I absolutely adore Pain aux Raisins, a heavenly French pastry that perfectly balances creamy, fruity, and flaky in each bite. It's the kind of treat that elevates your breakfast or afternoon tea to a whole new level of deliciousness. The joy of making these from scratch is unbeatable; you get to roll out the buttery croissant dough, slather on a layer of homemade vanilla pastry cream, and sprinkle generous handfuls of juicy raisins before rolling everything up into pinwheels of pure bliss.
Now, I know the idea of making pastries at home can seem a bit intimidating, but trust me, the process is more forgiving than you'd think. You don't need to be a professional baker to pull this off! What you do need is a bit of patience and the willingness to get your hands a little messy. The end result is well worth it—golden-brown pastries that are irresistibly flaky on the outside, with a gooey, creamy, and fruity center. Once you taste these homemade Pain aux Raisins, you'll forget about the store-bought kind forever!
What You'll Love About This Pain aux Raisins Recipe
- Versatility: These pastries are great for any occasion, be it breakfast, brunch, or tea time. They're a surefire way to impress guests at any gathering.
- Easier Than It Looks: While making pastries might seem daunting, this recipe breaks it down into easy-to-follow steps. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment when you're done.
- Long Shelf-Life: These pastries are freezer-friendly, meaning you can always have a luxurious treat on hand for those moments when you need a little indulgence.
How to Make Pain aux Raisins
Step 1: Prepare the Croissant Dough
First, let's tackle the croissant dough. Combine warm milk, yeast, and sugar in a bowl and let it sit until frothy—that's when you know the yeast is activated. In another bowl, mix the flour and salt, then cut in cold cubes of butter. The trick is to leave some bits of butter; they'll create those coveted flaky layers. Add your frothy yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until you get a soft dough. Knead it briefly, shape it into a rectangle, and then let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Step 2: Create the Pastry Cream
While the dough is chilling, you can make your pastry cream. Heat milk with vanilla until it simmers. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Slowly whisk in the hot milk to temper the eggs. Cook this mixture over medium heat until it thickens—stir constantly to avoid any lumps. Remove from heat, mix in a couple tablespoons of butter, and let it cool down.
Step 3: Assemble and Bake
Time for the fun part—assembly! Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out your chilled dough on a floured surface into a large rectangle. Spread your homemade pastry cream on it and sprinkle a generous layer of raisins. Now, carefully roll it up into a log, starting from the long edge without the margin. Slice this log into 1-inch pieces and place them on the baking sheet.
Finally, give each piece a brush of beaten egg and a sprinkle of sugar for that golden finish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until they turn a beautiful golden brown. And there you have it—delicious, flaky, and gooey Pain aux Raisins that you made from scratch!
Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Pain aux Raisins
Cold Butter is Key: Firstly, when you're making the croissant dough, keep that butter cold. It helps create the flaky layers we all love in a good pastry. If you notice the butter getting too soft while you're working the dough, don't hesitate to pop it back in the fridge for a bit.
Patience is a Virtue: When you're letting the dough rest in the fridge, give it the full hour. This lets the gluten relax and makes the dough easier to roll out. Same goes for the pastry cream; allow it time to cool so it thickens to the right consistency.
Uniform Slices for Even Baking: When you're slicing the log into individual pastries, try to make the slices as uniform as possible. This ensures they bake evenly. If some are significantly thicker than others, you'll end up with a mix of overcooked and undercooked pastries.
Test Your Oven: Ovens can be finicky. If you haven't already, consider investing in an oven thermometer to make sure yours is running true to temperature. The last thing you want is to put in all this effort and then have your pastries bake unevenly.
Freezing, Storing, and Reheating
Freezing: First up, freezing. If you've made a big batch and want to save some for later, freezing is your best friend. Make sure the pastries are completely cooled to room temperature before you move on to freezing. Wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a zip-top bag. Label the bag with the date; they'll stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Storing: If you're planning to eat them within a couple of days, storing them at room temperature is just fine. Place them in an airtight container to keep them fresh. Don't store them in the fridge, though; the cold air will dry them out and mess with the texture.
Reheating: When the craving strikes, and you're ready to dig into your stored or frozen pastries, you've got a couple of options. For frozen pastries, I prefer to let them thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat them in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for about 5-10 minutes. They'll come out almost as good as freshly baked! If you stored them at room temperature, a quick 5 minutes in a 350°F (175°C) oven will work wonders.
Remember, microwaving is not the best choice for these babies. Sure, it'll warm them up, but you'll lose that delightful flakiness.
Pain aux Raisins
- Rolling Pin
- Baking sheets
- Plastic wrap
- Pastry brush
For the Croissant Dough:
- 1 ¼ cups warm milk 110°F/45°C
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter cold
For the Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Filling and Assembly:
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 egg beaten for egg wash
- 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
Making the Croissant Dough
- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until frothy.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter until you get a coarse, crumbly mixture.
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Shape into a rectangle.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Making the Pastry Cream
- In a saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean (or extract) over medium heat until it just begins to simmer.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
- Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let cool.
Assembling and Baking
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface into a large rectangle, about ¼-inch thick.
- Spread the pastry cream evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin along one of the long edges.
- Sprinkle the raisins over the pastry cream.
- Starting from the long edge opposite the margin, tightly roll up the dough into a log.
- Cut the log into 1-inch slices and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush each slice with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown.
Pain Aux Raisins - FAQ
Yes, you can use store-bought dough if you're short on time. However, making your own dough offers a richer, more authentic flavor and texture.
For a vegan version, you can replace the milk with a plant-based alternative like almond or oat milk, use vegan butter, and opt for a vegan egg substitute in the pastry cream.
Lumps often form if the mixture is not stirred continuously while cooking. Make sure to whisk the mixture constantly over medium heat to achieve a smooth consistency.
You'll know the yeast is activated if the mixture becomes frothy after sitting for about 5-10 minutes. If it doesn't, your yeast may be old and should be replaced.
Yes, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to mix and knead the dough. Just be careful not to overmix, as it can make the dough tough.