The Cronut, as I’m sure you will be aware, is a “Half Croissant, Half Doughnut”.
In essence, it is a ring doughnut made out of croissant pastry and filled with cream.
Originally developed by Dominique Ansel for the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York, its rise has been stellar. It was launched on 10 May 2013 and it has produced a sort of Cronut hysteria ever since. Cronut fans have queued for hours around the block, paid a $100 a Cronut or $3,000 for ten (I don’t understand how that works either) and Heidi Klum has given a box of Cronuts its own seat on a private jet. There have even been reports of prosperous New Yorkers bin raiding for Cronut scraps.
The success of Domnique Ansel’s concoction has spawned an inevitable dispute about who owns the intellectual property associated with the Cronut brand and imitations across the globe.
The latest imitation of this once fashionable pastry is made by…errr…Greggs. To be absolutely clear about this, there is nothing wrong with Greggs at all. NOTHING. George Osborne has the scars of a man who challenged the might of this high street institution and lost and I have no desire to repeat his folly.
What does strike me about the whole Cronut episode is how pointless it all is. A pastry chef in New York dreams up some marketing gimmick. It turns into a runaway success. A few celebrities buy some Cronuts, decide they’re fashionable and then the trend turns global. Copy-cat Cronut makers around the world then cash in. The trend slowly migrates from people who are fashionable to those who aspire to be (there was a video about cronuts on Bloomberg.com the other day) and finally one day Greggs produces the Greggsnut. What was once rare becomes banal and commonplace and, in part as a result, not fashionable.
This would all makes sense if the Cronut actually tasted amazing. However, it really isn’t anything special – or at least the London imitations that I’ve tasted so far haven’t. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a mixture of cream, pastry and icing. It tastes good but it can’t possibly live up to the hype that surrounds it.
It is also incredibly difficult to store and serve if you follow Dominique Ansel’s Cronut 101 suggestions. You can’t store it in a warm place or a refrigerator. You have to eat the thing immediately and when you do get around to doing that you aren’t supposed to cut the thing with anything other than a serrated knife. It’s a posh doughnut FFS!!!
Frankly, if you haven’t tried a Cronut imitation, trying one is more hassle than it’s worth.
Nevertheless, if you must try one here are my recommendations:
My first recommendation is Rinkoff bakery in Whitechapel. Rinkoff refer to their Cronuts as Crodoughs to avoid a Trade Mark infringement dispute (Hopefully, I won’t have to start all of my reviews in this charming way!).
It’s a century old traditional family-run Ukrainian bakery. Perhaps it’s that same entrepreneurial zeal that led them to be the first Cronut vendors in London that’s kept them going through two World Wars? Rinkoff’s is a five-minute walk from Whitechapel tube and the bakers there are chirpy, talkative and very agreeable.
The Crodoughs come in three flavours (custard, raspberry and toffee apple crumble). I tried them all and I preferred the custard Crodough. If you want a MASSIVE Cronut then you need look no further. They are truly enormous. They are also the cheapest, costing up to three quid. They aren’t delicate and I suspect they are somewhat removed from the original but if you just want to try a Cronut, you want to eat a BEAST of a pastry and you can get there between 8 am and 4 pm on a weekday then Rinkoff’s Crodoughs are a safe bet.
Rinkoff Bakery, 224 Jubilee Street, London E1 3BS.
The second Cronut that warrants a mention is Cocomaya’s.
Cocomaya describes itself as an “artisan baker”. It was started by a former head of concept at Liberty and a fashion consultant and, as one might expect, both bakeries are beautiful. There may be a little too much pink for my liking but the stores by Sloane Square and the Edgware Road are very pretty, the service is pleasant and the Cronuts are genuinely interesting. I could very happily waste a summer afternoon at either.
I tried a passion fruit flavoured Cronut which was topped with edible flowers and was smaller, less oily but heavier than its Rinkoff-equivalent. It had less cream and, in my opinion, it was nicer as a result. The Cocomaya version was only marginally more expensive than the Rinkoff Crodough (at c. £4).
The one difficulty with Cocomaya is that they bake far fewer Cronuts than Rinkoff. So…if you are only going for the Cronut there is a chance that you will return empty-handed.
Cocomaya, 12 Connaught St, London W2 2AF.
Just over a decade ago I worked by Saint Paul’s. The City was a gastronomic desert. The pubs have always been good and, of course, there were a few great restaurants that had been around for donkeys years but by and large it wasn’t very exciting. At the time this is something I couldn’t understand. In the Square Mile you had a captive audience of people who were happy to spend (often because it wasn’t their money), who couldn’t take ages at a table (because they usually needed to get back to work), and where the competition wasn’t as fierce as, say, in the West End. It is no surprise, therefore, that things have changed…a great deal.
Duck and Waffle is an example of the extent of this transformation. Located on the 40th Floor of the Heron Tower (see below) it has a slightly scary glass lift, stunning views across London and first rate food. What’s more it’s open constantly. I think the restaurant or the bar might close at 3 am briefly but it’s pretty much open 24/7. That’s awesome. I’m not sure why I think this but, if pressed, I guess my answer would be that it enables people who have been working constantly a release and it takes away some of the formality that undermines most dining experiences.
Duck and Waffle offer a Dosant from 11 am on Sundays during Brunch. The Dosant is a fried croissant, glazed in cinnamon sugar, filled with vanilla cream and sprinkled with chocolate chips. I don’t know but I don’t think that Duck and Waffle’s Executive Chef Daniel Doherty’s Dosant can reasonably be described as a Cronut. Nevertheless, it did taste good. I unceremoniously ate two after devouring a selection of pastries and knocking back a Hot Chocolate at speed so that I could catch the Monza Grand Prix that weekend. The views alone were worth the trip. But as it happens the Dosant was very good too. Comparing it to Rinkoff’s Crodough or Cocomaya’s Cronut is silly. All trace of the doughnut is gone (except for the fact it’s fried). Of course it’s better than the Crodough, it’s probably triple the price! It’s not a fair fight. It doesn’t really belong to the same weight category. In many respects, it has more in common with Cornetti con Crema than the Cronut. However, it justifies itself on its own merits. If you have a free Sunday morning I have no hesitation in recommending a trip to the Heron Tower.