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What is Craquelin?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Craquelin is a type of bread, quite similar to brioche and often using the same basic recipe as brioche, which typically includes sugar cubes within it. This type of bread can be baked as large loaves or made in individual cups, such as those used for cupcakes and popovers. Sugar cubes are placed within the bread dough prior to baking, and these cubes are often flavored with lemon zest, lemon juice, or alcohol such as orange or coffee liquor. Craquelin is a Belgian bread typically served as a midday treat or dessert, due to its rich flavor and sweetness.

The basic dough used in making craquelin is essentially brioche dough, which lends terrific flavor and texture to the finished bread. Brioche is often noted for its light sweetness and noticeable flavor of eggs and butter. The baked bread often takes on a yellow coloration that enhances the sense of eggs and butter tasted in the bread itself; this coloration is due to the large amount of butter used. What sets craquelin apart from other brioche breads are the sugar cubes placed in the bread prior to baking.

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These sugar cubes are often treated with other flavors before they are used in the craquelin dough. The sugar cubes are not necessarily left whole before baking; they can be cut in half or crushed lightly, and are often mixed with lemon zest for enhanced flavor. Some recipes even call for lemon juice to be sprinkled over the sugar cubes, or for a baker to briefly soak the sugar cubes in citrus or coffee-flavored liquor before using them in the craquelin. Other flavors can be added as well, and personal preference can dictate experimentation with ingredients such as vanilla and almond extract.

Once the sugar cubes are properly treated, they are typically wrapped in small amounts of the brioche dough. Individual cubes can be selected, or several pieces can be wrapped together in a thin pouch of the dough. This prevents the sugar from leaking out into the rest of the bread as it is baking.

The wrapped sugar cubes are then placed in the rest of the dough, or are placed in individual balls of dough, which are baked in cups like those used in making cupcakes. As the craquelin bakes, the sugar cubes melt and enhance the flavor of the surrounding bread. Since they are in the small pockets of dough, however, the sugar re-crystallizes as the bread cools and creates pockets of crispy sweetness.

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manykitties2
Post 4

@Sara007 - Craquelin can actually be really easy to make. Don't worry too much about substituting things, you just need to make sure you get the sugar right for everything to work out fine. I find that buying and using the Belgium pearl sugar makes amazing craqueline.

What I do is use the pearl sugar to replace the sugar cubes as I find it gives it a more uniform flavor. The sweetness can be a bit overwhelming, so with the pearl sugar, you still get the same sweetness, but I find it easier to control the amount of sugar used. Give it a try.

Sara007
Post 3

Does anyone have any tips on how to make craquelin at home?

I have been looking for some sweet bread-like desserts to serve when my relatives come over for coffee and craquelin sounds like it would be a delicious choice. I looked for it at my local bakery but they didn't have any.

I found a recipe for cramique which is apparently a variant of craquelin which uses raisons instead of a citrus base. I am thinking that if I just switch a few of the ingredients I can make a fairly decent craquelin. I don't mind taking some time to experiment until I get it right.

John57
Post 2

I have never been overseas to try this wonderful dessert, but first tried it at a friends house who is a wonderful baker.

We had this for breakfast in the morning with a cup of tea. Because it was so sweet, it reminded me of eating a cinnamon roll - except it was much better!

She told me she would soak sugar cubes in some lemon zest to give them extra flavor. Since lemon is one of my favorite flavors, this really hit the spot.

She sent me home with some extra craquelin and told me it wouldn't keep very long so it would need to be eaten soon.

There was certainly no problem there. This was way too good to be left sitting around getting stale, and it was gone within 2 days.

myharley
Post 1

I spent some time in Brussels one summer, and had many opportunities to eat some craquelin. I didn't know quite what to expect at first, other than I knew it would be a sweet treat.

The first time I tried craquelin was at a quaint bakery where there were a lot of sweet things to choose from.

The outside was a bit sticky from the sugar, and when I used my knife to cut into it, there was a light cracking sound. That is how this delightful dessert got its name.

The inside is a perfect combination of soft, buttery yellow goodness that literally melts in your mouth. Even though it is very rich tasting, it is hard to stop with just one piece.

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