The croissant is a pastry staple with it’s layered, buttery, and flaky delicacies. It’s a labor of love when making croissants and can be an intimidating endeavor. If you’d rather eat a croissant than make one, que up Springtime Cafe and take advantage of their late night delivery service, or early morning croissant run!
Did you know the croissant doesn’t exactly have French origins? It’s almost a travesty! The croissant is not quite like french fries — where they’re not American or even French — but instead was inspired by the Austrian pastry known as the Kipfel. The kipfel is a crescent shaped baked delight made with a generous amount of butter or lard, with different versions paired with almonds or dusted sugar. The Kipfel’s origin was right around 1683, but much legend surrounds how the Kipfel from Austria, made it to France renamed as a croissant. The obscure tale stems from the celebratory Austrian victory over the Ottomans at the siege of Vienna. It is told that the early hours a baker keeps, saved the city from the Turks tunneling underneath, because a baker heard the rustling and alerted the city. The crescent shape is meant to mock the crescent moon in the Ottoman flag. From Austria, the French more famously made the croissant a household name with its new, albeit French, innovation of a puffed pastry.
Marie Antoinette plays to the legend by introducing the pastry to France, after being homesick for a Viennese Kipfel. Charles Dickens also latched on to the French breakfast staple when he visited Paris in 1872. He likened other breakfast foods as a “dismal monotony.” A century later croissant’s began their journey to “crossianteries” or as inception of fast-food takeaway products. In 1981, Sarah Lee introduced the first frozen croissant in America, only to outsell her well-known pound cakes. As the American fast-food era exploded, Burger King and Arby’s started creating croissant breakfast sandwiches in 1984 — the Americanization of the croissant had begun!
A labor of love
Presently, half the pastries sold in France are reserved in artisan bakeries, meaning they are not industrially produced, but made by hand, by the French!. There is even a croissant competition put on yearly by the Professional Chamber of Boulangers-Patissiers, of the best croissant. As much as this is a competition for artisans to show their skills, it’s explained as really the French maintaining high pastry standards.
So, what makes a croissant a labor of love? It can be tedious and tricky because every step in making a croissant has to be down perfectly and sequentially, otherwise you’ll just end up with a doughy pastry. The dough first needs to be strong and extensible enough to withstand rigorous and repeated rolling, stretching, and folding in the lamination process. The lamination process is when the dough is layered with butter rolled and folded in many successions, and it creates the light-as-air flakiness a croissant is known for. The strong dough sets you up for a successful lamination. Following the lamination process, is the proofing process. This step can get messy quick, if you forget that butter is being used and proof the dough at warm or humid temperatures. Croissants will only proof at room temperature. Patience and meticulous skill is required for any pastry or croissant chef.
How to properly eat a croissant
Croissants come in two different shapes: straight and crescent shape, so to properly eat a croissant, you’ll need to identify the shape you’re eating. Straight croissants are the more traditional and common croissant found in France, believed by the French to be superior than the crescent shaped counterpart. The crescent shape was considered inferior because the ingredients (made with margarine) weren’t as high of quality.
When you reach for a croissant, it is only acceptable to eat at breakfast, and only on the weekends, more as a nod to your health, if nothing else! A croissant should only be consumed if it was fait maison, or baked that morning. In order to fully appreciate a croissant, you have to be able to differentiate the crisp outer shell to its pillowy inner-folds, and this can only happen when it’s fresh.
Really, the only way to properly eat a croissant in terms of what the French suggest is one-dimensional; the only way is tearing it and dunking its buttery, flakiness into coffee. They do, however, have many unacceptable ways to eat it. Chocolate filling and other sweets, may have been a westernized addition. Most chocolate is too high in fat and will clump when warmed, and darker chocolate is too bitter, and over-dominates the taste. French children will only choose a chocolate or sweet croissant, as a French adult would never touch one.
Enjoy Springtime Cafe
If you’re a croissant connoisseur, be sure to try one at Springtime Cafe. Enjoy one by itself, or as their Heavenly Croissant breakfast sandwich.
Stop by early or late, or order from their late night delivery!