Sweet Dough Series No. 3 – Blueberry Brioche Buns
I tackled brioche this week and, because I was fed up with plain rolls and buns, I decided to be adventurous and add some creme patissiere and blueberries. I’ve tried brioche before and, when I made a Christmas garland, it did turn out OK. This was a surprise because it was the first time I’d had any sort of success with an enriched dough. My creme patissiere usually ends up a bit lumpy and I’ve had to dump my pan into cold water several times to avoid curdling. Hopefully, everything would work out for this bake.
I used two different recipes for the buns. For the dough itself, I used The Larousse Book of Bread
To make the buns I used a recipe from Edd Kimber’s Patisserie Made Simple
(both of these links are Amazon affiliate links which means that, if you click on them and buy something, I do get a small commission).
The Larousse brioche recipe made four six-inch brioche using 500g of flour. I wouldn’t need that much dough so I decided to make half of the recipe. It also used a liquid starter. I had a lot left after making the Viennese bread last week. It was in a jar in the fridge. I refreshed it by adding some rye flour, honey and a bit of water and standing it by the radiator. I’m not sure whether this was the right way of doing it, but since the recipe also used yeast, I thought that the dough would probably rise even if the starter didn’t work properly.
I put plain flour, caster sugar, the liquid starter, easybake yeast and salt into the bowl of my KitchenAid. I was definitely kneading in the mixer. The recipe says that if you do it by hand, you need to knead for 30 minutes. I know I don’t have that kind of kneading in me.
I mixed the ingredients together with the mixer on the slowest speed and slowly added some beaten egg. The mixture looked a bit dry, so I was prepared to add some more liquid (I was going to use milk), but, by the time all of the egg had been incorporated, the dough was wet enough. I kept the KitchenAid on slow for five minutes then turned up the speed and gave it six minutes.
I kept the speed high and added some softened butter. The recipe doesn’t give any instructions on whether you add the butter all in one go, or in stages. I put it in in pieces and waited until they’d combined before adding the next. I also put in a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
At the end of the kneading time, my dough was smooth and very elastic as per the recipe, but it was pretty sloppy. I scraped it into a clean, greased bowl, covered it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge.
It may seem a bit odd to put dough into the fridge to rise and, in fact, the Larousse Book of Bread, tells you to leave the dough to rise for two hours and then put it into the fridge for an hour. Because there was going to be another two hours proofing time once the buns were shaped, I’d decided to make the dough the night before and put it into the fridge overnight. This is what Edd Kimber does in his recipe, so I thought I may as well do the same.
I took the dough out of the fridge in the morning, and brought it up to room temperature. I divided it into roughly equal pieces, flattened them out and put them into a muffin tin (the recipe tells you to use individual tart tins, but I don’t have any). There was enough dough to fill eleven holes.
I covered the tin in oiled clingfilm and left them to rise while I made my creme patissiere.
For the creme patissiere I warmed some full fat milk with vanilla bean paste. The recipe says that you should bring the milk to the boil over a medium-high heat. I didn’t have my heat that high because I had to whisk sugar, egg and egg yolks and cornflour into a smooth paste while the milk was heating. I didn’t want it to boil too soon.
When the milk was boiling I poured it over the egg mixture. I did this really slowly and I tried to keep whisking. You really do need a bowl that’s not going to move around while you do this. For once, I managed to pour all of the milk in and whisk at the same time.
I poured the mixture back into the pan and whisked until it had thickened. This is where I usually run into problems. The egg invariably starts to cook and I end up with a coating of scrambled egg on the bottom of the pan. I deliberately kept the heat quite low this time and, although it seemed to take forever, when my creme patissiere thickened up there were no lumps in it and no scrambled egg to scrape of the bottom. Result!
So, I left my dough to proof for two hours in the muffin tin. Here’s what it looked like at the end of that time.
They didn’t look great. They’d spilled over the top of the holes in the tin like inexpertly pulled pints. They were bubbly and puffy and pretty strange.
I poked at them and found that they still had a bit of space in the middle for the creme patissiere. I brushed the rim of the buns with beaten egg and sprinkled them with the pearl/nib sugar I made when I baked the Paris buns. Then I filled them with the creme patissiere and put some blueberries onto the top.
They went into the oven at 160° fan for twenty minutes (Patisserie Made Simple gives temperatures for fan ovens so there was no pondering the question of how hot the oven should be this week). They came out looking golden brown as they were supposed to and when, after ten minutes cooling in the tin, I took them out, they came out quite easily with just a bit of a nudge from a palette knife.
Was it worth it?
Oh yes, the dough was sweet and light, the custard was the best I’ve made and the blueberries were lovely and juicy as you bit into them. The buns could have done with more filling, which I suppose is why Edd Kimber bakes his in tart tins. The only thing about brioche is that is does really need eating on the day you make it. My buns started to dry out right in front of my eyes. The recipe does say that you can freeze the buns for up to a month so perhaps that’s the answer. I will be trying brioche again. I have to prove that this success wasn’t just a fluke.