30 March 2018

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT

Pain au chocolat is a type of a laminated sweet roll. It is made from a rich yeast dough, and filled with dark chocolate. The lamination is the same as with croissants, so if you’ve ever made croissants, you can make pain au chocolat. Laminating the dough isn't difficult, but it is a labour of love, since it does take some time, because the dough has to chilled between folding, so the butter remains firm.
Chocolate batons are incredibly handy and perfect for pastries, as they melt into lush chocolate centres, but if you cannot find chocolate batons, or you do not want to use them, just chop some dark chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate) into a similar shape, and continue with the process as described. They are amazingly delicious piping hot from the oven, slightly warm, or even cold, if that’s how you like them. Serve them with hot chocolate or strong coffee.


Ingredients
For the dough
500 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons dried yeast
50 grams sugar
200 ml whole milk
150 ml tepid water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 chocolate batons
For laminating
250 grams unsalted butter
For the glaze
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk


Preparation
Pour the warm milk and water into a small bowl, add the sugar and yeast, stir well and leave it for 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the milk and yeast mixture, melted butter, and vanilla; and mix it well, first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, until a smooth and slightly sticky dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, adding a little more flour if needed. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Take a large piece of baking paper, and place slices of the cold butter on it, arranging them in a rough rectangle, then cover it with another piece of baking paper. Roll the butter out thinly, to the size of about 30x15 cm, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, to firm up. Basically, you need the butter rolled out to the same width, but one third shorter than the dough. Turn the risen dough out on a floured surface, knead it briefly and roll it out to a long rectangle (45x15cm). Place the chilled butter on the bottom third of the dough. Turn the top third of the dough over the butter, then turn the bottom third (dough and butter) over the top third, just like you would fold a letter. Press the edges of the dough firmly together with your fingers.
Turn the dough 90 degrees to your right and roll it out again to 45x15cm. Now turn the top third of the dough over, and again the bottom third over the top third. Wrap the dough in cling film, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. It is important to keep the laminated dough chilled so the butter doesn't melt into the dough. Once chilled, take the dough out of the plastic, and put it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out yet again to 45x15cm (18x6"). Fold it the same way you did before (like a letter), brushing off any excess flour, and put it back into the plastic, and chill for another 30 minutes. Repeat this one more time and leave the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour (up or overnight), to rest and firm up.
When you are ready to shape the pastries, put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a large rectangle, then cut it into 12 rectangles with a very sharp knife. Place one chocolate baton on the short side of the pastry rectangle, fold the dough over the chocolate and gently press it into the middle. Place another baton right where the fold is, and fold it all the way. Arrange each folded pastry on a greased baking sheet, seam side down, with about 5 cm between them, because they will expand as they bake. Cover them with a kitchen towel and let them rise for about an hour. Just before baking, whisk together the yolk with the milk, brush the pastries evenly and bake in a preheated oven, at 200°C (395°F) for about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm. Yields 12 servings.

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