Croissants: Always a Good Idea!
It may be National Croissant Day on January 30th, but, honestly, who needs a holiday to enjoy the deliciousness of croissants?
It used to be that you had to go to France to have a "real" croissant, with its wonderful combination of buttery richness and light-as-air flakiness. No matter how small your Paris hotel room or how many flights of stairs you have to climb to get to it, starting the day with a fresh croissant and a swipe of fruit preserves, remains one of life's truly pleasurable experiences!
But did you know that croissants originated in Austria, not France?
Croissants are buttery, flaky, Viennoiserie pastries. Viennoiseries (French for things of Vienna) are baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough similar to bread but with added ingredients that give them a richer, sweeter flavor that is more like a pastry but less indulgent. Croissants are named for their historical crescent shape and, like other Viennoiseries, are made of a layered yeast-leavened dough that give a flaky texture like a puff pastry.
These days, excellent croissants can be found in specialty cafés and bakeries all over the world, including here in the States. Pain au Chocolat (or chocolate croissants), are also available, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be almond croissants, filled with marzipan (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds before baking.
If you are inclined to try making croissants at home, you might consult Julia Child, who instructs us to “lift dough and throw it roughly down on the board with one hand…[being] rough, rapid, and energetic.” Finally, when you’ve finished folding the dough and butter together, you will have 82 layers of dough and 81 layers of butter – which will definitely make for some flaky layers!
On this National Croissant Day, if the idea of baking croissants intimidates you, or you simply don’t have the time, visit your favorite café, specialty store or bakery - I won’t tell if you don’t! There’s nothing greater in life than a fresh brew of coffee or tea and delicious croissants on a beautiful table, with family, friends or alone with your fur baby…but don’t forget to include sweet butter – and maybe a bit of good preserves! If you need some inspiration, check out our table linens and mugs!
Croissants are best eaten fresh when at their flakiest because they dry out quickly. However, if you find yourself with some leftovers, try slicing them or tearing them into chunks, soaking the pieces in a mixture of eggs and milk, and making yourself some sublime French Toast!
Croissants are typically eaten at breakfast or as snacks, but, personally, I think any time of day is the perfect time to enjoy one!