Five things you might not know about croissants

What makes a perfect croissant?

Lune Croissanterie's Kate Reid on how to make perfect croissant.

In celebration of World Croissant Day, here are five bits of trivia about those buttery crescents of delight that keep adding pastry flakes to our laps and inches to our hips. Vive le croissant!

1. Hungary, Austria or none of the above?

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the croissant does not have its origins in a quaint Parisian laneway, but in an attempted Turkish siege of Budapest in 1686. Legend has it that the Turks dug underground passages to reach the centre of town. Bakers working through the night heard a small ruckus beneath their feet and sounded the invasion alarm. The Turks were captured, the city was saved and the bakers were asked to create a special pastry for the occasion in the shape of a crescent moon (as featured on the Ottoman flag).

The croissants at Lune in Elwood.
The croissants at Lune in Elwood. Photo: Supplied

It's probably all hokum, though, as Alfred Gottschalk, who wrote about the legend in the first edition of Larousse (1938) later changed the origin story to "the siege of Vienna" in his own book published 10 years later.

2. Ordinary pastry

One of the earliest French written references to a croissant is found in Les Consommations de Paris (1875) which includes "croissants for coffee" in a list of "ordinary" pastry items. The first recorded French recipe for the type of croissant we love today didn't appear until 1906.

A Middle Eastern-inspired Ispahan croissant with rose and raspberry.
A Middle Eastern-inspired Ispahan croissant with rose and raspberry.  Photo: Bonnie Savage

3. The original cronut

The croissant was traditionally a breakfast food in France until the 1970s when, to counteract the rise of American hamburgers, "La Croissanterie" stores started popping up all over Paris selling a sandwich-style of croissant known as the "croissandwich". Turns out the cronut wasn't the first croissant crossover to exist.

4. Fully loaded fat fest

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Burger King in the US has a similar item on its menu in the form of a "Croissan'wich". A "Fully Loaded Croissan'wich" is piled high with ham, sausage, bacon, eggs and cheese. It contains 42 grams of fat and about 2700 kilojoules, which is almost the same as a standard Whopper burger from Hungry Jack's Australia.

A standard butter croissant from Bakers Delight (before ham, cheese or jam is added) contains 1070 kilojoules and 16 grams of fat – roughly the same as a small serve of McDonald's french fries.

5. The straighter the pastry, the bigger the price tag

The shape of a croissant should indicate what it's made of. In France, the crescent-shaped croissants are the cheaper type, usually made with margarine, whereas you'll pay more for the straighter, butter-based, more delicious variety.