THE UNEXPECTED HISTORY OF THE CROISSANT

France is well known for its famous “French croissant “. It is one of the most popular French icon with the Eiffel Tower and beret. From Tokyo to Singapore and New York, most people know that the croissant is a true French delicacy. And they love it in all its shapes: plain croissant, chocolate croissant (“pain au chocolat” in French), almond croissant and more… Let’s find out more about this indulgence of national obsession.

Freshly Baked traditional French croissant

Why the French croissant is not that French at all!

In fact, it all started at Vienna, Austria, in 1683. By this point, the borders of the Ottoman Empire were quite close to Vienna. However, in 1683, the Ottomans wanted those borders to include Vienna. Naturally, the Austrians did not like this invasion. The Ottomans tried to break a two-month stalemate of siege warfare by tunneling under the city one night. It would have worked, and potentially done Vienna in, if one of the city’s bakers had not been up all-night making bread for the defenders. He heard the digging and alerted the guards.

Turkey flag with Istanbul Grand Mosque in Background
Around mid-September, Polish troops rode to the aid of the besieged city, and the defenders were victorious. Once the smoke had quite literally settled, our little hero began baking a celebratory pastry. He shaped it like a crescent, the same one seen on the Ottoman flags to take a bite out of them! Soon, people all over Vienna were celebrating the victory with their crescent pastries. 

This explains why we still use in French the word “viennoiseries” (or Viennese pastries) to refer to all sorts of croissants, brioches, pains au chocolat, …

How did the croissant get mixed up in French tradition?

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.

First Autrian Viennoiseries Shop in Paris Image 
In 1839, an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang, founded the first 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. Towards the end of the 19th century, French bakers replaced the brioche dough with a puff pastry.

The Kipfel Image Ancestor Of the Modern-Day Croissant With Brioche Dough.

Finally, in 1915, a French baker named Sylvain Claudius Goy would write the recipe that we all know and love today.

Last point, apparently the best croissant is Australian, not French! According to New York Times magazine, the best croissant is Australian. Lune Croissanterie is located in Melbourne at 119 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065 created by Kate Reid. She was trained in France in the Parisian bakery Du Pain et des Idéesone of the best place to eat a real pure butter croissant in Paris.

Tell us what is your favorite croissant shop and why?

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