Petit Pains au Lait (French Milk Bread/ Rolls) : We Knead To Bake #17

Last month I went on a trip to my SIL's place. After the customary hunt for blog props, my nephew pointed out that there was a shop that sells essences and stuff.He knows my love for cooking and so took me there. I saw rows and rows of essence, chocochips, and all the stuff we could use in our baking. Most important of all I saw a big pack of yeast. The name was not familiar yet I got it. The one that I was using did not rise properly and I was not satisfied with it but since I had no other go, I stuck to using it.

On seeing the new brand, I was over joyed but was not sure how it would work. I came home and used it to bake this Petit Pains au Lait . And I must say I am impressed. The dough rose beautifully and I was marveling at the risen dough!!

And best of all, I baked this bread within two days of Aparna's announcement which is actually a very rare and incredible thing on my part as I always bake on the day I am supposed to post!And I also feel this is the easiest bread I have ever baked!!!Hence this bread  is very dear to me!!

Now to the post....

This month Aparna chose to make a simple and very easy bread – Petit Pains au Lait. That’s French for small or little milk breads. They may be simple but they’re elegant looking and really good. The dough for Pains au Lait is slightly rich but not as rich as brioche dough. The liquid in this bread is milk (no water or anything else), and of course, there’s a generous amount of butter though not too much. Pains au Lait typically have just a hint of sweetness in them and the pearl sugar that dots the surface adds a little more.

They’re a beautiful golden brown on the outside, and almost flaky on the inside because of the way the dough is rolled and shaped. Then they’re decorated by cutting through the top with scissors in a manner which results in the beautiful pattern typical of Petit Pains au Lait..  Do take a look at both these video links to get a good idea of how this bread is cut/ slashed to create its signature pattern. ( and )

Petit Pains au Lait (French Milk Bread/ Rolls)
(Adapted from Gourmet by Kat  )

2/3 cup warm milk (you might need a little more)
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour*
1/4 tsp salt
60gm butter, soft at room temperature
Extra milk for brushing
Pearl sugar for topping (optional)** 

*If you don’t have bread flour, put 2/3 tsp vital wheat gluten in your 3/4 cup measure and top up with all-purpose flour. Mix this well.
If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, then just use 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.
**This topping is optional. The pearl sugar looks pretty and adds a little crunch. You can also use large crystals of sugar or a bit of regular granulated sugar.

You can knead by hand or use a machine. I used my hand food processor. Put the warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bowl. Pulse a couple of times to mix. Then add all the flour and the salt and run the processor until it looks crumbly. Add the butter and knead until you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough that’s not sticky. Add a little more milk (in teaspoonful at a time), if your dough is dry, until you have the required consistency of dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, turning it over to coat with oil. Cover loosely and set aside to rise until double in volume. This should take about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto your working surface. You shouldn't need any flour, but if you feel the need, just lightly dust your palms with it. Deflate the dough gently, and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Let them rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out each piece of dough, one at a time, into a circle about 4” in diameter. Slowly roll up the circle from one end, Swiss roll/ jelly roll style into a cylinder. Pinch the seam closed neatly, and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet with the seam side facing down. Cover loosely and let them rise for an hour or so till almost double in size. 

Brush them lightly with milk and using a pair of sharp scissors, make diagonal cuts (not too deep) on the top of the rolls. Sprinkle pearl sugar/ granulated sugar.

Bake them at 200C (400F) for about 15 minutes or so until they’re golden brown. Let them cool on a rack. 

Serve them warm or at room temperature with coffee or chilled flavoured milk, or at breakfast.

This recipe makes 10 Petit Pains au Lait. They’re best eaten the same day, though you could warm them up and serve the next day.

Bon Appetit....

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