Okay, after you read this, you MUST run right out to perhaps your nearest Panera or other bakery and get several croissants to enjoy with your favorite cup of tea to celebrate National Croissant Day! I have to admit, I really do enjoy a perfect croissant – it must have delicate layers that resemble honeycombs: not too dense, and with air pockets of even size from the inside to the outside. It’s all about the layers! And the smell… it should smell yeasty and buttery.
A bit of history…
Here’s the short version of what is generally regarded the history of this French staple: The story dates to 1683, during the Ottoman Turks siege of Vienna. Legend has it that a baker working late at night heard the Turks tunneling under the walls of the city and alerted the military. The military collapsed the tunnel in on the Turks and eliminated the threat, saving the city. The baker baked a crescent shaped pastry in the shape of the Turk’s Islamic emblem, the crescent moon, so that when his fellow Austrians bit into the croissant, they would be symbolically devouring the Turks.
Enter, that famous French Queen Marie Antoinette – who we know lost her head during the French revolution. She popularized the croissant in France by requesting the royal bakers duplicate her favorite treat from her homeland, Austria. Later, August Zang, an Austrian artillery officer founded a Viennese Bakery in Paris in around 1839. His bakery served Viennese specialties including the kipfel (croissant) which quickly became very popular and inspired French bakers. The dough became lighter and more delicate throughout time, and the kipfel was developed into what it is known now as the croissant.
So, today- thanks to the marauding Turks, a creative Viennese baker, Marie Antoinette, and August Zang! Here’s to tea and croissants!!!!!