American food has been having a bit of a renaissance in London recently. Burger bars, hot dog restaurants and retro diners have all surged in popularity over the last year, so it’s a wonder that the latest American culinary creation took as long as it did to arrive in the UK.
Blame Twitter, then, that London is now paralyzed by the calorific, custard-filled cronut.
“They're really sickly sweet, and they’re filled with this cream. There was one that had apple and cinnamon, a custard one...,” said Danielle Goldstein, a writer for London's Time Out magazine.
Goldstein was in New York when she heard about Dominique Ansel’s cronut: the croissant-doughnut hybrid that has been making headlines and increasing waistlines since they went on sale in the Manhattan-based chef’s bakery.
“When I went down to the bakery, two hours before it opened, there was a queue around the corner," she recalled. "And this had been happening for the past month, every single morning, which is nuts.”
Goldstein admits that a genuine American cronut was a bit too much for her; she only managed to eat half. It’s not hard to see why. Ansell's cronut is round like a doughnut, but inside it's filled with many layers of pastry, like a croissant. Add a squeeze of jelly, cream or custard inside and then fry it and roll it in sugar for good measure. Oh yes, then top it with a glaze... and some more sugar. Goldstein tweeted about her experience, and the cronut craze spread to London.
“Maybe a week or two after I got back, cronuts had supposedly hit the capital,” Goldstein said.
London's East End was the first to benefit.
“I saw on Twitter that people were asking ‘where can I get a cronut in London?’ and I was like, 'that’s weird, no one is doing them,'” said Jennifer Rinkoff, who runs the Rinkoff Bakery. A family store for over 100 years and four generations, Rinkoff Bakery has the honor of being the first bakery in the UK to sell something like a cronut. Although, due to trademark issues, Jennifer sells "crodoughs," not cronuts. Ansel has trademarked the word "cronut" for his creation.
“I’d heard about this whole thing in America, and I was like, we can make these, they look really simple. For us, anyway. I just went into the bakery, and trial-ed and went off from there,” she said.
Pretty soon, other bakeries had joined in. Londoners can now tuck into crodoughs, fauxnuts and dosants, and they’re doing so with gusto. As London’s newly appointed critic of all things high-calorie, Goldstein was asked why we, Brits, appear to be so enamored with American... cuisine.
“It must just be a cultural thing. We already love American TV and music, but I think it’s just the obsession with the US generally,” she said.
Editor's note: this article has been updated to clarify that "Cronut" is a trademark of Dominique Ansel.