The Austrian Origins Of France’s Famous Croissant

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While the croissant today, golden brown in color, laminated with layer upon layer of butter, and more breakfast bread than dessert, is considered wholeheartedly French, it actually has its origins in Eastern Europe. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the croissant only reached French bakeries in the 19th century. It was a crescent-shaped bake that was deeply reminiscent of the kipfel, which dates all the way back to Vienna during the 13th century.

Paris Unlocked says that the kipfel, also known as the kifli, kiflice, kifle, or kipferl is an Austrian pastry resembling a rugelach which would be filled with nuts; the food was particularly popular throughout Yiddish cuisine. Though the Australian dessert was made with heavy amounts of fat, like croissants, kipfels use much more sugar and are inherently denser than modern French pastry. Kipfels are still served today and, like the croissant, are often served as a sweet alongside coffee for breakfast. The Cest La Vie claims that it was the success of a Viennese Bakery in Paris that inspired French bakers to start experimenting with the recipe. Eventually, the bread grew light in texture and less sweet, blooming into the moon-shaped patisserie we know and love today.

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