You Can Finally Get Your Hands On Machine Shop’s Flaky Goodness
Philly can finally get a taste of the exquisite pastries made by Machine Shop Boulangerie, the city’s buzziest new bakery.
The wholesale-only, two-woman operation based in South Philly’s Bok Building made their first flaky, buttery deliveries to Elixr Coffee this past Monday. When I stopped in on Tuesday afternoon, I felt lucky to snag the very last item in the pastry case — a croissant, voluminous and golden brown, with an incredibly crisp, buttery crust encasing a tender, yeasty interior. I had to catch up with the bakers to find out how exactly their plans for pastry domination were unfolding.
According to baker-owners Emily Riddell and Katie Lynch, two more cafe customers are getting their first deliveries this weekend: Reanimator Coffee locations will begin carrying the prized pastries, and Menagerie Coffee in Old City will get its first delivery by Monday, if not sooner.
While they’re excited to finally get their product line into pastry cases across the city, Riddell and Lynch are taking things slow and steady. After all, they’re handling all aspects of the business, from product development to production to sales, on their own. “We’re concentrating on quality and making sure things are consistent” at this stage, Riddell says.
That quality starts with local sourcing and a traditional, handmade ethos backed up by skills developed baking for businesses like Le Bec Fin and Narberth’s The Art of Bread: Riddell and Lynch ferment their own whole wheat sourdough starter, which adds extra flavor and oomph to their croissant dough as well as their sourdough breads. They mill their own flours from Pennsylvania-grown whole grains sourced from Doylestown’s Castle Valley Mill and Small Valley Milling in Halifax, even taking care to buy their standard white flour from East Coast sources. “When we can’t get an ingredient locally, we make sure to source organic,” says Lynch.
So far, Machine Shop offers a sizable list of pastries to wholesale customers: flaky viennoiserie like traditional croissants, pain au chocolat with a creamy ganache interior, kouign amman stuffed with house-made jam, and croissants filled with almond paste or ham and gruyere. According to Riddell, the feedback has been “pretty positive,” which, having tasted what these women can do with butter and flour, seems like a hell of an understatement.
One of the most intriguing items in Machine Shop’s initial lineup is the everything knot, a bundle of flaky pastry filled with creamy soft cheese and topped with the beloved bagel spice blend. They’re even working on a chocolate-filled croissant with chocolate laminated into the dough — a holy grail of pastry if there ever was one.
Bread-wise, Machine Shop offers full-sized baguettes, demi baguettes, and a sourdough loaf; they’re still tweaking recipes like buttery, rich brioche and pain au lait. Riddell and Lynch are also working with restaurant customers to develop custom breads that will work best on their menus (like the ginger and chocolate chip cookies developed for Elixr).
While the bakers currently plan to focus on slow, steady growth with wholesale customers like cafes and restaurants, they say they’d consider hitting up farmers’ markets with their wares sometime in the future.
And that mouthwatering all-chocolate croissant that haunts my dreams?
“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about it, and lots of interest” from wholesale customers, says Riddell — but she and Lynch plan to revisit and refine that recipe once the business is a little more established. I’ll just have to wait a little longer to try it, but I can’t blame these pastry mavens for wanting to achieve perfection.
Machine Shop Boulangerie [Facebook]