Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Batch of Brioche-Pain Aux Raisins

Pain Aux Raisins (also known as Roule Aux Raisins)- are my madeleines.  For a number of years, my family went skiing with our closest friends and stayed in a small town an hour outside of Montreal.  Each morning, my friend and I would get up before everyone else and go and have coffee and a pain aux raisins at this tiny, very French cafe where no one spoke English.  Sharing the start of the day deliciously with a close friend and wonderful coffee and pastry was very special. I have never had that particular pastry anywhere that was quite as good as I remember those-  so fresh and and the experience buttery seemed so quintessentially French while we were just over the border in Canada! Since it has been so cold here and the outdoors has not been beckoning,  I thought I would attempt to recreate the pastry with this recipe-and I was fairly, though not perfectly, successful.  I remember them being more flaky and not as puffy, but these are still very good. Brioche takes time and patience because of the resting and rising, but it is not that difficult to make.  The pain aux raisins has some additional steps, but is well worth it for a wonderful  breakfast treat.

Pain Aux Raisins
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

1/2 recipe basic brioche dough
1 recipe pastry cream
1 cup (160 grams) golden raisins

1 cup (140 grams) confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry Cream
1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, scald the mil over medium-high heat (bubbles will start to form around the edge of the pan, but the milk is not boiling).  While the milk is heating, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, and then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. It will be thick and pasty.  Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly.  When all the milk has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and place over medium heat.  Whisk constantly and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.  At first, the mixture will be very frothy and liquid but will start to thicken as it cooks longer. Once it thickens, stop whisking every few seconds to see if the mixture has come to a boil. If it has not, keep whisking vigorously.  As soon as you see it bubbling, immediately go back to whisking for just 10 seconds, and then remove the pan from the heat.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small heatproof bowl.  Stir in the vanilla, then cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until cold (up to 3 days).

 To make the pain aux raisins: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position the rectangle so a long side is facing you.  Spread the pastry cream evenly over the entire surface of the dough.  Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the cream.  Starting from the long side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll.  Roll as tightly as possible and even off the ends by trimming about 1/4 inch from each side.
     Cut the roll into 10 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide.  Space the pieces, cut side down, evenly on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to proof for about 2 hours or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft.
     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown on the edges of the spiral and pale brown in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.

To make the glaze: While the pastries are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the water and the vanilla extract until smooth.  Add more water if needed to make the glaze more spreadable.
    Generously brush the tops of the still warm pastries with the glaze. ((post by Susan))

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