Pain au Chocolat, Step-By-Step of a Work in Progress

Pain Au Chocolate

Pain au chocolate, chocolate croissant, cornetti al cioccolato. However we may call them at home (mostly me and my daughter), they often pop up in our conversation. Before trying them my child used to like cinnamon rolls. But since finally finding them in a bakery in central Stockholm, chocolate croissant is all she craves. And me with her, only, my craving has last longer than her 5 years of age (read here how I managed to make a super simple brioche version of them a few years back).

In Rome, where I come from, cappuccino and cornetto (Italian croissant) are the locals’ favorite way to start the day. Here in Sweden croissant begin to be seeing around only now, but it is still difficult to find good ones, and fresh ones basically impossible. Our local bakery make our favorite version of them, pain au chocolat, only on Fridays and, honestly, they don’t taste that great. But we buy them anyway cause we love them, we are totally weak for chocolate croissant. Of course, for someone who bakes as much as I do it would be natural to make them at home rather than waiting Fridays for a so so croissant. Alas, up to two nights ago, I have been pushed back by all the stories of insuccess or awful difficulty I have read about making croissant at home. I like baking but I don’t do difficult well. Baking in my opinion should feel natural, easy and maneageable while one does it. So two nights ago I felt it was time to try my hands at croissant and do them my way. I spent no more than a couple of hours reading sources on books and the net and comparing formulas, then I wrote down mine, went to the kitchen, and prepared the ferments: the morning to come I was going to make chocolate croissant! Or pain au chocolat, to be precise.

Pain Au Chocolat

As I wrote, I read quite a few methods/formulas, among which Jeremy’s from Stir The Pots (he is a croissant genius, check him up), Björn’s from Der BrotDoc (another croissant genius), Karin’s from Brot & Bread (a super-dooper baker as well), Nuccio’s from Blog di Max (possibly the most talented Italian home baker I know), the often cited TxFarmer, Leader’s book.

What I came up is combining a sourdough starter and a biga as ferments, using milk instead of water in the dough, adding a few egg yolks, using a good percentage of sugar and a lot of folding in butter. I wanted the taste to be similar to my homeland cornetti which, I am pretty sure of, include eggs in the dough and are sweeter than their French equivalent. I really liked the dough. It was elastic and was easy to work with. I did have problems with the butter instead. Even if I left it in the fridge for 5 hours it was still too soft when I folded it it. Next time i may place it in the freezer for the last 1/2 hour of so. Also, I did not realize that my kitchen was too hot, especially toward the end of the layering, cause I was cooking dinner (three different ones for each member of the family – oh well) and baking bread for the week to come. Next time I will religiously CHILL THE ROOM, not only the dough and the butter. The butter one can find in Sweden is also quite watery, and I do hope I will find something better for next bake. So… the result is some darn good chocolate croissant. The layering would have been much more precise had the room/butter been colder/less watery, a lesson for next time. Cause there will be a next time, and another one, and another one and another… I want to share this recipe even if it is still a work in progress cause it is, I tell you, easy. Made these babies in one day, kneading in the morning, taking the girl to the shopping mall/playground in the afternoon, playing cooking, baking and still by 9 pm we had some warm and delicious pain au chocolate to enjoy with our family movie. And what a Sunday breakfast… if you still have doubts (do you?) my super picky eater devoured not one but three of these today. And the mother? Well, let’s leave you with the illusion that I am a skinny and all fit kitchen goddess…

Pain Au Chocolate

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT MY WAY

Ingredients
214 g mature white wheat sourdough starter, 100% hydration
100 g biga*
160 g cold milk
44 g egg yolks
70 g caster sugar
450 g strong white flour
10 g sea salt
40 g butter

plus
250 g butter for the layers
200 g 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, cut in stripes and chilled
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoon water for the final brushing
a mix of rice flour and extrafine white flour for dusting

*about 8-12 hours before preparing the dough, feed yor regular sourdough starter and prepare also a “biga” by adding 25 g of compressed yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast) to 50 g water and 100 g white wheat flour, leave covered at room temperature.

NOTE: if you don’t have a sourdough starter, use all the biga (150 g) and add 60 g of cold water to the dough at the time of mixing the ingredients.

Method
1. Combine all ingredients for the dough except for the 40 g butter. Knead for about 3 minutes at low speed than add butter and knead for other 3 minutes
2. Chill the dough, covered, in the refrigerator for a few hours
3. Roll the butter in between parchment paper sheets or plastic foil and chill that too for a few hours. Make sure the butter is cold enough before using it
4. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on a slightly floured surface (I use a mix of rice and wheat flour). The thickness should be 4 millimeters
5. Place the flattened and chilled butter over the dough and fold as an old-fashioned letter
6. First Layer: roll the dough again slightly and fold in three, like in the picture below, folding one side toward the center and then folding the other side over the folded piece so to form a long log
7. Place the log over a tray, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for a hour
8. Second Layer: take the log out and roll it, having the long side in front of you. Then fold it again as in step 6
9. Place the log again over the tray, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for a hour
10. Third layer: take the log out and roll it, having the long side in front of you Then fold it again as in steps 6 and 8
11. Place the log again over the tray, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for a hour
12. Now you can either do one further layer or proceed to roll and shape the dough. In the latter case, roll the dough to a 7 millimeter thickness
13. Cut the dough in stripes of about 8 cm wide, I used a pizza cutter to do this
14. Cut the stripes in 13-15 cm long rectangles
15. Place 2 logs of chocolate over each rectangle (see the picture below)
16. Roll the dough on itself, closing it first over one log of chocolate and then over the other
17. Place the rolls seam side down over parchment paper
18. Proof at room temperature for 1 and 1/2 h or overnight in the fridge, covered
19. Preheat the over to 220 C/440 F degrees
20. Brush the rolls with egg wash
21. Bake for 9 minutes, turning the baking dish after the 10 minutes and baking for further 4-5 minutes

Preparing the dough

Flattening and chilling the butter

Rolling the dough

Measuring the thickness

Folding in butter

Closing and Chilling

Rolling and cutting

Ready for filling

Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat

Pain Au Chocolat

Pain Au Chocolat

Pain Au Chocolat

Pain Au Chocolate

Show 28 comments

Hide 28 comments

Comments

  1. I wish I was waking up to a homemade chocolate croissant! They look brilliant for a first try, and “room to improve” just means you get to make them again, and again, and again… ;) I found txfarmer’s tutorials really helpful when making croissants (some of the more gorgeous croissants I’ve ever seen!!), and the one thing I would share is to trim the edges of the dough before every single fold to keep it perfectly square, and make each fold as neat and square as possible – this will give you a better, more even lamination.

    • thank you Korena, and that is a good piece of advice, I will do it next time! As usual, I read just a little bit and then went ahead. you learn much more doing than reading, and after you have actually done it you understand better what others have written. and you surely deserve wake up with a home-made chocolate croissant every morning! :)

      • Agree, learning by doing is much more effective (the second time around, anyway!) My tendency is to get overwhelmed and psych myself out if I read too much about something before trying it out, so kudos for just going for it!

        • same here: if I read too much I get discouraged (it gets boring too). after doing it the same things that seemed overwhelming or boring become interesting. it’s magic :)

  2. Oh YUM! I am going to give these a go with my kefir starter. Cheers for the excellent tutorial surely nothing can go wrong if I follow it to the letter ;)

  3. Beautiful, Barbara. Keep trying and – as we already have spoken about – let a little bit of the swedish winter into your kitchen and everything will work.
    Bjoern

  4. I always wanted to make it as well but I simply cannot be bothered to make the puff pastry, I am too lazy. All that touring and you gotta be at home for such a long time :( . Maybe one of those boring, lonesome winter weekend when there is nothing to do? But honestly, I know and I can see from your pictures that the real, fresh baked pain au chocolat fresh from the oven sont mes meilleures choses à manger pour le petit déjeuner. And to close with the words of Joe Dassin : « Tous les matins il achetait son p’tit pain au chocolat… »

    • dear, it is true, puff pastry is scary. but then making it was ridicously easy. I know to make super dooper bakery perfect croissant takes a lot of study, but I can tell you that these home-made approximation is totally worth the little effort it requires. at home we are all crazy for them and they are disappearing way too fast :) hope one boring day you will try, loving your French quotes – I will never forget when in Paris for the first time as a child they delivered a breakfast tray with freshly baked pian au chocolate to our hotel room… it spoiled me forever ;)

  5. Thanks for the nice compliment! I do like the sourdough idea, and my trial at pain au chocolat definitely left room for improvement (too little chocolate!).
    Stay warm!

  6. Beautiful viennoiseries, Barbara…They look scrumptious! Nice flake, nothing wrong with these buns. Too bad I didn’t know you 10 years ago, when I bought my own pasticceria…

    • thank you Anthony, you are too kind, they are going to be improved, I tell you. But they tasted already really good, which keeps me going. Your own pastry shop???? WOW…. I want to know everything about it!!!

  7. Anche se è un work-in-progress io la provo presto….anzi che dico prestissimo!!!

    Ho solo due domandine:
    - usando pasta madre solida quanta ne metto?
    - con queste dosi quanti ne sono venuti?

    Certo che cappuccio&cornetto devono proprio mancarti…

    A presto
    Silvia

    • mi mancavano, ora non piu’ :) grazie a questi fagottini sono due giorni che faccio colazione come dico io! bella domanda la tua, dovro’ ricalcolare la formula. aspetta…si ecco, metti 200 g di madre e aggiungi 50 g di acqua qaundo impasti tutti gli ingredienti. verranno buonissimi! Barbara

  8. sono proprio goduriosi!!! io li faccio raramente, ufficialmente perchè sono troppo calorici, ma in realtà perchè ci vuole tanta pazienza e accortezza nella stesura ;) per essere la tua prima prova, sei stata superbravissima!!!

  9. E’ da questa mattina che sto a pensà a sti fagottini… mamma mia che goduria!!!! un bascione!!!

  10. Io adoro quel colore bruno della superficie, quegli strati burrosi, quel cioccolato …potrei finire all’inferno per questi!!..e forse ci finirò :D :D
    Ok , scherzo..ma sono venuti uno schianto, complimenti davvero!!

  11. Che acquolina! Il pain ou chocolate è tra le mie brioches preferite e per di più fatto in casa e con ingredienti genuini non oso immaginare quanti sarei in grado di mangiarne…
    Baci!

  12. WOW! Precise, unique and soooo good: every recipe of yours is so, but this one is at the top.
    Your daughter is not picky, she is a gourmand ;-)
    Cheers <3

  13. I’m so tempted to try this..you make it look easy. You know me and bread baking. You’re such an inspiration. <3

  14. Fantastiche queste brioches al cioccolato! Mi dovrò cimentare ancora una volta con la sfoglia per perfezionarmi! Un abbraccio

  15. Kate Patterson says:

    I emailed this blog post to my boyfriend and dropped hints about our anniversary being so soon and how I love anything chocolate in the morning.

  16. chris wood says:

    Just about to embark on this recipe…I have the house to myself so lots of room for lots of mess…yippee

  17. I love them…. <3

Leave a Reply