Just in case you have no idea what a cronut is, let me fill you in: the cronut was invented by Dominique Ansel at his eponymous New York bakery in May 2013. A deep-fried, sugar-rolled, glazed fusion of the croissant and the doughnut, the cronut (copyright on the name is pending) was an immediate sell-out, a different flavour each month flying off the shelves at $5 (about £3.10) a piece. Even now, people queue from 6am, two hours before the bakery opens, and a two cronuts per customer limit has been imposed.
News of the cronut craze crossed the Atlantic and I became mildly obsessed with tasting one of these mythical treats. Sure enough, soon they started springing up around London. There are now a reported eight places you can get a cronut-like baked good. There’s the dosant, deep-fried and croissant-shaped, at upscale eatery Duck and Waffle in the City. There’s the big ring-shaped crodough available in several flavours from Rinkoff’s bakery in Whitechapel. Then there’s the cronut from Ayers the Bakers in Peckham. And even high street bakers Greggs have got in on the action with the Greggsnut.
Should be easy to get a cronut in London then, shouldn’t it? Wrong.
Ayre’s opens at 6am and apparently all their cronuts are gone within an hour (that’ll be all the hipsters from nearby Goldsmiths University then). Duck and Waffle is, frankly, a bit out of my price range. I went to Greggs on Strutton Ground last week two days after the Greggsnut had launched to be told they hadn’t had a delivery that day because they were struggling to maintain the quality while keeping up with demand. And an attempt to get a Rinkoff’s crodough failed because I didn’t realise their Vallance Road branch was closed on weekends – entirely my own fault, of course.
But yesterday it finally happened. My friend Lily and I went to the Jubilee Street branch of Rinkoff’s and fulfilled all our wildest cronut dreams.
Tucked away in the middle of a little pedestrianised parade of shops at the far end of Jubilee Street, Rinkoff’s wasn’t easy to find. Arriving at about 10.45am on a Sunday there were three crodough varieties already on the counter: custard, raspberry, and the brand new flavour debuting that morning, chocolate fudge. Within minutes a batch of the forth flavour, toffee apple crumble crodoughs, appeared fresh from the over. A steady trickle of cronut hunters appeared while we were there, but there were no queues so I don’t think you’d need to worry about them selling out.
We had a lovely chat with Jennifer Rinkoff, who told us that she had been in New York when cronut mania originally kicked off.
“I came back and then spent three days in the kitchen with our bakers figuring out our own recipe,” she said.
Originally they made a cream-filled crodough but had to discontinue it because working with fresh cream proved too tricky. “We’re thinking about maybe bringing it back for a limited time,” Jennifer told us.
So, what do crodoughs taste like? In a word, delicious. Thinking that two each was a bit extreme, Lily and I shared three between us, sitting at the only table outside Rinkoff’s with a cup of tea. Let me talk you through each flavour.
First up, the custard crodough (all crodoughs cost between £2.50 and £3). With a piped custard topping but no filling, this is the most minimalist variety. The chewy pastry combined with the crunchy and delicately cinnamon-sugared exterior reminded us of that Spanish deep-fried delicacy, churros.
The toffee apple crumble crodough, on the other hand, was stuffed with an apple sauce filling and covered with crumble and a generous drizzle of toffee icing. The contrast of the tart apple and the sweet topping was superb, like a pimped up apple turnover.
Finally, the chocolate fudge crodough was by far the most decadent, coated with chocolate fudge sauce and dotted with shards of chocolate. A bit too sweet for us, it’s a chocoholic’s dream. We told Jennifer we thought a sprinkling of sea salt flakes on top could be good and she said they’re actually thinking about doing a salted caramel crodough too. Great minds, eh?
Were the crodoughs deserving of all the hype? I think so. I tend to limit the amount of sweet stuff I eat (which is why I invented this flapjack recipe) so when I do indulge I really want to go all out. Admittedly, I over-indulged a bit as a single crodough (or even half) would have been more than enough, and the post-crodough energy slump was pretty epic, but I had to go for the triple whammy for the sake of this taste test, of course. And it was worth it. It was also a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning in London, wandering around Whitechapel and sitting in the sunshine, and the Rinkoff’s staff were super friendly and chatty. If you want to see what the cronut craze is all about without getting up at the crack of dawn, I reckon Rinkoff’s is your best bet. Take that, New Yorkers.
Rinkoff’s Bakery, 224 Jubilee Street, E1 3BS London, is open 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Sunday. Visit www.crodoughlondon.com.