Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pain au Raisins, Snail, Escagot – a pastry with many names

One of the most loved pastry items with multiple identities, Pain au Raisin. Though it is widely known as Pain au Raisins (or Pain aux Raisins), it is also called escagot and snail. Many Aussies know this item as snails due to its shape.

It has everything that ticks, slightly spiced juicy sultana (golden raisin), pastry cream wrapped in buttery and flaky croissant dough. Some are also glazed with apricot jam, and finished off with icing sugar.

I’m still on my mission practicing making croissants. This week was my sixth attempt. Apart from making them into classic croissant shape, I also turned the dough into something else, and this week I made them into pain au raisins.

This was the second time I made pain au raisins, I was divided between recipes from Michel Roux’s Pastry and Bourke Street Bakery cookbooks. Recently, I had some successes from Bourke Street Bakery recipes and decided to go with BSB’s.

Many of pastry recipes in the book yield too big a quantity. The original recipe yields 30 pieces and I made one-third of the recipe to get 12 pain au raisins.

Comparing this to my first effort a year ago, this time was way much better. The key to the success of making croissant dough (the pastry base for pain au raisin) is proofing, where the dough is left to rise before baking. I didn’t leave the dough to rise long enough the first time I made these. Having read and practiced more on making croissants for the past month, I was more competent this second time around.

Significant differences in finished products
 between well-proof and under-proof dough

In my opinion, the most important thing for croissant making is proofing. Croissant dough needs to be well-proofed, just so. It CAN’T be UNDERPROOFED. Underproof croissant will produce greasy, non-flaky finished products. Well-proof croissant will give you the flaky, layered pastry.

Well-proof croissant dough will appear wobbly, and layers are noticeable. The dough needs to (seriously) double in size before baking.

The recipe requires few steps and fruit soaker and pastry cream (crème patissiere) needs to be made in advance (several before final assembly). Do not feel intimidated by this, this truly worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with the best breakfast!

Here is the recipe...

Pain au Raisin Recipe
adapted from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook

make 12 - 15

250 g sultanas (golden raisins)
300 ml  boiling water
20 g soft brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 quantity croissant dough, recipe is here
80 g crème patissiere, recipe follows
Egg wash, for brushing
Icing sugar, for dusting


Make the fruit soaker - put the sultanas in a mixing bowl. Pour over the boiling water and set aside to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator overnight (it can be kept up to 2-3 days this way). Drain water from the fruit and add brown sugar and mixed spice, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

Take the rested croissant dough (after three turns and laminations) from the refrigerator and roll it out into a rectangle, about 30 x 40 cm and about 5mm thick. Place the dough on trays lined with baking paper and place in the fridge for 10 minutes so that the dough will firm up.

Lay the dough on a lightly floured surface, with the short length running parallel to the edge of the bench. Spread crème patissiere evenly over the rectangle, spreading all the way to the edges. Top the rectangle with the fruit mix to evenly cover the crème patissiere.

Starting with the short edge further away from you, firmly and tightly roll the dough towards you, like a jelly roll. Wrap the log in the baking paper and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Remove the baking paper from the log and place it on a clean work surface. Cut the log into slices, about 1.5 cm wide, to make about 12 - 15 rounds in total.

Preheat the oven to 240c. Place the rolls onto trays lined with baking sheet at well-spaced intervals (the dough will expand during the final proof and bake).

Cover loosely with a damp tea towel (dish towel) or plastic bag. Set aside in a warm room (about 25C – 27 C) for 1 ½ - 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size. Spray the tea towel with water occasionally if it becomes dry.

Remove the tea towel, brush the top of each pain au raisin lightly with egg wash and place in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 190c and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a deep golden colour.

Cool slightly on the trays before dusting with icing sugar and serving.

Creme patisserie Recipe

80 g milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 g caster sugar
1 egg yolks
5 g plain flour

Put egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until it is thick and pale. Gradually add flour and mix until the mixture is very smooth.

Place milk into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to the boil. Remove from heat immediately and mix it into egg yolk mixture. Whisk well to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

Return the mixture to saucepan and cook over low-medium heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for few minutes until the mixture is thick and custard-like consistency.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Keep in airtight container and put a plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent skin formed.

The crème patissiere can be made in advance and store for 3 days.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. Oh my, those are seriously fabulous looking pastries. They almost look like a schnecken too. (Makes sense since I think that is German for snail.) I like your side by side attempt picture, very good visual. Your sourdough pancakes look great too but blogger seems to not have restored all posts yet so it isn't available.

  2. Thank you, hobby baker.

    Another name for the pastry, schnecken;).

    Yes, blogger was down yesterday and they removed the SD pancake post temporarily. Now. It's back on.


  3. As soon as I'm ready to make croissant, I will try to make your pastry. It looks delicious. Till that time I enjoy looking at beautiful croissant/pastry.

  4. Thank you for posting Sue. The tip on allowing the dough to seriously proof saved my butter! My second attempt was so much better :)))))

  5. I'm glad to hear that the tip was useful. It's so much satisfying to have fresh pastry from your own oven. I think the correct proofing (let it fully proofed) is one of the most critical things for making laminated dough....