Pain aux raisins

Crisp, buttery whorls of pastry studded with plump raisins

The Europeans are right about breakfast. We’re talking pastry: crisp, buttery pastry, staining brown paper bags with grease prints and flaking all over your lips and fingers; raisins, plump and seductive, their dark faces peeping out from between whorls of bronzed dough. We’re talking pain aux raisins, made and baked fresh each morning by Bread Ahead Bakery’s team of nocturnal bakers, and displayed on the stall in an array of dizzying currant-studded whirls.

“They are made from croissant pastry,” says Josephine at the stall, “rolled out in long strips and spread with crème pâtissière and raisins. Then they’re rolled up like snail shells.” How much she likes them, she smiles, depends on how much creme anglais is put in. Our pain au raisin oozes with the creamy, sugary spread—the colour of buttercups and brighter days to come.

“I’m French, so for me pastries are breakfast, with black coffee,” she says simply. Are Bread Ahead’s pâtisserie viennoise as good as French ones? “Yes,” she acknowledges. “Though I think they would taste better if we were eating them in France.” To which we can only answer: bien sûr.