Croissants: Is The Popular French Pastry Really French?

A lot goes on to give an ideal croissant its perfect quality. An ideal croissant is melt-in-mouth buttery and tender but not soggy and overly moist. The texture should be slightly flaky and chewy, the layers of the pastry must be well-differentiated but shouldn’t be crumbly, the pastry should be golden but not overly crispy, and so on. Long story short, making a perfect croissant is an art that the French are surely proud of. The crescent-shaped pastry is one of the most popular and loved French desserts that have transcended borders to become a favourite. The French share a strong bond with the art of making and savouring croissants. But do you know how this love affair began? Read on to know the fascinating history of one of France’s most loved pastries.

As the topic of this article suggests, it is believed that croissants don’t have their roots in France but Austria and parts of Eastern Europe. The Austrians used to relish small pastries called ‘Kipferl’ during the 13th century. These pastries were served either plain or with nuts. Unlike modern-day croissants, Kipferls were sweeter, denser and less buttery. Legend has it that the prototype of croissants was invented by some Vienna bakers during the Ottoman siege on the Austrian capital. This prototype was brought to France in the 19th century. This introduction is attributed to two Austrian-born bakers- August Zang and Earnest Schwartzer. These bakers opened a bakery in Paris in 1837-1839. The word ‘croissants’ became popular in the mid-19th century and numerous bakers around Paris started making their own versions of croissants.

However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that croissants were made out of puff pastry. As an innovative move, some bakers started adding yeast to their puff pastries. This innovation changed the mouthfeel and the texture of croissants entirely yielding a puffier, flaky, and buttery croissant.

Now that you know the history of croissants, you know whom to thank the next time you relish a flaky croissant. You can also try the embedded recipes at home to savour this French delight.