Viennoiserie is a French word that refers to dishes made in a Viennese style, and typically refers to types of baked goods that resemble both bread and pastry. These goods are often made with a dough similar to that used in making bread, but ingredients such as sugar, eggs, and cream are often added to make a richer dough similar to what is traditionally used in pastries. Viennoiserie can refer to a number of different pastry breads made in this way, which are often layered much like pastry dough, and include croissants, brioches, and French delicacies such as pain au chocolat.
Though many people think of French pastry in association with croissants, they are actually Austrian in origin and were one of the first types of Viennoiserie to find popularity in France. It is likely that the croissant was first made in France to honor the arrival of Marie Antoinette, who was Austrian. They became so popular that French bakers and pastry makers continued to develop the recipe for croissants and then made other baked goods in a similar manner. These various treats are still referred to as Viennoiserie in French.
Viennoiserie can typically be found in a boulangerie, the French term for a bakery, or in a pattiserie, or pastry shop. There are a number of features common to different types of Viennoiserie, though the way in which the dough is made and treated typically set such baked goods apart. The dough is often similar to dough used in baking, such as for bread or rolls, but ingredients like sugar, butter, eggs, and cream are added to create richer and often sweeter dough. This is then frequently assembled in very thin layers, called laminating, to create dough similar to that used in pastry or puffed pastry.
The dough for Viennoiserie can be used to create a number of different baked goods. Croissants are perhaps most well known, and they can often be made plain or have other ingredients added to them such as chocolate, cream cheese, and various fruits. Brioche is a type of bread often made into rolls or a loaf; it is rich, slightly sweet and usually brushed with egg wash before baking. There are also a number of types of Viennoiserie that refer to different breads, often made as rolls or small rounds, prepared with additional ingredients. These include pain au chocolat, or bread with chocolate, and pain aux raisins, or bread with raisins.