Ah yes, Croissants the “to die for” french pastry, which earned it’s name after its crescent shape. I’m sure we’re all aware how amazingly delicious and difficult they are to make. However do we know the origin of this flakey pastry, and how it became the pride of french pastries? To find out we have to be taken back to Austria (no, not France) in the 1400’s.
During the 1400’s in Austria, there was a popular viennese pastry name Kipfel, this was a crescent shaped pastry that dates back to the 1200’s. The Kipfel is traditionally made out of a non-yeasted brioche-like dough, that is eaten in the morning. It was also the basis for the croissant, now how pray tell did the is Viennese pastry come to France? There are many theories, but one of the most wide known and accepted stories is that Marie Antoinette played a huge part in introducing the to France.
In the late 1700’s at the age of 15, Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI, who forced her to cut her ties to her family and Austrian lifestyle. It is said that she refused to eat with the royal at dinners, so she had french bakers bake her kipfel and other Viennese pastries that she consumed alone in her room. This caused the Viennese pastry to become well known is France, and over time as the wealth and population grew in France, pastries became more accessible to the upperclass. This caused more boulangeries to open, one of which was the Boulangerie Viennoise.
In the 1830’s, the first record of the Croissant was recored when a Viennese journalist named August Zang opened the popular Boulangerie Viennoise. The boulangerie offered Viennese baked goods, as well as his take on the Kipfel, which was made from a flakier dough than the original brioche-like dough. As a result of its growing popularity and crescent shape the french people gave it their own name,the Croissant. Although Zang’s dough was flakier, it still was not the yeasted dough we use today. About 85 years after Zang’s croissants were created, came the first modern Croissant dough recipe. In 1915 a french baker named, Sylvain Claudis Goy, decided it would be a good idea to add yeast to the dough, which gave birth to the modern croissant dough that we love and use today. Although the modern dough was created in 1915, it did not become widespread until after World War 2 with the rise of mass food production and the creation of Pillsbury Crescents in 1965.
Now when you bite in to the flakey goodness of a croissant, you can appreciate the centuries of work to perfect that little pastry!