There is a food fad sweeping its way across North America and it's full of fat, sugar, and immorality. It seems completely sinful to take croissant pastry dough, cut it into a round shape, then deepfry it like a donut. But wait - there's more! After being fried, the cronut (croissant + donut) is filled with pastry cream then iced with a glaze. Sometimes the edges are even rolled in sugar. Sinful? Perhaps. Delicious? In a completely over-indulgent, go-big-or-go-home, kind-of way - yes.
In May of this year, Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan began serving up these hybrid pastries for $5 a piece. New Yorkers have been lining up on the street 2 hours before the bakery is open just for the chance to eat one of these imaginative creations. At first the bakery placed a purchase limit of 6 cronuts per customer but has since lowered it to 3, and now 2. Scalpers have been buying up the cronuts and have created a black market for the goods selling them as high as $30 a piece. Supply, meet demand. All this just for the taste of an elusive dessert. If you need another indication of its popularity, Dominique Ansel's company has actually trademarked the term "cronut". Inspired bakers haven't let a trademark stop them from creating their own versions though - "doissant" ,"dossant", and "frissant" have already hit the bakery shelves. I wonder if "croughnut" is taken because as a Canadian, doughnut is the correct spelling, not donut. If it hasn't, I'm calling dibs right now.
As soon I saw a picture floating around the internet of a cronut, I did like the many other bakers did and immediately set out to see what the fuss was all about. It looked good, but more importantly, how was it made? Deep-frying croissant dough? If you aren't familiar with croissant pastry from scratch, it is essentially very thin layers of yeasted dough and butter. The butter melts as it bakes creating steam which puffs the dough (along with the yeast) but also crisps it creating tender, flaky layers. Deep frying the dough instead of baking it throws a couple of curve balls into the preparation method so I took a swing at and here are my results. I definitely have room for improvement, but not bad for a long weekend afternoon project.
Pastured Local Duck Eggs
Some further inspiration for croughnuts (you saw it here first!) was from my visit to the farmers' market on Saturday. Word on Facebook the night before was a local farmer was bringing pastured duck eggs to sell so even before I bought a coffee, I was over at Mark Cosens' table with my elbows ready to take out other shoppers (if necessary) to ensure I was bringing home some baker's dreams in a shell. Mark and his family are now raising Moscovy and Indian Runner ducks for eggs and are also growing heirloom greens such as spinach. (I tried my own hand at growing greens this year and both attempts have made the rabbits and birds happy but me - not so much.)
Why do bakers love duck eggs? Because they contain more protein and are richer in flavour & colour compared to hen eggs. They help ensure a smooth, velvety, rich custard and produce fluffy, stable meringues. It's also recommended to use duck eggs when baking gluten-free goods as the extra protein will help with texture issues but I have yet to try it out for myself. There is only so much I can bake and eat in day!
The first thing I did when returning from the market was prepare a duck egg omelet with spinach and sheepsmilk cheese. A few slices of tomato and a couple of corn tortillas and my duck egg breakfast tacos were complete.
The second thing I did was prepare croughnuts. In my version I filled them with coconut milk pastry cream (using those rich duck eggs) then topped them with a lime sugar glaze and toasted coconut. They are definitely something worth trying if you're into super rich fun sweets (and I am). Which brings me too:
FreshFest is St. Thomas' food & drink sampling event held each summer in the historic CASO station. For 5 years now, local restauranteurs, chefs, brewers, and farmers have been pairing up to bring the best in Elgin County's culinary world together for a fun & tasty night full of good eats & drinks. This year the party has expanded from a one night event to a whole weekend celebration and will include live music performed by some pretty great bands, a pie bake-off, and of course the mouthwatering sampling event.
I will be there as Elgin Harvest and I'm happy to be partnering up with some fantastic local food producers. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but there may or may not be croughnuts.
July 19-21, 2013
For more info or tickets visit www.freshfest.ca
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.