The story about Croissants

How it started...

A croissant is a buttery, flaky, French viennoiserie pastry inspired by the shape of the Austrian kipferl but using the French yeast-leavened laminated dough. Croissants are named for their historical crescent shape, the dough is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a thin sheet, in a technique called laminating. The process results in a layered, flaky texture, similar to a puff pastry.

rustic croissant
romantic croissant display

The origin of croissant, can be dated back to at least the 13th century in Austria, and came in various shapes. The kipferl can be made plain or with nuts or other fillings (some consider the rugelach a form of kipferl). The birth of the croissant itself—that is, its adaptation from the plainer form of kipferl, before the invention of viennoiseries—can be dated to at least 1839 (some say 1838) when 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, a 20th-century term 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.

According to one of a group of similar legends, which vary only in detail, a baker of 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 story seems to owe its origin, or at least its wide diffusion, to Alfred Gottschalk, who wrote about the croissant for the first edition [1938] of the Larousse Gastronomique and there gave the legend in the Turkish attack on Budapest in 1686 version; but on the history of food, opted for the 'siege of Vienna in 1683' version.


— Alan Davidson, Oxford Companion to Food

rustic croissant