If those swirly, buttery, flaky, custardy, fruit filled spirals of deliciousness don’t convince you to make this, then I don’t know what will. Oh wait, the only other thing I can think of is if you don’t have a good French bakery in your area.
Ooh and another convincing factor could be the smell of them baking. But I guess, you’d have to make them first, in order to smell them…ok scratch that.
If you’ve never had a pain au raisin, now is the time to change that. Literally translated pain au raisin would be raisin bread, or bread with raisin. But these certainly kick the crap out of any raisin bread I’ve ever come across.
Firstly, this ain’t just any old bread. This is a flaky, light, intensely buttery, cheat’s croissant dough. This is croissant dough for those of us who are willing to go to the effort, just not quite ALL of the effort, if you know what I mean. So it’s not super simple, but it’s also not that hard.
And then there’s the filling, swirls of vanilla custard and gorgeously soused dried fruit. I used a mixture of raisins and prunes, which was wonderfully lush, but any dried fruit would be delicious. May I suggest dried cherries, maybe with a few pistachios thrown in?
These pastries are a bit of work, I won’t lie. But if you do as I suggest in the instructions and split it out over two days, then neither of the days is particularly overwhelming. Anyway, you know yourself whether you’re the kind of person who would make these. And if you are, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, can I come over when you do? Because I ate all of mine.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp plain flour
- ½ cup milk
- vanilla bean or vanilla extract
- ¾ cup dried fruit (I used half prunes, half raisins, but any combo is awesome)
- ¼ cup (65ml) warm water
- ½ cup (125ml) milk
- 1 large egg
- 2¼ cups (375g) plain flour
- 2 tsp active dried yeast
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 sticks (250g) butter, cold, cut into small (1/2 inch/1 cm)
- To make the custard, whisk together all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to a simmer, whisking constantly. Once the mixture is bubbling, keep cooking, stirring constantly for about a minute, and then scrape into a small bowl, cover with plastic and chill in the fridge.
- To make the fruit, place the fruit in a bowl and cover with hot water. Leave to steep in the fridge overnight.
- To make the pastry, whisk together the water, milk and egg. Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into a large bowl and toss in the cold cubed butter.
- Add the liquid to the flour, and stir everything together, until the flour is absorbed and the butter evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- The next morning, generously flour your work surface, and roll out the pastry, flattening out the butter cubes as you roll, into a large 13x9inch (33x22cm) rectangle. Fold the pastry in thirds, like a letter, so the bottom edge comes up and the top edge comes down, and then roll the rectangle back out the same size. Repeat this process 3 more times.
- Roll the pastry out one final time, and spread with the chilled custard. Scatter over the soaked fruit (discarding any remaining liquid). Roll the rectangle up tightly, starting from the short edge.
- Cut the log into 10 rounds, laying them onto a lined baking sheet. Set the pastries aside to rise for 15 minutes, while the oven preheats to 190C.
- When the 15 minutes is up, bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes, or until dark golden brown. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes, and then have at 'em!