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Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

The St. Martin’s Croissant – Polish Poznań’s Greatest Treasure

ByFranziska Dietz

Jan 22, 2022

In our blog post about the history of the croissant, it already got pretty clear that the excitement about this fluffy pastry is not only limited to France. In fact, the croissant craze has spread out to many nations. Poland, precisely the region surrounding the city of Poznań, has taken the love of the croissant to a new level. Their specialty, the St. Martin’s croissant, is popular all around Poland and part of the register of protected designation of origin in the EU. There even is a museum dedicated to the St. Martin’s croissant in Poznań. So what is so special about this particular pastry? Read on to find out about the history of St. Martin’s croissant and how to make it yourself!

What Is The St. Martin’s Croissant?

The St. Martin’s croissant, or Rogal świętomarciński in Polish, is a croissant filled with poppy-seeds, nuts and raisins. As already mentioned, it belongs to the region surrounding the city of Poznań, the Wielkopolska region. And the St. Martin’s croissant definitely is a seasonal snack of the cold months of November and December. There even is a concrete date on which the Polish traditionally have a lot of this sweet pastry, the 11th of November. Only on that day, the Polish eat around 700,000 St. Martin’s croissants. Only. On. One. Day.

During the winter months, in Poland many, many St. Martin’s croissants are consumed

On the 11th of November, the Polish celebrate the Independence Day. But besides that, this day also marks St. Martin’s Day. And, as the similarity to the naming of the main character of this post might indicate, of course there is a connection between the St. Martin’s Day and the St. Martin’s croissant.

The Legend Of the Invention of the St. Martin’s Croissant

Of course, the story of the invention of this pastry is linked to the center of the hype: Poznań. In November 1891 one parish priest called Jan Lewicki from the St. Martin’s parish reminded the people of the city of the meaning of St. Martin’s Day. To get us on the same page: The 11th of Novemer is dedicated to Martin of Tours, St. Martin, who is probably best known for his kind act of sharing his coat with a poor beggar during winter time.

So Fr Jan Lewicki tol the Catholic to up their charity and give out something to the poor. When leaving the place on his horse, the animal reputedly lost one of its horseshoes. One baker found the horseshoe and took the form of it as inspiration to bake the very first St. Martin’s croissant. The shape of the pastry resembling at least a tiny bit the shape of a horseshoe.

Over the years, the croissant got very popular and to complete the order given by brother Jan Lewicki, the poor people got it for free whereas the rich had to pay for it.

Poznań, the home of the St. Martin’s croissant

Criteria To Be Called A St. Martin’s Croissant

As already mentioned above, not every croissant filled with nuts and raisins must be called a St. Martin’s croissant. Especially, since the 30th of October 2008. Since that day, its name became part of the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications in the EU. But what does it mean?

As a result of the registered name, to be called a St. Martin’s croissant, the pastry has to meet certain criteria. One criterion for example is to have 81 layers. Exactly 81, not 80, not 82. Also, it must not weigh more or less than 150 to 250 grams. But this is actually stuff nitpickers care about, what you probably want to know is: How can you make yourself a St. Martin’s croissant? Or let’s say, something resembling, to not get caught up in some name fights.

How To Make St. Martin’s Croissant

To make about 15 pieces of this delicious pastry, you will need the following ingredients:

To make the filling:

  • 1 cup of white poppy seeds
  • 2 cups of sponge cake crumbs
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 120 g of nuts (a mix of walnuts and almonds is perfect)
  • 120 g of raisins
  • 400 g of margarine
  • 10 ml of almond extract
  • 120 g of candied orange peel
  • 2 eggs

To make the dough:

  • 4.5 cups of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 g of fresh yeast
  • 0.5 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 0.5 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 300 g French margarine

For the frosting:

  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 70 g chopped walnuts

How To Prepare the Filling:

Start by making the filling. Firstly, put the poppy-seed into a fine sieve and rinse with cold water. Put the into a bowl and pour some hot water on top to have all of it covered. Cover the boil with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest for at east 60 minutes.

In the following, put the seeds in a clean towel and drain them very well. Then blend the seeds until smooth, using a hand blender or strong mixer. Next, transfer the blended poppy-seeds to a pot and add the sugar and margarine. Mix and sauté for several minutes over medium-low heat. Doing so, be careful not to burn the seeds. Add the nuts, raisins, candied orange peel and almond extract to the mixture, and stir well. Remove the mixture from the heat and leave to cool. If you feel like some parts of the nuts are too big, you can blend it again once the mixture has cooled down.

How To Make the Dough:

To prepare the dough, sift the flour into a big bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the milk with a tiny bit of sugar and add it along with the sugar, eggs and salt to the bowl. Stir gently, then knead about 10 minutes until you have an elastic dough. As a result, you want your dough to be a bit sticky. Put it in the fridge to chill

After this, place the dough on a surface and roll out into a rectangle, then cover it with a cling foil and place it in the fridge to cool down. Once it is cold, transfer it to a floured surface and spread the margarine on the dough, leaving 1/3 of it empty. To fold the dough, put 1/3 of it into the center, then the right of 1/3 of the dough to the center. Roll it out again into a rectangle using a tiny bit of flour. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more ties. Transfer the dough to the fridge and let it cool for 5-10 hours.

Finishing Your St. Martin’s Croissants:

Place the dough on a surface and cut into 2 smaller rectangles, then cutting the rectangles into 15 triangles. Spread the filling equally on the triangles and roll them like normal croissants. Curve both ends to have it get the typical croissant shape. Place the croissants on a baking tray covered with baking paper and leave to rise. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Once the croissants doubled their size, beat up the two eggs with equally much water and coat the croissant with it. Next, put the croissants in the oven and leave to bake for about 20 minutes. When they are golden on top, remove them from the oven. While the croissants are baking, prepare the frosting. Use about 2-3 tablespoons of water so that the frosting will not be too thin, cover the croissant with the frosting as long as they are still warm, and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts.

And, tada, your St. Martin’s croissants are done!

This recipe was taken from Taste Is Yours.

If you need a hot drink to have with your sweet croissant, check out our blog post on chai tea.