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[Photos: Andrew Coe]

Bakers work notoriously long and irregular hours, with their days frequently beginning or ending in the wee hours of the morning. The question is, how to keep healthy? For Eric Kayser, globe-trotting founder of the Maison Kayser empire, and Yann Ledoux, overseer of his New York ovens, the answer is running. In honor of their favorite pastime, and in recognition of the upcoming New York City Marathon, they have developed three new energy bars ($3.25 each) that will make you forget those gummy concoctions from the health food store.

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The purpose of these bars is to give you a dose of quick, easily digestible energy and, oh yes, to taste good. The glue that holds them together is rye flour mixed with sourdough starter and a little salt. My favorite is the Cereal Bar, which is thick with poppy, sesame, flax, and sunflower seeds, and has millet seeds sprinkled on top. Unlike most health breads, however, the seeds are ground, so the crumb is dense but not particularly grainy, with a good chew and a pleasant, nutty aroma.

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The Fruit Bar is thick with high quality dried fruit, most obviously apricot but also figs, currants, and golden raisins, with thin crust of granola baked on top. The slight tartness of the apricot gives these bars a vibrant, mouth-watering flavor.

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Chocolate freaks will obviously head straight for the Chocolate Bar, which is made from 25 percent chocolate bits and five percent whole almonds. There's no sugar added except for what's in the chocolate. Still, this bar is so good you might just wander off course and forget to finish the race.

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Maison Kayser is also in the midst of an ambitious expansion in Manhattan. It has just opened a Flatiron store.) Like all Maison Kaysers, each outlet has its own kitchen and ovens where all the breads are mixed and baked. In honor of each opening, Eric Kayser has developed a special bread to mark the occasion.

At the 1800 Broadway store, the signature bread is a remarkable Blue Corn Boule that is perfect for the season. It's made from 30 percent blue corn flour, 70 percent white flour, a levain starter, and a little honey to activate the long ferment. In the oven, the honey causes the crust to caramelize ever so slightly, giving it a particular crunch. The medium soft crumb has distinctive, nutty blue corn flavor. All it needs is a smear of butter. To some versions of this loaf, the bakers add pumpkin seeds and rosemary, but at Columbus Circle it will be the blue corn in all its simple glory.

About the author: Andrew Coe is the only reporter covering the city's bread beat.

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