France is well known for its pastries and perhaps the most famous is the French Croissant, people would rank it as high as the Eiffel Tower and the beret as being French icons. All around the world people know the croissant to be a French delicacy and it is eaten all sorts of forms: some like it plain, some like it with chocolate and others like it was ham and cheese.
So it might come as quite a shock that the French Croissant is not actually French at all, and its origins are not in France either! There are two legends when it comes to its creation, the first story tells the tale that the Turks invented the croissant in the 16th Century during the Siege of Istanbul. And a second legend is that the croissant came from Vienna in Austria when the Viennese were celebrating the defense of their city from the Turkish army in 1683. The bakers came up with the brioche shaped like a moon crescent, due to it appearing on their enemies flag, this way everyone could take a bite out of their enemy.
And if we look into the language used in France today, the second legend may hold more truth, it is certainly true that the French do call all sorts of pastries in general: “viennoiseries” which would translate to Viennese pastries. Sources do report that the first ever croissant sold in France was from a Viennese bakery opened by August Zang and Ernest Schwarzer in Paris during 1837. So how did it become such a French culture icon?
The answer lies in a small change in the recipe, originally croissant was brioche but at the end of the 19th-century French bakers decided it would be a good idea to replace the brioche with puff pastry. The shape remained the same but the new taste was well received, this new croissant became an instant overnight success and is now a typical French indulgence.