Poland — Aug 28, 2015

Queen of Croissants

On average, I eat 365 croissants a year. I picked up the habit when I moved to Berlin and began a daily pilgrimage to the local Turkish bakery for the New York-bagel-cart equivalent of filter coffee. Unable to resist the call of crescent-shaped butter masquerading as breakfast, I soon added croissants to my order, too. It doesn’t help my obsession that Berlin is peppered with bakery chains, including venerable institutions such as Le CroBag (a mash-up of “Croissant” and “Baguette,” intended to be read in a French accent but horrific in its Anglicized pronunciation, “crow-bag”).

So when planning a trip to Poland last weekend, imagine my delight when I learned of a croissant museum in the city of Poznań. Its website offered a few clues, but unleashed more mysteries for every question answered. For example: What could we expect from a “goats show” add-on?

CROISSANT + GOATS SHOW begins at 11:10.

CROISSANT + GOATS SHOW at 11:10 am.

As fate would have it, the only show offered in both Polish and English would take place right after our arrival in Poznań and before our transfer to a regional train. We turned up at the museum with high expectations, and the confectionary showmanship did not disappoint. Bakers pulled audience members on stage to assist, then teased them mercilessly with a bitingly dry Polish sense of humor.

Gearing up.

Gearing up. (Photo by Cameron Askin.)

Under the tutelage of a Polish croissant master.

Under the tutelage of a Polish croissant master. (Photo by Cameron Askin.)

Almost every stage of the demonstration included a carefully rehearsed wisecrack.

“There’s a reason we don’t need to wash our hands,” the baker said while kneading the dough. “Because water in Poland is very expensive.”

When the croissants were in the oven, it was time for the final challenge: guessing the weight of our creation.

The scales and weights used to declare me victorious

Scales and weights fit for a croissant.

The baker’s jabs at American exceptionalism became a self-fulfilling prophecy when I triumphed by guessing 220 grams– right on the nose, and in metric units, no less! There couldn’t have been a more excited winner. My victory was immediately followed by insufferable swaggering as I licked glazing off my fingers, triumphant over the other tourists from Scotland, Russia, Australia, Slovakia, and Poland.

This is what winners look like.

What winners look like.

Poznań makes a regional specialty called the St. Martin croissant. It’s shaped like a horseshoe, heavier and sweeter than the French variety, filled with a white poppyseed almond paste, and glazed with sugar and walnuts.

And if you’re wondering about the goat show… There’s a view from the museum straight onto the Old Town city hall, where a mechanized pair of goats butt heads at midday.

For your own Polish pastry experience, check out the Rogalowe Muzeum in Poznań.