Robert's Thoughts

Comments (4) / May 30, 2024

A ‘modern’ croissant is a French pastry made from puff-pastry in a crescent shape.

The first recipe corresponding to the modern croissant, not only for the shape but also the texture of the dough and the taste, was published in 1906, in Colombié’s Nouvelle Encyclopédie culinaire. The recipe uses a laminated yeast dough known in French as pâte feuilletée levée.

But what about before 1906?

Ah, but therein lies the rub!

Hungarian, Austrian, Turkish, French and who knows what other kind of folk claim to have been the first to have created the croissant’s precursor which is the Kifli.

Legend has it that it was invented in Europe to celebrate the defeat of the Umayyad forces by the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732AD, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent.

According to another similar legend, which varies only in detail, a baker in the 17th century, working through the night at a time when his city (either Vienna in 1683 or Budapest in 1686) was under siege by the Turks, heard faint underground rumbling sounds which, on investigation, proved to be caused by a Turkish attempt to invade the city by tunneling under the walls.

The tunnel was blown up.

The baker asked no reward other than the exclusive right to bake crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the incident, the crescent being the symbol of Islam. He was duly rewarded in this way, and the croissant was born.

The original Boulangerie Viennoise in 1909 (when it was owned by Philibert Jacquet). The bakery proper is at left and its tea salon at right.

In either 1838 or 1839, an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang, founded a Viennese bakery (“Boulangerie Viennoise”) at 92, rue de Richelieu in Paris. This bakery, which served Viennese specialties including the kipferl and the Vienna loaf, quickly became popular and inspired French imitators (and the concept, if not the term, of viennoiserie for supposedly Vienna-style pastries). The French version of the kipferl was named for its crescent (croissant) shape and has become a universally identifiable shape across the world.

The croissant was already a breakfast staple by the late 1860’s. Charles Dickens referred to the “dainty croissant on the boudoir table” in his weekly literary magazine ‘All the Year Round’ in 1872.

Some croissants are curved and others are straight. I am addicted to croissants made in both of these iterations. Luck has it that I live on a street that boasts three patisseries within two blocks of me that fabricate croissants in various sizes and shapes.


4 Responses to :

  1. Chris Szoke says:

    Great article….as usual…btw..great to see u yesterday….

  2. Lydia Landori says:

    First of all, as a great granddaughter of an Austrian-Hungarian, I am going to go with the Austrian that first invented the croissant. And as a baker having made a croissant and having used puff pastry, I would like to clarify that there is a difference between the two doughs. “croissant dough is different from puff pastry because it contains yeast, which gives the dough a lighter and softer texture. Croissant dough also has sugar and milk in its ingredient list, which puff pastry doesn’t have. This makes croissant dough richer and gives the dough a better flavor.”
    I believe that is it less labor intensive to create a croissant these days in the shape of a crescent, therefore one can put out more production of the product in less time.
    So now, I leave you with my question. Does it change the texture and taste of the croissant if it is in a crescent or straight shape, when you take your first bite? Ahh, it is early now and what a great idea to get some fresh croissants this morning to find mouth is watering at the thought.. What a great topic of discussion you have left your readers, Robert. I challenge you to the taste test!

  3. Marika Kemeny says:

    Dear Robi, I love croissants in any shape, but what has happened to the kifli??? We returned recently from a wonderful trip to Austria, 7 days in Vienna, 3 days in Salzburg. One of my plans was to find the real kifli, which was one of my childhood favourites in Budapest (with the salt on top). I am sad to report that we were never successful in this search, even though I was diligent in trying to find it.

  4. Andrew Gross (Andras) says:

    ah oui, c’est bon…merveilluse….croissant, crescents…kifli, sweet or salted…

    je me souviens…Andras . Andy

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