Makes 6-8 pain au chocolat
DÉTREMPE (Starting Dough)
- 250 g bread flour
- 1 tsp salt (5 g)
- 35 g granulated sugar
- 10 g fresh yeast (5 g instant yeast)
- 115 g luke warm water
- 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter (25 g)
SUGAR SYRUP (optional)
dark chocolate chopped (or homemade or store bought chocolate batons)
- Prepare the Détrempe. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Dump bowl gently onto your working surface and use the bottom of the bowl to make a well in the center. Crumble yeast into this well and pour water and melted butter on top. Use one hand to slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, being sure not to break the wall formed by the well until your mixture in the well resembles pancake batter. Use both hands to incorporate all of the ingredients until you have a thready dough. Knead the dough until elastic by first rolling the dough using the heel of your hands into a log, then folding that log in half, then rotating it 90 degrees and beginning the process of rolling again. Continue this process until the dough can be stretched out to the thickness of an inflated balloon without tearing (it should be almost see-through when stretched). Roll the dough into a ball, then wrap in plastic wrap. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before starting lamination stage.
- Prepare the Butter Block. Fold one 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of printer paper in half to get an 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 piece of paper. Place the printer paper in the center of a piece of parchment paper so that the printer paper could be unfolded like a book. Fold first the left and right sides of the parchment paper over the printer paper, making firm creases in the parchment paper. Then fold the top and bottom sides over the printer paper. Unfold everything and discard the printer paper. Place the weighed butter in the center of the marked rectangle where the printer paper used to be. Fold the parchment paper as before along the lines made using the printer paper. Turn the parcel upside down so that the folded sides of paper are on your work surface. Use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter into the shape of the rectangle made by the printer paper. Refrigerate until cold and firm.
- Begin the Tourage (laminating). Use a sharp knife to make and “X” in the Détrempe dough ball, cutting halfway through into the ball. Fold out each corner of the “X” to get a square. Roll the dough into a rectangle.* Place the butter block on the bottom two-thirds of the dough rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter by first folding the top third over the butter block then folding the bottom third of the butter block and dough over the top. This is known as a “simple fold”. Use your rolling pin to seal the dough by pressing gently onto each edge.
- Continue Tourage. Roll out the dough again into a rectangle and make what is known as a “double fold”. Fold the bottom fourth of dough up to the midline then fold the top fourth of dough down to the midline. Fold the top half of dough over the bottom half of dough. Use your rolling pin to seal the dough by pressing gently onto each edge. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Complete Tourage. Repeat this process at least once more. Professional bakeries will often do several more simple and/or double folds but only one more simple fold is absolutely necessary. To do this, roll out the dough into a rectangle and fold it in thirds like a letter (as in Step 3 but without the butter block). Use your rolling pin to seal the dough by pressing gently onto each edge. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. At this point, dough can be refrigerated for a maximum of 48 hours or frozen for up to 2 months (defrost in the refrigerator before using).
- Shape Pain au Chocolat. Roll out the dough into a rectangle. Trim/straighten the edges. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise into eight squares. For each square, place one chocolate baton (or one row of chopped chocolate) each on the left and right edges of the dough. On each side, roll the dough over each stick of chocolate towards the center of the square until the two rolls meet. Place each pain au chocolat roll-side down on a silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. At this point, the pain au chocolat can be frozen for up to 2 months to be baked later (defrost in the refrigerator).
- Rising. Brush each pain au chocolat with egg wash along it’s smooth exposed sides. Reserve remaining egg wash. Leave the shaped pain au chocolat on trays to rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours until the they look and feel puffy and have doubled in size. You can also allow them to rise in a slightly warm oven (maximum 75° F). Use remaining egg wash to brush the pain au chocolat again to coat.
- Baking. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Prepare sugar syrup, if using, by boiling water and sugar together. Create steam in the oven by either throwing 15-20 ice cubes onto the bottom of your oven or by spraying water into the oven. Put the pain au chocolat in the oven immediately after creating the steam. Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden in color. Glaze them with the sugar syrup as soon as the trays come out of the oven. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
*I recommend continuing to use a silpat as your work surface, but if you don’t have one just lightly coat your work surface with flour.