I should start by pointing out that my children are not entirely toothless, but the youngest is in the middle of babytooth shedding, and the teenager is half-way through his two-year torture with brackets, wires and coloured elastics. Crusty farmhouse bread might be a favourite for Hubby and I, but the bun of choice for the underage in our house is pain au lait. Milk rolls are cousins of hot cross buns (minus the cross) and can be made plain, with chocolate chips or raisins, or with sugar on top.
If I didn’t keep an eye on things, they would eat a bag of 10 milk rolls in one morning, and since they are terribly expensive from the bakery, I usually buy industrially-produced pain au lait, and I am not too happy about it. I have tried buying organic rolls, but while the flour is organic, the rolls are still baked by industrial bakeries.
At the pretty bookshop we visited this week, I bought myself a cookbook that goes through some of the classics of French farmhouse cooking, including pain au lait. It’s called Fait Maison and is published by Marabout.
What you need for pain au lait:
220ml warm milk
2 teaspoons (6g) of wheat leaven or 1 tsp (4g) of dessicated baker’s yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
What to do:
I used my bread machine to knead and proof the dough (dough-only-programme)
- Pour the milk into the bottom of the tin of your bread machine.
- Add the leaven and sugar, the flour, butter, lemon juice and salt (last!).
- Run the programme as usual, but check the dough after 10 minutes. It should already have formed a smooth ball. If it looks wet, add 10g of flour. If the dough is not smooth and pulls apart, add 10ml of water or milk.
- Turn the dough onto your floured counter and press flat into a long rectangle.
- Fold the rectangle in half and pinch the seams closed with your fingers. Repeat.
- Roll the dough into a “sausage” and cut into 8-10 equal pieces. (My bread machine has two tins, so I did this in two batches.)
- Repeat the fold-and-pinch twice for each individual bun, then roll into an oval.
- Pre-heat the oven to 210 degrees C.
- Place the buns on a baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rest for 20 minutes.
- Turn down the temperature to 200 C and bake for about 18-20 minutes (until light golden).
This is my first attempt… I will try to size the buns more evenly next time, but they don’t look bad and taste lovely!