What is Pain Aux Raisins?

Janis Adams

A well-known French pastry, pain aux raisins is a butter pastry that is laden with raisins. Made from a sweet dough, it is formed into a spiral shape and then baked until the edges are slightly golden. When made following a traditional French recipe, pain aux raisins has a cream filling layered within its spiral.

Golden raisins.
Golden raisins.

Considered a Viennoiseries pastry, pain aux raisins is similar to a croissant. This pastry differs from the croissant in that it is made from a sweet dough. The two pastries do share their buttery pastry base in common. The butter-style pastry base makes this morning bread a complicated one to make, as the butter must be kept at a precise temperature for the flaky pastry to become light and airy verses leaden.

Pain aux raisins are a popular French pastry.
Pain aux raisins are a popular French pastry.

The pain aux raisins is similar to the Chelsea bun, which has currants instead of raisins. The Chelsea bun has cinnamon and the addition of lemon zest as flavorings. Pain aux raisins does not have any spices or flavorings added. While pain aux raisins has butter as its leavening agent, the Chelsea bun is formed from a rich yeast dough.

Pain aux raisins is a popular addition to the traditional continental breakfast fare. Although most popularly served as part of the morning meal, there are those who enjoy this pastry throughout the day with a cafe latte or traditional black coffee. This calorie-laden treat, though containing butter within the pastry itself, is often slathered with sweet butter before it is consumed.

The cinnamon roll was styled after pain aux raisins, as was the Danish pastry. The cinnamon roll employs the spiral shape, while the Danish pastry uses the concept of the sweetened dough. Both the cinnamon roll and the Danish pastry are most frequently served as part of the breakfast meal, but like the pain aux raisins, they are also enjoyed through out the entirety of the day.

Pain aux raisins bread finds its beginnings in August Zang's Viennese bakery, which down through the centuries has remained a culinary example followed by many. Though many still follow this ancient tradition and recipe, there are a host of different derivations to be found in bakeries and on tables across the world. This pastry is a decadent delight in all its forms, though most venerated in its traditional Viennoiserie patisserie form.

Pain aux raisins are commonly eaten along with other continental breakfast fare.
Pain aux raisins are commonly eaten along with other continental breakfast fare.

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