Cruller: A Breakfast Treat With A Twisted History
Image Credit: Crueller for breakfast

Perhaps eating sweets first thing in the morning would not be acceptable to our mothers. They might just hand us a bowl of cereal instead. However, what if you tell them that there is a sweet dish that’s actually meant for breakfast? If you say "doughnut," they might not be convinced, so you’d need support from a compelling narrative and solid proof.

The cruller was created for the same purpose. For the uninitiated, the word comes from the Dutch word krullen, meaning to curl. While doughnuts were created out of necessity, where small doughs of baked batter were cooked in the oven and sent over with sailors because they had a longer shelf life and were known as oil cakes at the time, the cruller is not the same.

Known by different names in different cultures, legend has it that the cruller was a quintessential German dish prepared during Lent, a 40-day Christian period to honour Jesus Christ’s fasting days. And that Shrove Thursday, i.e., the Thursday before Easter, was when the Germans ate crullers for breakfast. Since it contained good amounts of fat, the baked delight helped them get through the mourning period.


Interestingly, the cruller spread across Europe and the US in no time. While German immigrants brought the dish to the rest of the world, it also spread to Canada. Another belief is that the word "cruller" comes from a French word that refers to a ring-shaped doughnut. This seems to be a plausible argument, given the twisted shape of the cruller, unlike regular doughnuts, as well as the airy and light texture that resembles a French choux pastry.

Cut from the centre and pulled from the sides, it gets a twisted and knotted shape that makes it distinct from others. Not only that, variations of this cake-style doughnut can be found in Asian cultures as well, such as the Chinese youtiao. This deep-fried delicacy is quite popular on the breakfast table and is more like doughnut sticks than a ring.