A new bakery opened over two years ago in the Ensanche, Santiago’s shopping neighbourhood. We walked past it one day by chance and didn’t bother too much walking in: it looked too nice and pretty so we figured it was one of these franchise ventures where everything is about the looks and without much substance. Yes, we do that sometimes, we judge places on their looks – but hey, after years of design restaurants with frozen food and pretentious marketing strategies I guess it’s understandable.
This time we were completely wrong. We had more chances to visit the bakery and find out that it wasn’t bad at all, and actually it was very good. So when Jacques Isaac, one of the three owners, offered us to visit the bakery lab one morning we were just too happy to wake up early to be there.
Galicia is known for its bread. It is still quite easy to get across good bread, although cheap plastic baguettes are more common than they used to be. As in the rest of Spain, here too bread is coming back in fashion and new bakeries are opening. Some, like Pan da Moa or La Bulanxeri, with a serious work on bread, fermentation and tradition.
La Bulanxeri opened out of necessity: Jacques, who is French, wanted to find French-style good crusty bread. He convinced two friends, Mónica Abeijón and Alberto Neira, to start this adventure together and they set up shop in Santiago’s Ensanche at the beginning of 2013.
The lab at the back of the shop is in full view, working from 6 am through their assortment. Baguette tradition, torsade, wholewheat and rye bread. And also croissants, pain au chocolat, chausson aux pommes, brioche, financiers. With so much to do, timing is essential. Each machine, each process, each oven has its own timer. Timers are eveywhere, and the TOC in me feels deeply pleased and reassured.
And because we’re in a bakery lab, flour is also everywhere. Timers (dozens!) are protected by ziploc bags and I can’t but admire the organization and cleanliness of the whole working place. Workers are also urged to use respiratory protective equipment (masks) – although while we were there they were talking so much to us that you can see only Jacques’ in the pictures.
It seems a bold move, making French bread in Galicia, but Galicians like good bread, no matter where it is from. And at La Bulanxeri they have wisely decided to do what they know best, making themselves unique in the city.
At La Bulanxeri they use natural yeast, or levain, with the help of their fabulous Bongard FermentLevain. The distinctive flavour of each of their different breads is given by the different flours and by the fermentation time.
In the pastry department the word is butter. Only butter is used in the fermented puff pastry for their croissants, and only butter is in their brioches. The best croissants in the city, and they’re only at 1€ a piece. If only we lived closer, I could have that for breakfast every single day…
Jacques, Mónica and Alberto all work at the bakery, taking turns in the lab and at the front of the shop. They also have three hired workers, in the lab and in the shop, and one visiting student from the local cooking school. Education is basic for them, for professionals and for customers. Jacques is passionate about bread, and you can see how La Bulanxeri is not just a business for him, but first of all a dream come true and a way to make people more aware (and happy) about their bread.
They’re also starting to do Bread Baking classes, and surely we’ll see more coming up this year. The more people know about bread, the better they’ll appreciate good bread, and this creates a virtuous cycle which benefits everybody – bakeries and customers.
Calle Santiago de Chile, nº16, Bajo
Santiago de Compostela
881 97 88 87
open Monday to Friday from 9AM to 3PM and from 5PM to 9PM. Saturday, Sunday and holidays open 9AM to 3PM.