France is the nation with the best reputation for its baked goods. These include pastries like tarts, opera cakes, crepes, eclairs, crème puffs, and Breton croissant cakes. The croissant is one of the pastries that stands out above the rest. Specifically, Viennoiseries, a type of French pastry, are famed for their sweet, flaky, buttery layers. Although you may not be familiar with the name “viennoiserie,” chances are you have already tasted some of its most popular products, such as croissants, brioche, or pain au raisins. The French term “things from Vienna” or “viennoiserie” refers to an entire class of pastries. Learn more about this phrase and what it encompasses by reading about it.
What is Viennoiserie?
The word “Viennoiseries” is French for “things of Vienna,” but that doesn’t change the fact that this pastry is entirely French. The French term viennoiserie, which describes foods prepared in the Viennese manner, usually refers to baked products that include elements of both bread and pastry. To create a more decadent dough akin to what is typically used in pastries, components like sugar, eggs, and cream are frequently added to a dough similar to that used to make bread while producing these goods. Viennoiserie is the term used to describe a variety of pastries created in this manner, including croissants, brioches, and French specialities like pain au chocolat. When you think of these foods, you think of everything good and holy in the pastry world. You don’t have to go to Paris to find a delicious croissant. Across the world, you can find them at supermarkets and bakeries.
Typically, Viennoiserie can be found in a patisserie, a pastry shop, or a boulangerie, French for a bakery. While several Viennoiserie varieties share some characteristics, these baked delicacies are usually distinguished by the preparation and handling of the dough. The dough is frequently comparable to baking dough, such as that used to make bread or rolls, but it is made richer and often sweeter by adding components like sugar, butter, eggs, and cream. To generate dough similar to that used in pastry or puffed pastry, this is typically built in incredibly thin layers, a process known as laminating. You can’t replicate those layers upon layers of buttery bliss with a canned or frozen version since it requires profound expertise, effort, and time. A yeast-leavened dough that has perfectly risen serves as the foundation for the base. A viennoiserie can be created with puff pastry, a particular kind of dough, and yeast, or it might be a richer variation of a simple recipe. The dough is then rolled out several times, topped with butter, and folded to produce the stunning layers we’ve all come to know and love.
The method used to produce our favourite Viennoiserie items is the same. Because of this, many of the most popular viennoiseries have a flaky, crunchy surface and a delicate, light centre made of thin layers, while others are soft and doughy like bread. The croissant is most likely the Viennoiserie that is best recognized internationally. However, there are many others, including regional variations or even daring inventions that an enterprising baker may try in a particular boulangerie.
The Interesting History of Viennoiserie
When strolling through the narrow streets of Paris, it’s impossible to ignore the enticing aroma emanating from the boulangeries, the country’s iconic bakeries where the best French confections are produced. But there was only sometimes the transalpine breakfast as we know it today. It dates to the Renaissance when it became commonplace nationwide to consume toast with butter and warm milk in the morning. A straightforward mixture that would keep workers going all day. It took some time for coffee to enter French homes, but once it did, the word “petit déjeuner”—now a regular wake-up call for most Westerners—was coined to describe breakfast as a complete meal.
Among the many treats offered by the bakery, the kippers, a dough made with yeast and stuffed with walnuts, is regarded by many food historians as the real forerunner of the croissant. In addition to croissants, the boulangerie offers a variety of other delectable pastries that are excellent for breakfast or a pleasant snack, like the cuboid-shaped flaky pain au chocolat and the similar-looking pain aux raisins. The croissant aux amandes, which has almond paste and flakes on the top, is one of the most delectable croissant variations. Apple lovers will adore the chausson aux pommes, a puff pastry dumpling filled with stewed apples with a cinnamon flavour.
Because of its signature baked item, the croissant, Viennoiserie is arguably the most well-known type of French pastry in the entire globe. Many contend that this crescent-shaped roll is more akin to anything from the former Austrian Empire than it is genuinely French at all. The pastry style originated in Austria and was introduced to France sometime in the Middle of the 19th century. Still, things started to take off when French patisseries got their hands on the recipe. Many claim that Austrian-born Marie Antoinette is responsible for the success of viennoiseries in France.
However, that distinction belongs to a fellow Austrian named August Zang, who founded his Café Viennoise on the rue de Richelieu in Paris in late 1839, years after Marie-Antoinette had met her demise at the guillotine. His pastries were a huge success, and presto! French culture came to be associated with a whole category of baked delicacies. However, the term “viennoiserie” for this group of pastries has persisted. The Viennoiseries, which are now distinctly French, are what give France’s pastries their international fame.
The Most Popular Viennoiseries
No matter which type of Viennoiserie you choose to focus on mastering, it is a good idea to become familiar with them all if you want to work as a pastry chef or baker. Here are a handful of the most prominent viennoiseries in Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, and other significant towns worldwide.
The croissant is a prime example of a viennoiserie. It comes from Vienna since the Ottoman Empire besieged that city in 1683. After the Austrians eventually overcame the Ottomans, a baker invented the croissant, a pastry with the shape of a crescent moon that represents the crescent of the Ottoman flag and is “eaten” by the Viennans. Many claim that Marie Antoinette, an Austrian, made croissants famous in France. However, it was at the end of the 19th century that it started representing French bakeries. The croissants should have a crusty outside and a soft, delicate interior. There are various varieties of croissants, including the standard kind, the croissant au beurre (which is sweeter since it is cooked with extra butter), and the croissant aux amandes (almond croissant).
The croissant is a mainstay of French cuisine, and many other viennoiseries are built on its light, fluffy dough. It can be purchased as-is or accompanied by various meats, cheeses, and spreads. It is renowned for its buttery flavour and flaky texture. However, it’s frequently listed as a breakfast item; a delectable croissant sandwich can be enjoyed anytime.
2. Pain au Chocolat
Pain au Chocolat is the second-most well-known Viennoiserie. It has one or two bits of dark chocolate in the Middle and is a sweet roll. The name of this Viennoiserie is hotly contested in France: Chocolatine is used in Canada (Quebec) and Southwest France, while pain au chocolat is used in Northern and Eastern France and Belgium. People always assert that one of the names is correct and the other is incorrect, depending on their locations.
This delicious, pillowy French pastry is perfect for dessert, a snack, or brunch. The dough is the same flaky, layered variety used in croissants, but instead of being cut into a croissant shape, the dough is rolled around two chocolate sticks. The chocolate croissant, which is technically the same pastry as the pain au chocolat but is cooked in the characteristic croissant crescent shape, is a relative of the pain au chocolat.
3. Pain aux Raisins
French for “grape bread,” “pain aux raisins” refers to a spiral-shaped pastry with a custard cream filling and raisins on top. The Danish cinnamon bun is fairly close to the shape. The pain aux raisins is a puff pastry-based variation on the croissant, and the pain au chocolat is topped with raisins. The dough is then individually hand-formed into pastries shaped like snails, rolled into a log, and sliced into slices. A buttercream filling, a thin coating of frosting, egg yolk or apricot glaze are all possible toppings for pain aux raisins.
4. Chausson aux Pommes
The healthiest viennoiseries might be Chausson aux pommes, stewed apples enclosed in a flaky pastry crust. It is best to consume it when it is still warm. This dessert, which translates as “apple turnover,” tucks delicious bits of apple or fruit compote into a triangular or semi-circle puff pastry. According to legend, the turnover first appeared around 1630 in St. Calais, France, when the Chatelaine of the town distributed flour and apples to all families during an epidemic, prompting inhabitants to create these small pies. Turnovers, of course, do not have to be limited to apples on the interior but may also be used with meats, cheeses, or other fruits.
Even if you’ve never tried brioche, you’ve seen this golden, flaky loaf in a bakery or supermarket. Brioche is technically bread, but because it contains eggs, milk, butter, and sometimes brandy, it is much sweeter than your usual baguette. It’s a flexible bread that can be found braided, as a fluffy roll, or as a circular loaf with sweet or savoury contents ranging from raisins to chocolate chips to fruit to foie gras. Among the several varieties in which mass-produced brioches are offered for sale are brochettes, little round rolls, and sliced loaf. These slices are frequently topped with jam, Nutella, or other spreads in France.
There is a well-known French legend concerning brioche: in the 18th century, sugar was a rare imported ingredient, making brioche an exceptionally exclusive and pricey viennoiserie. According to legend, hungry and impoverished Parisians chanted, “We want bread” at the outset of the French Revolution as they marched to Versailles to denounce the King. If they don’t have bread, why don’t they eat brioche? would have been Queen Marie Antoinette’s response.”
The oranges use puff pastry, which continues Viennoiserie’s tradition of utilizing airy, flaky dough. The apricots and a crème patisserie prepared of milk, eggs, vanilla sugar, and corn flour are filled into the puff pastry. It is frequently topped with powdered or crystal sugar.
7. “La chouquette”
This is a little choux pastry ball with big sugar crystals on top. Chouquettes resemble doughnut holes on the outside, but they are incredibly light and nearly hollow inside. Croquettes are airy pâte à choux pastry puffs adorned with so-called sucre perlé, coarse sugar crystals that maintain their shape and crunch when cooked. They are incredibly soft and light. All around the nation, bakery shops sell these Austrian-style baked delicacies, typically eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack known as le goûter.
Although you can buy them individually, buying them in bulk is more common than doing so. Chouquettes are particularly well-liked by young children, and some Boulanger (e)s may occasionally offer one to them for nothing. This is a considerate act of business as well as charity. Both cities and villages have bakeries, and the Boulanger (e)s who work there frequently develop relationships with the customers’ children. As this study indicates, most bakers prefer to dispose of their chouquettes within two hours of preparing them.
You’ve previously seen this Viennoiserie in the form of a heart. The flaky layers of this big, flat Viennoiserie are topped with caramelized sugar. A palmier is a sort of pastry that is typically consumed for dessert or breakfast. Though elephant ears are more frequently linked with a fried dough delicacy, they are also known as palm leaf cookies or elephant ear cookies. The puff pastry used to make palmiers is baked. It is generally accepted that France is where palmiers were first created somewhere in the early 20th century. However, some contend that their first production occurred in Vienna, Austria. The invention of palmiers is frequently attributed to a similar baking technique used in Middle Eastern pastries like baklava, even though it has yet to be convinced of its exact origins.
The Financier is a soft, light almond cake that occasionally includes fruits or nuts. They can be square or circular, among other shapes. Nuns created and marketed the first financiers in the Middle Ages, but it was in the 18th century that they gained widespread acceptance.
The cake known as kouign-amann was invented in Bretagne, France, in the 1800s. Its name is a combination of the Breton words for cake and butter. Butter and sugar layers are folded into a dough to make the cake. Bretons call the cake “the fattiest pastry in the world” because of its flaky golden dough, made with a lot of sugar and butter. The most widely accepted theory on the creation of the cake is that it was created accidentally when a Douarnenez baker in the 19th century tried to preserve a batch of dough that had failed by adding butter and sugar to the mixture. This resulted in creating the delicacy that we are familiar with today.
The French baked goods category, Viennoiserie, has roots in Vienna, Austria, but has gained popularity worldwide. They are frequently created with laminated dough, a layered dough with alternating layers of butter and dough and are renowned for their rich and flaky texture. Examples include baked goods from laminated dough, such as croissants, brioche, and Danish. Despite having its roots in Vienna, Viennoiserie consists of some of the most recognizable French pastries.
The artisan of the pâtisserie and the baker at the boulangerie meet in the Middle with this type of baking. In contrast to the more refined techniques of a pâtisserie, where the artists deal with cold materials, a boulangerie is considered more rustic. They use mousse, fruit, chilled dough, and icing to arrange the ingredients in exquisitely aesthetic confections. The Viennoiserie pastries are neither hot nor cold but rather a little of both. However, viennoiseries are typically available at boulangeries and in more casual bakeries.
High-quality ingredients are often used to make Viennoiserie, with butter playing a pivotal role in achieving the flaky and flavorful texture. The preparation process is time-consuming and skill-intensive as the dough must be continuously rolled and folded to generate those delicate layers. In France, Viennoiserie is typically eaten for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack with coffee or tea. Still, it has gained popularity internationally and can be found in bakeries and cafes in many nations.