Pain au raisins is a French pastry that’s made with a laminated dough (like croissants). It is filled with a decadent pastry cream and plump raisins. Ooh la la!
Happy Father’s Day! I hope all you fathers and father figures are having an amazing day today. My husband is competing in a swim race today so Addie and I are going to cheer him on. I know that he will do well!
My husband’s favorite pastry from our Paris trip was pain au raisins. He was surprised at how much he liked this pastry because he thought that pain au chocolat would be his favorite. Everywhere we went, he tried the raisin croissant. His favorite pastry was from Stohrer in Paris (there was a little patisserie near Versailles that had amazing pain as well).
When we returned, my husband kept asking me to make pain au raisins. Since I had a large list of things to bake, this particular pastry ended up near the bottom of my list. However, I found time one weekend to finally tackle this project. I made a quick version of the croissant dough one afternoon and also made the pastry cream. At the same time, I soaked my currants. The next morning, I assembled my pain and baked them.
Although my pain au raisins did not taste like the ones in Paris, they were still really good. The pastries were super delicate and flaky, and they were sweet from the pastry cream. I wanted them to have more raisins, so I will consider that the next time. Now that I’m getting more comfortable laminating pastry dough, I might have to make these on the regular.
The three of us split a pastry during brunch one morning and enjoyed it very much. Thankfully, we had 15 more so we wouldn’t have to share one the next time!
Pain au raisins
- 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk warm, about 110 degrees F
- 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 and 3/4 cups to 4 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 sticks (1 and 1/2 cups) unsalted butter cold
Pastry cream (feel free to halve this, which is what I did)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dried currants (or raisins) soaked in warm water for several hours (overnight preferred)
Make the croissant dough
- Mix the milk, sugar and yeast in a measuring cup and allow it to rest until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Once the yeast mixture is nice and frothy, transfer it to the bowl with the flour. Mix on medium low speed until the dough comes together. It should be elastic but not stick to your hands. Add more flour if needed.
- Once the dough comes together, wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour and up to overnight.
- As the dough is chilling, prepare the butter square.
- Place the sticks of butter on a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the top with plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the butter to an 8"x8" square. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until the butter is firm.
- Once the dough is finished chilling, roll to an approximate 12"x12" square (or slightly larger). Place the butter square in the middle but turn it so it looks like a diamond. Fold the corners in towards the center so it looks like an envelope. Roll the dough out to an approximate 10"x16" rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds (using the shorter ends of the rectangle) so it is like a business letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat. Put the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Repeat the rolling and the folding at least 1 or 2 more times. Allow the dough to rest overnight after the last time.
Make the pastry cream
- In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together 2 and 1/2 cups of the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean. Keep stirring until the sugar completely dissolves.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch, flour, egg yolks, and the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk until no lumps remain.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the small bowl with the egg yolks. Mix well until well blended. Then transfer the contents of the bowl back into the medium saucepan. Keep heating until the mixture becomes thick like pudding.
- Remove the custard from the stove and pour it into a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer on top. Add the butter and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Once the currants have plumped up, pour them into a fine mesh strained and push down on them to release as much liquid as you can. Then fold them into the custard until ready to fill.
Assemble the pain au raisins
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to an approximate 12"x18" rectangle. Spread a thin layer of custard on the dough, leaving a 1" gap on all sides so it doesn't ooze out.
- With the long side of the dough facing you, start rolling the dough away from you. Keep the dough pinched as tightly as you can. The dough should end up seam-side down.
- Use a knife or bench scraper to slice the log into 16 even pieces. Place them, cut side up, on 2 or 3 baking sheets topped with parchment paper or silicone mats. Make sure you leave at least 2 or 3 inches in between each roll to allow them to rise.
- Allow the dough to rise and double, about 1-2 hours. Brush the tops with an egg wash (1 egg plus a little bit of water).
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the pastries in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the pastries from the oven. If desired, you can brush with some melted apricot jam or a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar). Allow the pastries to cool before serving.