Bageriet pic

Pastry perfection from Bageriet

I was pondering the sweet treat this week because a couple of friends had posted things that brought them to my attention.

Firstly was a tweet from the lovely Daniel Karlsson at Bageriet. I met Daniel when I was working with the beautiful boys of Melrose and Morgan and was lucky enough to try a variety of Daniel’s creations as he experimented his way through seasonal delicacies in his role as pastry chef. Daniel came through the ranks of classic pastry training in Sweden and then working at Ottolenghi before his Melrose and Morgan times and has now taken the leap and gone it alone creating Bageriet in Rose Street, Covent Garden. Going back to his traditional Swedish roots, Daniel is creating classics with a twist and was recently featured on Paul Hollywood’s show demonstrating his skills. There is no doubt Daniel has the touch of an angel and I hope people find his shop and share in his talent.

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On the same day I read Daniel’s tweet, I saw another post from a friend talking about the cronut craze that has taken New York by storm. Cronuts are the creation of Dominique Ansel who is also a wonderful pastry chef. He trained at the fabulous Fauchon in Paris and found fame during his 6 year tenure at Restaurant Daniel in New York. Having opened his own place in Spring Street, Ansel was shortlisted as a finalist for the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2013. There is no doubt that this chef is a dab hand at pastry and yet despite his long list of credentials, it is through the cronut that he has found a whole new level of fame.

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This half doughnut half croissant delicacy looks like it would induce an instant heart attack on even the most unsuspecting, and yet since its inception in May, the street of New York have seen queues forming from the very early hours simply to secure one of these now famous $5 pastries. The madness has gone beyond rational behaviour. People are sleeping overnight in the shop doorway, and queuing from 6am, there is a 2 week pre-order list which is already full and their next slot for a large order is from 1 August. The world has gone cronut crazy!!

The queue just a couple of weeks ago!

The queue just a couple of weeks ago!

Ansel has had to trademark these treats and yet there are imitators popping up all over the place… the doissant from Washington, the frissant from Vancouver and the Donut Croissant from Dunkin Donuts in the Philippines to name but a few. And then there’s the black market which is said to trade the $5 pastry for up to $40 each!

What fascinates me is how a creation from some French pastry chef in Soho, New York can become a world wide craze, and I guess the answer lies in technology. On the very night that blog Grub Street first wrote about Ansel’s new product, they received 140,000 links and it all went exponential from there. There are something like 10,000 tweets a month about this little ol’ pastry, pictures of the queues go viral and if you search google there are over 3 million hits (compared to just over 1 million if you search the man Dominique himself). What exactly is it that captured the public imagination about this that others need to emulate?

Firstly I guess it is the creativity. It has to be something original. And the marriage of two already scrummy things into something even more delicious really is ingenious. Then there’s tapping into the social network at the right point to get it to go viral. The process of queuing like a mad man is part of it so that you can be one of the few who can claim to be in the cronut club and tell their story of how they finally came to try one of these treats. Finally, you need to be as lovely as Monsieur Ansel who seems genuinely chuffed by all the support and hasn’t changed a thing as a result of the publicity. The price is the same, the process is the same and he continues to develop his shop and his product with the hope that people will keep on coming… and I am sure they will.

Cronut Crazy

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