Pain au chocolat: the professional recipe


It was in 1838 at 92 rue Richelieu, in what is now the second arrondissement of Paris, that an Austrian pastry chef introduced his new clientele to a delicacy that would change the future of French pâtisserie. So began the story of pain au chocolat, one of the most famous Viennoiserie in the world.

In this article we explore its origins and the reasons why it sparked off a major gastronomic debate on the other side of the Alps. We propose a recipe for professionals and finally suggest how to make a variation with a highly aesthetic impact.

Pain au chocolat: the story of the original recipe

The theories that revolve around the origins of pain au chocolat are as fascinating as they are little known, at least in Italy. It is enough to pause for a moment and think about its name to grasp that there must be an unusual story behind this famous French pastry. Pain au chocolat means chocolate bread yet it has nothing to do with bread at all.

Not only is there doubt about its history, there is even disagreement about its very name. In France this pastry is, at times, indeed called pain au chocolat, but it is also known as chocolatine or couque au chocolat. This latest term is only used in a limited part of the country, whilst chocolatine is used in the south-west, and pain au chocolat is preferred in the rest of the country.

To try to understand the reasons for this lack of uniformity in terminology, we must trace not only the origins of this delicacy but also that of Viennoiserie, a series of French pastries, based on the use of puff pastry. Viennoiserie owes its name to the Viennese pastry chef August Zang who imported it into France when he opened his pâtisserie in rue Richelieu in 1838. Two of Zang’s pastries became particular favourites of the Parisians, Kipferl (which over time became the croissant) and a chocolate-filled cornet called Schokoladencroissant.

The mangling of this latter term by Zang’s French customers is believed to be at the origin of the name chocolatine. On the other hand, for the term pain au chocolat, we must go back to the French tradition of sending children to school with a piece of bread with a square of chocolate inside, as a snack.

When at the end of the 1800s French pastry chefs began to reinterpret these Austrian creations, by first replacing the brioche dough with puff pastry, the two terms began to spread. Even though the dynamics are not very clear, one hypothesis is that the term chocolatine took hold in south-western France because its sound is similar to that of Occitan words.

The complex story of pain au chocolat is indeed deeply felt in France, so much so that in 2018, at the request of a group of deputies, the French National Assembly was called into play. What is certain is that, regardless of what it is called, pain au chocolat remains one of the most popular Viennoiseries in the world.

How to make pain au chocolat: the complete professional recipe

First of all, which flour should be used for pain au chocolat? We advise you to use our Sebòn Croissant pâtisserie flour which is gently milled from selected, protein-rich grain, in order to produce an elastic and easily workable flour.

Ingredients for pain au chocolat

Here are the ingredients you will need for pain au chocolat:

  • 4kg Sebòn Croissant pâtisserie flour (100%)
  • 1800ml water (45%)
  • 480g sugar (12%)
  • 200g butter(5%)
  • 200g egg (5%)
  • 80g salt (2%)
  • 80g yeast (2%)

For the lamination of the dough:

  • 2050g butter (30% of the total weight of the dough)

How to make the dough for pain au chocolat

  • Place all the ingredients for the dough in a mixer and mix for 4 minutes on first speed and 4 minutes on second to produce a cohesive but coarse dough. As the ideal temperature for the dough is between 17°C and 21°C, we recommend that the water be at a temperature of 4°C, especially in the summer months.


Fig.1 The finished dough


  • Divide the dough in to 3 portions. Shape each portion into rectangle and a place it on a baking tray. Wrap it in a nylon cloth and place it in a refrigeration room at 4°C for 12-18 hours.


Fig.2 One of the portions of dough before being placed in the refrigeration room at 4°C.


  • Remove the dough from the refrigeration room and roll it out, with a rolling pin or a sheeter, to a size suitable for the insertion of the butter which should weigh 30% of the weight of the dough. For this recipe, 82% fat, sheet butter was used.
  • Insert the butter by folding the dough over as shown in the image below. Be careful not to overlap the two ends of the dough and remember to press down lightly on the surface with a rolling pin to better seal the butter inside.


Fig.3 Inserting the butter.


  • Now roll the dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin or using a professional sheeter, to a thickness of 5mm.
  • Fold one of the short sides of the rectangle a quarter of the way over the dough and fold the other short side over to meet it, then fold in half again lengthways. Roll out to a thickness of 5mm (if you are using a sheeter the open side should be perpendicular to the machine) Once you have reached the required thickness, fold in 3.
  • Place the freshly folded dough in the refrigeration room at 4°C for 30 min, then roll it out to a thickness of 3mm before assembling the pain au chocolat.

Assembling and baking the pain au chocolat

  • Cut the dough into rectangles with a width equal to the length of the chocolate batons (usually 8cm) and a length of 15cm.
  • Roll the rectangles around the chocolate batons, each pain au chocolat should have two chocolate batons rolled together inside the dough.


Fig.4 Assembling the pain au chocolat.


  • Place the Viennoiserie on a baking tray covered with baking paper and, if desired for aesthetic reasons, make 3 cuts in the top.
  • Return the pain au chocolat to the refrigeration room at 27°C for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. A trick to understand if they are proved enough to remove from the refrigeration room is to touch them and check that your fingers come off easily, without sticking to the dough.
  • Once risen, the pastries will have doubled in volume. Brush them delicately with a whole beaten egg before putting them in the oven.


Fig.5 Pain au chocolat before and after proving.


  • Bake them in a 200°C oven for about 25 minutes until they are a beautiful golden colour.


Fig.6 Baking.


Two-tone Pain au chocolat: here is our original variation

Should you wish to give an original twist and appealing aesthetic impact to this famous Viennoiserie, the two-tone variation of pain au chocolat is certainly the way to go.

  • To make this two-tone variation, before rolling the dough out for the last time, take 17% of the dough (e.g. from 1kg of dough take170g) and mix it with 6% of unsweetened cocoa powder (e.g. to 170g of dough add 10.2g of cocoa). This will produce a homogeneous, lump-free, brown dough which should be placed in the refrigerator at 4°C.
  • Roll out the cocoa mixture until it has the same surface area as that of the classic dough (it may be useful to use a ruler).
  • Brush the latter with water, to act as a glue, and place the cocoa mixture on top, taking care not to create air bubbles between the two.


Fig.7 The two doughs after being superimposed.


  • Now roll out the two overlapping doughs to a total thickness of 3mm, taking care not to tear the chocolate layer in the last stages, because of its thinness. If you see this happening stop rolling at 4mm instead of 3mm.
  • Once the dough is rolled out, proceed with the assembly of the pain au chocolat, placing the brown side of the dough face downwards on the work bench.
  • Continue by following the proving and baking phases described in the classic recipe.


Do you want to make this recipe at home?

In our on-line shop you will also find Sebòn Croissant flour in small sizes.

Are you a pâtisserie professional?

Contact us to find out more about our flours and to request a sample.


Fig.8 Two-tone pain au chocolat after baking.