Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gâteau à la Crème for Bread Baking Babes

Vanilla Bean Rum Custard-Filled Brioche Cake

There are limits to self-indulgence, none to restraint. 
Mahatma Ghandi 

That day of the month approached on little winged feet. Closer and closer it flitted, mocking, daring, grinning the grin of the devil. I stared once again at the recipe and doubts crossed my mind, piling up like bricks, weighing down any curiosity or temptation that may have slithered their way between the cracks. The very name itself gâteau à la crème promised at once heaven and hell: the divine, ethereal taste and texture of fine brioche married in perfect union with the ambrosial, smooth vanilla-kissed cream; the Satanly richness, the devilishly voluptuous cream wreaking havoc on hips and health. The Bread Baking Babes and that exasperating, dizzying, maddening deadline and the difficult choice of whether one can or cannot, should or should not attempt the recipe was driving me mad. So many eggs. So much butter. Cream galore. Visions of fat danced around my head. Images of men, not a one with much of a sweet tooth to speak of, shaking their heads and wandering away, leaving me in front of an uneaten treat and disappointment. Nightmares of fellow Babes aghast at my irresponsibility, devastated by my lack of sisterly camaraderie. My own self caught between a rock and a hard place, between the devil and desire. Pourquoi tant de haine? Why such cruelty?

The gourmand is in harmony with the outside world. 
He is in fact a normal person.
 – Édouard de Pomaine 

Yet I finally caved in. The morning of the day the post must be posted, the cake offered up to the world has arrived. As usual, I act at the last possible second. Very like me. I drag myself out of bed, now hit by the terrible cold that others in the house have been suffering for weeks. Or, more exactly, drag myself from the sofa where I had taken refuge at 3 o’clock in the morning, having woken in the night hot and uncomfortable, and begin rifling through the cupboard for ingredients. Decision made, cream-filled brioche cake on today’s menu. I make the announcement to JP who, much to my chagrin, rolls his eyes and pointedly reminds me that there is still uneaten pudding in the refrigerator from yesterday’s experiment. But he finally shrugs his shoulders, deciding to let me have my way, and wanders away, crazy wife no good.

And there he is, doubting husband, standing at the kitchen counter, eating to his heart’s content, not willing even to wait until son arrives for snacktime. His eyes glowing with delight at the sight of these treats, he is, after all, quite pleased that I baked today.

This month’s Bread Baking Babe Kitchen of the Month is Lien of Notitie Van Lien and she is exhorting us, tempting us to create an incredible creamed-filled brioche, a veritable Gâteau à la Crème for we Francophiles. Do not be afraid of the word brioche – this is one simple dough to put together. Give yourself plenty of time as the dough must rest several times, but the dough itself is one of those no-knead recipes that come together in a snap, only a bit of beating with a mixer oblige. The cream filling whisks together in no time at all, to flavor as one pleases (I encourage you to visit the other Babes to see what they have come up with).

I am so glad that I made that decision to bake, no matter the inspiration. Although I waited, although I doubted, although husband rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders, this is, as Ilva stated so eloquently, a keeper. This gâteau à la crème is boulangerie-perfect, boulangerie-delicious, and the perfect recipe for those who have little experience with yeast. Next time, make the entire recipe for cream filling, divide in half and flavor two different ways, and offer yourself and your loved ones a truly fantastic and oh-so French treat. For breakfast or snack or both. Thank you Lien, for choosing a terrific BBB Bread for March.

My fellow Bread Baking Babes:
Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
girlichef - Heather
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Paulchen's Foodblog - Astrid
Provecho Peru - Gretchen
Thyme for Cooking - Katie

And if you would like to bake this Gâteau à la Crème along with the Babes and earn your Buddy badge, visit Lien’s blog to find out how! Just send your link to Lien by the 30th of the March!

I will send this wonderful treat to Susan of Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting.

Adapted from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets

This is a halved recipe for 2 small gâteaux or 1 gâteau + 1 small loaf over
3 hours total preparation time, 25 to 30 mins cooking time

For the brioche dough:
250 g untreated strong plain flour (I used regular flour)
3 1/2 g salt
2 Tbs caster sugar
1 Tbs fresh yeast or 1 1/2 tsp (5 g) active dry yeast
3 ½ large eggs (approximately 200 g), preferable organic (the other half egg will be used for the glaze) *
150 g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (cool room temperature)

For the crème/custard filling for 2 small gâteaux:
(half this recipe if making 1 small filled gâteau and 1 plain loaf as I did)
6 free-range egg yolks, preferably organic
60 g caster sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest (I omitted the lemon and used the seeds scraped from ¼ a vanilla bean + 1 Tbs rum or to taste)
250 ml crème fraîche (I used heavy cream)

For the glaze:
½ large egg, preferably organic *
10 g (¾ oz) butter, cut into cubes, optional (I omitted the butter)
1 Tbs or so nibbed or pearl sugar to decorate
1 Tbs or so slivered blanched almonds to decorate, optional

* to measure out half an egg, simply place one egg in a bowl on a digital scale and whisk the egg until blended. Weigh. Pour off half the egg into a small cup or recipient and reserve for the glaze. Add the remaining 3 whole eggs to the bowl with the remaining half an egg and whisk to blend before adding to the dry ingredients.

Prepare the brioche dough:

Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (keeping the yeast away from the salt as it will attack it and damage its ability to ferment) in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs (* see note above) and mix with a dough hook attachment for 5 minutes on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated (alternatively, place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together for 5 minutes).

Increase the speed of the beater or your stirring and beat for another 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the edge of the bowl. Add the cubes of butter a few cubes at a time and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough smooth and creamy.

Remove the bowl from the machine if using. Cover with clingfilm or plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to prove. At the end of the hour, place the covered bowl in the refrigerator and chill the dough for a further 1 hour; the dough will be easier to work with if chilled. Feel free to keep the dough in the refrigerator for more time if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 360°F (180°C).

Lightly flour a work surface and your hands. Take half of the brioche dough and gather it together with the palms of your hands to form a ball, then place it on a parchment-lined baking tray and flatten it slightly. Starting from the middle of the dough, gently press the dough flat and spread it out to form a circle to approximately 9 ½ inches (24 cm) in diameter, leaving a 1 inch (2 cm) edge or rim all around - this will create the rim of the tart. Be careful not to stretch the dough and try to keep the base even in thickness. Use the second half of the dough for a second gâteau or use it to make a small loaf.

Cover the prepared dough shapes with lightly greased plastic wrap (I buttered mine) and a clean kitchen towel and place the dough in the warm area for 25 minutes.

Prepare the cream custard filling:

Mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice together (or other flavoring) in a large mixing bowl and gradually mix in the crème fraîche (or heavy cream). Set aside.

Prepare the glaze and the cake:

Brush the rim of the gâteau with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the nibbed or pearl sugar and slivered almonds, if using. Prick the base of the dough evenly with a fork for even cooking and rising of the dough. Pour ½ of the crème mixture - ¼ of the mixture if making 2 cream-filled cakes and you have made the entire recipe - inside the rim of the dough of one gâteau, and dot with the butter if using. Pour in the other ½ or ¼ when the baking sheet is already in the oven, so you won't spill. (prepare the second one the same way) and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the brioche has risen and the filling is set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then serve.

If making the small braided brioche with half the dough, brush the braid with egg, sprinkle with nibbed or pearl sugar and slivered almonds and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

NB: For this recipe you will need a food processor with a dough hook attachment. I used a hand mixer with dough attachments.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I also do things at the very last minute... Your gâteau is really splendid and tempting.

This sweet treat reminds me of a childhood classic my Swiss grandmother made: "Salée A La Crème" (I blogged about it years ago)...



Lien said...

That's the true Babe spirit, baking inspite of.. Even while feeling not well. The result is like a golden jewel, I personally love the way the bottom pops out of the filling.
Hope you all feel better soon!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

We were all so surprised at just how wonderful this bread was - and yours does look particularly tantalizing. Love the flavour combinations!

Nisrine said...

Totally Yum. I sometimes lack the patience to bake breads but this one looks so good and seems fairly easy to make.

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

Beautiful, Jamie! What I wouldn't give for just a sliver of that beautiful vanilla-rum cream... hope you feel better soon, babe :)

Elizabeth said...

The very name itself gâteau à la crème promised at once heaven and hell? For me, it just promised hell. So many eggs. So much butter. So much sugar.

But your husband is quite unlike mine, who loves anything sweet. So I knew that if I could pull it off, at least he would love it.

So wasn't it surprising that it was so easy to make?! And so easy to eat too. And I'm convinced that all the stress prior to making the gateau a la creme completely cancels out any of the calories.

(I am NOT going to let my husband see your idea of flavouring the custard with rum!)

Jamie said...

@Elizabeth: I was also surprised at how easy it was to make and eat AND that it wasn't as rich or heavy as one would imagine with all those eggs and butter. And you MUST try this again with the vanilla-rum custard! It is soooo good! And calories? Huh? I'm dieting and just ate two slices.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh yes I would have been aghast at your irresponsibility, devastated by your lack of sisterly camaraderie, totally aghast and devastated. Sick you got up sick to bake the gateau, can't get much more super than that but the best part is you all were taken aback and liked it.

Really hope the rum cures the cold ;-) and you feel better soon.

I'm with Lien, I like the puff in the middle.

Mdivani Monroe said...

This looks amazing! I am drooling just looking at the photos! Gonna have to try this one!!

Gretchen Noelle @ Provecho Peru said...

Very lovely gateau! Cannot believe you got that all done even at the last minute! Looks delightful with the almond slices around the edge...I bet making the custard almond flavored would be delicious. The possibilities seem endless.

Elle said...

Few can rise from their sick bed (or couch) and create such a gorgeous treat. No wonder your husband could not resist. Would love a slice of that gateau myself. Bravo Jamie! Will be making my own late and can only hope mine has that cute topknot, too.

Junglefrog said...

O there is only one who can make such beautiful brioches Jamie... Wow... That looks amazing. I've attempting brioche twice now but still have to master the skill... Maybe I should try again. I hope the cold leaves you soon and you feel better. I've been having it for two weeks now and totally fed up with it! Time for spring I say!

Kiran @ said...

Custard filled brioche bread?! That's mind boggling creative :)

Baking Soda said...

Averting my eyes; what a sinfully beauty gâteau you baked! Your dough looks so fluffy and airy, so nice!
(all this while feeling under the weather? aiaiai crawling back under my rock )

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I could see myself in your words when you said you just didn't have it in you to do one more thing. Then you did it anyway. Women are like that. Maybe I should head to the kitchen with this recipe and make it at midnight. and maybe not but I'd like to think I could.

katiez said...

I wished I still lived in the Vendee - I'd make you share that LOL

Amanda said...

I think motherhood is the perfect training for learning the ability to do "one more thing" when you just feel that you can't. And, I guess baking something this delicious would give you that extra bit of fuel to keep on keeping on too!

Kate | Food Babbles said...

This looks absolutely gorgeous! I am so upset I missed last month and I certainly hope I have the time to participate this month. This is just lovely! I bet the flavor is amazing. I can't wait to make it.

Nuts about food said...

Sounds familiar: how often on a Sunday does my husband say he is skipping dinner after a large lunch only to cave in when he sees me eating with the kids. I know enough to make a little extra anyway now. And who can resist brioche?

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Hope you are feeling better soon.

Lisa said...

I adore eggy, vanilla custard and often pick up custard filled buns from a local Korean bakery. Your custard filled Brioche cake is beautiful and I could easily eat the whole thing in two sittings! Have you ever tried Nancy Silverton's creme fraiche custard brioche tart? You would love it!

Jeanne said...

Holy moly, that sounds like the Doctor Evil of desserts... :) Such decadence - I love it!

AdriBarr said...

Oh, but that is my kind of treat. Thanks! And compliments on your beautiful site. Judy Witts Francini of Divina Cucina sent me your way, and I am glad she did.

Lora said...

That's one sexy brioche!

Rossella said...

Your baking abilities are always amazing.
Your writing abilities are almost magical.
And this spell you've almost convinced me to run to kitchen for a Gâteau à la crème

Paula @ Vintage Kitchen said...

Groups tend to challenge us not only with the recipe sometimes, but also the deadlines. I´ve been in your situation many times. But never with brioche! It´s probably my favorite dough. Gorgeous gateau Jamie!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

Oh yes, most definitely a keeper! This reminds me of a twisted brioche pastry filled with pastry cream that I would always be tempted by when we'd walk by the patisserie.

Sweet and That's it said...

Jamie, hope you are feeling better and fit again... probably that fabulous addition of rum to the cream was a good remedy (excuse :-)) to get rid of your cold.
So glad you also loved it.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh I love using brioche base for cakes. I made one recently with pears and custard. This look amazing though. it reminds me of custard filled brioche we get here in the bakeries!


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