L2O Pain au Lait Rolls
Last year for my birthday, I had the pleasure of dining at L2O, a fine dining restaurant that tastefully uses "molecular gastronomy" here in Chicago. I'd done a stage there, unfortunately it did not work out, but I am still quite impressed with Laurent Gras' food philosophy, how well run and organized the kitchen was, as well as the vibe between the cooks. Anyway, months later I had the pleasure of receiving the recipe for their pain au lait rolls via email from Time Out Chicago. These rolls were so good that I chose them more often than the others that were offered in selection from their bread basket. I'd filed the recipe away, and recently had the pleasure of making some for a dinner party. Initially the recipe was converted from weight in ounces to volume, so when I made it, not only did I double-check the accuracy (I found discrepancies) I converted it to a more accurate gram measure. So, pulling out my measuring cups, I converted it correctly to grams (not ounces), and am sharing the recipe with you.
This dough was a pleasure to work with as far as doughs go. And if you've never made bread before and want to try your hand with this one, don't be intimidated by the "turns" because the results are worth the extra effort. I've included both volume and weight measures.
My other changes were: I used 944 grams of flour, adding only enough to keep the dough from sticking during kneading and when I made a half recipe, I used less than 2 yolks for the egg wash.
Yields 50 rolls. Don't worry, they are gone within minutes, making you wonder if you really did make that many!
944 g (7¼–7½ cup) bread flour
42 g (about 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp)
10 g (about 2 tsp) salt
8 g (2¼ tsp) dry yeast
718 g (3 cup) milk
184 (13 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
5 egg yolks
1 tsp sugar
large flake sea salt
Place first six ingredients in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for six minutes. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into a 60-by-20-centimeter (roughly 2-foot-by-8-inch) rectangle. Taking the dough from the short ends toward the middle, fold it into thirds (same as you would fold a letter for mailing). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Unwrap and roll again into a 60-by-20-centimeter rectangle; tri-fold and freeze again for 30.
Repeat for one final time.
After the final freeze, roll the dough to one-third-inch thickness and cut into one-and-a-half-inch squares.
Place the squares on a baking sheet, leaving a half-inch of space between them. Cover the squares with a moist towel and let them rise for one hour or until almost double in size.
After proofing, mix yolks and teaspoon of sugar together in a bowl.
Brush the top of each square with the egg wash, taking care that wash does not drip down the sides. I dip the brush in the wash, and dab the excess against the side of the bowl. Sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt.
Bake at 375º F for eight minutes or until golden brown, then cool on a rack.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!