Recommended reading written by Dion Chang …
America has never shied away from creating new food fads by throwing unlikely ingredients or concepts together. Sometimes, the inventions are mere celebrations of outrageous gluttony, like the Luther Burger aka The Bacon-Donut Burger, a hamburger or cheeseburger with glazed doughnuts used on either side of the burger patty, instead of a bread bun. Or how about The Pizzabon, made by the bakery chain Cinnabon? This creation turns a sweet pastry into an artery clogging, savoury adventure by replacing the cinnamon with tomato sauce, the gooey glaze with cheese, and lines its rolls with pepperoni. However, it’s not just the Americans who tread where no chefs dare to venture. The Scottish were the ones who invented the deep-fried Mars bar, which is unsurprising seeing as they also who came up with haggis.
Most of these bizarre food fads were probably invented after a long night of drinking and one dare too many. In most cases, these bizarre dishes remain localized, often at the restaurant/bar/diner that spawned them. It is rare that they become a global trend. The Cronut™, is one such phenomenon and it needs to be stated that it was not born out of a drunken stupor, but rather invented by a respected chef.
The classic (and origional) Cronut took 2 months and more than 10 recipes before it was perfected. It is not simply croissant dough that has been fried like a doughnut. It is made with a special laminated dough (from the chef’s own recipe – hence the trademark), which is then proofed and then fried in grapeseed oil at a specific temperature. Once cooked, each Cronut is flavored in three steps: (1) rolled in sugar, (2) filled with cream, and (3) topped with glaze. The entire process takes up to 3 days, and Cronuts are best eaten when fresh as they have a short shelf life.
The Cronut craze took less than 6 months to go global, and the frenzy to sample the original – despite the price of $5 (aprox R50) per Cronut – has reached such a peak that the bakery’s website provides strict guidelines on how to queue for this elusive pastry fix:
“The lines start outside as early as 2.5 hours prior to opening (we open at 8am from Mon-Sat and 9am on Sun). Please note that we are not officially opened until our hours of operation and cannot service the line that starts earlier. As a rule of thumb, if you arrive prior to 6:00am on a weekday, you have a great chance of getting a Cronut™. (Weekends tend to be busier.) Please note there is a 2-person limit for in-store purchases. When in line, please do be considerate of the residences in the neighborhood and the others in line”.
The last line is telling. Obviously, there have been incidences of some argy-bargy in the queue. Hell hath no fury than a pastry junkie who has queued for over 2 hours and then is told that the Cronuts are sold out. Its no wonder that a Cronut black market is now thriving with pastry addicts prepared to pay as much as $40 (R400!) for a hit.
Ever since hearing about Cronuts I’ve been trying to find them in South Africa, and last week, I eventually did, on a trip to Durban. Italian deli Remos, are one of the few bakeries in South Africa that are producing a local version of the Cronut. Master Pâtissier, Venessa Smith’s version also uses the painstaking lamination process, which requires the pastry to rest overnight, plus a further 2 hours of proving the next day. Their version however, has smooth peanut butter frosting that is drizzled with dark chocolate – over and above the custard filling. While it might not be an exact replica of Chef Ansel’s origional, the Durban deli sells out their stock by 11am everyday, so it seems the Cronut craze has started in South Africa.
So what’s all the fuss about? Cronuts, or variations thereof, are just plain decadent. Rich in taste, but light in texture; gooey but slightly crunchy at the same time. Now that the concept has spread worldwide, everyone is trying their own favour combinations, but like all future classics it will be the pastry technique, rather than wild flavour combinations that will ultimately separate the Cronuts from the Dosants.
STD: What is a Cronut™?
- The Cronut™ is the unique pastry creation by Chef Dominique Ansel and was invented at his bakery in Soho, NYC. If a croissant and doughnut had an illicit affair, their love child would be a Cronut™.
- This croissant/doughnut hybrid was launched on May 10, 2013, and since then Cronut™ fans span the world from Berlin to Singapore, making it the most virally talked about pastry dessert in history.
- The trademark symbol on the word Cronut™ is genuine. Since it’s fame spread globally, there have been so many imitations and interpretations that the origional was trademarked. Alternative names are, “dosant” or “dough-sants”.
- A full list of where to find Cronuts in South Africa can be found via EatOut.
By: Dion Chang
Image credit: Gallo Images/Getty Images/Andrew Burton