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Franzbrötchen, the German croissant born as rebellion against French occupation

The flattened croissant: traditional pastry of northern Germany come from historical conflict

The Franzbrötchen – literally „french roll“- is a classic pastry of Hamburg commonly found in the northern Germany, including Berlin. It looks like a croissant, but has a flattened shape with more strong flavour due to the addition of cinnamon. Its birth can be trace back to the early 1800s and seems to be connected with the siege of Hamburg city by Napoleonic troops.

Born as „pacific rebellion“

During the French occupation (1810-14), Hamburg was pushed to modify its own confectionery tradition. Indeed, the Napoleonic troops, being nostalgic of homely taste, wanted local bakers to make croissant. However, the outcome was far enough away from the original pastry, as can be experienced tasting the Franzbrötchen. There are two possible explanations about it. The first one is that the German bakers weren’t good at recreate the softeness of French pastry, accustomed to use more heavy dough compared to. Based on Atlas Obscura, it could be another one which is much more sneaky.  Likely, Hamburg bakers pretend to misunderstand the French request and, as a gesture of „pacific rebellion“, supplying a „german-style croissants“ to enemy soldiers, with addition of cinnamon.

The recipe

Without regard to different hypothesis, Franzbrötchen is still today an enjoyable pastry to bake and eat. We show you below a version of  its recipe.

Ingredients (6 serves):

For the dough:

  • 300 g flour
  • 1 egg
  • 35 g softened butter
  • 35 g white sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 small cube of fresh yeast
  • 125 ml warm milk

For the stuffing:

  • 35 g softened butter
  • 35 g white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon


Combine flour, egg, butter, sugar and salt in a big bowl. Dissolve the yeast in warm milk, then blend into the rest of the ingredients and knead until smooth. Cover and let rise about an hour. Next, roll out the dough on workbench and smear softened butter on the surface. Using a teaspoon, sprinkle a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Roll up onto itself and then cut transversely into slices with an angle of 45° in the shape form of trapezium. Place on baking sheet and slightly press in the middle of each section with handle of a wooden spoon. Bake in the oven at 180 °C for 20 minutes. Et voilà, ready to taste! 😉

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