- In artisanal baking, a pastry chef uses age-old techniques, no machine to few machines, mixed and shaped by hand, and follows the timing and temperature to the letter.
- Artcaffé is known well for more than just for its bread, but for pastries and cakes too.
For more than 20 years, Jyoti Patel, the Artcaffé Coffee and Bakery’s chief logistics officer shadowed famous artisanal bakers in San Francisco, in the US where she learned and honed her pastry-making skills.
Now she is passing on the skills to young bakers aiming to master the art of artisanal baking.
In artisanal baking, a pastry chef uses age-old techniques, no machine to few machines, mixed and shaped by hand, and follows the timing and temperature to the letter.
“Artcaffé bakers understand and respect these processes and aim to produce a loaf with complex flavour, open crumb, and a nice golden crust. And because it is not pan-baked, it will not always have a standard size and shape. It is these imperfections that add beauty to artisanal bread. With reduced yeast and no additives and preservatives, the bread will have a shorter shelf life and it’s therefore, good for you,” she says.
With over 10 stores in Kenya, how is the coffee and bakery business able to produce as much given their artisanal approach to baking, respecting age-old traditions?
200 in the kitchen
“We have trained many young people. It helps that we have well documented standard operating procedures on all the processes and with most of our operations are centralised, it is easy to monitor,” says Jyoti of the over 200 staff who work at Artcaffé central kitchen, which has a bakery and prep kitchen.
A seasoned baker with a passion for more than two decades, she says pastry-making lessons never end.
“As a baker, you have to be a learner throughout your life. Many innovations are happening in the pastry and baking arena,” she says.
Artcaffé is known well for more than just for its bread, but for pastries and cakes too.
She says they introduce a new cake every month. The newly introduced white chocolate rose cake, a sponge vanilla cake is layered with white chocolate cream ganache, topped with piped cream, shaped into many roses.
It hit the stores this February.
Hints of vanilla, in the smoothness of the white chocolate on the sponginess of the cake, make for a mouth-watering treat.
“The inspiration for the new white rose cake came from the plentiful roses we have at the Artcaffé market. When we see all the beautiful roses on display, I thought, ‘why can’t we put the same thing on a cake?” Jyoti says.
Generally, baked food lovers tend to be fussy. How do they ensure every palate is satisfied?
“We have a wide variety to suit every palate. Some people like mousse cakes, others like solid cakes. Our offerings are based on that, ‘what would our guests like?’ then we work towards fulfilling that.”
Their most popular cake? “The salted caramel. It’s got a tremendous fan following,” says Jyoti. The most asked questions by Kenyans who buy bread, pastries and cakes from their stores?
“They ask, ‘How long will it last?’ We’ve had to make recommendations on how to use some of the artisanal pieces of bread, store the bread and the cakes,” she says.