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Three spiral croissants in a tray at Delight Pastry in Pasadena.
Spiral croissants at Delight Pastry in Pasadena.

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These Flaky Spiral Croissants Come From a Trailblazing Persian Baker in Pasadena

Delight Pastry’s Lily Azar took on the spiral croissant trend, but there’s more to know about this influential baker and her past in Iran

Delight Pastry’s owner and pastry chef Lily Azar and her daughter and co-owner Sarah Hashemi noticed something in late 2022. Customers kept asking about spiral croissants, the circular dipped pastry sensation that set Instagram and TikTok ablaze in 2022.

Spiral croissants feel very much like Cronut mania, chef Dominique Ansel’s 2013 croissant-doughnut mashup, all over again. But this time, the crispy, circular, swirled croissants filled with pastry cream have the stage. They’ve proved popular enough that last year, New Yorkers stood in line for hours just to get one from Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery. Spiral croissants were first spotted in California and Los Angeles in early 2023.

One to pay attention to trends, Hashemi urged her mother to put her own spin on Lafayette’s “suprême” croissant, and Azar accepted the challenge. In February, Azar ordered a specific lamination machine, which took months to arrive. After experimenting for weeks with different techniques, Azar added pistachio and rosewater spiral croissants to the display case; as an Iranian-born baker with strong roots in Tehran, she wanted to use flavors that are prominent in Persian cuisine. But Azar didn’t stop there, and added creamy fillings like raspberry, ube-coconut, passionfruit, and matcha pistachio to the three-year-old bakery’s sought-after spirals. The calculation proved to be a solid move, as the Delight Pastry display case is consistently sparse at the end of the day.

Making spiral croissants was a minor pivot for Azar, who has long been used to introducing new pastries. Decades ago, this seasoned baker helped shape Iran’s pastry community before moving to the United States by launching three bakeries, a centralized baking kitchen, and a distribution company that sold industrial bakery machines.

“I was eight years old during the [1979 Iranian] Revolution,” says Azar. “It wasn’t easy to be a woman in Iran with her own pastry shop, but this was always my dream. I started taking classes and tried making things by myself. I always loved French pastry. Then I figured out that equipment is one of the most important things in pastry production.”

Delight Pastry owners Lily Azar and Sarah Hashemi stand in their bakery in front of a display case in Pasadena, California.
Delight Pastry owners Sarah Hashemi and Lily Azar.

Croissant preparation, especially the spiral sensation, is not for the faint of heart. The famous pastry requires three days to prepare and starts with unapologetic quantities of quality butter, flour, skill, and patience. From there, croissant dough is placed through a laminator machine multiple times over two days. It’s then shaped to Azar’s liking — Delight Pastry also makes a cubed croissant — before being pulled, baked, and filled with her flavored cream of choice.

A pistachio spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Pistachio spiral croissant.
A chocolate spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Chocolate spiral croissant.

In 2003, Azar formed relationships with manufacturers who made industrial dough mixers, ovens, butter presses, and dough laminating machines and worked to make them available in Iran. Azar tells Eater that her company was one of the first distributors in Iran to sell this specialty equipment, even though she had no experience in this industry.

“No one wanted to listen to a middle-aged lady,” says Azar. “People laughed at me. But I had two big clients who were nice and happy with what I did. And when big clients find happiness, everyone else follows.”

After running her distribution business for five years, Azar realized a need to participate. “In Iran, croissants never had the right texture,” says Azar. “And people were bored with what was in the market. So I opened three Delight Pastry locations in Tehran, plus a central kitchen. I equipped all my bakeries with my own equipment. It was my own showroom.”

A group of people stand behind a display case full of pastries at Delight Pastry in Tehran, Iran.
Delight Pastry owner Lily Azar and her staff in Tehran.
Lily Azar
A conference featuring pastries and industrial pastry machines by Lily Azar from Delight Pastry.
Lily Azar’s company Ario Hiva Pack at an exhibition in 2017.
Lily Azar

Azar says that after she established her distribution company and bakery, she brought a French specialist to Iran to train intermediate and advanced Iranian pastry chefs. Azar ran her baking academy for two years before selling parts of her business and moving to the United States in 2014.

Azar knows one thing is consistent in the baking business. No matter where she has sold her spiral croissants, cakes, cookies, macarons, eclairs, tarts, and pain au chocolat, she has learned that people crave variety. “Like I saw in Iran, people always want something new and different,” she says. “With our spiral croissants, the texture is the same, but there’s more flavor.”

Delight Pastry is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 39 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103.

A s’more spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
S’more spiral croissant.
A pistachio spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
A pistachio spiral croissant.
Cakes, croissants, spirals, and Danish at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Cakes, croissants, spirals, and Danish.
A cake display case at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Cake display case.
Cake at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
More cake.
A display area with cakes and decorations at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Display area.
A customer orders pastry at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
The exterior of Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Delight Pastry.

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