When you think about baked pastries, croissants are likely the first thing that comes to mind. They’re delicacies that have been around for centuries. Although croissants originated in France, they’ve become popular globally. You’ll find them in supermarkets and bakeries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and just about any other place you can name. 

The perfectly baked croissant is something to savor. It’s not something you can forget. With a flaky exterior and a moist, buttery interior, it’s crystal clear why the croissant has such universal appeal. People enjoy eating croissants for breakfast. Usually, they’ll accompany it with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a nicely brewed cup of coffee. The croissant has become so popular that it has spawned several variations. You can find cheese croissants, chocolate croissants, and more. However, while we might enjoy devouring croissants today, it does beg the question: what’s the history behind the croissant?

A Brief History of the Croissant in France

Many argue that the croissant takes inspiration from kifli, a popular sweetmeat in 13th century Hungary. Some Austrian bakers liked this confectionary and adopted it in their hometown when the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks ended. Subsequently, they renamed kifli to kipferl. 

According to folklore, a Viennese baker was baking in the early morning when he heard Ottoman soldiers tunneling under the walls. He alarmed the Viennese forces, giving them enough time to muster up a defense. The Viennese forces managed to repel the Ottomans, saving the city from a potential sacking. As a result, the Viennese bakers whipped up a crescent-shaped pastry to celebrate the Austrians victory over the Ottomans. Since the crescent moon is a prominent symbol on the Turkish flag, the bakers intended to mock their opponents.

This version of the story also states that the kipferl finally came to France in the late 18th century when Marie Antoinette was due to wed the future Louis XVI. Some argue that Marie Antoinette asked for her favorite snack, which led the French bakers to whip up what’s now known as the croissant. However, it’s crucial to note that these events remain unconfirmed. 

Another version paints a less romantic picture of the croissant coming to France. According to this story, a former Austrian artillery office named August Zang started the Boulangerie Viennoise – an upscale bakery – in Paris in the early 19th century. He would produce Austrian delicacies that caught the Parisians’ attention. Rival French bakers felt threatened by Zang stealing their customers. Hence, they adapted the kipferl by adding significant amounts of butter to their pastry. The result was the modern-day croissant. 

It’s challenging to prove the veracity of either one of these stories. However, they could both have elements of truth sprinkled in them. However, one thing is apparent. In 1915, Sylvain Claudius Goy, a French baker, wrote the recipe for the croissant that most bakeries make today. As a result, most people attribute Goy as the pioneer for the croissant that we all enjoy and love. 

A baker making the perfect croissant

Learn About Food and Culture with Irina Bukatik

IrinaBukatik is a food lover and a travel enthusiast. She’s constantly searching for new ways to mesh the two. Visit her website, Wanderlust Food, to learn about the seamless integration of food and culture for those yearning for adventure.

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