Monday, November 2, 2015

Cream-filled brioche buns: deception donuts

This whole idea is deceptive, start to finish. It's a complex recipe...but it's just a few simple components + time. It's filled dough...but the dough is no-knead. It's two basic, classic recipes combined, but the person I stole it from  - The Salty Tart's Michelle Gayer, via this article - mentions sort of making it up. It's simple, especially in the light of the reign of the Salted Caramel Mocha Red Velvet Oreo Cake Pop style of food blogging (which, I mean, no disrespect - I made an unholy dessert mashup  on the same weekend I made these and no I don't want to talk about it) and I also wondered about throwing in some blueberries, or a slick of ganache, or any number of sharp or tart elements, thinking it'd be too plain and sweet. I took Gayer's advice and left well enough alone, and I'm so glad I did.

Lede sufficiently buried, let's move on: this is a recipe for sorta-brioche filled with pastry cream, baked, and rolled in butter and sugar. It looks like one of those filled donuts, it tastes like...if one of those filled donuts got in a fight with a cream puff and they emerged as one, superhero-style.

You can use any brioche dough and any pastry  cream recipe you liked. This is what I used. The name brioche should be taken with a grain of salt - barely any egg! - but I liked the no-knead, no-mixer component with my impatient baby.

Cream-filled brioche buns
Makes 8 large rolls.

Adapted from the challah recipe in Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day. Makes a very easy to use, playdoh-like dough once chilled.

1 C warm water
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 egg and 1 yolk, lightly beaten
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Splash of Grand Marnier, kirsh, brandy (optional)
3 1/2 c (440g) flour
1/2 c butter, very soft

Beat water, yeast, salt, eggs, flavorings, and sugar together. Add flour and mix until incorporated. Add butter in slices, beating or punching or wrestling until combined. Let rise for 2 hours at room temperature. Dough can be used immediately at that point, but it's much friendlier cold, when the butter has solidified. Refrigerate for a few hours or up to 5 days (hint hint: overnight. On a Friday.)

Pastry cream:
Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day.

2 cups milk
1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp butter
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (OR: vanilla bean. I have the feeling this would be a million percent better.)
Splash of grand marnier, brandy, kirsh, etc (optional)
1 egg
3 egg yolks (make meringues, macarons, or gross low-cal omelettes with the whites!)
3 tbsp cornstarch

Bring the milk, butter, salt, and half of the sugar to a simmer and turn off heat. Add vanilla and optional booze and set aside. Whisk remaining sugar with cornstarch and then eggs, beating to a paste. Slowllly add warm milk mixture, whisking constantly (a great use for your stand mixer if you have one!) until combined. Put the mixture back on the stove and bring to a boil, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes. It will thicken up considerably! Press through a sieve to remove any lumps (or just mix really well if you're less worried).

To finish:
A few tablespoons melted butter
White sugar (bonus for vanilla sugar!)

To assemble: Sometime within the next few days: divide dough evenly into 8 balls. Roll the first ball into a circle about 1/4" thick, and dollop a spoonful of pastry cream. Wet the edges of the dough circle with water and pinch them up to seal. Use whatever method you like - I went with sort of a soup dumpling gather, but it doesn't matter as long as it is definitely sealed. Pinch and smoosh to make sure - this is super important!!
Place with a generous amount of space on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Let rise until they about double in size (30-40 minutes) and bake in a 350 oven for 20ish minutes, or until golden brown.
Move to a cooling rack and brush with melted butter. Roll/dip/sprinkle with sugar. They should look like sugared donuts! Let cool for a few minutes, but not too many - they are lovely hot. Devour with coffee, with bourbon, with bacon and eggs and fruit, or just standing in your kitchen.

The only thing I'd consider adding to these is a handful of blueberries, preserved sour cherries, a pinch of cranberry sauce, or a bit of  very sharp marmalade...something fruity and flavorful. I don't think they'd be better, but they'd also be very nice. I want to try Lunds 'holiday preserves' or whatever it's called (I think it's cranberry, pear, and orange) for Christmas morning.

(I also want some right now, but you know.)