Author: Ajla Omerhodzic
France is famous around the world for its decadent desserts and pastry, which deserves the praise of any hedonist and even the strictest food critics. As a matter of fact, when it comes to etymology of the word, the English word ‘dessert’ itself is derived from the French word ‘desservir’, which means ‘a service of fruits and sweets at the close of a meal’, ‘to clear the table’, or - literally speaking - ‘un-serve’.
Although citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are proud of their rich traditional food offer, there is no resistance towards discovering new tastes, especially those of different cultures. Without even having to travel abroad, for the past seven years, they have had the chance to surprise their taste buds with delightful, new tastes of France precisely in the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo.
The Artisan French bakery ‘Maison Coco’ was opened on November 25, 2012, as the first and still the only French bakery in Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing something new and exciting to the world of baked goods. Its first bakery opened its doors in the building known as ‘Karingtonka’, at the 1 Kranjceviceva Street. Throughout the years, it has expanded its business and turned into an entire chain of bakeries across Sarajevo and can now be found at the locations 10 Branilaca Sarajeva Street, 10 Sime Milutinovica Street, Merhemica Trg Street, and in ALTA Shopping Center at 2 Franca Lehara Street.
Besides being the only bakery with authentic French recipes for desserts and pastry in this country, what makes ‘Maison Coco’ stand out is the fact that the bakery works based on the artisan baking principle, meaning that all of its products are prepared without use of additives, artificial colors, or preservative.
When making bread and pastries, ‘Maison Coco’ uses natural yeast ‘Levain’, freshly made by the bakery’s artisans. The natural yeast and long fermentation of the dough gives the products a special taste and texture. No frozen raw materials are used in the baking process, because everything is prepared according to the seasons. Given that the fall/winter season is in full swing, this bakery’s shelves now regularly include pumpkin bread, chestnut tart, pumpkin tart, cinnamon rolls and other products made of seasonal produce. Olive bread, walnut bread, peasant bread and high-protein bread are number one French products for the greatest gourmets and connoisseurs of artisan bakery, and all of these are available at ‘Maison Coco’ all year round.
Speaking for Pulse.ba, representative of ‘Maison Coco’ Mirsada Bihorac expressed certainty that this artisan bakery was the right choice for anyone seeking to eat healthy while not giving up on delicious flavors. “It is a result of work of a small, yet diligent team that wanted to provide citizens of Sarajevo with an opportunity to eat healthy and delicious food. The slogan that describes our manner of production is ‘ARTisan of baking’. In a time when most of the food industry is based on robotics, being committed to artisan baking is both a challenge and a privilege. All ‘Maison Coco’ products are prepared without additives, artificial colors or preservatives, and with much love. We use the highest quality foods such as alpine butter, Belgian chocolate, Italian extra virgin olive oil and apples from Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are proud that raw materials such as margarine and palm oil have never found their way to our bakery”, Bihorac explained.
Elaborating on the most popular French products in the offer, Bihorac singled out the French baguettes, French peasant bread or ‘Pain de Campagne’, and authentic bread ‘Pave au Levain’. She noted that the peasant bread was in fact sourdough bread, which is very popular in the world but it is difficult to find it in regular bakeries, given that it requires devotion as the process of preparing is quite long. “Pain de Campagne is a special type of sourdough bread that, by its ingredients, contains less gluten than classic white bread, and experts recommend it because it is easier to digest. You can easily identify it by the holes that result from the long fermentation of the dough”, Bihorac explained.
In addition, she noted that croissant, made of the quality alpine butter, and chocolate bread ‘Pain Au Chocolat’ could easily send one’s taste palate right to an imaginary journey to France, and invited everyone with a real sweet tooth to try a dessert called ‘chocolatine’, which combines Belgian chocolate and almond cream.
Bihorac concluded that the experience of starting a small-sized business like ‘Maison Coco’ was certainly exciting. “We learn something new every day and we put effort into improving our business. As the citizens of Sarajevo are becoming more involved in taking care of what they eat, the artisan bakery is growing more and more popular”.
Most of the breads that the bakery sells are vegan, while the offer also contains plenty of vegetarian options. The bakery currently does not sell gluten-free products, but it does not rule out a possibility of including them in the future. Products like hazelnut butter ‘Noccio’ and homemade jam ‘Kantar’ are sold at ‘Maison Coco’, as a result of cooperation with small family businesses from Sarajevo recognized for their quality, flavors and nutritious ingredients.
Besides its original bakeries, ‘Maison Coco’ products are also sold at the health food store ‘Delikatesa’, at the 2 Trg Heroja Street, along with the popular restaurants ‘4 Sobe Gospodje Safije’ and ‘Four Seasons’, all of them being located in Sarajevo.