During my recent road trip from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada visiting a hi-tech manufacturing plant I came in touch with the owner of a local bakery who served me some cronuts. That visit inspired me to write about this delicacy known to not many people. The best thing to write about this dish is that it is a recent creation by a New York chef and became an instant hit in the continent. Almost all the popular and renowned recipes are very old and their actual origin story is not verifiable. But cronut being a recent addition to the classic dishes makes it more interesting.
The molecular-minded Chef Ferran Adria has stated that all innovation in cooking happens first in pastry. Cronut is a delicious pastry which is basically a croissant built into a doughnut with cream filling and lots of sugar. Almost three years ago pastry Chef Dominique Ansel came up with this recipe and ever since there is no looking back. Everyday his pastry shop prepared almost 350 pieces and they always run out in few hours after they open. Every month a new filling flavour is launched and there have been 36 filling flavours ever since they started making it. Chef Ansel states that someone pointed out that his menu did not have the great American breakfast classic doughnut. He was also very familiar with French classic breakfast-a croissant. That’s how he came up with this idea of combining these two classics and that is how Cronut was developed. The chef took almost 4 months to standardise and perfect this recipe. Each batch of Cronuts takes Ansel and his team approximately three days to prepare. Day one consists of mixing the dough, then letting it ferment and rest overnight. Day two, butter is incorporated, and hundreds of sheets of dough are layered together before the dough rests again. On day three, the dough is cut, formed into the cronut shape, and left to ferment again. Once each has tripled in size, cronut by cronut is fried in grapeseed oil, filled with cream, rolled in sugar, and finished with a glaze.
“It’s still difficult to describe the success of the Cronut. I think it’s a mix of so many things together that works perfectly. Everyone’s had a doughnut before. Everyone’s had a croissant before,” Ansel tells Condé Nast Traveler. “But there’s always a different source of inspiration when it comes to pastry. It can sometimes be colour, sometimes an ingredient, sometimes a technique, sometimes a story. But it all comes together around the same thing when it comes to creating a new product, and it’s to do something good and tasty and something that people remember.
Milk 1 1/4 cup
Castor sugar 1/2 cup
Egg yolks 4 nos.
All-purpose flour 1/4 cup
Salt 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extracts 1 tsp
All-purpose flour 4 cups
Sugar 1/3 cup
Water 1 cup
Milk 1/2 cup
Dry yeast 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter 1 cup
Vegetable oil 5 cups
Sugar 1 cup
Ground cinnamon 2 tbsp
Vanilla cream 1 cup
Icing sugar 1 cup
Water 2 tbsp
To make vanilla pastry cream
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat milk and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat.
In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, flour and salt.
Remove milk from flame and whisk into the flour mixture.
When all the milk has been blended in, add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture is boiling and thick.
Stir in vanilla extracts and pour the mixture through cheese cloth or a fine mesh into a glass bowl.
Cover the mixer with plastic wrap so that it does not dry up, keep refrigerated.
To make the cronut dough
In a microwave safe glass bowl, combine the milk and water and heat for few seconds in the microwave to lukewarm.
Whisk in yeast with warm milk and let it stand for 5 minutes until it starts to bubble.
Add flour, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 tbsp softened butter to mixer bowl.
Add yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a paddle.
Press the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place, let it rise until double in size for 45 minutes.
Punch down the dough and chill for 1 hour, Place softened unsalted butter between 2 pieces of parchment paper or wax paper.
Using a rolling pin, flatten and shape into a 8-8 inch square.
Once the butter block is ready, roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch by 12 inch square.
Place the butter square on top of the dough square so that the corners of the butter block are pointing to the sides of the dough square.
Fold the corners of the dough over the butter block to meet in the centre.
Roll the dough out into 20 by 8 inch rectangle
Brush off excess flour and fold the dough into thirds like a letter, Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour
Repeat the folding and chilling process 2 more times, Once the dough is chilled stare its final fold, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 6 by 18 rectangle.
Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 nos 6 by 6 inch square and stack the squares on top of each other.
Using donut ring cutters cut 12 donut shapes out of the dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
Cover the donuts loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for about 30 minutes.
Place the oil in a large heavy bottom pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, fry donut for about 1 1/2 minutes, flipping then in the oil halfway through until they are golden brown all over.
In a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon, fill a piping bag with vanilla cream.
In a separate bowl whisk powdered sugar and water to make the glaze.
Inject the cronut with vanilla cream, roll in sugar and drizzle with glaze on top.
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