Pain au Chocolat…

Pain au chocolate

My wife, son and bed smell of vomit. Lucas got too excited and wouldn’t sleep, eventually bringing up the days digested food over himself and our bed.

I’m lying in bed aware it is late and I have to be up early for village number 2. I start drifting off to sleep when screams of, “I’m an idiot” repeatedly come from the kitchen. It’s nearly midnight and Madeleine is not happy with herself and the oven. Apparently the butter has melted too early (?) and we should pack our bags and move back to England…

Although it is late and I think she maybe being a little dramatic, I remind her of how she turned around the burnt chocolate cake in to a success. Clearly I’m not getting the magnitude of this disaster and decide to return to bed and the paranoia of a mosquito being trapped inside the net with me.

Eventually Madeleine makes it in to bed after 1.30am (Lucas will be up shortly after 6 and I leave at 7). The sight that beholds me in the morning in no way resembles a disaster and Madeleine returns from her 6am run somewhat sheepish and clearly fairly pleased with what eventually came out of the random temperature generator.

Things in the field went well today. £80,000 worth of equipment was installed by the team (the slit lamp is my responsibility) and the throughput of patients was smooth. The phone worked a treat and although very early, is looking promising.



As I walk back into the kitchen I realise my pain au chocolat fatal mistake.  It’s 11.30pm, I had wanted to start much earlier but Lucas got over excited and did not sleep until 9pm, I look into the open oven to see my beautiful and carefully repeatedly folded, rolled and chilled doughy pain au chocolat beginning to flop in a sea of melted butter! All that time, care and effort in creating beautiful layer upon layer of pastry melting into one doughy buttery mess! As I pull two trays out of the oven  I am overcome with tiredness and feel gutted, there is certainly no time to start from scratch and what on earth was I thinking? I needed to wait for the croissants to rise before cooking them but given it was so late I attempted to cut a corner by warming them a little quicker in the oven at a low temperature with the door open – it clearly did not work!

Croissant disaster

I nearly sat on the floor and cried like in Julie and Julia, when Andrew came out of bed to find me not too happy.

I wacked up the heat in the oven and put them in, feeling certain they were ruined. As I peered in through the browned oven window, the top shelf were burning… It is then that I discovered the oven works effectively as a top and bottom grill meaning only the middle shelf is evenly heated! Amazingly the layers still formed and something resembling croissants came out, phew! One by one I put the next two trays in the oven, wow! Pain au chocolats were coming out!

I did stay up until 1.30am but I still made it out for my 6am run with our neighbours. I overcame the tiredness with a good coffee and pain au chocolat whilst lucas had his morning sleep.  I’ve got to say although not the smoothest evening ,I really enjoyed making them and if the little ones are asleep it’s a great way to spend an evening in and out of the kitchen folding, rolling, chilling in-between catching up on emails.  i cant wait to make more!


The day went well for the team, with around 300kg of eye equipment to be transported up and down three flights of stairs then to the field to be set up and packed away again it is pretty impressive to see how well it is working. We need to find as many people from the 5000 examined in the study 5 years ago to see how they have been affected over time. This makes it possible to predict how many new people become blind and why. When patients are followed up like this, it is known as a cohort study. For it to work we need an average of 65% of the people seen 5 years ago.  Although all the examinations have gone well this week we have only had 50%.  The area we went to unfortunately had a lot of problems during the last elections and people may have been displaced.  Next week we are going to an area that was not badly effected so hopefully the numbers will be higher.

The pain au chocolat seemed to go down well with the team.   Although I wouldn’t recommend trying to decrease rising time in the same way, the buttery mess can be at least partly redeemed!



The EyePhone

Phone test

Andrew: After a break for lunch I whipped out the pain au chocolats – they were devoured with wide smiles and grunts of appreciation as well as requests for Madeleine to open a baking school.

Enjoying the croissants

fly in butter

Recipe – Pain au Chocolat

Ingredients –

Recipe slightly adapted from ‘Crust’ Richard Bertinet.  Makes 12-14.

500g strong white flour

7g dried yeast

10g salt

50g castor sugar

1 large egg

125ml semi-skimmed milk

125g water

200g unsalted butter (In the book it says good quality butter, I’m not sure if a squashed fly on your butter counts as good quality but I just cut that bit off, it’s all I had!)

200g 70% dark chocolate.  (Thank you Grandma for sending us some!)

1 egg mixed with a pinch of salt for the egg wash.



1. Mix the dried yeast with he water until dissolved, then mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with your fingers or dough scraper.

2. Knead the dough for 4 minutes.  Admittedly if Lucas is not actively helping I put it in the Kenwood mixer with a dough hook to give lucas a few more minutes of full attention.

3. Form the dough into a ball with the rough side underneath and place into a lightly floured bowl, the cut a deep cross in the top of the dough, cover with cling film and place into a fridge for minimum of 2 hours or overnight.  I made the dough in the morning and placed in fridge during the day.

4. When you are ready to use the dough first prepare the butter, weigh out then place in-between a piece of baking parchment and the butter wrapper and bash the butter into a square shape about 1cm thick then place back in the fridge so it is kept flat.

5.  When you take the dough out of the fridge, place onto a lightly floured surface and using the cross you have cut into the dough roll out into a 4 leaf clover shape with a square in the middle slightly thicker that is the same size and shape as the rolled out butter.

6. Without using your hands, instead use the butter wrapper so as not to melt the butter, place the square of butter in the middle of the rolled out dough, then fold in the two opposite squares first onto the butter square then the next one onto the dough on the butter square and repeat with the remaining ‘leaves of the clover’.

7. Gently roll lengthways rolling the dough into a rectangle about 60-70cm long.

8. Fold the dough into thirds like when folding a piece of A4 piece of paper into an envelope and indent the dough once to remind you this is the first folding.  Cover with baking parchment and put into the fridge on a chopping board or something for 20-30mins.

9. Repeat 7 & 8 two more times.

10. Roll out the dough to about 30 x 75 cm the cut into squares 15 x 10cm so you should be able to make 14.  Break your chocolate into strips of about 3 squares or so they are just shorter than 10cm. With the dough rectangle lying horizontally place the chocolate 2cm in from the left hand side, then roll over the dough to the left of the chocolate, then fold in from the right side and over to create a seam at the bottom and smooth top.

11. Place each rolled pain au chocolat onto baking parchment and glaze with the egg wash.  Leave to prove for 2 hours (Not as  did in the oven!).

12 Pre-heat the oven when the proving is almost complete to 220 -230 degrees C  and bake for 18-20mins until golden.  Cool on wire racks if you have them or I use clean tea cloths or material.

13. Enjoy immediately with a coffee or if its 1.30am wait until the next day and just re-heat to crisp off and then enjoy with a yummy tea or coffee!


Pain au chocolat pre-cooking

uncooked croissant

Lucas enjoying one with some coffee

Lucas coffee and croissant


Andrew on his way to work

travelling to work

3 thoughts on “Pain au Chocolat…

  1. Well done both of you, it must be such a relief to have started Baz!!! And Madeleine that looks like tricky work making those pastries but with a great result. I am beyond excited to think I will be joining you in 3weeks today!! Love to Lucas xxxxx

  2. Oh Mad! Why do you do these things at 1 o’clock in the morning?! The outcome looks amazing though… my mouth is watering from here 🙂
    Loving the squashed insect in the butter packet – can you imagine if you found that here, everyone would go crazy! But I guess it is just one of those things in Africa and at least it wasn’t touching the butter!
    Keep up the good work xxx

  3. Pingback: Running Blind and Belgian Chocolate and Toasted Almond Croissants | Eye Bake - Kenya

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