Cronuts! The craze that swept NYC has now come to London where no less than four bakers are putting out their take on the fused (and possibly confused) pastry. Having waited for over two hours on a sidewalk in the lower west side of Manhattan for the originals, it was only fitting that I tested out London’s answer.
To this end, the first Cronut Crawl came into being. I led a small yet devoted group to sweet-toothed foodies around East London as we sought to find out just how much sugar our bodies could tolerate being exploding in some Disney-style fireworks. We hit up Rinkoff Bakery, Wild & Coffee, Duck & Waffle, and Kooky Bakes. The crawl continued through the week and is still on. See Round 2 here where we visited Astons Breads, Kooky Bakes for a second variety, and Cocomaya.
The first stop on the crawl by virtue of being the first one open was Rinkoff Bakeries. Opened in 1911, this family run bakery has been serving up some quality goods for over 100 years. In fact, Jen Rinkoff was on hand that morning and was wrapping up our pastries to go – I only realised who she was after talking to a fellow early riser outside.
Rinkoff makes three toppings for the cro-dough at the moment: raspberry, custard, and fresh cream with chocolate chunks. The based is doughnut shaped and coloured and has a crispy, flakey outer layer as one would expect from a croissant. The interior, however, is soft and fluffy and everything a doughnut should be. Toppings wise, while all are good the raspberry is the standout – get it now!
Wild & Coffee
The second stop on our crawl was meant to be Wild & Coffee near Holborn. Sadly, despite having called a couple days earlier to confirm, we were told the disheartening news that they didn’t sell cronuts on Sundays. A bit disappointed, our crew turned around and trekked back East to our next stop. The silver lining was that the sun was out and our leisurely stroll helped burn off at least one bite of delicious cro-dough.
Duck & Waffle
The third stop was possibly the poshest stop as well, towering above the rest on the 40th floor of Heron Tower at Liverpool St. However, we ran into a little bit of a snag here – a dress code. Turns out, D&W insists you dress to impress even at 11am on a Sunday morning. That being said, I was allowed in wearing gym shorts and neon green trainers whereas the girls in sandals were refused entry (although another group with a reservation was allowed in despite similar choice in footwear).
Anyways, we were only here for their cronut copy (called “dossants”), so half the group headed up while the rest waited outside. D&W’s dossants look for all intents and purposes like deep fried croissants split in half and stuffed with fresh cream. And as far as I can tell, that’s just what they are. £6 gets you a pair of small croissant-shaped flaky pastries with a fresh light and slightly lemony flavoured cream. A bit pricey, but then again D&W is a bit on the nicer side of things so not wholly unexpected.
However, I think they are missing a beat here as while the croissant was represented in full, there was barely any soft fluffy doughnut in evidence. Really, Mr Doughnut has to take a look and wonder if that really is his kid…
As we were leaving (and lamenting our meagre two cronut breakfast), we were alerted to another cronut contribution nearby in the Brick Lane Markets. This was one created by Kooky Bakes, a street food small batch bakery, and since we were in the area we headed up to try it.
After navigating the crowds, we managed to get into Brick Lane Up Market and presented ourself to the Kooky Baker himself. This time, the cronut took the form of a square doughnut composed of layers of buttery flaky pastry and topped with a rich caramel sauce. Again, the doughnut wasn’t in evidence but the pastry was very light although absurdly buttery. I think I’d have preferred a little less grease but there was no mistaking the result. It was a great way to finish the crawl as by then we were starting to flag and run out of space in the sweet spot.
So, the big question, how do they all compare to NYC?
There is no doubting that all the second generation cronuts have the benefit of seeing the innovative pastry created by Chef Dominique Ansel and looking to improve. That being said, the recipe is a guarded secret and I wouldn’t have the first clue how to replicate it so props to these bakers for doing so.
When it comes to really bringing the image of the love child of a doughnut and a croissant to life, Ansel’s cronut is a good effort but Rinkoff Bakeries takes the cake, so to speak, in my opinion. Their cro-dough had the right balance of crispy, flaky croissant while holding true to the core of what makes a doughnut, a doughnut. Plus, the raspberry topping was deliciously fresh and given I had the same flavour in NYC it was an easy comparison.
I’d give it to Kooky Bakes next for most enjoyable croissant-type pastry. D&W had an interesting take but I think the value proposition isn’t up to scratch and I’m a bit miffed they were so picky about letting us up – we weren’t poorly dressed just more for sun than style. I’m hoping to try Wild & Coffee soon and report back – but for now they were a fail.
Thanks again for those brave souls who joined me far too early on Sunday morning and I hope everything has made it through the sugar crash – I know I passed out for most of Sunday afternoon!