From Michel Roux Pastry, these Parisian, kirsch-soaked brioches taste as good as they look. Serve them to guests as a Thanksgiving dessert.
5 tbsp tepid milk
1/2 oz. fresh yeast
1 lb. 2 oz. all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp fine salt
6 medium eggs
1-1/2 cups butter, slightly softened
2 tbsp superfine sugar
Eggwash (1 medium egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)
3-3/4 cups superfine sugar
3-3/4 oz. liquid glucose or light corn syrup
6 medium egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp superfine sugar
Generous 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
A little confectioners' sugar or butter
Scant 2 cups superfine sugar
1 oz. liquid glucose (optional)
6 medium egg whites
12 small brioches (see above)
Scant 1 cup sugar syrup (see above)
1/4 cup kirsch
8-1/2 oz. mixed candied fruits (cherries, orange peel, angelica), finely diced
1/3 cup raisins, blanched for 2 minutes, refreshed, and well drained
1 lb. 1 oz. crème pâtissière (see above)
14 oz. Italian meringue (see above)
Scant 1 cup slivered almonds, very lightly toasted
Step 1: Put the milk and yeast into a bowl and stir to dissolve the yeast. Put the flour, salt, and eggs in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and pour in the milk and yeast mixture. Mix on low speed to combine and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then knead at medium speed for about 10 minutes. By this stage, the dough should be smooth, elastic, and well amalgamated.
Step 3: Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the butter and sugar together well. Add a few small pieces to the dough, then with the mixer running at low speed, add the rest, a piece at a time. When the butter mixture is all incorporated, increase the speed and work for 6-10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and shiny, and comes away from the bowl with perfect elasticity.
Step 4: Remove the dough hook, leaving the dough in the bowl. Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let rise at about 75°F for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.
Step 5: Knock the dough back by flipping it over 2 or 3 times with your hand. Cover the bowl again and chill for several hours (but not more than 24 hours). The dough is then ready to use and mold.
Step 6: To make small brioches, you will need 20 buttered individual brioche molds, measuring 3-1/4" across the top, 1-1/2" across the base (or 10 molds if you bake the brioches in 2 batches). Use a 2-1/4 oz. ball of dough for each one, roll it into an elongated egg shape and narrow one end by pressing and rolling it with the edge of your hand. Place the larger end in the bottom of the mold, then dip your index finger in flour and push the narrow end into the mass to leave a small "head" protruding in the middle.
Step 7: Brush each brioche with eggwash and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Step 8: Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 2 lb. 10 oz. (1.2 kg) dough
Step 1: Put 2-3/4 cups water in a pan, then add the sugar and glucose or corn syrup.
Step 2: Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Boil for 3 minutes, skimming the surface if necessary.
Step 3: Pass the syrup through a chinois and let it cool completely before using. This sugar syrup (also known as stock syrup) can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 4 cups (1 litre)
Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.
Step 2: In a pan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla bean. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the pan.
Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl.
Step 4: Dust the crème pâtissière with a veil of confectioners' sugar to prevent a skin forming as it cools, or dot small flakes of butter all over the surface. Once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla bean before using.
Makes about 1 lb. 10 oz. (750 g)
Step 1: Put 1/3 cup water into a heavy pan, then add the sugar, and glucose if using. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring and skimming occasionally.
Step 2: Use a pastry brush moistened with water to brush down any crystals that form on the inside of the pan. Increase the heat and put a sugar thermometer into the boiling syrup. When it registers 230°F, lower the heat to minimum.
Step 3: Keeping an eye on the syrup, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, either by hand or in an electric mixer. The moment the syrup reaches 250°F, take the pan off the heat and let the bubbling subside for 30 seconds.
Step 4: Pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream onto the beaten egg whites, whisking at low speed.
Step 5: When all the syrup has been absorbed, continue to beat at low speed for 15 minutes until the meringue is almost cold (85-95°F). It is now ready to use.
Makes about 1-1/3 lb. (600 g)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the brioches and set aside. Using a small knife, carefully take out the insides, leaving a 1/2"-thick shell all around and at the base.
Step 2: Mix the sugar syrup and kirsch together, then brush the mixture over the inside of the brioche shells and onto the underside of the tops.
Step 3: Mix the candied fruits and raisins into the crème pâtissière. Spoon the mixture into the brioche shells and replace the tops.
Step 4: Use a spatula to spread the meringue in a 1/4" layer over the top half of the brioches, sprinkle on the toasted almonds and arrange the brioches on a baking sheet.
Step 5: Bake for 4-5 minutes until the meringue forms a light crust. Remove from the oven before the meringue starts to crack or colour. Use a spatula to transfer the brioches to a wire rack and let cool before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Michel Roux's Michel Roux Pastry (2008 Whitecap Books).