories in North America, with its health benefits and unique taste lending itself well to both the sweet and the savory realm. This is the first application I have seen in a bread loaf, and it worked tremendously well.

Also on Marche Montorgueil, I stopped in L’éclair de Genie, a storefront that only sells gourmet éclairs. This is a new trend in Paris, as the éclair is the ideal traditional vehicle to test untraditional flavor and texture combinations. Each éclair is truly a work of art and with prices ranging from 4.50-6.00 € per éclair, they are meant to be enjoyed as a high-end treat. Some impressive flavors I sampled were citrus and yuzu, a shimmery deep red raspberry éclair filled with chocolate cream, and a buttery caramel filled éclair topped with gold flake and Guérande salt. This store’s concept reminded me of the cupcake trend in the United States, and it demonstrates how focusing on one pastry vessel to present unique flavor combinations can be a niche market to capitalize upon.

L’escargot chocolat pistache from Du Pain et Des Idees

I made a point to stay one night in the tenth arrondissement, mostly for the purpose of exploring the food scene. The number one bakery on my list was Du Pain et Des Idees. This bakery has received their notoriety via Bon Appétit mentions and their Instagram- ready pastries such as the L’escargot chocolat pistache. This pastry is a laminated Danish swirl with a pistachio and chocolate chip filling. Calling the pastry “l’escargot” is a clever pun that pays homage to France’s affinity for snails. Du Pain et Des Idees also sells several versions of this pastry with different fillings- fresh currants, rum and raisin, praline, and lemon nougat. A couple other fascinating pastries I saw at Du Pain et Des Idees were Niflettes, a small puff pastry square featuring a dollop of orange water pastry cream in the center, as well as a banana chocolate croissant highlighted by fresh mashed banana and chocolate sticks in the center. With all the visually stunning and tasty pastries, Du Pain et Des Idees is a feast for the senses!

Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie

Also in the tenth arrondissement, I swung by Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie and Holybelly. Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie is an airy and modern take on the classic French bakery, with the production being visible behind a marble counter juxtaposed with antique looking ceilings and stripped down walls. This nicely demonstrated their simultaneous commitment to old world quality and modern transparency. Even in a city with a café on every corner, it is the type of restaurant that grabs your attention as you are walking down the street. Here I got some bread to bring back with me to Chicago-a cereal based loaf studded with an assortment of seeds and grains that held up shockingly well over the 12 hour travel time. Another stop I made in the tenth was at Holybelly, a restaurant specializing in American and Australian style brunch dishes. Eggs are typically served for lunch or dinner in France, where a croissant on the go is more common than the American multi-product brunch. Holybelly served Du Pain et Des Idees bread and a unique twist on the Hash brown patty featuring soaked spelt grains dispersed throughout shredded potatoes.

A bakery tour of Paris can never disappoint, but despite my high expectations the pastry game in Paris continues to blow me away. Many of the innovations happening across the pond can easily translate into trendy offerings here in the states, from the use of unique spices in an unexpected bread application, to stores selling multiple variations on one type of food product, to attention grabbing takes on a classic pastries, and storefronts that combine the modern aesthetic with an industrial chic backdrop. This trip to Paris provided a plethora of trend exploration, and I cannot wait to return and learn more!

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