This may come as a surprise to you, but despite people thinking croissants and baguettes come from France, the fact is the French have to thank Austria for their delicious bread and pastry. Because, yes, the Croissant and Semmel were created in the best bakeries in Vienna, before the Austrians exported them to France. Ça alors!
Watch our video to discover the best organic bakeries in Vienna.
The birth of the croissant
The Ottoman Turks had kept Vienna under siege for several months in 1683, trying to starve the city and force the Viennese into submission. They’d planned to invade the Imperial city using tunnels. But they didn’t know that the Austrian bakers start baking while everyone else is still sleeping. This is why, in the quiet of the night, the people working in the best bakeries in Vienna were able to hear the noise of digging and shovelling, so they sounded the alarm. In doing so, the bakers helped the Holy League save Western civilization.
To celebrate the defeat of the Turks, the best bakeries in Vienna created a new pastry in the shape of the crescent moon on the Turkish flags. They called it Kipfel, which is German for crescent. If talking about bakeries is enough to have your mouth watering, on the video above you will see the best organic bread in the beautiful city of Vienna.
Austrian bakeries in the French court
It took almost a hundred years for the Kipfel to become known as a croissant. This happened when Austrians took the Viennese pastry to France. In 1770, the 15-year-old daughter of the Austrian Emperor, Marie Antoinette, married the French king, Louis XVI. An Austrian baker was sent to France to prepare the Semmel, a white, crusty, round bread, and Kipfels to the young princess who was home-sick. At that time, the French only ate a flatter wholemeal bread.
In the late 1830s, the Austrian August Zang set up a bakery in Paris. He introduced to the French the steam oven used to bake Kipfels and the white-flour Semmel, which later became the famous baguette. From then on, Parisians started baking Kipfels and called them Croissants, the French word for crescent.
So, although today croissants and baguettes represent Frenchness, they have Austrian origins.
In Austria, Semmel etiquette is taken very seriously. At the table, a true Austrian will never cut his Semmel with a knife nor take bites of the bread; it is considered of poor manners. You are supposed to use your hands to tear off small bite-sized pieces of the bread.
Did you know that the base for the most famous detox in Europe, the Mayr cure, is the Semmel? People come from everywhere to recover from treatments or injuries, or to lose a few kilos eating the Viennese bread. Sounds too good to be true? Read more about it here.
Style inspo: Our editors went hunting the best Viennese bakeries wearing coat and pullover Weekend Max Mara, Furla bag, Joop Leather Jacket by Peek & Cloppenburg.