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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One mouthful and you feel as if you’ve died and gone to Heaven, but these are definitely not to be eaten if you are dieting!

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 cruffins 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 lovely pastries to eat and having not made a batch in ages, I felt I needed to rectify that.

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…….

Home-made sherbet!

As a nod towards one of favourite sweets when I was a boy, I have made a very easy sherbet: this is simply lemon powder mixed with caster sugar: it really works as a simple, effective sherbert.

A natural ingredient, lemon powder (and indeed many other fruit powders) is simply dried lemon rind that has then been powdered. It is available from good kitchen shops and online: just check you get the best quality fruit powder ie) the sole ingredient is the fruit!

Fruit powder is also excellent added to icings and buttercreams when you want the intensity of flavour but without adding more liquid.

The dough for cruffins

Typically for cruffins a croissant dough is best: it can be made with bread dough, rolled out through a pasta machine and brushed with butter before being rolled up and cut but I prefer the croissant dough.

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 bake. It is then simply a matter of grabbing some dough from the freezer, defrosting it and using it.

Making croissant dough

Croissant dough is not the easiest thing in the world to make and it can be 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:

Shaping cruffins: simply choose a way that you prefer!

Once the croissant dough is rolled out, you can shape in one of several ways, depending on the final look you are after and whether you prefer shorter or taller cruffins.

I have shown two of my favourite ways: the first shows more of the layers on the surface which makes for a gorgeous aesthetic, whereas the latter gives taller, more domed cruffins.

(I) Cut the dough into rectangles and dust each rectangle with a little caster sugar. Roll up the rectangles into mini Swiss rolls. Cut them length-ways before curling round to form a spiral and popping into muffin tins to prove – as in the recipe below.

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

(II) For taller, domed cruffins, cut out right-angled triangles and dust with caster sugar. Roll up from the shorter side, gently stretching the triangles as you roll to give more wrap-arounds.

You then 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:

The first approach shows more of the layers on the surface which makes for a gorgeous aesthetic, whereas the latter gives taller, more domed cruffins. Both taste exceptional!

Each way is easy, but if you want an even simpler way to shape, simply cut out rectangular strips of dough, about 15cm by 4cm, and roll them up like a mini Swiss roll, popping them in the muffin tins with one of the cut sides face upwards.

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 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

Vanilla caster sugar is also excellent to use: just pop a chopped vanilla pod or two into a container of sugar for a few weeks so the sugar takes on the vanilla flavour, topping up with sugar as you use it. Spiced caster sugar also works very well: a little cinnamon or ginger mixed in with it is all that is needed…….

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 fruit curd of choice mixed about 50-50 with melted chocolate (whichever type you prefer) to give a soft mixture that holds it shape and can be piped/spooned easily.

For the salted caramel, for instance, I would just mix roughly equal weights of salted caramel with melted chocolate.

For the rhubarb, I would mix together equal weights of cooked and puréed rhubarb with melted white chocolate, a little syrup from the jar of stem ginger and perhaps a little crushed stem ginger from the jar to get the rhubarb-gingeryness that I want at the time……


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 3 tablespoons caster sugar

For dusting over:

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

Filling (optional):

  • about 4 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 80g white chocolate, melted

Icing & topping:

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

You also need non-stick muffin tins, but butter them well.

(1) Roll the final dough thinly out to about 20cm by 60cm and cut into five rectangles measuring about 20cm by 12cm. Dust each rectangle lightly with caster sugar and pat it down gently into the dough just so that some of it sticks.

(2) 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. Don’t go too tightly, though, as you want the dough to expand easily as it proves.

(3) Cut the Swiss 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! Roll each up to form a 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.

(4) Repeat for the rest of the dough to give 10 spirals in total.

(5) Roll each spiral in a little caster sugar and pop them gently in the tins with the flat 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.

(6) 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). Bake for about 20-25 minutes until deep golden brown and then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.

(7) Make the filling: mix the curd and the chocolate together until well combined and set aside until slightly set.

(8) Once the cruffins have cooled, mix the remaining caster sugar with the lemon powder and roll them in this sugar, giving them a very generous dusting.

(9) 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. Alternatively, pipe into the bottom of the cruffins and place them on a sheet of greaseproof paper until the filling has set.

(10) 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 & eating.

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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