For someone who’s technically unemployed, I don’t know if this would violate the definition of such word but actually, for the past 2 weeks, I’ve been enjoying some sort of a “holiday”. Well… a holiday on house-arrest if you will, but nonetheless, a holiday. Despite the… minor inconvenience that we’re currently bound to the last place on earth that we’d like to spend more time in, Jason had decided to take the longest vacation-days he’s ever taken in his entire work-life, ever, an entire 14 blissful days to spend on doing something that we’ve practically elevated to an art-from… that is to do ab-so-lute-ly… nothing.
The logic is simple. That charming, perfectly beige-colored European town with their croissant crusts that feel like brown laces, where they call… hm.. oh right, Paris. He thought SIX extended long days were more than enough to sort things out. And then where’s that other place… blue waves, roast pigs and flowers… the tropical island that made hair follicles feel eternally relaxed… oh right, right, Bali. Oh he thought what kinda greedy douche could ask more than FIVE days in paradise?! Absurd.
But to pick nails and suck teeth in Mordor? FOURTEEN days of trancing in smog and greyness is apparently what it deserves… Oh my sweet sweet companion for life…
But I wasn’t joking about the artful practice of nothingness. I mean it takes more than focus and devotion to burn through a highly lethal dosage of DVD’s without any internal ocular bleeding (and I mean don’t try this at home without professional guidance). Six movies and three complete seasons of British cooking shows after, my vision still feels bloody fantastic. And I guess the fact that I got a post out of it is another clear evidence that the longest-vacation-days-ever was not spent in vain.
YOU MAKE A “KID’S POOL” OUT OF A BRIOCHE DOUGH AND FILL IT WITH CUSTARD SCENTED WITH LEMON ZESTS
So have you heard about this? And how is it possible that I haven’t up until now?
Gâteau à la crème fraîche.
If you have a soft spot for warm buttery brioche and creamy rich custard, and better yet, the combination of both together, you’d be tempted to suspect that the French are keeping the best shit to themselves… I mean I had to pry through a rather personal pile of secrets from this guy amidst my precious holidays, to come to this DUH-of-course moment. Seriously, it needs no explanation. You enrich a dough with an abusively amount of butter so it becomes a brioche which you know cannot be bad, then you make a “kid’s pool” out of it and fill it with a thick custard made with creme fraiche and egg yolks scented with lemon zests. Then if you were really bored like I was and thought why end here?, you could scatter lots of sugared summer berries into the “pool” just to make it fun, and sprinkle the edges with crushed almonds. It bakes super fast because it’s flat, and tastes unreal considering the little work it requires.
Practically thickened cream and egg yolks with floating blueberries-bath on an aired butter-boat… Totally absurd, just like our fourteen-days-of-nothingness-holiday, and in the last three days of which, we shall end it absurdly.
Makes: One 9″ ~ 10″ brioche-pie
Please keep in mind that the cups used in this recipe are large ones (1 cup = 250 ml). When in doubt, measure in weights (I did).
Instead of creme fraiche, I used sour cream because that’s what I have and it turned out beautifully. I suspect that Greek yogurt would perform adequately as well. Although I did make the mistake of using frozen blueberries which emitted too much liquid and made the custard a bit wet (delicious nevertheless). I would use fresh blueberries, or any other fresh summer berries of your choice (I’ve also tried with raspberry, like the pic below, which adds more tartness if you prefer).
** This one is made with fresh raspberry.
Ingredients: adapted from Raymond Blanc’s recipe on BBC
- Brioche dough:
- 1 1/4 cup (175 grams) of all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp (38 grams) of light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp (4 grams) of instant dry yeast
- 1/2 + 1/8 tsp (4 grams) of fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp (29 grams) of whole milk
- 2 large (90 grams) eggs
- 5 1/2 tbsp (79 grams) of unsalted butter, softened
- Sour cream and blueberry custard:
- 1 scant cup (125 grams) of fresh blueberries + 1/2 tbsp of sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (162 grams) of sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup (70 grams) of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- Zest of 3/4 lemon
- 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
- Finely chopped almonds for sprinkling
To make the brioche dough: In a stand-mixer bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast and fine sea salt together (avoid direct contact between yeast and salt), then add the milk and large eggs and knead on medium-low speed until evenly incorporated. Scrape the bottom of the bowl thoroughly, then increase to medium-high speed and knead the dough for 5 ~ 6 min until elastic. The dough should be quite sticky but cohesive (partially sticking to the side of the bowl while the machine’s running, but able to retain its shape). If it’s too wet (unable to retain shape), add a couple more tbsp of flour and knead for another 2 min.
Turn the speed down to medium-low again, then start adding the softened butter 1 tbsp at a time (only add more when the previous tbsp has been thoroughly incorporated into the dough). Once all the butter’s been added, scrape the bowl and increase to medium-high speed. Knead for another 7~8 min until the dough is very shiny, smooth and elastic. You should be able to pick the dough up with the dough-hook, and it should slowly droop downward.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let proof at a warm place for 1 ~ 2 hours until doubled (may take longer if temperature is cool). You can also let the dough proof for 1 hour at room-temperature then move into the fridge to ferment overnight (good for a next-morning brunch plan).
After proofing, scrape the dough onto a working surface, then stretch and fold the dough onto itself a few times (like folding a letter). Shape into a ball and roll it into a thick disk. Move the disk to the center of a parchment-lined 9″ (23 cm) round pie-dish (10″ could work, too), then with your hand, gently press down the center of the disk while expanding the dough outward, creating a rised/bumped up barrier around the edge. The center “basin” should be about 1/4″ (6 mm) thick, with the barrier about 1″ (25 mm) tall. Cover the pie-dish with plastic wrap and let proof again for another 20 min (40 min if the dough came out of the fridge). The dough should expand a little and look slightly puffier.
To make the custard and bake the brioche: Preheat the oven on 400ºF/200ºC.
Mix blueberries and sugar together and let sit for 15 min until it starts to emit a little bit of juice but not wet. Whisk together sour cream (or creme fraiche), sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks (save the egg whites for egg-wash), lemon zest and vanilla extract together until smooth. Gently press down the center of the dough-basin again to create more space if needed, then carefully pour in the sour cream-custard, then scatter the blueberries into the custard. Beat the egg-whites until foamy then brush it onto the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with finely chopped almonds and bake in the oven for 20 ~ 25 min until golden browned on top.
Let cool for at least 20 min before cutting.