Lemon sherbet cruffins (quirky viennoiserie!)

This is my take on cruffins: rich, buttery croissant pastries baked in muffin tins. For this batch I have gone for a tangy lemon filling, dusted with a lemon sherbet-esque caster sugar. For added zing, I have topped these cruffins with lemon icing and a few dried raspberry pieces.

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Post updated: March 2019 with additional photos

Granted, these are definitely not to be eaten if you are dieting but one mouthful of a one of these pastries and you feel as if you’ve died and gone to Heaven!

The cruffin!

I first saw cruffins “do the rounds” online a few years ago, after being made and sold at the Mr Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco. I was very intrigued with them and went through a stage back then of making many batches – sometimes tall affairs, more in keeping with the original, but usually shorter, which is actually my preference.

Either way, they really are sublime pastries to eat.

A modest claim to fame!

On the subject of hybrid bakes, my very small “claim to fame” is that about 25 years ago I started to deep-fry pieces of my croissant doughs, especially the off-cuts, rolled them in sugar and topped them with icing: a few decades before Dominique Ansel shot to real fame with his marvellous cronut!

Ok, Dominique Ansel’s cronuts are a much more refined and sophisticated take on my early kitchen experimentation, but if only I had developed that idea all those years ago…….

The dough for cruffins

This is purely croissant dough and when I make a batch of croissant dough I normally split my croissant dough in half: one piece to use there and then, the other to freeze for a later time. It is then simply a matter of grabbing some dough from the freezer, defrosting it overnight in the fridge and using it.

Making croissant dough

Croissant dough is not the easiest thing in the world to make and it can seem quite daunting, but it remains one of my favourite things to make.

There are, however, very good quicker, simpler methods for making croissant dough: I highly recommend a great shortcut method taking just 20 minutes or so to get the dough made up. I have given links to both below:

2 ways to shape cruffins

Once the croissant dough is rolled out to a long rectangle – about 45cm by 18cm – you cut into smaller rectangles and dust liberally with sugar (or a mixture of sugar with a little salt for a real flavour kick).

I normally go for five rectangles that are 9cm by 18cm, but you really don’t need to be precise here.

You can now shape them in one of several ways, depending on the final look you are after – I have shown two of my favourite ways to shape them: the first shows more of the layers on the surface which makes for a gorgeous aesthetic, whereas the latter gives taller, more domed cruffins.

Mind you, you can just take small thin strips of dough, rolling them up and popping them in the muffin tins with the cut side upwards.

Shaping method 1: the flakiest exteriors

(A) Take the small rectangles of dough.

(B) Roll up into mini Swiss rolls.

(C) Cut them length-ways before curling round to form a spiral and popping into muffin tins to prove – as detailed in the recipe below. The cuts expose the laminated dough and give a lovely flaky exterior.

The baked cruffins made with this method of shaping look like this:

Shaping method 2: taller, domed cruffins

(A) Cut the dough rectangles in half diagonally to give right-angled triangles.

(B) Roll up from the shorter side, gently stretching the triangles as you roll to give more wrap-arounds.

(C) Gently press down the point that is sticking up and pop them into muffin tins to prove:

The baked cruffins using this method look like this:

Fillings and toppings!

Cruffins do not have to filled: they are excellent just rolled in caster sugar with a little icing spooned or drizzled over. But I quite like the surprise of a filling that oozes ever-so-slightly as you bite into the cruffin.

I also like to mix some lemon powder with the sugar before dusting over, giving a wonderful sherberty kick.

I decided to fill about half of this batch, as well as piping the remainder of the filling on top of some of them.

The filling I have used is simply lemon curd mixed with melted white chocolate – effectively a very easy fruit ganache.

Other fillings that work well include:

  • thick lemon curd (or any fruit curd) without the addition of the melted chocolate piped inside
  • thick custard or crème pâtissière, which can be flavoured with chocolate or fruit purées

Different flavours

The only limit to flavours (in the filling and/or the topping) is your imagination!

Some of my favourite other flavours include:

  • rhubarb and ginger
  • salted caramel
  • coffee and walnut
  • lime and star anise
  • passionfruit
  • apple and cinnamon

And for ease, whichever flavour you go for, the simplest filling is just puréed fruit (or curd) mixed with roughly equal amounts of melted chocolate (whichever type you prefer) to give a soft mixture that holds it shape and can be piped/spooned easily.


These are best eaten on the same day of making, but they are still very good the following day.

You can freeze the freshly baked cruffins, before they are filled and iced – in which case, defrost them and heat them up for about 5 minutes in the oven to re-fresh themselves before cooling and filling/icing.

Recipe: lemon sherbet cruffins – makes 10

Croissant dough:

  • half a batch of croissant dough (recipe link above)
  • about 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For dusting over:

  • about 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried lemon powder (optional)

Filling (optional):

  • about 3 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 50g white chocolate, melted

Icing & topping:

  • 4-5 tablespoons of fondant icing sugar
  • fresh lemon juice to mix
  • a sprinkling of dried raspberry pieces

You also need non-stick muffin tins, but butter them well and pop a square of greaseproof paper in the base.

(1) Roll the final dough thinly out to about 18cm by 45cm and trim the edges. Cut into five rectangles measuring about 18cm by 9cm.

(2) Mix the sugar with the salt and sprinkle generously over each dough rectangle. patting it down gently into the dough just so that some of it sticks.

(3) With the shorter edge facing you, roll up the rectangle fairly tightly to give, in effect, a small Swiss roll of dough, pulling the dough away from you gently as you go to stretch it out a bit.

(4) Cut the roll of dough length-ways to give two pieces: it doesn’t matter if some of the dough comes apart – just put it back in place either roughly or with more care: it doesn’t matter! Curl each up to form a short spiral, with the cut side facing outwards, gently pulling the strips to elongate them as you go to give a bigger spiral.

NB: whether you have a bigger spiral or a smallish one, as the dough proves and fills out the muffin holes, you will get great results.

(5) Repeat for the rest of the dough to give 10 spirals in total. Or do a few using the other shaping method (see above recipe).

(6) Roll each spiral in a little caster sugar and pop them gently in the tins with the flatter side facing downwards. Place the tins into a large bin liner (or cover loosely with clingfilm) and leave at room temperature to prove until well risen and puffy: this can take a couple of hours or so, depending on the temperature of the room. NB: a cooler room is better than a warmer room, as you don’t want the butter to melt.

(7) Towards the end of the proving, heat the oven to 200C(fan). Brush each piece of risen dough with beaten egg. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the oven to 170C (fan).

(8) Bake for about 20 minutes until deep golden brown and then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully, peeling off the greaseproof when they come out of the tins.

To fill and top:

(1) Mix the curd and the chocolate together until well combined and set aside until slightly set.

(2) Mix the remaining caster sugar with the lemon powder and roll them in this sugar, giving them a very generous dusting.

(3) Make a small hole in the top of each, going about half-way down. Pipe a little of the filling inside: the baked laminated dough will have created air pockets inside for the filling to find its way into. Pipe a swirl on top, covering the hole.

(4) Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to give a thick icing. Drizzle over the tops of the cruffins. Sprinkle over the dried raspberry pieces.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

5 thoughts on “Lemon sherbet cruffins (quirky viennoiserie!)”

    1. hi Kathleen. Yes, freeze them once they have been shaped and popped in the tins.

      Then the night before, take them out for the freezer, put them in the fridge to defrost slowly – where they will also prove – and bake in the morning. I hope you enjoy them


  1. Excellent idea, especially the lemon sherbet which cuts against the richness of the dough. Thanks for suggesting it.

    The only thing I’d suggest is that it’s better to bake them in metal trays like Philip did, rather than in silicone moulds as I did. You’ll get a crispier cruff if you do.


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