Croissant must be among the most popular breakfast choices in the western world.
And it really has it all to make the top – slightly sweet, fluffy and satisfying enough to give a good start of the day.
Indeed, croissants are not well looked upon by weight watchers, because of their buttery self, but don’t they say that everything delicious either makes you fat or is illegal?!
On a serious note, being part of the Viennoiserie family, the croissant is practically dough and butter.
As simple as it sounds though, the croissant is famous in the culinary world to be difficult to prepare. It takes a lot of rolling, layering and folding of a yeast-leavened dough and finally a special technique, called laminating, to finish the process.
The handmade, home baked version takes some time and proper skills, that is why a great deal of the croissants served at coffee shops are pre-made and frozen, then only baked on site.
Other Viennoiseries are the brioche, Danish pastry and Pain au chocolat or raisins.
A less know fact is that, these pastries, along with the beloved croissant, are in fact introduced into the French cuisine from Austria, hence the name Viennoiseries – things coming from Vienna. It started in 1839, with the Viennese bakery in Paris, opened by the Austrian officer August Zang.
With the real roots of the croissant going back to the 15th century Austria and often crowned by the myth of how during the 1600s, Viennese bakers created a pastry in the shape of the Turkish crescent to celebrate the end of an Ottoman siege.
Indeed, croissants have their name after the crescent shape. But breads with a crescent shape are known to have been made since the antiquity. Etymologically, the word is Latin – crescere means to grow, thus crescent is growing, waxing.
In English, the term names the waxing moon in the period between the new moon and full moon. In this meaning, crescent appeared for the first time in print in 1530, in John Palgrave’s Lesclarcissement, one of the earliest French grammars written for English speakers: “Cressent, the new moon as long as it is not round, cressant“.
The word croissant, as a borrowing from French, was firstly used in an English text by William Chambers Morrow in his work Bohemian Paris from 1899: “The odor of hot rolls and croissants.”