Pain Viennois, French-style soft milk bread

Pain Viennois, French-style soft milk bread


5g LeSaffre DCL Instant Dried Yeast
35g warm water (about 35C)
60g whole egg
140g cold milk
350g Foricher T55 Pâtisserie Flour
20g caster sugar
6g fine salt
35g unsalted butter, softened

The perfect bread when you want something that’s a little sophisticated but still has a comforting soft white simplicity to it. The recipe uses an overnight method, so prepare the dough the day before you want to bake the bread.

Pain Viennois is a classic bread from the French boulangerie repertoire – it’s one of the listed bread French bakery students need to know by heart when they sit their final exams to see if they know their baguettes and their buns. It translates as “Viennese Bread” and in England we used to, long ago, have a group of British breads that were also known by this name. Vienna breads are characterised by their use of fine refined flour, among other things, and here I’ve use Foricher T55 Pâtisserie Flour to give the best result.

The texture is very soft and light, and it’s a perfect middle ground between the crustier baguette and the exceptionally rich brioche. Excellent toasted, or as a simple sandwich bread.

Makes four 150g demi baguettes


Stir the yeast with the warm water in a cup and leave for 20 minutes to bubble.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, then take out 20g and keep this in the fridge to use for brushing the tops of the pain viennois with the following day.

Put the yeast mixture, remaining egg and cold milk in the mixer, then add the flour and sugar. Mix to a rough dough, then switch the mixer off and leave for 20 minutes. Then switch the mixer back on and mix until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Next add the salt and mix a further few minutes. Finally add the butter and mix until it’s blended through evenly. Remove the dough from the bowl, place in a bowl or box with a lid, and refrigerate overnight at about 4C.

The following day divide the dough into four equal pieces, about 150g each. Shape these into demi-baguette shapes about 18cm long. Place these on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Leave to rise at about 27C for one hour.

Make the egg wash by whisking the reserved egg with 10g water and a pinch of salt and sugar until smooth and thin in consistency. Brush this over the baguettes then slash the tops at 1cm intervals with a fine blade. Then leave the demi baguettes to rise for another hour or until the cuts have opened up.

Heat the oven to 180c (fan). Bake the pain viennois demi-baguettes for about 20-25 minutes or until a light golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the tray as their quite delicate, then transfer to a rack to cool on completely. 

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