Pain aux Raisins, for French-ish Mornings
It was no less a luminary than Chris Traeger of Parks and Recreation who declared raisins “nature’s candy.” In my opinion, raisins are not candy, and they have no business being anywhere except ants on a log. That, and, of course, pain aux raisins. Pain aux raisins, or raisin bread, is a French breakfast pastry similar to a croissant in texture, and the swirl emoji in appearance.
While you could of course make your own brioche dough for the pain aux raisins, using pre-made puff pastry here instead is also completely OK. As is the case with fake pain au chocolat, it’s very likely that no one will notice or care that you took a baking shortcut.
Mix ½ cup raisins into ¼ cup orange liqueur and set aside.
Whisk up a batch of instant vanilla pudding or instant pastry cream in a medium bowl. Again, if you want to practice your cooking skills, you can DIY the pastry cream, but it’s not 100 percent necessary. However you make the cream, cover it with plastic wrap, laying the plastic directly over the mixture so it doesn’t form a skin as it sits. Place the pastry cream in the fridge.
Alternatively, you can use premade or homemade frangipane (that’s a sweetened almond paste) in place of the pastry cream.
Unroll a large sheet of thawed but cold frozen puff pastry dough on a floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 10x16-inch rectangle.
Take the pastry cream out of the fridge and fold in the soaked raisins (as well as any soaking liquid). If you are using frangipane, skip this step. Spread the raisin-studded pastry cream over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the bottom width of the dough.
If you are using frangipane, spread the paste over the pastry and scatter raisins over the top of the mixture, leaving the same 1-inch border on the bottom.
Make an egg wash by beating 1 egg with 2 tablespoons milk. Brush the 1-inch border with some of the egg wash.
Roll the pastry into a long log, starting from the top (as in the opposite end of the egg washed side), sealing it closed at the egg-washed side. Transfer the log to a cutting board and place it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush the chilled log with egg wash, and use a sharp serrated knife to slice it into 1-inch thick rounds.
Place the pain aux raisins onto the sheet pan, leaving at least 1½ inches between each pastry.
Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.