Cronut 101 with Chef Dino
Do you want to learn first-hand how the infamous Cronut is made? Shargri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa’s Executive Pastry Chef, Dino Wan divulged the secrets behind making his simply delicious Cronut.
Cronut is Chef Dino’s unique take on Chef Dominique Ansel’s croissant-doughnut hybrid which took New York by storm since it was first launched in Spring 2013. The Manhattan bakery ultimately trademarked the term "Cronut," but everyone still wants to get in on the Cronut game. Bakeries around the globe are offering their spins on the fried pastry, with plenty of creative names attached including KLonut, Doughssants, Doissants, Crescent Doughnuts, Crullant, Squats and Dossant.
Meeting Chef Dino and learning from him how Cronuts were made was indeed very exciting. He noted, “Adrian, you are the first person whom I’m sharing the process of making the Cronuts”. Lucky, I brought along my camera to photograph the entire process, from the beginning till the end, so that many more who are interested could gain some insights behind the making of this worldwide phenomenon.
Chef Dino’s cheerful disposition and friendly personality were indeed welcoming and seeing a true master at work, you know that you are learning from the best. He was in his element and the way he handled the Cronuts with such care and attention only reflected his true passion for creating elaborate and imaginative creations. It was easy to understand why Chef Dino who had devoted more than three decades to perfecting his skills has won a string of awards. His cakes and pastries have been admired and savoured by heads of states, the country's leaders and captains of industry.
Chef Dino began with making the dough of flour, sugar, milk, water, salt and yeast. He used only quality ingredients to achieve good results. Less kneading was required to prevent the texture of the Cronut from being too chewy. After chilling the dough and allowing it to rest, it was rolled out large enough to incorporate a sheet of butter. The dough enveloped the butter and all corners were carefully sealed to avoid the butter from spreading out.
Chef Dino explained that in the kitchen, he uses a machine to roll out the dough to the desired thickness. For my convenience, he has gone back to the basics with the old faithful rolling pin. With a double fold, he allowed the dough to rest and after being chilled, he repeated the double-fold process twice over. The pastry dough could be prepared days in advance.
The dough was then rolled out and cut with a circular cutter into a donut-like shape before being deep-fried till golden at 150°C. Chef Dino measured the temperature of the oil with a thermometer before frying as it is important to the cooking process.
Once cooked, each Cronut was flavored in three ways. First, it was glazed with white or brown chocolate and topped with pairing ingredients. Then the sides were sprinkled with fine white sugar. Finally, it was cut and filled with delicately flavoured pastry cream.
Chef Dino offers six tempting flavours – Toffee Orange, Lemon Raspberry, Chocolate Brownie, Apple Crumble, Nutella Banana and Vanilla Oreo. Rasa Deli is the first ever to serve this in Penang.
Sitting at the resort’s Spice Market Café, surrounded but beautifully landscaped gardens and the azure blue waters of Andaman Sea beyond, I was served with a table full of the specially-prepared Croinuts, two of each flavour, twelve in total and a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. Being pampered and spoiled for choice, I ate more than I should have that afternoon. I lost control and decided to simply indulge!
My personal favourite, the one that seemed to stand apart from the rest, was the lemon raspberry. There was a nice balance among the tangy lemony flavored pastry cream, white chocolate glaze and raspberry topping. I also enjoyed the Apple Crumble and Toffee Orange that were equally satisfying. My daughter loved the Vanilla Orea very much and my wife kept clamouring about the Nutella Banana that was topped with slices of caramelised bananas.
Cronuts are best eaten fresh and refrigerating these treats is not recommended as this would render them stale and soggy. Since Cronuts are filled with cream, they should not be served warm. Cronuts are best relished with a good cup of coffee.
Can the doughnut-croissant hybrid that has become the pastry du jour make it in Penang? You know, we are quite selective here and it is up against Kuih Talam, Rempah Udang, Goreng Pisang, Bak Chang, Popiah, Pie Tee, Pulut Tai Tai, Mun Chang Kuih, Seri Muka, Angku, Or Kuih, Onde Onde, Kuih Kosui, Pulut Inti, Kuih Bengka and many more. If New Yorkers had all these serving at every corner, would they still make a beeline for the Cronut shop? Penangites are indeed a lucky bunch. We have our inventive ancestors to thank for leaving behind such a rich culinary legacy. They were the masters of fusion cooking, creators of impressive delights that arouse all the senses and skilled culinary gurus that were fearless in gathering the best from the melting pot of cultures.
Rasa Deli, Garden Wing
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
T: +604 888 8788
Priced at RM9.60++ per piece, the cronuts are made fresh daily to preserve the tender soft flaky texture. Buy more and enjoy better deals. Due to the complexity of preparation, Chef Dino and his team only prepare 100 pieces daily and are available from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm at their Rasa Deli located in Rasa Sayang’s Rasa Wing.
Besides the Croinuts, also on sale at the deli are a variety of cakes, pies, éclairs, sandwiches, freshly-baked loaves of bread, muffins, Danish pastries as well as rainbow-coloured Macarons.
Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah
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25 October 2013