Thursday, September 5, 2013

‘Faux’ Cronuts Pop Up in Oakland

By Luke Tsai
Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM

By now surely you’ve heard of the Cronut, New York City pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s croissant-doughnut hybrid that has, within the span of a few months, become a worldwide sensation. Fried-dough lovers continue to line up at Ansel’s eponymous Manhattan bakery at 5:30 a.m. each morning, and hundreds of copycat versions have been spawned — everywhere from Zurich to Taipei to San Francisco.

Up until this point, it hasn’t, to our knowledge, been possible to snag one of these indulgent pastries in the East Bay. Oakland restaurateur Lexi Filipello (Stag’s Lunchette, Bar Dogwood) and independent pastry chef Amie Bailey are teaming up to rectify that situation by hosting a croissant-doughnut pop-up at Stag’s Lunchette (362 17th St.) this Sunday, September 8, from 9 a.m. until the pastries sell out.

As of this posting, Bailey and Filipello are calling their version the “faux nut,” not to be confused with the unrelated pastry product sold under that name at Uptown’s Sweet Bar Bakery. (It appears a cease-and-desist letter made them reconsider their original name, “croughnut.”) For Sunday’s pop-up they’ll be selling three versions: Double G(ougin) (Tahitian vanilla bean pastry cream filling, rolled in vanilla-scented sugar), Creamsicle (clementine pastry cream, rolled in vanilla-scented sugar), and Red Hot (bourbon pastry cream, rolled in smoked chili sugar).

A Cronut by any other name might be just as sweet, but at $6 a pop (Ansel’s originals retail for $5) these aren’t an inexpensive indulgence. That said, What the Fork had a chance to sample a few of the vanilla cream variety yesterday, and we liked them well enough. Each one was handmade, so no two were exactly the same in size and shape, but in general they were surprisingly large, puffed-up things — tall enough to cut into a kind of triple-decker sandwich, with a slather of cream between each layer.

A faux nut picnic.

The gist of how a Cronut/”faux nut” is made is that a special laminated croissant dough gets fried, then rolled in sugar and filled. (Unlike Ansel’s original version, the Stag's faux nuts did not appear to be glazed.) Between the crackly sugar coating and the soft, layered dough, the fried pastry reminded me of a morning bun more than anything else — a flaky, slightly gooey, cream-filled morning bun. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Whether it’s good enough to wait on line for hours for — well, I won’t presume to speak for the pastry-obsessed. (When I typed “what time to line up” into the Google search box, “Cronut” was the third auto-complete option.) Filipello said she’s already gotten a ton of interest — people calling and saying they wanted to pre-order dozens of the things.

Rest assured, the rule of law will prevail: Filipello is placing a limit of two faux-nuts per customer, first come first served. That said, if you’ve been wanting to try one of these, you’d be foolish not to show up on the early side.

For now, the pop-up is a one-shot deal, though Filipello said if the event is a success, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for it to become a semi-regular occurrence.

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