I must say that when I first heard of the Cronut phenomenon I dismissed it as a passing fad – purely a New York obsession that would blaze briefly and then be forgotten. Well, I was wrong. Dominique Ansel’s trademarked pastry was a 2013 phenomenon that not only continues to fascinate as we about to wave 2014 goodbye but has spawned copycats around the world. Even my local bakery has a version – albeit not a very good one (way too greasy and sickly-sweet).
Monsieur Ansel has now revealed his secret cronut recipe to the world – it is included in his new book (fittingly titled Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes). I read through the recipe with great interest checking to see how it compared with my homemade cronut and I have to say I think it is overly fiddly ensuring that very few home bakers will be foolish enough to attempt it. Even my original attempt was quite tricky and time consuming using Danish pastry dough which requires a lengthy folding / chilling / folding process. The results were great, don’t get me wrong, but it is not something I would expect most people to grapple with.
I revisited my homemade cronut this time using my quick method Danish pastry dough to see if it would work and I was quite blown away by the deliciousness. A fresh homemade cronut really is the best thing EVER – followed closely by a freshly made doughnut, with a homemade croissant a distant third. The layers aren’t as apparent with the quick method dough but when something tastes that addictive you quickly overlook such minor details.
Christmas Cronuts with marzipan & rum pastry cream
Make the dough up to three days in advance – it needs overnight chilling. The pastry cream can also be made one day in advance and kept chilled until you use it.
Quick method Danish Pasty Dough
Makes 10-12 cronuts
180ml | 3/4 cup (6fl oz) milk
1 sachet dry active yeast (about 1/2 tbsp)
70g | 1/3 cup (caster) sugar
1 large egg
250g | 2 cups plain flour (plus more for dusting and rolling)
65g | 1/2 cup white bread flour
230g | 2 sticks cold unsalted Lurpak butter, cubed
1 tsp salt
- Cube the butter and put it in the freezer while you get on with the recipe.
- Heat the milk for a few seconds in a microwave until warm. Add the sugar and yeast and whisk to combine. Let it stand for 10 minutes until the yeast is frothy. Add the egg and lightly whisk together. Set aside.
- Put the flour and salt in the large bowl of your food processor fitted with a metal blade.
- Add the cubed butter and briefly pulse a few times until mixture resembles chunky breadcrumbs.You want the butter to remain in pea-sized pieces.
- Put the flour mixture in a large bowl and add the milk/yeast mixture. Gently combine using a spatula until the dough just comes together – don’t overwork it.
- Line your worktop with two large pieces of cling film. Tip the dough onto it and use the cling film to squash the dough into a square. Put in the freezer for 1 hour or until fairly firm but still pliable.
- Dust your worktop and rolling pin with flour. Roll your dough out to a rectangle roughly three times as long as it is wide. Fold the top over towards the middle and then bottom over it to create a square – using a pastry scraper to help you if sticky.
- Rotate the dough by a quarter turn and repeat the folding. Flip the dough over so the seams are underneath. Roll it out again and repeat 8-10 times until the dough starts to get elastic. If the dough gets too warm and butter starts to melt pop it back in the freezer for a bit.
- Wrap the dough twice with cling film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. You are now ready to use it.
- Whisk together the sugar, cornflour and eggs – either by hand or in a mixer – until smooth.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and vanilla paste until small bubbles appear along the edge of the pan.
- Slowly pour the some of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking to avoid curdling the eggs. Gradually add the rest of the milk while whisking.
- Pour the cream back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes until cream thickens.
- Pour cream through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the butter.
- Cut the marzipan into small pieces and put in a bowl with the rum. Microwave for short bursts until it warm enough to mix into a paste.
- Sieve the marzipan into the pastry cream and mix thoroughly. Cover with cling film and chill for a couple of hours or overnight.
- Prepare the glaze by mixing the icing sugar with the orange juice until you have a thick but pourable consistency. Fill a large plate with sugar, add the cinnamon and mix together.
- Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it out until just under 2cm/1 inch thick – any thinner and the cronuts won’t be very tall. Stamp our six disks using a 9cm/ 3 1/2 inch floured cutter. Cut a hole in the middle using a small cutter (or bottom of piping tip).
- Repeat with leftover dough until you have used it all up.
- Place the the cronuts on a tray lined with baking paper, cover them with greased cling film and leave them to rise for up to 2 hours until plump and puffy.
- Half fill a large pot with oil and heat until it reaches 175C/350F. You need to make sure the oil temperature is constant before frying – clip a thermometer on and keep an eye on it the whole time. Alternatively use a fryer.
- When the oil is ready, fry two pastries at a time for a couple of minutes on each side until puffy and golden. Remove from the oil using a chopstick or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Roll the sides in the sugar while still warm. Leave to cool before filling.
- Poke 4 holes on the bottom of each pastry using a chopstick. Put the pastry cream into a pipping bag fitted with a small narrow tip and fill the pastries.
- Drizzle with a little glaze and sprinkle with the edible stars. Enjoy while still fresh!