July 9th, 2013 by Priya Nicholas
Mmmmmm: Londoners are drooling over pastry mash-up the Townie – a delicious cross between a brownie and a tart
The half-tart, half-brownie created by the Standard and a London baker has taken the capital — and now America — by storm. The story of how our hybrid pastry crushed the cronut via Victoria Stewart and the Evening Standard.
Dark, chocolatey brown, gooey-centred and with a sweet crust, I can see why the oozing pastry on the tray in front of me is the talk of the town. If you’re the kind of person on the cutting edge of this city’s food trends you’ll no doubt have heard of the Townie: a half-tart, half-brownie pastry which is making London drool. Not only have more than 800 been sold in the capital in the past 10 days alone — but they have just landed in America too.
As it happens, the tale of the Townie is rather close to the Evening Standard’s heart. Three weeks ago our features team asked baker Bea Vo from Bea’s of Bloomsbury to create as many mash-up pastries as possible to take on the latest US baking trend: the cronut — a croissant crossed with a doughnut.
Reacting to samples dropped in at our office there were murmurs of “Oo” and “wow”. Vo began selling the Townies in her three tea shops — and they have been doing a roaring trade ever since.
“It’s been crazy,” she says. “People have already begun to order them by the dozen on our website.” (They are £2.90 to take away in the shop). “We also rejigged it so it’s way gooier!” she laughs. It sure is. When I meet her in her St Paul’s branch, I try some from the new batch. The pastry is crumblier and the goo is gooier.
The week after the Standard reported that the Townie had arrived, pulling in 2,500 hits on standard.co.uk, American news channels Today.com and CBS news picked up on the story, calling Vo’s pastry “London’s answer to the cronut”. On live TV, news readers drooled over the chocolate tarts. Shortly afterwards, a round-up of Bea’s other “pastry mutations” was covered on Eater.com.
Meanwhile, North Carolina user Lois Felton posted the first picture of a Townie on Pinterest, shortly before another US user, Adrianne Deschler, posted: “tart and brownie: need to try” under her own photograph.” Next was London-based American chef Sally Hurst, who posted a picture captioned “move over cronut. It’s time for the townie”.
But others wanted a piece of the pie. Recipe website ThePastryChannel.com typed a Townie-related tweet to its 33,000 users, as did a Pennsylvania property company. A New York PR and marketing firm exclaimed that they “couldn’t wait to get our hands on the latest sweet treat”, UK fashion brand Hobbs said it was “desperate to try @beas_bloomsbury ‘townies’” and later a note arrived from @thegetfitdiva in New Jersey: “I’ll take both please & thank you!” Finally, in reference to the cronut craze, KitchenDaily.com wrote that of the new range of “hybrid desserts popping up in bakeries and pastry shops around the world”, it was the “latest and greatest creation”.
But it was Alice Tate, style writer at American shopazine Refinery29, who got her facts right, saying: “Just remember where you read about it first (The Evening Standard).” Who needs a cronut? It’s London’s Townies all the way, darling.