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Corman Artisan

Interviews

March 2018

Miek Paulus is sweetening up Australia with her sourdough croissants

Miek Paulus first got a taste for baking as a child. She has fond memories of her trips to France, the land of food and drink. Now she hand makes pastries using traditional Belgian and French techniques and recipes in her micro-bakery in Geelong, near Melbourne. To the delight of Australians… 

Change of life, one-way ticket to Australia

Miek Paulus began a career in engineering in 2005 but she soon realised it wasn’t for her. She needed to be creative. She immediately set about changing her life and began a new course. Five years later she had diplomas in baking, patisserie, chocolate-making and ice cream-making in Belgium. But she hadn’t finished making her dreams a reality… Along with her Australian husband and their two children, they made the biggest decision of their lives. That was two years ago: a one-way ticket to Victoria in Australia.

There, Miek decided to open an artisan bakery from scratch from the back of her kitchen. She founded Ket Baker to serve pastries and bakes made with sourdough.

The recipe for artisan success

The best bread in Australia is made from natural sourdough. Bakers know the technique inside out but the young artisan soon realised that most of the people living in Geelong had no idea about good bread and good pastries. That’s why she started to learn this baking method. Six months of trial and error enabled her to create her own artisan recipe and now make natural sourdough croissants.

 

It requires knowledge to use sourdough in pastries. Every measurement and minute counts says Miek: "The fermentation stage currently takes 17 hours compared to 10-12 hours at 28 °C. Unlike yeast that’s easy to control, sourdough is a living thing. You can’t control everything. So in total it takes me five days to make a very good sourdough croissant." It’s no wonder the Belgian baker has been nicknamed "the Sourdough Engineer"!

Local ingredients for international clients

To ensure her croissants to be delicious all the time, Miek Paulus soon decided to import Corman butter. Not only is it hard to find good ingredients, but bakers in Australia are very secretive about their suppliers. The young Belgian, on the other hand, is proud of where her products come from: "Corman butter is real quality. My success is partly down to the standard of the ingredients I use combined with the fact that my products are homemade. They even call me the "Corman girl" in Australia".
 
Although she has developed a few treats for the Australian market such as her salted caramel, peanut butter and brownie tart, Miek doesn’t bend over backwards to suit local tastes. She is true to her beliefs and values so she serves classic European pastries that aren’t the norm. The locals may be more into muffins but she’s had huge success among foreign foodies and also increasingly among Australians. Her loyal clients come from all over the world, especially Asia. Many of them have also spent time in Europe. Some of her clients even make the hour’s drive from Melbourne to buy her croissants. She says: "Melbourne is a melting pot of world cuisines. People are used to mixing things up. They are more open to foreign culinary influences."

Major presence on social networks

One key ingredient in Miek’s recipe for success is her smart use of social networks. She is very active on Facebook and Instagram promoting her brand and creations. Most of her products are highly innovative and unusual for Australians who are used to sweet pastries. That is why she posts almost every day photos and interacts with clients and newcomers to the brand. That way she can showcase the “handmade” element that makes her gaining followers steadily…