Croissant
Overview
A croissant is a butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

y flaky pastry
Pastry
Pastry is the name given to various kinds of baked products made from ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder and/or eggs. Small cakes, tarts and other sweet baked products are called "pastries."...

 named for its distinctive crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 shape. It is also sometimes called a crescent, from the French word for "crescent". Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry
Puff pastry
In baking, a puff pastry is a light, flaky, leavened pastry containing several layers of fat which is in solid state at 20 °C . In raw form, puff pastry is a dough which is spread with solid fat and repeatedly folded and rolled out and used to produce the aforementioned pastries...

. The yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 dough
Dough
Dough is a paste made out of any cereals or leguminous crops by mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid. This process is a precursor to making a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly breads and bread-based items , flatbreads, noodles, pastry, and similar items)...

 is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, a technique called laminating.

Crescent-shaped food breads have been made since the Middle Ages, and crescent-shaped cakes (imitating the often-worshiped Moon) possibly since classical times, but the modern croissant dates to 19th-century Paris.

Croissants have long been a staple of French bakeries and pâtisserie
Pâtisserie
A pâtisserie is the type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. In both countries it is a legally controlled title that may only be used by bakeries that employ a licensed maître pâtissier ....

s.
Encyclopedia
A croissant is a butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

y flaky pastry
Pastry
Pastry is the name given to various kinds of baked products made from ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder and/or eggs. Small cakes, tarts and other sweet baked products are called "pastries."...

 named for its distinctive crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 shape. It is also sometimes called a crescent, from the French word for "crescent". Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry
Puff pastry
In baking, a puff pastry is a light, flaky, leavened pastry containing several layers of fat which is in solid state at 20 °C . In raw form, puff pastry is a dough which is spread with solid fat and repeatedly folded and rolled out and used to produce the aforementioned pastries...

. The yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 dough
Dough
Dough is a paste made out of any cereals or leguminous crops by mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid. This process is a precursor to making a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly breads and bread-based items , flatbreads, noodles, pastry, and similar items)...

 is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, a technique called laminating.

Crescent-shaped food breads have been made since the Middle Ages, and crescent-shaped cakes (imitating the often-worshiped Moon) possibly since classical times, but the modern croissant dates to 19th-century Paris.

Croissants have long been a staple of French bakeries and pâtisserie
Pâtisserie
A pâtisserie is the type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. In both countries it is a legally controlled title that may only be used by bakeries that employ a licensed maître pâtissier ....

s. In the late 1970s, the development of factory-made, frozen
Frozen food
Freezing food preserves it from the time it is prepared to the time it is eaten. Since early times, farmers, fishermen, and trappers have preserved their game and produce in unheated buildings during the winter season. Freezing food slows down decomposition by turning water to ice, making it...

, pre-formed but unbaked dough made them into a fast food
Fast food
Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a...

 which can be freshly baked by unskilled labor. Indeed, the croissanterie was explicitly a French response to American-style fast food, and today 30–40% of the croissants sold in French bakeries and patisseries are frozen.

This innovation, along with the croissant's versatility and distinctive shape, has made it the best-known type of French pastry in much of the world. Today, the croissant remains popular in a continental breakfast.

Origin

The Kipferl – ancestor of the croissant – has been documented in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 going back at least as far as the 13th century, in various shapes. The Kipferl can be made plain or with nut or other fillings (some consider the rugelach
Rugelach
Rugelach , other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach , rugalah, rugala , is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin....

 a form of Kipferl).
The "birth" of the croissant itself – that is, its adaptation from the plainer form of Kipferl, before its subsequent evolution (to a puff pastry) – can be dated with some precision to at latest 1839 (some say 1838), when an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang
August Zang
August Zang, , a nineteenth century Austrian entrepreneur best known for founding the Viennese daily "Die Presse"...

, founded a Viennese Bakery ("Boulangerie Viennoise") at 92, rue de Richelieu in Paris. This bakery, which served Viennese specialities including the Kipferl and the Vienna loaf, quickly became popular and inspired French imitators (and the concept, if not the term, viennoiserie
Viennoiserie
Viennoiseries are baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough in a manner similar to bread, or from puff pastry, but with added ingredients giving them a richer, sweeter character, approaching that of pastry. The dough is often laminated...

, a 20th century term for supposedly Vienna-style pastries). The French version of the Kipferl was named for its crescent (croissant) shape.
Alan Davidson
Alan Davidson (food writer)
Alan Eaton Davidson was a British diplomat and historian best known for his writing and editing on food and gastronomy. He was the author of the 900-page, encyclopedic The Oxford Companion to Food .The son of a Scottish tax inspector, Davidson was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland...

, editor
Editing
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete...

 of the Oxford Companion to Food
Oxford Companion to Food
The Oxford Companion to Food is an encyclopedia about food. It was edited by Alan Davidson and published by Oxford University Press in 1999. It was also issued in softcover under the name The Penguin Companion to Food...

, found no printed recipe for the present-day croissant in any French recipe book before the early 20th century; the earliest French reference to a croissant he found was among the "fantasy or luxury bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

s" in Payen's Des substances alimentaires, 1853. However, early recipes for the croissant (without butter, and so not puff pastry-based) can be found in the nineteenth century and at least one reference to croissants as an established French bread appeared as early as 1850.

August Zang himself returned to Austria in 1848 to become a press magnate, but the bakery remained popular for some time after, and was mentioned in several works of the time: "This same M. Zank [sic]...founded around 1830 [sic], in Paris, the famous Boulangerie viennoise". Several sources praise this bakery's products: "Paris is of exquisite delicacy; and, in particular, the succulent products of the Boulangerie Viennoise"; "which seemed to us as fine as if it came from the Viennese bakery on the rue de Richelieu".

By 1869, the croissant was well established enough to be mentioned as a breakfast staple, and in 1872, Charles Dickens wrote (in his periodical "All the Year Round") of:
the workman's pain de ménage and the soldier's pain de munition, to the dainty croissant on the boudoir table


The puff pastry used to make the modern croissant was already mentioned in the late 17th century, when La Varenne's
François Pierre La Varenne
François Pierre de la Varenne , Burgundian by birth, was the author of Le Cuisinier françois , the founding text of modern French cuisine. La Varenne broke with the Italian traditions that had revolutionized medieval French cookery in the 16th century...

 Le Cuisinier françois gave a recipe for it in the 1680 – and possibly earlier – editions. It was typically used, not on its own, but for shells holding other ingredients (as in a vol-au-vent
Vol-au-vent
A vol-au-vent is a small hollow case of puff pastry. A round opening is cut in the top and the pastry cut out for the opening should be replaced as a lid after the case is filled...

). But it does not appear to be mentioned in relation to the croissant until the twentieth century.

Origin stories

Fanciful stories of how the Kipferl—and so, ultimately, the croissant—was created are widespread and persistent culinary legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s, at least one going back to the 19th century. However, there are no contemporary sources for any of these stories, nor does an aristocratic writer, writing in 1799, mention the pastry in a long and extensive list of breakfast foods.

The legends include tales that it was invented in Europe to celebrate the defeat of the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 forces at the Battle of Tours
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours , also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Battle of the Court of the Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, located in north-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about northeast of Poitiers...

 by the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 in 732, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

; that it was invented in Vienna in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 by Polish forces in the siege of the city
Battle of Vienna
The Battle of Vienna took place on 11 and 12 September 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months...

, as a reference to the crescents on the Ottoman flag
Ottoman Flag
The term Ottoman flag refers to any of the flags used by the ruling Sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty. Various flags were used within the Ottoman Empire during its existence, and the sultan also used different personal flags on different occasions of state...

s, when bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and gave the alarm; tales linking croissants with the kifli
Kifli
Kifli is a traditional Hungarian, Serbian , Bulgarian Czech , Slovak and Polish yeast roll made into a crescent shape.-Method:...

 and the siege of Buda
Buda
For detailed information see: History of Buda CastleBuda is the western part of the Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. The name Buda takes its name from the name of Bleda the Hun ruler, whose name is also Buda in Hungarian.Buda comprises about one-third of Budapest's...

 in 1686; and those describing mariantonietta hankering after a Polish specialty.

Variants

Croissant pastry can also be wrapped around any praline
Praline
Praline is a family of confections made from nuts and sugar syrup.-Europe:As originally inspired in France at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte by the cook of the 17th-century sugar industrialist Marshal du Plessis-Praslin , early pralines were whole almonds individually coated in caramelized sugar,...

, almond paste
Almond paste
Almond paste is made from ground almonds or almond meal and sugar, typically 50-55%, with a small amount of cooking oil, beaten eggs, heavy cream or corn syrup added to bind the two ingredients...

 or chocolate
Chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

 before it is baked (in the last case, it becomes like pain au chocolat
Pain au chocolat
A pain au chocolat , also called a chocolatine in southern France and in French Canada, is a French pastry consisting of a cuboid-shaped piece of yeast-leavened laminated dough, similar to puff pastry, with one or two pieces of chocolate in the centre.Pain au chocolat is made of the same puff...

, which has a different, non-crescent, shape), or sliced to admit sweet or savoury fillings. Indeed, it may be flavoured with dried fruit such as sultanas or raisins, or other fruits such as apples. In France and Spain, croissants are generally sold without filling and eaten without added butter, but sometimes with almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

 filling. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, sweet fillings or toppings are common, and warm croissants may be filled with ham
Ham
Ham is a cut of meat from the thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especiallypigs. Nearly all hams sold today are fully cooked or cured.-Etymology:...

 and cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 or feta cheese and spinach
Spinach
Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

. In the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, croissants are sold plain or filled with chocolate, cheese, almonds, or zaatar. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, croissants are sometimes filled with Nutella
Nutella
Nutella is the brand name of a chocolate spread. Nutella, manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero, was introduced on the market in 1963. The recipe was developed from an earlier Ferrero spread released in 1944. Nutella is now sold in over 75 countries....

 or persipan
Persipan
Persipan is a material used in confectionery. It is similar to marzipan but apricot or peach kernels are used instead of almonds. Persipan consists of 40% ground kernels and 60% sugar...

; in Southern Germany there also is a popular variety of a croissant glazed with lye
Lye
Lye is a corrosive alkaline substance, commonly sodium hydroxide or historically potassium hydroxide . Previously, lye was among the many different alkalis leached from hardwood ashes...

 ("Laugencroissant"). In the German speaking part of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, the croissant is typically called a Gipfeli, which typically has a crisper crust and is less buttery than the French style croissant. In some Latin American countries, croissants are commonly served alongside coffee as a breakfast
Breakfast
Breakfast is the first meal taken after rising from a night's sleep, most often eaten in the early morning before undertaking the day's work...

 or merienda
Merienda
Merienda is a light meal in Southern Europe , Latin America, and the Philippines. Usually taken in the afternoon or for brunch, it fills in the meal gap between lunch at noon and dinner, or between breakfast and lunch...

. These croissant are referred to as medialuna
Medialuna
A medialuna is crescent-shaped corral used for rodeos, the official sport in Chile. They are generally 64–66 meters in diameter...

s ("half moons") and are typically coated with a sweet glaze ("de manteca", made with butter). Another variant is a medialuna "de grasa" ("of lard"), which is not sweet. In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, croissants covered with a sweet glaze or filled with chocolate are common in bakeries and convenience stores.

Italy

A cousin of the croissant is the Italian pastry named "cornetto" in the Center
Central Italy
Central Italy is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the National Institute of Statistics , a first level NUTS region and a European Parliament constituency...

 and South and "brioche" in the North
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

. Though the two pastries are often considered to be the same, that is not completely true: the French version of the croissant tends to be crispy and contains a lot of butter, whereas an Italian cornetto or brioche is usually softer. Furthermore, the "cornetto vuoto" (Italian: "empty cornetto") is commonly sided by variants with filling, which include "crema pasticcera", jam and chocolate cream. They often come covered with powder sugar.

Poland

St. Martin's Day is celebrated in the Greater Poland region of Poland, mainly in its capital city Poznań. On this day, the people of Poznań buy and eat considerable amounts of croissants, made specially for this occasion from half-French paste with white-poppy and dainties, so-called Martin Croissants or St. Martin Croissants.

Spread of the croissant

Historically, the croissant was not commonplace in the UK. Although available in specialty places, it was only in the late 1980s that supermarkets started stocking them and then in the late 1990s with the growth of cafe culture did the croissant spread. They were introduced to Ethiopia by 1902, during the reign of Menelik II.

Croissants are also seen in former French colonies such as Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

where in the latter they are called bánh sừng bò.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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