Homemade puff pastry is something I’d always heard was a long process, but worth it. Historically I’d never made my own and was surprised there was yeast in some versions i’d seen so wanted to try it! There are lots of ways to make pain au chocolat (or croissants if you like, it’s the same pastry!) but I found this version to work really well, the making it isn’t actually that hard, you just need patience as it needs a bit of work and to be left overnight, but trust me it is worth it!
How to make pain au chocolat / homemade puff pastry
Lets make the dough, the video may help when describing the turning bits. But the dough can be made quite rough… chuck the flour, milk, water, sugar, room temp 3tbsp of butter and yeast into a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon, once it forms a rough ball, add the salt and mix again a few times to combine it in. Shape into a rough ball shape, it will be rough in texture too, but that’s fine. Cover the bowl in cling film and chill for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile get the cold butter between two sheets of baking parchment and flatten with a rolling pin into an approximate 6 inch square, your dough will need to wrap this up, so don’t make it too big, just make sure it is flat, chill in the fridge to firm up the butter once you are happy with your square shape.
Remove the dough ball from the fridge once firmed after the 45 minutes, lightly flour the worksurface and roll it out into a large square, big enough to fully wrap the butter. Place the chilled butter into the centre, then lift all the sides of the dough onto the butter to fully encase it in. Press any seams down to fully encase it and gently roll the dough forwards / backwards in one motion away and towards you – don’t make it wider, make it about a third longer than it is just to help seal the butter in. Chill in the fridge for 45mins.
It is important to chill the dough as the butter will break through the layers, so don’t skip the chilling time, I’m not saying you can’t use the freezer though, wink, wink.
Take the dough out of the fridge, lightly flour the counter and roll the dough again in the direction one way to make it even longer, aim to make it the size of a large baking tray (60cm) but again don’t widen it, it should look like a big tongue! Once rolled out, lift one end of the dough up, bringing it to the centre, then bring the other end on top of that. Effectively 3 layers. Rotate this 90 degrees as you look at it, cover it with cling film and place on a board in the fridge for 45 minutes.
45 minutes later take it out of the fridge. With the turn already done before you rolled the dough roll forward again squishing the layers together, again to 60cm in length going forwards / backwards only. Fold in again as before bringing the ends to the middle and overlapping. Turn 90 degrees and place covered in the fridge for 45 minutes to firm up. Get it? Good….
Do it one more time, rolling forwards, only flouring to keep it from sticking. Bringing the ends into the middle of the dough strip and turning one last time – that’s 27 layers of puff pastry! You can keep going if you want but that is good enough, adding butter to all those layers is the lamination that helps create the puff in the pastry. If this is your last chill leave overnight to chill.
Next day take it out the fridge and roll it out into any shape you want ready to be used – croissants, pies, pastries etc….
For the pain au chocolat, roll the dough into strips, keeping any excess chilled for use another day or in the freezer. Make the strips about 20cm long, but just wider than 2 blocks of chocolate (or however big you want to make them!)… roll the chocolate up placing it at one end and sitting it on the seam of the pastry.
Beat the egg and give the pain au chocolat’s an egg wash, leave to prove in a warm space for an hour to double in size – they really do!
Pre-heat the oven to 180fan/200c or equivalent, give the pain au chocolat another egg wash and bake for approx. 15 minutes until golden brown and puffed up, let them cool slightly but best served warmed! Remember you can freeze baked ones too if you want them for another day or in the short term keep them in an air tight tub!
I loved making these, I hope you’re inspired to give it a go too! Oh and if you want to make them really golden, egg wash with just the yolk.