French Pastries
 
Ingredients For the dough:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Scant 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh compressed yeast

  • Generous 1/2 cup cold water

  • 3 1/3 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • Generous 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter

  • For the pain au chocolat:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the egg wash:
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
Scant 1/4 cup whole milk

For croissants:
1) Use a sharp chef's knife to cut out triangles with a 2 1/2-inch base and 10-inch sides. Lay each triangle on a lightly floured work surface with the tip facing you. Gently pull the tip toward you; this light stretch adds layers to the finished croissant without adding density. Use the palms of your hands to roll each triangle up from the base to the tip. (At this stage, they can be frozen for up to 1 week if well wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

2) Place the rolled croissants on a parchment covered baking sheet; spaced about 2 inches apart. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap. Allow the croissants to proof at room temperature until they have doubled in size and appear light and full of air; about 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the temperature of the room and of the dough.

 


 

For the Pain au Raisin:
1) Have dough rolled to the 10 by 36-inch rectangle. Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/8-inch-thick layer of almond cream over the dough, spreading it all the way to the edges of the rectangle. Sprinkle the top of the almond cream with the hydrated raisins. Roll the dough toward you, starting at the long side. Try to keep the roll tight and even. Cut the roll into 1-inch-thick slices. You will have a tail on each slice. To close the pain au raisin, simply tuck the tail under the dough. Place the pain au raisin on a parchment covered baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Allow the Pain au Raisin to proof at room temperature until they have doubled in size and appear light and full of air; about 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the temperature of the room and of the dough.
 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
 

Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolks, whole egg, and milk in a small bowl until well combined. With a pastry brush, very gently coat the pastries completely with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Leftovers can be stored in the freezer if well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature and warm in the oven before serving.
 

Almond Cream:

Almond cream is always baked to a spongy, cake-like texture and can be used by itself or in combination with nuts or fruits. The addition of starch to this recipe ensures that it will not run out of a pastry shell during the cooking process.

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon room temperature unsalted butter

Generous 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Generous 1 cup almond flour

1 large egg

Scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Hydrated Raisins:
 

I like to use hydrated raisins in a lot of recipes. I always keep a jar of them in the refrigerator. The proportion I use for adding the liquor is about to 10 to 20 percent of the weight of the water. If you do not dilute the liquor with water, be prepared for a very strong burst of flavor.

1 cup raisins

Water, as needed

1/2 cup dark rum or flavored liquor

 

Pastries

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