St. Martin’s croissants are considered one of the best delicacies not only in Wielkopolska Voivodeship but also all over the country. Every year, on Saint Martin’s Day (November 11), people eat these mouth-watering croissants with white poppy seed filling heartily. This year, you can make your own with our recipe.
St. Martin’s croissants were traditionally prepared in Poznań and some other parts of Wielkopolska on Saint Martin’s Day (November 11).
The tradition of St. Martin’s croissant
The tradition, however, dates to pagan times, when during the autumn festival offerings were made to the gods. The Latin Church took over this custom, linking it to the figure of St. Martin. The shape of the pastry was interpreted as a reference to the horseshoe that the saint’s horse was supposed to have lost.
However, there is also a popular legend that says it all has started in November 1891. As St. Martin’s Day approached, the pastor of St. Martin’s parish in Poznan, Father Jan Lewicki, appealed to the faithful to follow the example of the patron saint and do something for the poor. The confectioner Jozef Melzer, who was present at the mass and worked in a nearby confectionery, urged his boss to revive an old tradition. The wealthier Poznan citizens bought the delicacy, while the poor received it for free. The custom of baking was taken over by the Confectioners Association in 1901. After World War I, Franciszek Raczyńnki returned to the tradition of gifting the poor, while Zygmunt Wasinski saved the croissant from oblivion just after World War II.
Today, you can also bake your own delicious and mouth-watering St. Martin’s croissants based on the recipe below which was passed through generations in my family.
- 1 cup of slightly warm milk
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3½ cups whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- 225g/ 7.94 oz soft butter (of which 2 tablespoons should be used for the pastry)
- 300g/ 10.6 oz white poppy seeds
- 100g/ 3.52 oz marzipan paste
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 100g/ 3.52 oz walnuts
- 100g/ 3.52 blanched almonds
- 2 tablespoons candied orange peel
- 2 tbsp of thick sour cream
- 3 oblong sponge cakes, crumbled into crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons of milk or hot water
- chopped almonds for sprinkling
- Mix dry yeast with flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and mash it with your hands.
- Add milk, egg, and vanilla extract.
- Mix first with a spoon or your hand, then transfer the pastry to a pastry board and knead briefly, just until the pastry is smooth. Do not knead for too long.
- Remember that the pastry should stay cool.
- Shape the pastry into a rectangle.
- Wrap it in cling film and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- Roll out the cooled pastry on a pastry board into a rectangle.
- Put the pastry so that the shorter sides are the top and bottom.
- Spread the butter evenly over the pastry, leaving a gap of about 0.5 cm/ 0.2 inch from the edges.
- Fold 1/3 of the pastry from the top.
- Then fold the bottom part so that it covers this fold (just like we fold a sheet of paper).
- Connect the edges well together and gently roll out again using as little flour as possible.
- Fold as before, wrap in cling film and chill for 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Repeat the process 3 times, chilling the pastry between rolling for 30/45 minutes.
- After the last fold, wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Take out the pastry from the refrigerator for 30 minutes before continuing to prepare the croissants.
- Prepare the filling. Scald poppy seeds and nuts with boiling water.
- After 10/15 minutes, drain them.
- Grind it twice with almonds.
- Grind the marzipan mass with a mixer together with powdered sugar.
- Add ground poppy seeds with nuts, sponge cake crumbs and chopped orange peel.
- Mix everything together.
- Add cream to make a mass. The mixture should not be too thick or too liquid. Adjust the consistency with the cream.
Forming of the croissants:
- Roll out the pastry on a floured pastry board into a rectangle.
- Cut in half along the long side.
- Cut each of the strips into 12 triangles.
- Spread the filling on the triangles, leaving a small gap from the edges.
- Wrap the base of the triangle on the mass, make a cut in the middle, gently bend to the sides, and roll up the croissant.
- Place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, keeping the spaces.
- Cover with a cloth and leave for about one hour.
Make the glaze:
- Whilst an egg a little bit and add milk.
- Spread the egg with milk on the croissants.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes at 180°C/ 356°F, until golden brown. If you have more than one baking tray, you can bake two at the same time with convection.
- Take out the baked croissants and, while still warm, pour icing (powdered sugar mixed with milk or boiling water to a smooth paste) and sprinkle with chopped almonds.