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I don’t remember when I first laid eyes on a cruffin, but it was intrigue at first sight. Tall, sugared, flaky pastries often filled and garnished to the max, cruffins are a feast for the eyes and Instagram feeds. These laminated darlings are relatively young in the pastry world (they were invented by the famed by Kate Reid of Lune Croissanterie in 2013), but since then have been popularized by bakeries such as Mr. Holmes Bakehouse and Supermoon Bakehouse.
Not many bakeries in my area actually sell cruffins, so I challenged myself to learn how to make them. After a couple years of experimenting with cruffins, I am so excited to finally share this recipe with you, along with a lot of tips learned along the way!
What is a cruffin?
Cruffins are croissants shaped liked muffins (“Cr” = croissant + “uffin” = muffin). That is all. Many people have devised interesting methods for making cruffins using pasta machines, puff pastry, etc.; but for this recipe we’ll just be making good old-fashioned croissant dough and baking it in a muffin (or popover) tin.
I’m just focusing on the cruffin pastry base here, but you can go wild with customizing your cruffins! Start by tossing them in a spiced or flavored sugar. If you’re feeling ambitious, go crazy and fill your cruffins with jam/curd/pastry cream. Finish them with a glaze or garnish for extra flair. You could even run in the opposite direction with a savory cruffin — sprinkle a spice blend on the pastry strips before shaping or fill with a savory whipped cheese. Mmmm…
Cruffin tins and sizing
To achieve the tall, sleek bakery-style cruffin shape, you will need a jumbo muffin or popover tin. My favorite is the Nordicware Grand Popover tin — judging from the videos I could find online, this seems to be the choice tin of several cruffin-making professional bakeries as well. Each of the six wells measures 2.5″ on top, 2.5″ tall and 2.25″ along the bottom. This creates a beautiful, tall cruffin with a stable base.
For the Nordicware tin, I used ~75g dough per well to get the shape I wanted. If you want more of a dramatic “muffin top” you could try increasing the amount of dough per well by 20-25%. However, I liked this more demure size — each pastry feels substantial without being too much of a sugar bomb. Because I only have one Nordicware tin, I like to divide the dough in half and make 6 cruffins at a time. Croissant dough keeps well in the freezer for a couple of weeks, so I like to maximize my time and make a full batch of dough each time I plan to laminate.
If you don’t have or want to invest in a popover tin, you can bake this recipe using a standard muffin tin — no need to adjust the dough amounts. Your cruffins will just be a little shorter and have more of a muffin top. If baking in a muffin tin, you can bake 12 cruffins at once (the whole batch of dough), if desired.
Note: I also tested baking cruffins in this Chicago Metallic Mini Popover Tin. This worked too; but due to the smaller size and tapered shape of each well, I recommend only using ~60g dough per cruffin (i.e. make 8 cruffins per half-batch of dough instead of 6). If you overfill these tins, the tops of the cruffins may fuse into each other and the finished pastries may be too top-heavy to stand on their own (don’t ask me how I know). Other popular cruffin tins include the Wilton jumbo muffin tins and individual tart rings.
Note that the dimensions listed in the recipe work for the Nordicware tin or a plain muffin tin. For different-sized tins, you may need to adjust the roll-out dimensions and dough quantities.
Shaping the cruffins
Figuring out how to shape cruffins is where I had to do the most experimenting. Over the past couple of years I’ve searched across the interwebs for cruffin shaping tutorials. Unlike croissants, no “classical” shaping technique really exists. Many bakeries simply roll up the dough and cut into thick cinnamon roll-style shapes, sort of like extra-tall morning buns without the butter-sugar spread. However, I was intrigued by this rose shaped method from Supermoon Bakehouse and wanted to emulate that.
Warning: this shaping is a little tricky! I recommend looking at the photos and watching the video above a few times to familiarize yourself with the process. Try to roll the strips up tightly so the cruffin tops don’t pop too much in the oven, and make sure to tuck all three loose ends underneath. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries — it took me a couple batches before I turned out a respectable cruffin!
The sourdough-enriched dough and suggested baking schedule
This cruffin recipe uses a straightforward croissant dough (formula adapted from Adam Pagor). I like adding some active, ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter to the dough for the additional flavor and complexity. There’s still a decent amount of instant yeast, though, so the pastries rise reliably and not too slowly. See baker’s notes if you want to omit the sourdough. You can also use this versatile dough to make croissants, pain au chocolat, or any other laminated pastry.
For best results, I recommend making the cruffins over three days (make sure your starter has been fed and is scheduled to peak around the time you plan to mix the dough):
- Day 1, evening (right before bed): Mix the croissant dough and chill overnight
- Day 2, morning: Make the butter block, freeze the dough briefly, then laminated the dough (3 single turns). Freeze dough right after final turn.
- Day 2, evening (right before bed): Transfer dough back to refrigerator to thaw overnight.
- Day 3, morning: Assemble, proof, and bake cruffins
If you’re in a rush, you could condense the process into two days. Refrigerate the pastry for 90 minutes after the final turn, then proceed with assembling, shaping, and baking. However, freezing the pastry and letting it slowly thaw overnight makes the final roll out easier (the dough is more relaxed), resulting in pastries with better definition and layering. (Note: Thanks to Brock aka Tuscan Baker and Adam Pagor aka Season Adam for their many pro lamination tips via Instagram!)
- If you are new to laminated doughs, please refer to my previous laminated dough posts for lots of tips on lamination (morning buns, grape ricotta danishes). Although the dough recipe and butter lock-in method differs slightly here, the same general principles apply.
- If you want to make cruffins with just yeast and no sourdough starter, omit the starter and increase the bread flour to 423g, water to 135g, and instant yeast to 10g. Method remains the same; the pastries will probably take closer to 2 hours to proof rather than 3.
- Don’t be afraid to flip the dough as you are rolling it out each time — this helps keep it from sticking and ensures the whole sheet of pastry is an even thickness. Just make sure to orient the pastry correctly (with the opening on the right) before making your folds.
Sourdough Enriched Cruffins
Makes ~1kg dough (enough for 12 medium-sized cruffins) | Croissant dough formula adapted from Adam Pagor
For the laminated dough:
- 381g bread flour
- 93g water, cold
- 135g whole milk, cold
- 40g granulated sugar
- 6g (2 tsp) instant yeast
- 10g kosher or fine sea salt
- 85g fully active, ripe sourdough starter
- 250g European-style (at least 82% fat) unsalted butter, cold (for the butter block)
- 50g granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- Mix and chill the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients except the butter. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are well combined but the dough is only moderately developed. (We’re not looking for a completely smooth dough or windowpane — if you develop the dough too much at this point, it will be more difficult to roll out later.) Flatten dough into a roughly 1-inch thick square, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 12).
- Make the butter block: About 30 minutes before you want to begin the lamination process, take the butter for the butter block out of the fridge. Slice into even pieces (or, if your butter comes in 250g blocks you can just leave it whole) and pound into an even 7-inch square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this is to draw a 7-inch square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using the marks as a guide. Use a bench scraper to clean up and sharpen the edges and corners as you go. Place the dough back into the fridge to firm up for about 10 to 15 minutes before beginning lamination.
- Freeze the dough: While the butter is chilling, remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 7″ x 14″ rectangle. Brush any excess flour from the dough and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic and freeze for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter is the right temperature and consistency for laminating.
- Laminate the dough: Check that the butter block is ready for laminating. It should be cool to the touch but pliable, able to bend without breaking (about 55-60F). Remove the dough from the freezer. Place the butter on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, sandwiching the butter in between. Pinch the edges of the dough around the butter to seal it in.
- Turn the dough so the opening is on the right. Roll the dough into an 8 x 24–inch rectangle, flouring the dough and rolling pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree clockwise turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest the dough in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 20 to 30 minutes after the second fold. After completing the third and final fold, you can cut the dough in half crosswise, if you plan on just making 6 cruffins; or keep it whole if you plan on making a full batch. Either way, wrap dough well in plastic wrap and and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. (Dough will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)
- Roll out and cut the pastry: When you are ready to assemble and bake the cruffins, lightly grease each well of a 6-cup cruffin/large popover tin or a regular muffin tin. Transfer the dough from the fridge to a lightly floured surface, orienting it so the opening is on the right. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the butter is pliable. Roll the dough into a rectangle just over 9″ x 12″ (half-batch) or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch), about 3/16″ thick. Trim the edges so you are left with a neat 9″ x 12″ or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch) rectangle. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough lengthwise into nine 1-inch strips. Cut each strip in half (for a half-batch) or quarters (full-batch) crosswise. You should end up with 18 (half-batch) or 36 (full-batch) strips, each 1 x 6 inches and approximately 25g each. Transfer the strips to a sheet tray (it’s fine to stack them), cover, and refrigerate for 10 minutes before shaping.
- Shape the cruffins: To shape a cruffin, place a strip of pastry on your work surface with the short end facing you. Stack two more strips of pastry on top, offsetting each by about one inch from the strip below it. Starting from the short end furthest from you, tightly roll the strips up towards you like a jelly roll. Turn the roll spiral side up. Use the pinky edges of your hands to “spin” the spiral to tighten the shape, then tuck the three loose tails of pastry underneath so the cruffin will not unravel. Place spiral side up into the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining strips of pastry. (Note: refer to video and photos above for more insight into shaping process.)
- Proof the cruffins: Cover the shaped cruffins with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof until the pastries have roughly doubled in size and the layers are clearly visible, about 2 to 3 hours at warm room temperature, 78 to 80F. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
- Bake the cruffins: Bake cruffins for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are evenly golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) While the cruffins are baking, whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon (if using) in a small, wide bowl.
- Cool cruffins in the pan for about 2 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin and roll each in cinnamon sugar. If you wish to fill the cruffins with something like jam/curd/pastry cream, wait until they’ve cooled completely. Use a paring knife to make a hole on top of each cruffin, then transfer filling to a piping bag and fill as desired. Cruffins are best consumed the day they’re baked, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 325F the next day or two.