In New York Dominque Ansel’s cronut (a donut croissant hybrid) is the talk of the town. Devoted pastry lovers and the slightly insane line up outside the bakery as early as 5 or 6am daily to buy their daily allowance of two cronuts a person for $5 each. Those wishing to avoid the crowds are rumored to have spent up to $40 buying off scalpers nearby. The trend has spawned knock offs as close by as Washington DC and as far as South Korea.
Now, Tel Avivians are getting in on the action as well. Lenchner bakery made local headlines last week with the first kosher iteration of the craze. But, in a matter of days, they were no longer the only bakery cashing in on the frenzy in the Holy Land. The bakery of northern Tel Aviv’s popular Movieng Cafe (where you can rent movies and pick up your favorite pastries regularly), is also cashing in on the buttery obsession. I went to test out these versions and see if these half-doughnut, half-croissant buttery bad boys are worth the hype.
In case you’re in need of additional calories, Dominique Ansel’s original Cronuts are rolled in sugar, fried, filled with cream and topped with glaze. The Lenchner’s have left out the additional delight of cream filling and offer the glazed version only. For just 10 shekel’s a pop ($2.80), four varieties of Cronuts awaited Israelis with a sweet tooth this past Friday: vanilla glazed, chocolate glazed and white or milk chocolate glaze topped with almonds.
“Only two people in the Middle East know this recipe,” Alon Lenchner, who works with his father Shmulik at the family-run bakery. “My father and myself.” Asked whether he or his father ever tasted one of the few hundred crispy pastries produced daily in New York City before copying it here in Israel, Lenchner shyly says they have never had the honor. “We just heard about the invention and the hype and knew we could do it too. It’s really very simple,” he says, hinting that this is no new discovery or special patent for the 65 year old bakery.
While this was most definitely a sweet-tooth filling sensation, we’re not sure impatient and weight-conscious Tel Avivians will be circling the blocks of Shenkin or Herzl any time soon (there was no line on Friday), just to get a bite of the Kosher Cronut.
Although the Lenchner’s are unique in their kosher approval, Movieing Bakery has come out with a variation that may better suit the Israeli palette. Owner Meni Lebovitch says the bakery aimed to “Israelify” the pastry by skipping the frying stage of preparation. Movieing offers healthier baked cronuts filled with crème, taste just as amazing (if not better), are a tad more guilt-free and even come in a salty, non-kosher version stuffed with ham and emmental cheese. The sweet Cronut at Movieing goes for 11 NIS while the salty Cronut can be yours for 14.
A small reminder of the last time doughnuts tried to take over the local market (aside from Hanukah) was in 1996 when Dunkin Donuts opened its doors in major Israeli cities only to endure major losses and ultimately full closure of the chain in 2001. But Israelis have a knack for successfully copying American pastry trends, aka, the cupcake craze that spread across Tel Aviv’s bakeries in 2010 and is still keeping its head above water. Only time will tell if Israeli pastry makers will be able to instill the same passion in Israelis for the donut-croissant hybrid as Ansel has managed to do on the Island of Manhattan.