While not as well known to the wider church, St. Honoré (Saint Honoratus of Amiens) is well known to bakers. He was chosen the seventh bishop of Amiens, against his wishes. Due to his deep humility, he did not believe himself worthy of the honor. Apparently neither did his hometown.
Upon hearing the news of his selection as bishop, his nursemaid, who was baking bread for his family, said she would on believe it if she planted her wooden bread-making peel in the ground and it sprouted. The story goes that the planted bread-making peel indeed turned into a great mulberry tree, filled with flower and fruit. St. Honoré became the patron saint of bakers and the Paris baking guild was founded in his church.
For the Feast Day of St. Honoré we are making Pain au Chocolat.
Pain au chocolat is a sweet roll consisting of yeast-leavened laminated dough with one or two pieces of chocolate in the center. Pain au chocolat is made of the same layered doughs as a croissant. They are a delicious treat and a great way to honor St. Honoré.
Modern illustration of St. Honore by Chris Volion of New Orleans, Lousiana.
Pain au Chocolat
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
24 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (for butter block)
Chocolate chips or bar (of your choice)
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 cups of the flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened. Mix until fairly evenly blended.
- Add the remaining flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out and knead it until it just starts to smooth out. You don’t want to over-knead it at this point, since it’s going to spend a considerable amount of time rising.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour.
- After an hour at room temperature, refrigerate the dough (in its covered bowl) for 8 to 16 hours.
- Just before the dough is ready to come out of the fridge, prepare the 24 tablespoons unsalted butter for rolling into the dough. Cut each of the three sticks in half lengthwise and place all six pieces on a floured piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Sprinkle flour on the top surface of the butter, cover with another piece of paper or plastic and gently pound it with a rolling pin until it becomes malleable. Then roll the butter out until it’s about 8″ x 8″.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 12″ square. Place the butter in the center of the dough at a 45° angle; it’ll look like a diamond inside the square. Fold the four flaps of dough into the center to enclose the butter, pinching them together as best you can.
- Roll the dough into a 10″ x 20″ rectangle. Fold one third into the center, then the opposite third over the first, this is called a letter fold.
- Turn the dough 90° and roll it into a 10″ x 20″ rectangle again.
- Fold each of the shorter edges toward the center until they meet without overlapping. Fold the dough in half along the center where the edges meet, as if closing a book, then turn it 90°; this is called a book fold.
- Wrap the dough in lightly floured plastic wrap and refrigerate it again for at least 8 hours (or up to 24 hours), until you’re ready to use it.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, cut it in half and return one half to the refrigerator.
- Roll the other half out until it’s a generous 8″ x 24″. With a bench knife, cut the dough into eight 4″ x 6″ pieces.
- Place some chocolate chips or blocks at one end of each piece and roll it up into a tube. Place, seam side down, on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Press down on the tops of the rolls to flatten them into a rectangle shape. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Before baking, brush the egg/salt glaze over the tops of the rolls. Bake the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool a bit before you bite into them; the structure needs a chance to set.
- After baking you can also drizzle the tops with more melted chocolate, if preferred.