When we see or eat a croissant we usually associate it with France. Well I definitely do, but I wanted to find out really where and why did the croissant come about. So I began an investigation into this, which luckily involved eating a few. A lot of hard work!
The origin of this buttery and flakey pastry actually is from Austria, not France! Shocking, I know. In 1683 Vienna was under siege by the Turks, Ottoman Turks to be specific. Vienna was a sort of walled city, and the Turks were trying to starve the Austrians by not allowing the citizens to gather food outside of the walls. Since the Turks couldn't defeat the Austrians from above ground they decided to dig a tunnel underneath the walls. This is when the odd early hours of bakers becomes handy. In the middle of the night and early morning the bakers heard the digging and alarmed the army. Which lead the to Austrians defeating the Ottoman Turks.
A celebration was needed of course for this win! The bakers who saved the city decided to create a pastry commemorating the great win. So the bakers shaped the pastry in the shape of a crescent, the symbol seen on the Ottoman Turks flag. The German name for the pastry is, "Kipferl", meaning crescent. This pastry is slightly different than the croissant we know and associate with the French version. The kipferl is more simple and is not as airy and flakey.
The kipferl makes its way into the hands of French pastry chefs, because the Austrian Princess (Marie Antoinette) marries Kind Louis XVI of France in 1770. She missed her pastries from her home country and asked the royal bakers to prepare her this crescent pastry she loved so much in Austria. Since she absolutely loved this pastry (the Austrian version, kipferl) she demanded it to be at all royal dining events. Since this pastry was to be at royal events the bakers created a more elegant and elaborate version, voilà the croissant as we know it was born.
In 1920 the croissant became a national pastry. Enjoy one for breakfast occasionally, they truly are a delight!