The Story of the Croissant – Interesting Bits about Vienna 8

Viennese not only like this type of pastry with their breakfast but they also boast that it was invented by their ancestors. Well, according to the name, one would rather consider France as the country of the croissant’s origin. Of course, the French are convinced that it is true, not to mention the Danes, who also think that this fluffy, crunchy pastry was invented by Danish bakers. So how was it in reality?

We will probably never learn the exact truth, but the fact is that croissants are baked from a puff pastry made of laminated yeast-leavened dough that creates a layered texture. Softened butter is placed on the dough plates and rolled out together. This process is repeated several times, we call it lamination. And it is this dough that is called pâte viennoise (Viennese dough) in French. Just a coincidence? Even the general name for the pastry baked from that dough is viennoisenie. Another fact is that the popularity of this Viennese pastry began to spread in France since 1839 when the former Austrian artillery officer August Zang opened a Viennese bakery in Paris.

However, the classic crescent-shaped wheat roll, which the Austrians call Kipferl, had used to be baked in Vienna much earlier. To make it even more interesting, the Viennese added a nice legend to it. In the story, we return to 1683, when the city was besieged by the Ottomans. They decided to dig a tunnel under the city walls. However, they did not expect bakers to work at night. When the bakers heard banging shovels and pickaxes, they quickly alerted the guards and the attack was averted. For their heroic deed, the bakers received a license to produce crescent-shaped pastries as a memory of the crescent moon on the Ottoman flags. In the quiet Grünangergasse-street in Vienna’s 1st district, on house no. 8, you will find a beautiful relief showing various bakery products. Of course, the roll must not be missed! Therefore, the locals call this house Kipferlhaus. It is one of the oldest houses in Vienna. The first written mention dates from 1346, but some parts of the house are from the 12th century. In the past, there actually used to be a bakery here, but was it the bakers from this bakery who baffled the Ottomans’ battle plans? – I will leave the answer to your imagination. 🙂

When Maria Antoinette married Louis XVI, she also took Viennese bakers with her to the French court. So the Kipferl found his way to France, where, due to its shape, they called it after the receding moon – lune croissante.

And what about the Danes? When many Danish bakers went on strike in the first half of the 19th century, bakers from Austria arrived in their place. Of course, these also brought with them their proven recipes, including the recipe for the special puff dough. When the Danish bakers returned to work, the delicious pastry was so popular that they kept it on the menu but called the dough Danish. Another fact is that it was the Danish immigrants who brought the recipe to America, where it is still used today.

Next time you bite into a fresh croissant, remember all those stories that are added along with the butter to the soft layers of the dough from which it was baked.

See also other stories from the capital of Austria in the Category: Vienna

Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri

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