Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Study in Homemade Cronuts Recipes - 1 Night, 3 Different Doughs, 1 Deep Fryer


Cronut with passion-fruit glaze.
Cronut with passionfruit glaze.
The cronut craze has everyone talking lately as it is essentially a croissant cut into a donut shape and then deep fried. Chef Dominique Ansel invented the cronut in his New York bakery in May 2013. Since then, everyone has either lined up in Chef Ansel's line for their requisite 2 cronuts or attempted to make a homemade version of cronuts. As I am unable to fly to NYC at the moment, my husband along with a few of our friends decided to try making some cronuts at home.

After some research we focused on two cronuts recipes. One from Dinner with Julie (DWJ) and another from Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella (NQN). We also made a third batch using pre-made Pillsbury croissant dough to compare with the two homemade cronut recipes. We made some thorough comparisons but if you like you can jump straight to the conclusion.



Homemade Cronut Dough From Not Quite Nigella (Dough 1)

The first dough that we made was the one from NQN. She has some excellent step by step photos on her site as well. The ingredients you will need for her recipe are pictured below.
Using a scale helps to accurately measure out all the ingredients.

Ingredients for Cronut Dough 1

  • 7g (1 1/4 tsp) dry active yeast 
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) warm water 
  • 4g (1 tsp) sugar
  • 225g (1 3/4 cup) flour
  • 9g (2 tsp) sugar
  • 9g (1 1/2 tsp) salt
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) oil
  • 115g (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter
Directions - Dough 1 (NQN)
homemade dough photos 1
Ingredients for homemade dough 1

  1. Prepare the yeast in warm water with a bit of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a draft-free place (we often place it in the microwave) so that the yeast and sugar can foam. 
  2. Heat the milk (just until tepid), add the salt and rest of the sugar. 
  3. In the bowl of the KA, add the flour, oil, yeast mixture and milk mixture. Mix it all together with the paddle attachment or with a spatula (if doing by hand).
  4. Once all the ingredients are incorporated it will look like a free form ball.Place the ball of dough onto a floured surface and smack the dough onto the surface 8-10 times. 
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for approximately three hours. It should triple in size. 
  6. Follow the folding method on NQN's website for the butter and dough folding process.  
At the end of several folding/laminating here is what NQN's dough looked like right before we flattened it and then cut out donuts.

Pillowy-dough that has been proofed after laminating.
Super puffed up croissant dough right before the rolling & cutting process.


Use Cookie Cutter to cut cronut hole in Not Quite Nigella's cronut.


Homemade Cronut Dough from Dinner With Julie (Dough 2) 

The second dough we made from scratch was using DWJ's recipe.
Ingredients for cronut recipe 2. Main difference is the addition of eggs.

Ingredients for Cronut Dough 2

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk (warmed)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour.

Directions - Dough 2 (DWJ)

See Instructions on Dinner With Julie's Cronut Recipe. Pictured below is the process of folding the butter into the dough - the laminating process.
Four pictures (clockwise from top-left) 1) Placing sheet of butter into middle of flattened dough, 2) folding bottom of dough over butter, 3) folding other sides over the butter to make it look like an envelope, 4) rolling "the envelope" flat with rolling pin.
The folding/laminating process. 


Use a small cookie cutter to cut out the holes in the donuts/cronuts.

Final Proofing of DWJ's cronuts after they've been cut into donut shapes.

Homemade Cronut from Pillsbury Croissant/Crescent Rolls Can (Dough 3)

Lastly, we bought a can of Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough to see how it would compare to the homemade doughs. 

Ingredients for Cronut-From-A-Can (Dough 3)

  • One Can of Pillsbury Crescent Roll
    • Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
    • Water
    • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil
    • Sugar
    • Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate)
    • Contains 2% or Less of: Dextrose, Vital Wheat Gluten, Salt, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Potassium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Flavor, Yellow 5, Alpha Tocopherol (to Protect Flavor), Color Added, Red 40.
*note* All this to say, is that clearly, Pillsbury uses a lot of oil! More about that oil later...
Three images showing the rolling out of Pillsbury dough.
Rolling out the Pillsbury dough for cronuts.

Directions for Dough 3

  1. Purchase Can from super market
  2. Open Can
  3. Unroll sheet
  4. Cut donut shapes from sheet.
Cronut-holes on a tray ready to be proofed, then deep-fried.

Comparisons between the Doughs

So, what you are probably really wondering is if there were any differences at all between all the doughs. Here are the blurbs! If you want to skip the explanations, continue scrolling through to look at the pictures! 


Five Cronuts laid out.At center: NQN's cronut, Left,Bottom,Right: DWJ Cronut, Top:Pilllsbury


Differences in Directions
The directions are pretty similar to most homemade croissant recipes. We have made croissants before and both NQN and DWJ's recipe are very similar to standard croissant recipes. One striking difference is that NQN's recipe activates the yeast as opposed to DWJ where you simply mix the dry yeast without activation. After making both recipes, it didn't seem like activating the yeast made a significant difference in proofing time as both recipes require you to proof for a long time (approximately 12 hours). NQN also double-stacks her doughnuts after cutting making it noticeably thicker than DWJ's version. The Pillsbury pre-made crescent roll was very simple as it required no extra steps after opening the can and unrolling the sheet.
Close-up of Not-Quite-Nigella's Cronut. Showing the double-stacked doughs resulting in a thicker, flakier crust.
Not Quite Nigella's (Dough 1). Here you can see how the doughnuts
were double stacked prior to deep frying resulting in a thicker and fluffier look.
Differences in Ingredients
One noticeable ingredient difference between DWJ and NQN is that DWJ's recipe uses eggs in her croissant recipe while NQN does not. NQN's recipe also uses a slightly different amount of yeast as well. The Pillsbury's crescent rolls contain a few extra ingredients for preservation purposes but it has a noticeable inclusion of baking powder and partially hydrogenated oil (see notes on taste).
Dinner with Julie's cronut recipe after deep frying.
Dinner with Julie's cronut recipe after deep frying.
I asked each of the authors the reasoning behind their ingredients for their croissant recipe. Julie indicated that she was looking for a rich pastry dough with a specific mouth feel. Whereas Lorraine from NQN replied that she was focused on getting layers in her croissants while balancing the yeast content. 

Differences during Folding and Laminating
A good croissant requires a few laminations. Laminating dough is the process where you flatten the dough and fold it on itself. Lamination creates the flaky layers of butter and dough that we all love in a great croissant! Dan noted that DWJ's recipe was resistant to being rolled thin and stiffer in comparison to NQN's. We think it might be stiffness of the DWJ recipe might be due to the eggs. All that being said, Dan had a really good workout laminating the doughs several times.


Cross-section of Not Quite Nigella's Cronut showing the flaky layers and double-stacking.



Differences in Deep Frying
Deep-frying is a crucial and necessary step in making cronuts and while deep frying is relatively straightforward there were differences between the different doughs in hot oil. The Pillsbury cronuts literally inflated as they were put into the oil, and were squishy throughout the entire frying process, the Pillsbury croissant also stayed soft and squishy like a sponge soaking up oil. Both NQN and DWJ's croissants became stiff and crispy after being deep fried.
Two cronuts made differently being deep-fried. Top-left: a very dough-nut inflated Pillsbury, bottom-right: Wheel-like Dinner With Julie.

Two cronuts being deep fried: Top - Solid, Pineapple-looking Not Quite Nigella's, Bottom: Inflated-pillow-donut-like Pillsbury.

The Pillsbury cronut afer deep frying.
The Pillsbury cronut after deep frying.

Differences in Taste and Texture

Everyone agreed that NQN's cronut recipe seemed flakier (likely due to the dough's easier lamination and the double stacking prior to deep frying) and DWJ's cronut recipe was more cake like. On the other hand, the Pillsbury cronut tasted like a conventional donut, except oilier (possibly due to the significant amount of oil in the ingredients.


Three Dinner With Julie Cronuts drizzled in strawberry glaze.



Conclusions

After trying out three different homemade cronut recipes, I really enjoyed the taste of Dinner With Julie's version; however the layered look in Not Quite Nigella's cronut recipe was aesthetically pleasing. I would recommend not rushing and taking the quick route of using Pillsbury ready-made crescent roll as it did not look nor taste anywhere in comparison to the homemade versions. I would consider making cronuts again using Dinner With Julie's version and double-stacking it. I would suggest making this with several people as they're best enjoyed fresh out of the fryer. As much as you would like to eat every single cronut and crobit yourself it's best for your health to share the task of making and eating with friends!

A tray of cronuts containing some made using Dinner With Julie's recipe, some with Pillsbury pre-made dough.



Bowl of left-over puff pastry scraps deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar.



A pile of cronut holes or crobits sprinkled with sugar.

3 comments:

  1. OMG!
    now that's my kind of party
    deep fried dough - you guys really know how to have a good time!
    nice post
    cheers
    su :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Su! It was quite an awesome party! Definitely had lot of cronuts to go around. I'm not sure if we will do cronuts again, but there were some good croissant recipes that we used. We will most likely try making croissants from those recipes :). Thanks for visiting!

    ReplyDelete

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