Perhaps the most fascinating thing about French cooking is the artistry. It’s all about the quality of ingredients, the slow simmers, the nuances of flavor. In a rushed world that often treats cooking as a chore, French cooking reminds us to pause and savor.
And this is the perfect thing to savor – it’s buttery and flaky and soft and pillowy and golden and aromatic. And also, vanilla cream is more delicious when it’s spelled vanilla crème.
So enjoy this delicious brioche bite by sweet bite. Savor the relatively large ratio of butter-to-everything-else. Don’t rush, there’s no need to.
Vanilla Crème Brioche
You can omit the vanilla pastry cream, although it’s fairly easy and it adds so much to the brioche. Serve fresh and warm, or reheat in the oven, covered, at 200°F for 10 minutes.
for the brioche
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
for the egg wash
- 1/2 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon cold water
for the vanilla crème
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Stir together yeast and warm water, let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, white sugar, and salt. Pour the wet yeast/water mixture into the dry flour/sugar/salt mixture. Then add the 2 eggs to form a dry dough.
When the butter is the same consistency as the dough, mix it into the dough one chunk at a time. Your dough will come apart—don’t worry! Keep kneading until it comes back together. (Warning: this is sticky business.)
Place dough in a warm place and let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Meanwhile, make the vanilla crème. In a saucepan, boil together milk and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, cornstarch, and sugar. Take milk/sugar off of the stove, and very very slowly (so the egg doesn’t cook and curdle) drizzle the egg/cornstarch/sugar into the milk/sugar, stirring all the while. Place saucepan back onto the heat and cook to thicken.
Deflate the dough and shape it: split the dough into two halves and twist them around each other. Fill the vanilla crème in between the ridges of the double helix. Place the dough into a greased and floured pan.
Let the dough rise for a 2nd time. For this 2nd rise, you can leave it in the fridge overnight, or place it in a warm place for another 1 hour. Right before you bake, whisk together egg and water, and preheat the oven. Brush the egg wash over the loaf and bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes.
Oh. My. Goodness. The buttery flakiness, the warmth, the golden glow, the subtle sweetness.
Serve as part of a healthy wealthy breakfast.
Question of the day: What’s your favorite bread?