Over the centuries, commemorations of St. Martin’s feast day have given rise to many customs and traditions. One of them is the St. Martin croissant.
Known as Rogal Świętomarciński or marcinki in Poland, these St. Martin’s croissants are a source of special pride in the Poznań region, where tons of them are consumed in the festivities. Tradition holds that they date back to the days of the 1683 siege of Vienna, when king Jan Sobieski, and Poland’s legendary winged hussars defeated the Turks in a memorable battle. Bakers started making these St. Martin croissants to keep the Christian victory in the public memory and the Turkish crescent contributed to the shape.
Polish St. Martin’s Day Croissants – Marcinki
SHORTCUT: Use 1 pound sweet roll dough, thawed, instead of making your own dough.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 16 St. Martin’s Croissants
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (not rapid rise)
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 4 ounces (1 stick) melted lukewarm butter
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (12-ounce) can poppyseed filling
- 1 (12-ounce) can almond filling
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons water, more or less
- 2 ounces toasted sliced almonds
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon sugar until yeast has dissolved.
- Add egg yolks, confectioners’ sugar and butter to bowl and mix. Add flour and knead thoroughly until dough is smooth and starts to blister, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Working with one dough half at a time, roll each into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Using a pizza wheel or nonserrated pastry cutter, cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges.Note: Instead of 16 individual crescents, you can make two large crescents.
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine poppyseed and almond filings. Place 1 tablespoon filling at the wide edge of the triangle and roll away from you. Place, point side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet forming into a crescent shape. Repeat with the remaining triangles. Repeat wth remaining half of dough. Cover with plastic and let crescents rise until doubled.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake croissants about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Combine confectioners’ sugar and enough water to make a runny glaze. Frost crescents and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds. Great with hot tea or coffee.
In Germany, on the other hand, these croissants in honor of St. Martin are called Martinshornchen. For the German recipe:
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. dry yeast
4 c. flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. coarse sugar
Heat milk to lukewarm and dissolve the yeast. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture and sugar and salt. Work to a smooth dough and let rest for 1 hour in a warm place.
Add the eggs and half the butter and work it back into a smooth dough. Some flour may have to be added if the dough is too sticky. Melt remaining butter.
If you cannot get coarse sugar, crush sugar cubes with a rolling pin. On a floured surface roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Cut into 8-inch squares. Brush with butter and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
Starting from one corner, roll up each square and turn in the ends to make croissant shapes. Brush with egg yolks and sprinkle with more sugar. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Transfer croissants to a buttered baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.
Makes 12 to 16 large croissants.
** For a simplified version, pick up a package of crescent roll dough from the store (as well as the coarse sugar if you need it) and follow the last two steps.
Used with permission by Jessica Gordon with Catholic Cuisine