AskDefine | Define croissant

Dictionary Definition

croissant n : very rich flaky crescent-shaped roll [syn: crescent roll]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Croissant



From French croissant ‘crescent’, from Middle French creissant.


  • /kɹwəˈsɑnt/ (Canadian)
  • /ˈkwæsɑ̃/, /ˈkɹwæsɑ̃/ (UK)
  • /kɻəˈsɑnt/
  • Audio (CA)


  1. A flaky roll or pastry in a form of a crescent.




  • /kʁwasɑ̃/
  • Audio (FR)


fr-noun m
  1. crescent
  2. croissant
  3. crescent moon (croissant de lune).






Extensive Definition

A croissant ( , anglicised variously as , /kwɑːˈsɑːn/, etc.) is a buttery flaky pastry, named for its distinctive crescent shape. It is also sometimes called a crescent.
Crescent-shaped breads have been made since the Middle Ages, and crescent-shaped cakes (imitating the often-worshiped Moon) possibly since classical times:
Hebrew women, in the time of Jeremiah, made in honor of the goddess Astarte (queen of heaven, queen of the moon) cakes, probably in the form of a crescent.
Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry by layering yeast dough with butter and rolling and folding a few times in succession, then rolling. Making croissants by hand requires skill and patience; a batch of croissants can take several days to complete. However, the development of factory-made, frozen, pre-formed but unbaked dough has made them into a fast food which can be freshly baked by unskilled labor. Indeed, the croissanterie was explicitly a French response to American-style fast food. This innovation, along with the croissant's versatility and distinctive shape, has made it the best-known type of French pastry in much of the world. In many parts of the United States, for example, the croissant (introduced at the fast food chains Arby's in the United States and Tim Hortons in Canada in 1983) has come to rival the long-time favorite doughnuts.


Fanciful stories of how the bread was created are modern culinary legends. These include tales that it was invented in Poland to celebrate the defeat of a Muslim invasion at the decisive Battle of Tours by the Franks in 732, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent; that it was invented in Vienna in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Turkish siege of the city, as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags, when bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and gave the alarm; tales linking croissants with the kifli and the siege of Buda in 1686; and those detailing Marie Antoinette's hankering after a Viennese specialty.
Several points argue against the connection to the Turkish invasion or to Marie-Antoinette: saving the city from the Turks would have been a major event, yet the incident seems to be only referenced by food writers (writing well after the event), and Marie-Antoinette - a closely watched monarch, with a great influence on fashion - could hardly have introduced a unique foodstuff without writers of the period having commented on it. Those who claim a connection never quote any such contemporary source; nor does an aristocratic writer, writing in 1799, mention the pastry in a long and extensive list of breakfast foods.
Alan Davidson, editor of the Oxford Companion to Food states that no printed recipe for the present-day croissant appears in any French recipe book before the early 20th century; the earliest French reference to a croissant he found was among the "fantasy or luxury breads" in Payen's Des substances alimentaires, 1853.
This suggests that the croissant was just becoming known at mid-century (though the puff pastry used to make it was already mentioned in the late 17th century, when La Varenne's "Le cuisinier françois" gave a recipe for it in the 1680 - and possibly earlier - editions.) By 1869, it was well-established enough to be mentioned as a breakfast staple and in 1872, Charles Dickens wrote (in his periodical "All the Year Round") of : the workman's pain de ménage and the soldier's pain de munition, to the dainty croissant on the boudoir table .
However, it is possible - if not thus far documented - that there was a Viennese connection to the appearance of the croissant in France. Croissants today are one of a number of puff-pastry based items known as Viennoiserie - "Vienna-style items". The idea that Viennese-style rolls were finer seems to have started with a Boulangerie Viennoise - "Viennese breadstuff bakery" - that opened in Paris in the first half of the nineteenth century: "This same M. Zank...founded around 1830, in Paris, the famous Boulangerie viennoise" . Several sources refer to the superiority of this bakery's products: "Paris is of exquisite delicacy; and, in particular, the succulent products of the Boulangerie Viennoise"; "which seemed to us as fine as if it came from the Viennese bakery on the rue de Richelieu". The following mention was written well after the croissant was common in France, and already mentions one common myth: "The croissant, which appeared in Paris for the first time at the boulangerie viennoise of the rue Montmartre, comes, effectively, from Vienna. It dates, I was told in that city, from the invasion of the Austrian capital by the Turks in 1683."


Croissant pastry can also be wrapped around almond paste or chocolate before it is baked (in the latter case, it becomes like pain au chocolat, which has a different, non-crescent, shape), or sliced to admit sweet or savoury fillings. In France, croissants are generally sold without filling and eaten without added butter, but sometimes with almond filling. In the United States, sweet fillings or toppings are common, and warm croissants may be filled with ham and cheese or feta cheese and spinach. In the Levant, croissants are sold plain or filled with chocolate, cheese, almonds, or zaatar. In Germany, croissants are sometimes filled with Nutella or persipan. In Switzerland the croissant is typically called a Gipfeli which typically has a crisper crust and is less buttery than the French style croissant.


See also

croissant in Arabic: كرواسون
croissant in Bulgarian: Кроасан
croissant in Catalan: Croissant
croissant in Czech: Croissant
croissant in German: Croissant
croissant in Spanish: Croissant
croissant in French: Croissant
croissant in Croatian: Kroasan
croissant in Indonesian: Croissant
croissant in Italian: Croissant
croissant in Hebrew: קרואסון
croissant in Dutch: Croissant (brood)
croissant in Japanese: クロワッサン
croissant in Norwegian: Croissant
croissant in Polish: Croissant
croissant in Portuguese: Croissant
croissant in Russian: Круассан
croissant in Finnish: Voisarvi
croissant in Swedish: Croissant
croissant in Chinese: 羊角麵包

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Danish, Danish pastry, English muffin, Parker House roll, Yorkshire pudding, bagel, bialy, bialystoker, bun, clover-leaf roll, coffee cake, crescent roll, cross bun, crumpet, gem, hard roll, hot cross bun, kaiser roll, muffin, onion roll, pinwheel roll, popover, roll, scone, soft roll
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