Dominique Ansel, the man behind the Cronut (the croissant-doughnut hybrid), will be opening in London’s Belgravia on Elizabeth Street, on 30 September, and, to celebrate, he’s created a UK-exclusive menu.
When pastry chef Dominique Ansel opened a bakery in New York, people went bonkers – he had to hire a bouncer to man the queue. Now he’s opening in London, on 30 September, a venture he announced exclusively to British Baker back in February.
Ansel’s been in Britain recruiting a new team for the venture, and while here he has sought inspiration for some unique creations, which will be exclusive to the UK:
- Banoffee Paella - an upside-down Banoffee pie made in a paella pan. The pan helps to caramelise the bananas, concentrating the flavour in lieu of the traditional raw bananas. And with the crust ensures it doesn’t get soggy.
- Eton Mess Lunchbox – Inspired by Korean lunchboxes (where the different ingredients are shaken up to create a sort of Korean fried rice), the Eton Mess Lunchbox features strawberries made of mousse and jam, mini meringues, fresh basil, a bit of black pepper and fromage blanc, all served in a clear box.
- After The Rain Mousse Cake – inspired by the moments just after the rain, Dominique has created a flavor of pear, ginger, and jasmine to capture the freshness. On top of the mousse cake sit fresh leaves of lemon balm with jasmine ’raindrops’ gelée. A hidden ladybird is below one of the leaves and the base has a crispy finish with praliné feuilletine
- Salted Honey Tart – paying homage to local honeys, this tart showcases how much two different types of honeys differ in taste. It is finished with sea salt milk cream and almond frangipane.
- Welsh Rarebit Croissant - with Guinness Worcestershire cheddar béchamel, whole grain mustard and fontina.
Ansel’s Cronut has been an international success – he now has over 70 employees in his Tokyo bakery to cope with the demand. He revealed the exact London location back in April.
Of the British prospects in comparison to Tokyo, he said: “In Japan, there is so much talent – even the most junior chefs have been in the kitchen for at least 15 years. But in Britain you get talent from all of Europe. It’s got the charm of Paris, the history and culture – plus the energy you find in New York.”
According to Ansel, pastry chefs in Japan are impeccably trained in the proper classical tradition (not unlike Ansel himself, who learned his craft in the Paris patisserie Fauchon and worked in New York’s three Michelin-star Daniel). But now he’s all about not taking himself too seriously. “We’re not afraid of criticism, to test and to try. Now that we serve around 2,000 guests a day, we get instant feedback."
With great power comes great responsibility, and Ansel knows that – he refers to his bakery customers as guests, and gives them free hot and cold beverages while they wait in the queue – for, brace yourselves, there will be queues.
Ever one to play his cards close to his chest, he is tight-lipped on plans for the London store, but what he will say is there are two floors, a small courtyard, and it’s all impeccably chic – but of course.
There’s talk of an afternoon high tea, with scones, a Welsh rarebit croissant “with a beer bechamel and Worcester sauce. I’ve been playing with a paella pan, too: it’s so perfect for caramelising fruit. I want to create some kind of banoffee pie in it.”
Despite its near-inevitable success, Ansel still wants to run a neighbourhood bakery, where he knows his regulars.
He said: “We are not just feeding stomachs, we are feeding hearts and souls. It’s a piece of cake, which people eat with joy and happiness. We are about love at first sight.”
Ansel loves his creations (as he calls them) and the world loves them and him. See you in the queue.