This brioche must be the most fragrant and delicious bread to come out my oven as of late. Rich, soft, and supple dough layered with a saffron & cardamom custard – it is sure to make you hungry just thinking about it.
I have said it many times before and I will say it again – brioche is the most versatile dough. You can pretty much make anything out of it. Don’t believe me? Check out the brioche playlist on my channel. There are at least 10 recipes there and we are sure to add many more in the future.
Its versatility also allows for great customization. Don’t like the flavour of the custard? Flavour it with what ever you fancy. Don’t like custard at all? Spread your favourite filling on to the dough. This would go perfectly with some chocolate spread or any flavour of fruit curd. Don’t want to twist the loaf like I show in the video? Simply roll it up, slice into rolls and bake individually. Or perhaps go the babka-way of shaping. It’s all good!
The brioche is super easy to make. I use the same base recipe in all my brioche projects, and it has never failed me. The filling is the easiest custard in the word. No tempering needed. Simply mix all ingredients, cook whilst whisking until thick and it’s done.
The dough will take around 25 minutes of mixing time so you must ensure that all the ingredients are stone cold before you begin. The eggs, butter, water, and flour! I even put my flour in the freezer, so it gets super cold alongside the dough hook. And I refrigerated the mixing bowl. Do not even attempt making this without chilling your ingredients because you will fail. To learn more about dough temperature control click here.
This recipe makes 2 two small loaves, but only requires half the dough. The reason for making double the dough is that my mixing bowl is quite large, and the mixer would not be able to pick up a smaller piece of dough and knead it properly. And I was not going to make 4 loaves of the same bread, so I used the other half of the dough for another project. I would suggest you do the same and check out my other brioche recipes for inspiration.
Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.
For the dough –
500g (1.1lb) white bread flour, chilled
45g (1.6oz) water, chilled
250g (8.8oz) eggs, chilled
13g (0.45oz) salt
60g (2.1oz) sugar
8g (0.28oz) instant dry yeast or 9.6g (0.33oz) active dry yeast or 24g (0.84oz) fresh yeast
200g (7oz) cold butter that has been pressed between baking paper to make it soft
1 egg, whisked (for brushing before baking)
For the custard –
200g (7oz) milk
3 egg yolks
60g (2.1oz) sugar
30g (1oz) cornflour
7g (0.25oz) vanilla paste, syrup, or extract
2g (0.07oz) ground cardamom (you can use less if you’re not a big fan of it)
Pinch of saffron
For the sugar syrup –
20g (0.7oz) sugar
20g (0.7oz) water
*Bring up to a boil just before the bread comes out the oven
- Make the dough. In a mixing bowl combine the water, salt, yeast, sugar, eggs, and flour. Switch the mixer on 2nd (slow) speed. Mix for 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes start adding the butter in chunks. Mix for another 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl down if need be. Once the butter has mixed into the dough turn the speed up to medium which on my mixer is the number 4 setting. Mix for around 7 minutes or until the dough stops sticking to the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Turn the speed back down to the 2nd (slow) setting. Keep mixing for another 3 minutes. The total mixing time should not exceed 25 minutes. *Desired dough temperature 25 – 26C (77-79F).
- Shape the dough into a ball, place it into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Refrigerate for 1 more hour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape into balls. Wrap them in clingfilm and cold proof for up to 24 hours. One dough ball will make two loaves. If you want to use all the dough to make 4 loaves, then don’t forget to double the ingredients for the custard and sugar syrup.
- Make the custard. Whilst the dough is chilling get a pot and add all the custard ingredients into it. Mix well and place on the stove set to medium heat. Cook the custard stirring occasionally until it starts warming up. Once warm start mixing continuously to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As soon as you start feeling it getting thick turn the heat off and continue whisking over the stove top for another 30 seconds.
- Pour the custard into a bowl and cover with clingfilm so that it touches the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until needed. You can also pass it through a sieve to make sure it is super smooth, but I rarely do that.
- Build the loaves. Dust the table and the dough ball generously with flour. Flatten it out by hand and then continue by rolling it with a rolling pin. Roll it out to a width that will fit your cake tins. I ended up using one 500g (1lb) tin and one 1kg (2lb) tin. You can also make one long loaf if you have such a baking vessel.
- Spread the custard evenly all over the dough. Divide the dough into 3 sections horizontally and fold it up. Make sure everything is as straight as it can be.
- Cut the dough in half and then cut each half into strips leaving the top attached. Twist each strip around itself, then roll the loaf up. Place in a non-stick paper lined tin and cover with clingfilm.
- The final proofing time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. Mine was around 24C (75F) and it took almost 5 hours to fully ferment. You can place the loaves in a warmer area to speed up the process. *During the final hour of fermentation preheat your oven to 160C (320F with the fan on.
- Brush the loaves with egg and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. If the top starts browning too much, then cover the loaves with foil. If you are unsure about the doneness, then check the internal temperature. It should be above 94C (200F).
- As soon as the bread comes out the oven brush it with the hot sugar syrup. Leave to set for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
- Remove from the tin and leave to cool down.
And that is how you make a twisted brioche loaf layered with custard. This would make the best French toast in the World btw! Enjoy.
Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.
Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.
Watch the video here