People often think of France when they hear about, see, or taste a crispy and fluffy croissant. But here’s the bombshell, it’s not really French! The croissant’s origins point back to another country entirely – Austria. So, how in the world did croissants obtain their French reputation? What is the Croissant?
A croissant is a buttery and flaky pastry made of layered yeast-leavened dough. Its shape is typically that of a crescent and from which its name originates.
Croissants are mainly eaten as a breakfast delicacy and can be served with jam or dipped into coffee, but, traditionally, were never buttered themselves. There are certain types of filled croissants that have been served throughout history, such as ones stuffed with almond paste (croissants aux amandes) or chocolate (pain au chocolat).
Austria to France: Here’s the History
The history of the croissant dates back to 1683 to the Siege of Vienna. According to historians, a baker who was working late into the night heard Turk soldiers tunneling under the walls of the city and alerted the city’s military. The military collapsed the tunnels on the Turk threat, thus saving the city.
Long story short, the baker who alerted the military of the Turk threat baked a crescent-shaped pastry in the shape of the Turk’s Islamic symbol, the crescent moon. The theory was when one would take a bite of a croissant, that person would be taking a bite of or devouring the enemy, the Turks.
Years later, Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France before the French Revolution, would popularize her favorite homeland Austrian treat, the croissant, by requesting her royal bakers to replicate it.
In 1839, an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang, founded a Viennese Bakery in Paris. This would prove to be significant because Viennese specialties, like the kipfel (croissant), would become extremely popular throughout the country. The kipfel was a little heavier than the modern-day croissant; over time, the dough became lighter and more resembling of the croissant we all enjoy eating to this day.
The Modern-Day Croissant
Today, you can find croissants practically anywhere! From New York City to Los Angeles, and even Wilkes-Barre, croissants are everywhere. Homemade or popping open a pressure-packed can of the Pillsbury variety, there is a croissant accessible to you probably within a football field’s distance.
History has come a long way, and croissants aren’t only filled with chocolate but can be filled with anything, such as Nutella. There are even croissant-doughnut fusions nowadays! Is anyone ready for a cronut?
Le Manhattan Bistro – Your Source for Authentic French Cuisine
We hope you enjoyed this little history lesson on the croissant. Unfortunately, France can’t take all the credit. But for genuine, 100% authentic French cuisine you’ll love, Le Manhattan Bistro has you covered. Make a reservation today!