We catch up with Éric Kayser. The world renowned artisan boulanger who believes a good diet, an active lifestyle, a bit of bread (and the odd cake), is the secret to a balanced lifestyle.
We chat to him about how he caters to the gluten-free diet, his definition of hedonism, and how bread fuels his marathon training (he runs two or three a year…)
Gluten-free diets are all the rage but are non-coeliacs putting their health at risk?
Gluten-free diets have gained a cult following – yet research has shown that coeliacs account for just 1.5-2% of the population. I think that with a balanced diet and some daily activity we can all lead healthy, active lives that involve indulgences in things like patisserie, cakes and more.
For coeliacs – what is your gluten-free recipe?
All of our dishes that include bread have the option to replace the bread with gluten-free. In my book The Larousse Book of Bread one of the gluten-free recipes is for Corn bread. This is one of my favourites – it’s really simple to prepare and I like the natural-sweetness of the cornmeal.
Gluten-free Corn Bread
Makes 6 small loaves, each about 140g
220g (scant 1 cup) milk
220g (2 cups) fine cornmeal
7g salt (1 heaping teaspoon)
60g (¼ cup) butter, plus extra for greasing
80g egg yolks
20g (2 tablespoons) fresh baker’s yeast, crumbled
120g egg whites
Put two-thirds of the milk, cornmeal, salt and butter in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, whisking briskly all the time, until the mixture takes on the consistency of polenta. Leave to cool
Whisk the eggs yolks in a large bowl until creamy. Put the rest of the milk and the fresh yeast into another mixing bowl and whisk to blend well.
Pour the egg yolks into the yeast mixture and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Gradually incorporate the cornmeal mixture, little by little, and whisk until it becomes a smooth dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a spatula.
Whisk the egg whites to fluffy peaks. Fold around a fifth of the mixture into the dough, then carefully incorporate the remainder, using a spatula.
Place a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450F (230 C). Bush six 4-inch (10cm) mini-loaf pans with melted butter. Fill each pan two-thirds full of dough and smooth the top. Just before putting the loaves in the oven, pour 50g (scant ¼ cup) of water onto the preheated baking sheet, Bake for 25 minutes.
Turn out the loaves and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Recipe from The Larousse Book of Bread published by Phaidon £24.95
What’s your advice to people who are scared of eating bread for fear of putting on weight?
A good sourdough bread that’s made by hand, without any added sugar or fats such as oils or butter is nothing but good for you. The bacteria created by the fermentation of the yeast is great for your gut.
What high protein, low sugar options do you have on the menu?
We have a number of dishes on offer – there’s the Tartine a l’avocat which comes with protein rich eggs, our traditional French omelette with iron-rich mushrooms. And we do a great puy lentil, rocket and feta salad to-go.
We hear you’re a marathon runner. Is that how you burn off all that bread?
I like to run two or three marathons or half marathons a year. I really love how simple it is to just get out and run – you don’t need to bring lots of equipment and it’s a great way to explore a new city. Eating bread daily helps me run better!!
After a hard days work, what’s your favourite way to indulge?
I’m at my happiest on a Saturday morning when I’m at home lying on my sofa. I love having a table full of people round for simple lunch – a spread of cheese, meats and a great loaf of bread.
What’s your definition of the word hedonism?
For me, hedonism is a search or pursuit for pleasure – and pleasure comes in various forms for different people. For me, it’s about eating delicious food with people I love.
Any plans to go on takeaway services like Deliveroo?
We are thinking about it – we need to settle in first!
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s pretty amazing when we see people queuing up in the morning to buy a loaf of bread or a couple of croissants. I absolutely love educating people about bread and seeing people smell and taste my bread for the first time – I can’t help but force everyone I meet to try it!
Add a bit of spirit and passion into everything you do. I tell all the bakers that I train that they need to add spirit and heart into their baking and everything they create.