Dissecting The Cronut

I’m a pretty big doughnut fan. I was raised on them: sprinkled, old fashioned, and my favorite — the cruller. The cruller is light, airy, and full of nooks and crannies to be filled with milk at each dunk.

I’m also a pretty big croissant fan. The flaky, buttery crust is the perfect accompaniment to varieties that include chocolate, almond paste, or a savory filling.

And now, there is … the “Cronut!” To be fair, a “Cronut” is a croissant-style doughnut created and trademarked by Dominique Ansel, chef for Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City. So with that being said, everything everywhere else is essentially an imitation. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Living in San Diego, I’m finding that it is taking awhile for the new croissant-doughnut hybrid to catch on in bakeries here. So I had to go hunting to find purveyors of the trendy new treat at Paris Baguette nestled in the local Zion Market. The bummer was that when I got there at 12 in the afternoon, they were already sold out! With advertising signs posted all over their French blue and silver bakery, I couldn’t imagine that they could be all out. So I asked what the deal was. To my surprise, they only serve them once a day at 11 a.m., and they were out of them just an hour later!

So I asked why Paris Baguette serves their version only once a day. The process is an arduous one requiring patience and specialized technique to create a balanced dough. That dough is carefully and thinly layered. The doughnut is then baked like a croissant, fried like a doughnut, then baked one more time to effectively create a treat that is both flaky with a tender interior. Paris Baguette serves theirs drizzled with lemon custard and filled with cream. (The process does seem a bit much for a bakery that offers a wide range of sweet and savory pastries, but I still couldn’t help thinking it might also be a gimmick to keep customers checking back on a regular basis!)

On my second visit, promptly at 11 the next morning, I snagged my first sample. There are only two ways you can eat this delight, the first being the good ol’ fashioned way: take a big bite out of it!  But if you plan to be dainty, make sure you use a serrated knife. Tearing or cutting with a non-serrated knife only destroys all those wonderful melt-in-your-mouth layers. The verdict is this: the croissant-doughnut hybrid definitely has a flavor and texture all its own. (Personally, I could do without the extra frou-frous like custard and cream so that the pastry layers aren’t burdened with the extra weight of the cream.)  Delicious — but the cruller is still my favorite!