One of the true joys of a French holiday are morning trips to the boulangerie to buy fresh crusty baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat for breakfast. Every morning, little S would come and buy the fresh bread and pastries first thing and then look enviously at our pain au chocolat on the breakfast table. So I made a promise to make a batch on return.
Since last summer’s wonderful holiday in Corsica, I’ve got in the habit of regularly making friendly pain au chocolat for the girls. It’s been a mixed blessing, they’ve got rather used to freshly made viennoiserie for breakfast, so I end up making them often which takes time, but my croissant dough skiIlls have improved dramatically.
This new improved recipe has been gradually tweaked over the last year and I think we’ve finally got a jolly authentic, flaky and ‘buttery’ dough. The lamination has proved the tricky part of the recipe. Besides being the most time consuming aspect, I suffered for months with the layers simply disappearing which is really demoralising when you’ve spent hours putting them there in the first place! After some in-depth research it seems the crucial detail for lamination is that the fat content of the ‘butter replacement’ has to be around 82%. It’s that precise. In the UK our dairy-free margarines are predominantly water-based with fat coming way down the list of ingredients. If you use such a margarine the water just makes steam and you get a bready dough rather than buttery flaky layers. Makes total sense doesn’t it.
After much experimentation I’ve found that it works best to combine a mixture of dairy-free margarine such as Pure with a baking spread such as Stork (in the foil wrapper) and a touch of flour. This combination makes a great fat-rich butter substitute which also provides the right ‘buttery’ flavour.
Surely a good flaky Pain au Chocolat is possibly the most perfect breakfast item ever 🙂
Dairy-free Homemade Pain au Chocolat
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)
500g strong bread flour
90g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
100ml dairy-free milk (I used Oatly)
250ml cold water
150g dairy-free margarine
150g baking fat
1 tbsp flour
160g dark dairy-free chocolate chopped into batons
a sprinkle of caster sugar
melted dairy-free margarine for brushing
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast.
- Pour in the dairy-free milk and water and stir. Once come together, knead well to form a soft and springy dough (about 5-10 minutes).
- Cover and leave to rise for a couple of hours
- Meanwhile, put the dairy-free margarine on to some cling film, sprinkle with the flour and then top with the baking fat (making a kind of sandwich affair) and loosely wrap. Roll out to a square shape, and place in the fridge or freezer to harden.
- Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a smooth dough. Cut a cross on top of the dough ball and roll out the leaves (see photo below)
- Place the cooled ‘butter’ in the middle and fold the four flaps over the ‘butter’ making sure it is entirely encased with dough.
- Roll out and fold into thirds twice
- Place back in the fridge for thirty minutes or so, then roll out and fold back into thirds twice more. Repeat two or three times.
- Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes more.
- Roll out to form a large rectangle. Cut into four long strips, halve each.
- Place a line of chocolate at one narrow end and roll over to cover. Add another chocolate baton and continue rolling up.
- Loosely cover with cling film and let rise on the baking tray for 30 minutes.
- Brush with the melted margarine and sprinkle with caster sugar
- Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes
Oh sweet heavens. I *NEED* one or a half of dozen of these STAT please and thank you. They look so delicious!! XOXO – Bacon
they look really delicious. Have you ever managed to perfect puff pastry dairy and gluten free?
No I haven’t, we don’t need to be gluten free and while I’ve experimented with dairyfree puff pastry, I find shop bought gives so much better results
Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve never been brave enough to try adapting pain au chocolat recipes myself. Now I know how! Will certainly give these a go next time I’m feeling a little continental flair 🙂
I hope you do give them a go – whilst a bit of a faff, it’s well worth it!
I’m in Hawaii and not sure what baking fat is. Being vegan and it’s been years since I’ve had the pleasure of pain au chocolat. So very excited to try this recipe.
Hi Sharon, thanks for your message. It’s a hard white fat – a bit like a vegetarian lard which adds stability. You can try without and add a tbsp of flour to the margarine instead x
Tried this recipe and it was delicious!!! Perfect pain au chocolat! Thank you!
Do you think is possible to substitute the margarine and baking fat for coconut oil?
As long as it’s hard enough to roll out to a square then it might work. Let me know how it goes
I’m just a bit confused about step 10. Do you roll out a big rectangle with ALL the dough and cut it into 4 long strips each of which is halved (leaving 8 strips)? Or have i misunderstood? Thanks.
Very that’s right. Or for croissants roll into a long rectangle and then cut long thin triangles and roll up from the wide end x