Hole in One: London’s Doughnut Obsession
25 June, 2015
We love a bit of dough. The more sugar-coated, the better. Lately, it seems London is cottoning on to the New York doughnut trend in a big way, with bakeries perfecting their cream-filled creations throughout the city. For some time now, we have been unable to pass through Broadwick Street without following the cockle-warming scent of home baking that floats out of Crosstown Doughnuts. We've trodden the line of irreparable health damages in search of London's best doughnut, and though there are many (MANY) choices, Crosstown comes out on top every time. For us anyway. Owner and baking wizard JP Then launched Crosstown in May 2014 with a market stall on Leather Lane. A year on, and JP now has a permanent location in Soho, with pop-ups at over 40 markets and food stores a(crosstown) London.
And if you're wondering what makes their creations any more exciting than your standard jam ring, just take a look at Crosstown's evolving menu. Just the other day we were chowing down on some of them - nut with date jam, cardamom crumble and orange blossom glaze. There's also a rhubarb and raspberry toasted meringue…and an orange-infused Belgian chocolate sourdough doughnut with orange zest. All baked fresh, 365 days of the year. If this isn't enough to have you waddling as fast as your sugar cravings can carry you to your nearest Crosstown, maybe our interview with the man himself will. Behold JP; the owner of our favourite Londonbakery and the man responsible for yet another perilous Pear addiction.
CURIOUS PEAR: What is the backstory of Crosstown, where did it all begin?
JP THEN: The idea stemmed from finding a quality product that would pair with coffee. At the time, there were a handful of concepts in the world that were creating gourmet doughnuts. We thought there was no reason why we couldn't push the boundaries in London and make tastebuds dance with a handmade artisan British doughnut offering. There is nothing better than a freshly made doughnut.
CP: Did you notice a new craze in London at the time, were people ready for better doughnuts?
JPT: I think we are amongst the first in Europe (dare I say the world) to really push the boundaries as to what a doughnut can be - and people have been receptive, which is great. When we started to explore the idea, we really did feel there was a gap in the market.
CP: What is the secret to the perfect doughnut?
JPT: It is incredibly hard to keep consistent. To put it plainly; if you put shit in, you get shit out. We pride ourselves on using the best ingredients to get the best eating experience. Our goal to satisfy taste buds remains at the forefront of what we do.
CP: Do you consider the current obsession with health? Do you think sweet foods will always be popular?
JPT: I think the key to this is balance. Sweet foods can form a part of that balance. What I will say is that if you are going to have a doughnut, it might as well be the freshest, tastiest doughnut you can get, utilising the best ingredients and processes, otherwise, what's the point?
CP: What inspires flavours?
JPT: Seasons, nostalgia, and current trends. For example, we are coming up to summer now so we will utilise summer fruits and flavours - mangos, pineapples, passion fruit and coconut flavours will form a part of our menu. In the winter, we'll lean towards apples, pears and spices. We will always try to use local seasonal ingredients when they are available.
We like to offer flavours that mean something to us, with a hope that other people will enjoy them too. The best example that comes to mind is our Lamington doughnut (Lamnut), which is a clear nod to our Australian and Kiwi roots (I'm from Australia, my partners are from New Zealand).
CP: You work from the earliest hours of the morning. What kind of disposition do you have to have to work in the baking industry?
JPT: Crosstown is 'on' 24 hours a day 365 days a year, there isn't a moment in a day where we aren't baking, delivering or retailing. Baking throughout the night is pivotal for us to provide the freshest product. Being a handmade product, it is obviously hands on, very physical and needs a mentality of graft.
CP: What's the best doughnut you've ever had?
JPT: It would be impossible to single out a specific flavour or experience. But I'll happily say that there are always moments in the bakery when we are testing new flavours. Nothing needs to be said amongst us other than a smile and a nod of approval.
CP: What do you love most about what you do?
JPT: I'm never bored. I meet and work with amazing people. I can control how we execute things. I'm proud of the business we have created.
CP: What excites you about working in London?
JPT: It's relentless, exciting, energising and evolving. It keeps you on your toes 24/7. London is constantly giving me a nudge and telling me to push on and just do it.
Follow Crosstown's advice, and be a doughnut in a world full of cupcakes…
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