A Fresh Baked Idea

Remember the cronut? The culinary sensation of 2013 was a mash-up of a croissant and a donut, the creation of a French baker in New York City. People stood in long lines to snag one. But that is yesterday’s news. I have recently tasted something that is so wonderfully unique, something that perhaps you’ve never heard of, that it too requires a creative name to capture its essential qualities.
I’ve christened it the cretzel. It is the love child of that crescent-shaped European pastry and a soft pretzel. And it is a heavenly match that combines the croissant’s layered, buttery airy interior with a somewhat thicker dark salty outer crust. They are flaky yet sturdy and chewy; slightly sweet but also savory; excellent as a sidekick to a cup of coffee in the morning and equally ideal for sandwiches.
Locally, these hybrids can be found at Zoss the Swiss Baker in Cleveland Heights. They didn’t invent them. The marriage of the two textures originated in Germany, where they are called laugencroissant. Kurt and Barbara Zoss introduced me to this version of a roll, and I took it upon myself, with their permission, to name it a cretzel.
In the past, the couple made cretzels just a few times a year and only on Saturdays. But if demand is there, they assured me, they’ll respond. March and April are good months to get them but definitely call before you go to find out when the cretzels will be out of the oven and on the shelves. Hopefully there won’t be a line. But if there is, it means they’ll be baking them more often.
—Laura Taxel, Photo by Barney Taxel