When you think of France, the first image that pops into your head is likely someone on a bicycle, wearing a striped Breton top, carrying a couple of croissants in their front basket. (And I can already tell that my boyfriend is probably rolling his eyes at that one- all those clichés). But anyway, did you know that the croissant isn’t French? I know! I couldn’t believe it when I found out either…
History of the Croissant
If you’ve never heard of the French croissant before,
then you’ve been missing out. The croissant is a buttery, flakey and oh so delicious pastry, famed for its crescent form. Although crescent shaped patisseries have been popular since the Renaissance period (14th-17th Centuries), evidence suggests that this shape has been popular as far back as antiquity!
Like many iconic dishes, no one knows quite where the croissant came from. Theories range from the credible to the impossible:
One theory suggests that the croissant has an ancestor, which inspired the croissant creator to be a little more daring. The story goes a little like this: Unlike other French delicacies, but much like the macaron, the croissant didn’t just appear one day out of nowhere. Instead, it descended from the Eastern European ‘Kifli‘ (the Hungarian word for crescent).
Also known as the ‘kiperfl’ this is a heavier, older form of croissant. With roots dating back to 13th-Century Austria, the most traditional of this form of pastry consists of rolled soft butter dough. However, unlike croissants which are made from puff pastry, the Kifli is made of the same mixture as normal bread.
Another theory suggests that Marie Antoinette herself indirectly invented the croissant. She missed the ‘kiperfl’ from her home country and so commissioned the royal chefs to prepare her one. Unfortunately, something went wrong in the baking process, and thus the croissant was born. However, just like the fact that she likely never said “let them eat cake,” I’ll put this theory down as a not so believable…
So the Croissant isn’t French?
The truth is, we don’t know. And maybe we never will. But that’s okay because a little mystery is kind of exciting, right? What we do know is that the croissant likely isn’t French. Personally, I can’t wait to hear what the next ‘theory of the history of the croissant’ will be…