It was my friend Kimberly’s birthday. I knew she was having a hard week at work…my quitting as her boss didn’t help matters…so I wanted to make her something special. While I’m sure she would’ve appreciated a birthday cake (I mean who wouldn’t) to go with one of my homemade pizzas (her favorite), I went for the unexpected–Cruffins. I’d never made them before, much less eaten one (yeah, I know, hard to imagine). But my friend Karen told me about waiting in a long line at this bakery in the city called Mr. Holmes Bakehouse just to try one of these much buzzed about towering creations–a heavenly marriage of croissant and muffin. Apparently it’s the next big thing, following in the footsteps of the beloved Cronut. At Mr. Holmes, the cruffins are filled with an ever changing selection of fillings like strawberry custard and chocolate with passion fruit creme.
The Mr. Holmes cruffin has developed such a cult following, in fact, that when the recipe was stolen in an overnight heist a while back, the story made headlines! Given all the hype, I figured why not give it a go.
Okay, full disclosure…I still haven’t made it to Mr. Holmes to try the real thing. I have, however, tried something similar recently at another bakery, which was what got me thinking about the cruffin in the first place. I’ve made croissant dough in the past. I’ve also made kouign amann, a round crusty, melt in your mouth flaky pastry–essentially croissant dough layered with butter and sugar, which when baked becomes beautifully caramelized and crispy. It’s nirvana in your mouth! Whereas the kouign amann starts out as a square of dough layered and crusted in lots of butter and sugar, folded onto itself, the cruffin is a wide strip of dough rolled into a pinwheel log and cut down the middle lengthwise. Each layered strip is then pinwheeled and set into a buttered muffin mold. The wider the roll the taller the cruffin.
Needless to say making large commercial-sized batches of croissant dough for work is completely different than making a small batch for home. Consequently, I’ve tried out numerous “home recipes” over the years, some using all-purpose flour, some all bread flour, some 50/50, some using instant yeast, some dry active. The one I like the best so far is the butter croissant recipe from Standard Baking Co. Their recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I decided to sub out a portion of it with bread flour for just a little more gluten action.
Butter Croissant Dough (courtesy of Standard Baking Co)
- 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Bread Flour
- 2 1/4 tsp. Instant Yeast
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
- 2 Tbsp. Butter, room temp cool, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup Water, about 70 degrees
- 3/4 cup Whole Milk, about 70 degrees
- 10 oz. Butter, chilled (for the butter block)
Laminated doughs like croissant require time and patience. You have to commit to all the steps, letting the dough rest enough in the between “turns.” In other words, plan at least 2 days ahead. I laminated the dough one day, let it rest for a good 16 hours before shaping it. This croissant dough recipe yields about 2 dozen cruffins, so I cut the laminated dough in half, with the intention of saving half of the dough for later use…later being the next day as it turned out.
I kept it fairly simple for my first batch of cruffins–just cinnamon and sugar.
There was a bit of a time crunch getting the cruffins and pizza baked in time for Kimberly’s birthday lunch delivery, so I decided to forgo piping a filling into the cruffins. They were by no means as tall and regal looking as the cruffins at Mr. Holmes, but they were delicious nevertheless and definitely a nice sweet surprise for the birthday girl.
Not satisfied with baking off just one batch of cruffins, the next day I decided to turn the other half of the croissant dough into caramelized apple cruffins–this time stuffing the center with slices of honey crisp apple sauteed in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon…and showering them with even more cinnamon sugar!
I can see why people have become obsessed with cruffins. They are fun to make…that is if you can get past the time it takes to make the actual croissant dough…and the possibilities for creating new and exciting flavors are endless.
Now if only I had a commercial dough sheeter at my disposal for those impromptu late night croissant-making dates…