August 16, 2013

Homemade Cronuts

Since there are people out there who still haven't heard of a cronut (ahem, Jenner), let's start at the beginning. The cronut is the creation of NYC baker Dominique Ansel and is described as half-donut, half-croissant. These pastries are so popular in New York (well, everywhere, but you can only get them in New York), that people begin lining up before 6am to attempt to score a cronut. (Read Cronut 101 if you think that sounds like a pleasant way to spend your morning in New York). Madness. 

Really, the ideal way to eat a cronut is fresh out of the fryer, after NOT standing on line for 2+ hours, and as breakfast to start your day at the beach. I saw this perfect storm coming months ago when I signed up for my family's annual week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina: stepfather (expert fried dough maker) + sister's friend Dr. T (bringer of the fryer) = cronuts. 

While the cronut recipe is proprietary, making croissant dough, shaping it like a donut, and frying it was close enough for me. There's also pastry cream and glaze involved in Ansel's cronuts, but I just went with granulated sugar as a topping. Keepin' it simple, folks. 

The dough is a laminated dough, which means that cold butter is folded into it and refrigerated between folds. This technique keeps the butter from becoming incorporated into the dough and creates those signature flaky layers. I followed the butter croissant recipe from Gourmet via Epicurious. 

I then rolled the dough out to 1/2" thick and stamped out donut shapes and holes with Buck's excellent cutter set. By this point, there was a lot of people hovering around the kitchen. 

Finally, the most exciting step: the frying. Dr. T's fryer was perfect for cranking out 3 cronuts at a time (with a few holes for good measure). They didn't take long to fry up to a perfect golden brown, expanding their crispy layers as they sizzled. 

With a sprinkle of sugar they were ready. Need I tell you they were delicious? It should be obvious by now. I hate to say anything bad about donuts, but they really are missing the flaky edges of a croissant. Despite this dough being more work than donut dough, it was totally worth it. If you make the dough the night before like we did, then in the morning, you're left with just the frying and all the glory. 

I was then declared the cronut queen and used my title to curry favors for the rest of the day (like beer refills while in the pool). I highly recommend it.