Let’s get the confession out of the way first: I have queued for over an hour for a Cronut. It was a sunny but cold Autumn morning in downtown Manhattan when I ventured out of my lodgings to the Dominique Ansel bakery on Spring Street. I thought I would miss the crowd if I got there for 9am, but the crowd thought faster: as I arrived there was already a queue. I grinned and bore it, taking comfort that I was participating in a group act of idiocy queuing for a baked good which I had both never tasted, and was in fact a hybrid of two traditional baked items which I didn’t actually enjoy on a regular basis: a croissant and a doughnut. Plus the added information that there was no choice of flavours: I was waiting for a mystery item in one flavour which I could take or leave. It happened to be apple cinnamon that month, which was fine, but I’m more a chocolate and nuts girl myself. All irrelevant as I still queued for the privilege of trying the elusive – only a limited amount were baked daily and they were often sold out by 10am, even after limiting people to buying 2 each – and elusive Cronut. Even New Yorkers were in the queue, for crying out loud, it can’t have been that ridiculous…
|The Cronut Queue: snaking around the side of the bakery on Spring St|
The inside of the bakery was a frantic but welcoming haven of baked, crowded cosiness: the queue snaked past the glass counter tantalisingly filled with a variety of confections and baked bon bons. If you want anything other than a Cronut, you can walk past the queue and straight into the bakery and be served. Otherwise, if on joining the queue you weren’t too fussed about whether you got to try one of the things or not, by the time you got to the counter the hype and anticipation had transformed you into a crazed person desperate to get their hands on as many Cronuts as you were allowed, without quite knowing why. I got my full quota of two, and took one home for my mother – it made the journey home to London quite safely, so at least it’s travel-friendly. For my part, as is often the case the hype exceeded the reality: the Cronut was soft, sweet and custard-creamy in the middle, but nothing special. It was actually far nicer to just sit inside the bakery with any kind of pastry and hot drink.
|The Cronut Frenzy inside the bakery|
|Delicious confections calling to you from the glass counter|
|This was what all the fuss was about: Cronut x 2|
Both on this side of the Atlantic (home side) and Stateside, the #Cronut phenomenon has spawned a number of imitations which have tried to at least copy if not better the ‘original’. If anything, the Cronut can take credit for inspiring another twist of innovation and creativity to a densely packed industry of cupcakes, cookies and whoopie pies. When even supermarket bakeries start stocking varieties of a croissant/muffin/doughnut creation, you know a new breed of baking has been ushered in.
In the UK, last Friday I saw a new offering in the #Lola’s stand at Waterloo Station: a croissant cupcake. This was – well, a hybrid of a croissant and cupcake, but actually was more a cupcake-sized semi-sweet croissant. I was curious and bought two (priced £1.95 each, cheaper than the regular cupcakes) to try at home: one chocolate, one cinnamon (which turned out to be a jam and custard one, silly mistake, Lola’s).
I had the chocolate one pimped-up – that is, heated with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It was nice when the warm pastry had soaked up some of the ice cream, but other than that nothing special. The jam and custard one (pictured below) was dismissed by my brother as too dry.
|The Jam and Custard Croissant Cupcake by Lola’s|
|The Croissant Cupcake cut open to reveal (a very small amount of) jam and custard|
I have not tried an imitation cronut or similar her, but have tried a #Duffin from Bea’s of Bloomsbury, hybrid doughnut and muffin. Actually, I have tried a Duffin Sundae from Stax, which is the sister American-style restaurant owned by the founder of Bea’s. The online menu tells you to save space after your burger and fries for a Duffin Sundae, and having a very sweet tooth I couldn’t wait. I wish I had, though, for something better: the Duffin was a huge disappointment, being a stodgy, doughy cold (not even warm!) lump under a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I made my way through it not wanting to waste it, but I will not be trying it again in a hurry.
For my review of Bea’s of Bloomsbury’s afternoon tea, please see here.
So the search for the desirable hybrid baked good goes on, but in the meantime the cupcakes and brownies at Primrose Bakery and Konditor and Cook in London get my vote, and a big slice of cake from Magnolia Bakery or the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in NYC…