When i first heard about this bakery months ago, i didn’t pay much attention to it for two reasons: 1) it’s baking in the mall i rarely patronize, although i made a mental note to stop by when i do go to Grand Indonesia sometime in the future, and 2) i’m not big on bread, not anymore, albeit still buying whole-wheat loaf once in a while when i’m craving for and/or getting a jar of Ovomaltine Crunchy Cream (my favorite chocolate spread at the moment).
But then i chanced upon it while strolling around Mall Taman Anggrek’s ground floor through the corridor i rarely pass through. Detours do lead you to interesting places you would otherwise not find, huh? Well, that’s how i spotted francis artisan bakery. Past the initial surprise, the next thing i knew i was already inside due to equal parts curiosity (duh) and pull factors (nice decor and oversized breads). Ever seen a bakery as invitingly chic as this one?
The first thing i noticed was Ari Wibowo’s standee happily greeted you upon entrance. His face can also be found on the cover of its five-fold bread-gallery brochure that i immediately thought he ventured into healthy-bread business following Choky Sitohang’s HOSHI Japanese Healthy Bread. However, after a few reads, he seems to be the brand ambassador instead of the owner.
Francis offers hand-crafted Japanese-French fusion breads (44 variants of obao*, 5 of pastry, 9 of sweet bun, 7 of toast, and 1 cookie) that use no preservatives as well as less sugar and butter. Its obao range is even egg-less! Their breads shall last 2~3 days when refrigerated, but so far i keep ’em at room temperature and they’re still good and soft after two days. The dough is created using natural fermented fruit yeast which then proofed for a good 8 hours before making its way into the infrared oven, resulting in “a loaf with amazingly crisp crust on the outside and soft moist dough on the inside.”
*) Obao is the creation of Francis’ bread master Chef Huang Yuan-song who hails from Taiwan.
Drooling already? Let’s talk about the breads now.
But first, enjoy some of the spread below:
Aforementioned, what reeled me in was its humongous breads. Just look at the proportions of hands and tongs to the loaf. Most of ’em are bigger than my palm AND weighty at that. Don’t you hate it when buns are misleadingly big and solid on the outside yet extremely hollow and airy on the inside? I do. But here, what you see is what you get. Each piece is bulky and dense (around 300 grams each when scaled at home), generously filled and/or topped with atypical add-ons, that three breads already fill up the tray.
I usually start from either chocolate bread or plain/wheat loaf, because if they don’t even get the basics right… right? Its flaxseed toast (12 slices, 22K) is soft and nice to the bite even though i still like TOUS les JOURS’ grain pan bread best. One of the bestsellers, choco bun doesn’t disappoint either although after trying a lot of Francis’ other selections, i gotta say it is the moister stickier bun. Ah, also the sweeter one too albeit not overwhelmingly so. Downside is the messiness that comes with munching it as the melted chocolate chip often leaks out. But if you are a chocolate-bread lover, you definitely have to give it a
go try; it’s one of the best i’ve ever eaten.
[Choco bun: melted chocolate, choco chips, choco powder — 5 pieces, 20K]
I said give it a try since you can literally try/sample it before making a purchase. Yup, in case you didn’t know already, Francis is the rare bakery which provides testers for nearly every variant displayed on the shelves. Your tummy will be pleased by the time you are queuing at the checkout line 😁😁😁 It is definitely an apt and well-appreciated service gesture given the giant portion and steeper price points. On average, the spread is tagged at 20~30K a piece — a fair amount since the size is also twice~thrice as big as that of its competitions. And looking at how diverse the spread is, you’ll surely find something that tickles your fancy.
My ultimate favorite thus far is Dark choco cream cheese. Other breads may have a hard crust despite soft-textured inner, but this one is squishy inside out, with mild cream cheese on the center top part and scattered choco chips in between layers. It is nice eaten as is, but becomes heavenly when warmed (just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, depending on the volume). Oh. My. Goodness. Never have i tasted a bread as chewy and yummy as this one, i kid you not. The texture is so delishly smooth that it resembles a fine cake. Seriously, i can’t stop eating it!
[Left- Dark choco cream cheese: chocolate, cream cheese, choco chips 18K
Right- Rocky milk hazelnut: coffee, hazelnut, rocky milk, mocha chocolate 23K]
My other recommendations would be Sakura mochi (Japanese mochi bread with black sesame seeds, 10K) and Oatmeal & seeds (sunflower seeds, oatmeal, sweet potato, rocky milk, 18K). The former is pretty much no-frills chewy bun with strong black sesame flavor while the latter is rich in texture and has a hint of sweetness to it. Oh, and i like their taro breads too! Frankly, there are too many to name; you gotta taste it yourself.
I for one never thought i’d have a favorite bakery, but now i think i’ve found it. So much so that i have frequented the outlet 4~5 times in the past two weeks (which is c.r.a.z.y, i know) and never walked out empty-handed. It’s not good for my wallet indeed, but i keep coming back for more. Even then, i don’t think i’ve seen every listed bread. They either rotate the menu or i’m not lucky enough; e.g. half-dome-shaped Snowy chocolate was once on display but i wasn’t quick enough to grab one =( It’s pretty much like the hunger games because there was a time when 8 pieces of Dark choco cream cheese were gone under 5 minutes o.O
I’m not a nutrition expert so i can’t tell how healthy Francis’ products are, but i can vouch that it doesn’t compromise on taste. At the very least, you shall gain some nutritional benefits from a variety of super seeds included in its creations. Long story short, i thought i’m no longer into bread…until Francis came along, for better or worse.
For a complete list, refer to the scanned brochure below or scour its website. Happy tucking in =)