|Is there a person reading this who does not enjoy a buttery croissant? (Alas, not all are made with butter…but avoid buying croissants at inexpensive delis, and eagerly seek out new bakeries to see what they have to offer.) Our only complaint is that the flaky puff pastry that is so delightful in the mouth invariably ends up all over our place setting and our clothing. We admire people who can eat one neatly. A good croissant already contains so much butter that it needs no more embellishment. If you get one from a top baker who uses the best butter, enjoying each bite without the interference of additional butter or jam is, in our opinion, the way to go.
Making croissants by hand is very labor-intensive. Much of what is available today is factory-made, pre-formed and frozen, delivered to the bakery, food store or restaurant and “baked on our premises.” In the 1970s, the croissant evolved into a fast food, filled with everything from broccoli to ham and cheese (and in many cases, lowering the quality of the puff pastry itself).
Hold the butter: A truly fine, fresh croissant is buttery enough.
|There are several stories about the invention of the croissant, but all appear to be legends. According to the Oxford Companion To Food, no recipe for what we know as the croissant appears before the early 20th century. It thus seems highly unlikely, for example, that the croissant was invented in Vienna in 1583 to celebrate the defeat of the Turkish siege of the city. Bakers, who were up in the wee hours making the city’s bread, are said to have heard the enemy tunneling under the city and were able to warn the army, thus saving Vienna from siege. In honor of the victory, the bakers created the croissant, the shape taken from the crescent emblem on the Turkish flag. (Eat this!) Such a heroic story; you will find it just about everywhere you look for “history of the croissant.” But one of the ways that food historians try to determine the truth is by looking at old recipe books. There are enough cookbooks from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to deprive bakers of their most famous moment in history, alas.|
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