Eighty-one layers of hand-rolled dough, coupled with local butter, baked to perfection daily, create the crispy, flaky delicate crust, which gives way to the light airy puffed up honeycomb structured inside Adam Young’s out of this world croissants. No wonder the co-owner of Sift Bakery in Mystic’s historic downtown has been deemed the Best Baker in America, according to Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship.
“I knew I had to bring the thunder and I put my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this competition and I have to say, it feels pretty awesome to be called the Best Baker in America,” said Young who co-owns Sift, with his wife Ebbie Young.
In addition to the elite title, Adam also won $25,000 beating out eight other master bakers from around the country and although his croissants rival those served in Paris, it was his ultimate chocolate cake, with the feature flavor of caramel, that sealed the title.
His goal, he explained, was to drive as much technique and flavor into the award-winning cake. In only six hours, he was able to layer chocolate cake with crispy coconut, praline and white chocolate crunch, a layer of passion fruit caramel and chocolate Bavarian. He used Italian buttercream to frost the cake and covered it with a mirror glaze of high gloss shiny chocolate, which was then adorned with elaborate, chocolate decorations, including handmade ornate flowers he made petal by petal. He also created three different distinctly flavored bonbons to accompany the cake, one of which was a passion fruit caramel bonbon, which judge Marcela Valladolid praised as being one of the best things she had tasted in the entire competition.
“It was definitely nerve-racking and although we were working non-stop on our cakes for six straight hours, my adrenaline was pumping and I was able to create and finish what I set out to do,” said Adam, who works over 100 hours a week at both his bakery in Mystic, as well as the newly opened location in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Fusing together passion with incredible drive, Adam’s ingenuity, attention to detail, innate ability to co-mingle flavors and a keen eye for impeccably perfect presentation is what sets him apart in the baking arena.
“Passion is something you’re pulled towards and drive is something that pushes you to achieve,” said Adam. “Sift is successful because of drive.”
Describing himself as very technique based, Adam enjoys exploring and experimenting with different ingredients and their specific functions. He finds this challenge of baking methodical.
“Every ingredient has a function and a flavor,” said Adam, who attributes his tireless work ethic to his childhood spent on a small dairy farm in Vermont. It was there he learned that passion without drive won’t get you anywhere.
“At the end of every day I am very happy about where I am at,” said Adam, who met his wife while they were both employed at the Ocean House in Rhode Island. The two had their daughter the same week they opened Sift two years ago.
“It was a whirlwind time, but it all worked out,” said Adam with a genuine smile.
The couple resides in Westerly, RI but chose Mystic to open their shop.
“The town of Mystic has been great. It is very supportive and I think the people here are happy to have yet one more unique experience to offer locals and visitors,” said Adam.
Achieving his first goal to open his own bakery, Adam is working on to his next target of creating a brand. He yearns to branch out throughout New England and wants to move into Newport, RI, Greenwich, CT and the Hamptons in NY.
Lucky enough to know what he wanted to do with his life at just 12 years-old, a pragmatic Adam followed his dream. He began his career at the bottom of the food chain as a dishwasher and moved up through the ranks eventually attending the New England Culinary Institute in Montpellier, Vermont to become a savory chef. It wasn’t until a serendipitous internship in New Orleans that his passion for pastry was sparked, and the rest is history.
Conservatively estimating that Sift makes about 6000 flaky, buttery croissants weekly (among other confectionary delights), Adam who is very modest and forever the perfectionist continues to ceaselessly work on the delicate art of the flawless croissant.
“Sift is always evolving, we are better this year than we were last year and we will be better next year than we are now.”
With a staff of 50 and a nautical décor, Sift’s last shift ends at 11 p.m. and the first shift starts again at midnight, with the baking of fresh bread such as baguettes, focaccia, brioche and more. The bakery is open seven days a week and closes only on Christmas and Easter Day.
“We are very particular about our staff. We make sure that we hire very qualified, motivated people,” said Adam. “We all work hard to ensure that this is more than just a paycheck at the end of the week.”
So, the next time you find yourself in downtown Mystic, stop into Sift, sample one of the freshly made goodies such as; the rainbow of macaroons including flavors like vanilla bean, pasticcio, peanut butter and jelly, rosewater, lemon olive oil and mimosa champagne to name a few, or treat yourself to a pecan sandy or chocolate sea salt cookie. Perhaps it will be the chocolate raspberry torte or carrot cake roulade that calls to you. Whatever your fancy, be sure to peek behind the glass front kitchen and look for Adam baking aside his staff. You can’t miss him; he is the one with the biggest smile!
For more information, go to siftbakeshopmystic.com.