A few years ago we heard about this amazing creation that crossed a donut and croissant. The Cronut was introduced on May 10, 2013 at Ansel's bakery, Dominique Ansel Bakery, in New York's Soho neighborhood. These not so little treats were so popular you would find a line wrapped around the block at this bakery every morning. They are a labor of love- and it was a once they are gone, they are gone situation. We might frequent NYC now for business but at the time we were not going to NYC for any reason. I knew that I would likely never get to try one, but I sure could try to make them myself! That’s the thing about baking, and cooking for that matter- none of it is especially difficult. Sometimes its messy, time consuming or just a lot of steps in general; but it’s not hard really- not when you really think about it.
So what do you need to making this amazing hybrid? Time- and lots of it. The actual amount of time physically touching the dough is honestly no more than 20-30 mins total. It’s what I call a hurry up and wait kind of recipe. But why??
It’s all about the laminating- and no, not your office laminator. You are basically covering the dough in butter, folding, and rolling it out over and over over again. This process coats the dough in thin layers of butter and this process is what creates flaky pastries. Now one of the main differences between this recipe and a classic croissant is that they are going in the deep fryer versus the oven, and this recipe takes several hours of resting between steps.
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 ½ tablespoons white sugar, or more to taste
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and/or cinnamon
- 3 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 12 tablespoons European-style (low-moisture) butter at room temperature, divided (if you can’t find European butter use regular unsalted butter- the recipe will be ok but I notice my best batches were made with European butter)
- 6 cups grape seed oil for frying, or as needed (vegetable oil will due if you do not have grape seed)
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream (add more if needed for consistency)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place yeast into the mixing bowl of a large stand mixer. Hand whisk in warm water and let stand about 5 minutes. You will see bubbles or like a foam cover the top.
- Add salt, sugar, milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla extract, egg, and nutmeg. Whisk mixture thoroughly. Pour flour on top of liquid ingredients. Place mixing bowl onto mixer.
- Attach dough hook to mixer and knead on low speed until dough comes together in a ball. It will be soft and sticky but dough will stick to the hook and pull away from the side of the bowl.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface, knead 2 or 3 times, and shape into a ball. Try not to mess with it too much. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes to let gluten relax.
- Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap, and dust lightly with flour. Roll out into a 9x18-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Evenly spread 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter onto the middle third of the dough leaving space around the edges.
- Fold dough like a letter. Fold one unbuttered third over the buttered third and press lightly; spread remaining 6 tablespoons of unsalted button on top of that third.
- Fold remaining third over the first (buttered) third. Leaving space around the edges will allow you to press and seal the butter inside. This will help when you roll it out again. Transfer dough onto a sheet pan, cover lightly with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and refrigerate 20 to 30 more minutes for butter to become firm.
- Return dough to floured work surface and pat very gently into an 8x14 rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Fold outer thirds over center third as before; roll out into an 8x14-inch rectangle again. Keep edges of rectangle as straight as possible. Fold in thirds as before. Cover dough lightly with a kitchen towel, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick or a touch thinner.
- Most will want to use a traditional 3-inch circular cutter and 1-inch size cutter to cut the donut holes out of the dough circles. I personally do not own this so I used a slightly smaller cuter that was in the shape of a flower. Most importantly- if your shape is too big and you do not have a center hole it will not cook the center completely by the time the outside is golden brown.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Arrange your cutouts on the prepared baking sheet. Let rise in a draft-free, warm place (such as an unheated oven) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Heat oil in a deep fryer or a deep saucepan over medium heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). It is very important that the temperature is just right so do check it before you put your treats in the oil. Too cool and they will not cook properly and too hot and they will burn very quickly.
- Carefully lift a cronut and gently drop into oil. Fry 2 at a time until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Cronuts will puff up as they cook. Drain on racks over paper towels; let cool.
- Whisk confectioners' sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a shallow bowl until glaze is smooth and slightly runny. Add more heavy cream as needed.
- Pick up a fried cronut and gently dip the top in glaze; return to rack and let stand until glaze has set, about 15 minutes.
Fun Tip- if you cut out some donut hole size treats they make the perfect cupcake topper!