Vegan Pain Au Apricot with Pistachios
This recipe is epic, so I’m going to skip the intro and just say this. These are the best thing I’ve ever baked. It is 100% worth the effort. Also:
Ingredient note: Not all vegan butter works in this recipe. You need to use something called “baking block” of “baking fat” in the UK. Naturli make one called “vegan block” which is the best.
For the Apricots
250 g chopped dried apricots
For the Croissant Dough
240ml water (at 28c)
14g instant yeast
45g + 1 tbsp granulated sugar (separated)
300g plain flour
200g strong white bread flour
12g fine sea salt
250g + 100g vegan butter, separated (at room temp) - see ingredient note.
For the Creme Patissiere
8 strands saffron
2 tbsp boiling water
50g granulated sugar
30g corn flour300ml oat milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
50g vegan butter
4 tbsp vegan butter
200g light brown sugar (you probably wont use it all)
For the Vegan Egg Wash
5 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the Glaze and Pistachios
30g Apricot preserve
30g caster sugar
100g chopped pistachios
Soak the Apricots
In a medium bowl, place the chopped, dried apricots. Cover with boiling water and leave to stand for a minimum of one hour.
Make the Croissant Dough
In a small bowl, place the water and the 1tbsp granulated sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining sugar, flours and salt. Mix briefly to combine. Create a well in the centre of the flour, add the water and yeast mixture along with the 100g of room temperature vegan butter. Knead to combine on a medium speed and leave running for around 8 minutes. A nice ball of dough should form.
Lightly grease a medium bowl and transfer the ball of dough into it. Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
Once proved, turn the dough out onto a work surface (you don’t need to dust the surface with flour, the dough shouldn’t stick too much). Using your fingertips, push out any air bubbles from the dough. Fold the dough into a tight oblong and flatten with the palm of your hand. Place on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes flip the dough and return to the freezer.
While your dough is freezing, make the “slab” of butter for the lamination process. Take a large sheet of greaseproof paper and fold the edges over to make a square roughly 20cm x 20cm. Unfold and then place the remaining 250g vegan butter into the centre of the parchment. Fold the parchment back over the butter and roll out with a rolling pin until the butter is an even layered 20x20cm square. Place in the fridge to chill for minimum 30 minutes.
Once chilled, remove the butter from the fridge. Once your dough is quite firm in the freezer, remove it and roll it into a roughly 20x40cm rectangle. If you like, you can trim the edges to make it exact, but it’s not essential. It’s very important that you do not handle the dough too much - the heat of your hands will melt the butter, so keep everything as cold as possible and keep your hands off the dough!
You should now have a rectangle of dough which is twice the size of your butter. Place the butter on one half of the dough and fold the dough over. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough to seal the butter in between the two layers. Roll the rough into a long 20x70cm rectangle and the fold in thirds (as in this video, around the 4.15 mark). Wrap the pastry in cling film and then place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll out again into a 20x70cm rectangle. Fold into four layers (as in this video), wrap the rectangle of dough in cling film again and place in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
Make the Creme Patissiere
Place the saffron into a pestle and mortar and grind lightly until no large strands remain. Add the boiling water to the mortar and allow the colour to infuse for a minute or two. Once infused, pour the saffron water into a medium bowl. Add the sugar and the corn flour and mix with a fork. Set aside.
Place the oat milk and vanilla into a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. While whisking the sugar mixture, gradually pour the hot oat milk mixture over the sugar mixture. You should end up with a smooth creamy pale yellow custard. Pour the custard back into the pan and place over a low heat. Bring to a simmer again, whisking constantly for around 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vegan butter and whisk to combine - it should be a very thick custard by this point. Pour the creme patissiere onto a baking tray lined with cling film and cover again with cling film. Leave to cool completely before refrigerating for 30 minutes.
Shape the Pain Au Apricots
Drain the chopped apricots and set aside. Place the chilled creme patissiere in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth and spreadable.
Dust a work surface and roll out the croissant dough into a 60x30cm rectangle. spread the creme patissiere over the dough in an even layer and sprinkle with the apricots. Roll up the pastry along the long side of the rectangle to create a roughly 60cm snake. Using a very sharp knife, slice the dough in half to create two 30cm snakes. Cover one half with a damp cloth then slice the other half into 10 discs. Repeat with the other half.
Line two baking trays with baking parchment and place each pain au apricot onto a tray, tucking the loose end of the roll under for each one. Take a 3 inch english muffin ring or metal cookie cutter and grease the inside with vegan butter, dunk in light brown sugar making sure the inside of the cutter is evenly coated with sugar. Place over a pain au apricot on the baking tray. Repeat with all pain au apricots. (I didn’t have enough muffin rings so I made some out of tin foil, folded over three times and stapled shut to form a 3 inch ring. This works equally well!)
Cover all the pain au apricots with a damp tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for one hour. In the last half hour of proving, preheat the oven to 200c.
Whisk together the ingredients for the Vegan Egg Wash and brush onto the pain au apricots before placing in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
While they bake,
Make the Apricot Glaze
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat, whisking constantly until smooth.
Once the pain au apricots are baked, place on a cooling rack to cool completely for around 30 minutes. Once cooled, brush with the apricot glaze and sprinkle with pistachios. Allow the glaze to set for 10 minutes, before removing the muffin rings and serving. PHEW!