Now I know they can be a bit overrated and overdone, but I actually have quite the appreciation for hybrid desserts. I mean, when I call out a few examples like the cronut, the cookie cake, the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, it’s hard to deny that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Baking is a science after all, so I say why not let it undergo some experimentation? At least, that’s what I thought when I saw a recipe for a cruffin recently.
The cruffin – one part croissant, one part muffin – takes after its predecessor the cronut but presents itself in a slightly more “home cook friendly” way. The cruffin gets its crispy, multi-layered quality by running laminated dough through a pasta machine until paper-thin, coating it with butter, and rolling it into a log. The log of dough is sliced lengthwise, exposing its many layers, before being tucked into a muffin tin. While cooking, the butter releases steam and puffs up the cruffin, creating a muffin with the croissant-like layers of crispy and flaky dough.
But when I saw the cruffin recipe I couldn’t help but think that there had to be a way to mix yet another dessert element into this already crossbred recipe. And all at once I had it. It only seemed natural. A cinnamon bun of course! What warm and flaky pastry would not be made better with the addition of cinnamon sugar and a sweet and sticky glaze? I could already imagine how the sugar inside of each layer of the cruffin would caramelize, making the final product even more ethereally crispy. And what should I call it? Cinnacruffinbun? Ok, yeah, bad idea. Maybe something simple like cinnamon bun cruffins.
So what was the result? Even better than expected I must say. My apartment filled with the smell of cinnamon, creating an alluring effect not unlike that of the Cinnabon in the mall. Compact in its muffin form, the pastry was caramelized and crispy on the outside but once pulled apart, revealed the soft and stringy brioche-like bread and cinnamon infused center. To be honest, it was less croissant-like and more so reminiscent of those pull-apartflaky Pillsbury biscuits, but this made it no less delicious in the least. So lesson learned, although risky and tricky, the 3-in-1 dessert thing can very much happen, with impressive results!
But! Before I reveal to you the recipe for this creation I must first give you a few warnings:
1: Without meaning to undermine anyone’s baking ability, I will say that this is not exactly a recipe for beginner bakers. As much as I love universality with recipes this one is definitely complicated. Baking experience plus a high level of comfort with bread-baking is definitely recommended.
2: Its high degree of difficulty also naturally comes with a high degree of mess-making. There will be a trail of cinnamon sugar across your floor. You will find lumps of butter in random places in your home long after you are done cleaning up (for me with was on the part of my trashcan that you step on to open the lid. Random, I know). And you might as well just accept that you will need to do some serious swiffering before the day is done.
3: Your dough and your pasta machine will invariably fight one another. Rips and tears will happen, curses will fly from your mouth, and frustration will ensue. But just roll with it. The rips can be patched, the jams can be fixed, and your final muffins may look distorted and deformed as a result. But in the end it will taste great all the same.
4: You will experience a full-blown case of sugar shock and will spend the next 2 hours wondering why your heart is beating so fast and your eye has developed a slight twitch. It will go away, don’t worry. You just ate a cinnamon bun cruffin, life could be far worse.
And one final note. If any of your muffins look a little less pretty than desired right before you put the pan in the oven, no need to worry. Just pop these ones into a waffle iron instead. You won’t be disappointed ;)
Cinnamon Bun Cruffins
Makes 8 cruffins
Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups
Glaze recipe by Paula Deen
For the Dough
1 cup plus 1 Tbs (150 grams) bread flour
1 cup plus 1 Tbs (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ tsp instant dry yeast
1½ tsp salt
½ cup (130 grams) lukewarm water
3½ Tbs. (50 grams) room-temperature unsalted butter
For the Filling
1 stick plus 3½ Tbs (165 grams) room-temperature unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon
For the Glaze
4 Tbs room temperature unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extra
2-6 Tbs boiling water
2 hours or the night before you start, set out all butter for the recipe so that it can come to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flours, yeast and salt. Add the water and use the dough hook of the mixer to knead the mixture on low for three minutes. You may need to help it along a bit by mixing things together with a spatula. The result should be a stiff and shaggy dough but add a little bit more water if it’s not coming together. With the mixer speed still on low, add the 50 grams of butter, a little at a time until it is fully incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and let the mixer knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. You may need to add pinches of flour to the edges of the bowl at the beginning if the dough still looks really buttery. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
Have your 165 grams of additional butter handy and mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Butter the cups of a muffin tin. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time (keeping the others covered with plastic wrap in the meantime) and run it through the pasta machine. Flour both sides of your piece of dough and flatten it into a square shape a little less wide than the pasta machine. Starting on the widest setting, run the dough through the pasta machine. After a few times, connect the two ends of the dough so that you have a continuous ring of dough that you are feeding through.
Continue feeding the dough through the pasta machine, while gradually working towards the thinnest setting of the pasta machine. If it starts to get sticky, just dust the dough with a little more flour. Once the dough is long and paper thin, cut it into two same-length pieces, removing it from the pasta machine, and laying them flat on your workspace. Using a quarter of your 165 grams of butter, use your fingers to spread the butter in a thin layer across both pieces of the dough. Then evenly sprinkle with 3-4 Tbs. of the cinnamon sugar.
Once finished, start rolling one of the pieces into a log. When you reach the end, place this log at the end of the other piece of dough and continue rolling it into one log. Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, cut the log lengthwise into two pieces. Take each piece and tie it into a semi-knot shape with the cut side facing outward so you can see the layers. Place these two knots into 2 cups of the muffin tin. Repeat this process for the three other pieces of dough. Loosely cover the muffin tin with plastic wrap and allow the cruffins to rise for 2-3 hours until about double in size. At this point you can also place your pan in the fridge to bake off later but it may need more time to rise.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the cruffins for 20-22 minutes. While they bake, make the glaze. Place the 4 Tbs. of butter, the powdered sugar, and the vanilla in a bowl. Add the boiling water 1 Tbs. at a time while mixing the ingredients with a spoon until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistently. Remove the cruffins from the oven when they are golden and caramelized. Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a plate before spooning the desired amount of glaze onto the cruffins.