A great croissant requires equal parts patience and butter. Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas, owner of State Street pastry shop Janjou Patisserie, exclusively uses butter from Buhl's Cloverleaf Creamery, which has a higher fat content than most commercially available butters.
"In the store, usually you find butter that is 82 percent, exactly. But we use Cloverleaf Creamery butter and they've never tested it, but I know it's more than 82 percent because of the way that the croissants are coming out," said Mizrachi-Gabbitas, slicing through a flaky brown croissant to reveal a web of air pockets. "I want to say that it's 85 percent."
Not only is Cloverleaf's butter richer, but it also has a noticeable funk that adds a unique flavor.
"They ferment the cream a little bit so it's kind of stinky in a way," said Mizrachi-Gabbitas, opening a tub and thrusting it under my nose.
Mizrachi-Gabbitas is unwaveringly meticulous. From her immaculate rows of glistening tarts and French pastries to her spotless kitchen, she runs a tight ship. Her croissant process, for example, involves a series of precise steps stretched out over three days.
"It's actually quite a long process, it's not something we can do overnight," she said. "And you have to respect those steps if you want to have a good quality at the end."
Mizrachi-Gabbitas purchased a $22,000 blast freezer to help make producing croissants more manageable. By flash-freezing the dough throughout the process, Mizrachi-Gabbitas makes sure the butter doesn't get too melty, which affects how airy the croissant will be.
"It took us a while to figure out the process; how to make it efficient so it won't hold us up," she said.
The first day of the process involves making the dough--a mixture of flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt and milk powder--while the second involves laminating it, or encasing a book-sized hunk of butter inside the dough. The laminated packet then gets run through a dough-sheeter--essentially a giant, mechanical pasta roller--folded in a tri-fold, run through the sheeter again and flash frozen. On the third day, the packet is run through the sheeter one more time, folded again, cut into isosceles triangles and hand-rolled into around 22 croissants that are put back in the freezer.
Each night, Janjou bakers pull out the number of croissants they'll need for the next day, let them proof overnight and then bake them fresh each morning.
"This dough is basically quite neutral in flavor; it's not too sweet, it's not too salty so you can add either savory toppings or sweet toppings later on," said Mizrachi-Gabbitas.
And the pastry case is proof of that--ham and cheese croissants share space with delicate croissants filled with vanilla pastry cream and raisins. But the classic croissants are the real show-stoppers--flaky, buttery bundles of precision and process.