What is a Croissant?
A croissant is a laminated, yeast-leavened bakery product that contains dough/roll-in fat layers to create a flaky, crispy texture. Croissants belong to the Viennoiserie or pastry category of baked goods along with brioche, Danish and puff pastries. A croissant usually contains normal levels of salt, yeast and sugar.
The texture and eating quality of croissants are created by lamination and expansion. The lamination process is the folding of dough to create alternating dough and fat layers while expansion is caused by the leavening action of yeast fermentation, and physical separation of the dough and fat layers during the oven spring stage of baking as the water trapped between them vaporizes to steam.
As legend has it, the croissant was invented as a special roll in Vienna to celebrate the end of its invasion by Turkish troops from the Ottoman Empire in 1683. The enemy decided to attack at night to avoid being seen, but the Viennese bakers, who were working at the time, realized the city was under siege and alerted the authorities.
To immortalize this victory, a baker with the name of Peter Windletter was selected to create the Hörnchen (“small horn” in German), with the shape of a crescent to symbolize the Ottoman flag and emblem. By eating this roll the people in Vienna celebrated symbolically their victory over their feared enemy. Marie-Antoinette d’Autriche, originally from Vienna, officially introduced and promoted the popularity of the croissant in France, starting in the late 1700s.