On my way to French class the other night, I stopped at a bakery and picked up a Petit Pain au Lait. My 6-year old had just finished his soccer lesson, so I was running from one thing to the next without time to eat a proper dinner.
Petit Pain au Lait, or Weggli in German, are soft little buns with two halves. Every type of Swiss boulangerie around us sells Petit Pain au Lait, and they seem particularly popular with kids. I’ve even seen them prepared with a chocolate coin inserted in the side, like a little dessert sandwich.
There’s evidence that Petit Pain au Lait date back to the 16th century in Switzerland. Made with white flour, these buns were at one time considered a luxury that not everyone could afford.
During the last week, I’ve been referring to these petits pain as ″butt buns″ because they have a big crack in the middle, but my 6-year old said this actually wasn’t very polite. I’m not sure when he became the arbiter of good behavior, but I guess this isn’t a bad thing, right?
When I started searching for a recipe online, I quickly found one from Potes and Rollmops, a food blog in French that’s also based in our small corner of Switzerland. I’ve made it about 4-5 times in the last week and changed the recipe a bit along the way to make them dairy and egg-free. A big thank you to the guys at Potes and Rollmops for sharing their recipe!
An egg yolk brushed on top before baking gives the bun a nice shine and color. However, with the shorter baking time, I actually thought my 2-year old may have had an allergic reaction this week after eating one with the egg yolk glaze. While he didn’t have any hives like he normally does with eggs, he had other symptoms similar to those of an allergic reaction. I kept a close eye on him. Everything was fine, and I don’t know for sure that the egg caused his symptoms, but just in case, I’m sticking with an egg-free version for now.
Petits Pains au Lait
Recipe adapted from Potes and Rollmops.
(dairy, egg and nut-free)
300 grams bread flour or farine à tresse
200 ml rice milk, warmed
50 grams of dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 20 grams of fresh yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Add the yeast and sugar to the warmed rice milk. Stir gently and set aside until the yeast has dissolved.
2. Whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in the melted and cooled margarine and the rice milk mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms.
3. Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. The dough may be sticky, but be patient, and add a little flour, if necessary. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.
4. After the dough has finished rising, divided it into six equal parts. Using the palm of your hand, roll the dough into a ball shape. Then, press the ball with your hands to flatten it into a circle—about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Next, using a sharp knife, cut the bun in half. Push the two pieces of dough back together, and then pinch the seam on the edges to help keep it together. (Please note: If it isn’t pinched together enough, it will likely pull apart while it bakes!).
5. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F and bake for about 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.
I’m planning to make chocolate truffles for St. Valentin this Friday and will share the recipe/s if they turn out! What allergy-friendly treats do you have planned for Valentine’s Day?