When I was a sophomore in high school I transferred to this awful preppy private school. When I transferred, they did not offer the language that I had done the previous year as a freshman. So, when given the option between learning Spanish and French, I chose French. During that year to help practice our French my class and I would walk to a French bakery that was located right behind our school. This bakery was owned by a couple who were from France and would speak to us only in French to help us learn. For me the takeaway was not the French that I got to practice or learn but the absolutely scrumptious food that they had. My absolute favorite thing to get at the French bakery was there a Nutella croissant. If you got there early enough in the morning you could get a croissant that was still warm. This was the best way to enjoy these buttery pastries because the Nutella inside was still warm and gooey. Years later I still go to that French bakery, but I have forgotten pretty much all the French that I learned!
Knowing what I know about food now, it is interesting to me that the Croissant is such a French delicacy because it’s not actually French! The Croissant comes from Austria.
There is actually an earlier version of the croissant, but it is more of a sweet dessert that is a breakfast pastry. The croissant was first published in “Le Pâtissier François” by François Pierre de La Varenne, and he shared the recipe for “Pâte feuilletée”, aka puff pastry.
There are two different tales that provide the origin of the croissant. One tale is it was created in Buda to celebrate defeating the Ummayyad forces in the Battle of Tours; it was shaped to represent the Islamic crescent moon.
The other tale was to celebrate the Christian forces defeating the Ottomans in 1683. The shape was to represent the Ottoman flags and to honor the bakers who prevented enemy soldiers from tunneling underneath the city.
From that point on regardless of which version you believe, the croissant became an extremely popular breakfast puff pastry in both Austria and France.
In 1915, Sylvain Claudius Goy created the technique that is still used today to bake this yummy pastry. His recipe adapted the earlier recipe but added yeast to the mix.
By the 20th century, French bakers loved making croissants and beloved by all who ate them. After WWII, the pastry became world famous and was brought to the U.S.
Today, you can’t go to any coffee shop or bakery and not find a croissant! Croissants are easy to eat and can be stuffed with whatever you want, whether it be chocolate and fruit or meats and cheeses.
What is your favorite type of croissant? These pastries are super easy to make and melt in your mouth. After you bake some of your own, share your pictures with me! I’d love to see!
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Chocolate Croissants aka Pains au chocolat
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- ½ cup milk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1½ cup and 2 Tbsp. softened butter
- 3 Tbsp. melted and cooled butter
- 1 Tbsp. powdered milk
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 4 cup flour
- 2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- Egg Wash made from 1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
- Stir yeast and ½ cup of heated water together in a large bowl and let sit until it starts to foam.
- Stir in milk, sugar, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, powdered milk, and salt, then add flour.
- Stir together for 5 minutes until a stiff dough forms, then pour onto to a surface and form into a thick square. Wrap this dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Pound and shape butter between two plastic sheets into a 6 by 6 and ½ inch thick square with a rolling pin. Also use the rolling pin to roll the croissant dough into an 16 by 16 inch square on a lightly floured surface.
- Place the butter square on the dough so its corners line up diagonally with the dough square's sides like a diamond, then fold the dough's corners over the butter to make an 'x' shape.
- Roll the dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle, then fold the dough three times like a letter in an envelope and flatten. Repeat the previous step, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for an hour.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into a 20 by 14 inch sheet. Cut the dough into 18 rectangles, then make small slits in each of their bases. Place nutella or slice of chocolate bar in each base, then fold the dough in half and use egg wash to seal it.
- Place each croissant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and brush their exteriors with egg wash. Let the croissants sit for about 2-3 hours or until they double in size. Heat oven to 350°.
- Bake for twenty minutes, or until their crust is golden brown.