On my radar:?Crazy about Cronuts

2013-10-23 10:00

Is it a croissant? Is it a doughnut? Well, it’s kind of both

The US has never shied away from creating new food fads by throwing unlikely ingredients or concepts together.

At times the inventions are mere celebrations of outrageous gluttony, like the Luther Burger, a.k.a. 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 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 lining the rolls with pepperoni. But 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 – unsurprising seeing they also came up with haggis.

Most of these food fads were probably invented after a long night of drinking. In most cases, these bizarre dishes remain localised, 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 original) Cronut took two months and more than 10 recipes before it was perfected. It isn’t 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 proofed and then fried in grape seed oil at a specific temperature.

Once cooked, each Cronut is flavoured in three steps: (1) rolled in sugar, (2) filled with cream and (3) topped with glaze. The entire process takes up to three days and Cronuts are best eaten when fresh.

The Cronut craze took less than six months to go global and the frenzy to sample the original – despite the price of $5 (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 Monday to Saturday and 9am on Sunday). Please note that we are not officially opened until our hours of operation?...

“As a rule of thumb, if you arrive prior to 6am on a weekday, you have a great chance of getting a Cronut™. When in line, please do be considerate of the residences in the neighbourhood and the others in line.”

The last line is telling. Obviously there have been incidents of some argy-bargy in the queue. Hell hath no fury like a pastry junkie who has queued for more than two hours and is then told that the Cronuts are sold out. It’s no wonder that a “black market” is now thriving, with addicts prepared to pay as much as $40 for a hit.

Since hearing about Cronuts, I’ve been trying to find them in South Africa. I eventually did last week on a trip to Durban.

Italian deli Remo’s is one of the few bakeries in South Africa that is producing a local version of the Cronut. Master patissier Venessa Smith’s version also uses the painstaking lamination process, which requires the pastry to rest overnight, plus a further two hours of proofing the next day.

But her version has smooth peanut butter frosting that is drizzled with dark chocolate over and above the custard filling.

While it might not be a replica of Chef Dominique Ansel’s original, Remo’s sells out its stock by 11am every day, 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, and at the same time gooey but slightly crunchy.

Now that the concept has spread worldwide, everyone is trying their own flavour 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.

What is a Cronut™?

»?The Cronut is a unique pastry creation by Chef Dominique Ansel and was invented at his bakery in SoHo, New York City. 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 its fame spread globally, there have been so many imitations and interpretations that the original was trademarked. Other names include “dosant”, “dough-sant” or “wondernut”.

»?A full list of where to find the pastry in South Africa can be accessed via: www.eatout.co.za/Best-of-guides/699/Where-to-buy-cronuts-in-South-Africa

»?Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. Visit www.fluxtrends.com

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