Brioche et un petit Gateau a la Creme (BBB March 2013)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Gateau a la Creme; Brioche birds; a Bread Baking Babes project; submission for YeastSpotting and Bake Your Own Bread; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) March 2013

Lien (Notitie van Lien) is fearless and chose one of the most frightening (for me) things for us to bake this month. It turns out that it wasn’t as hard as it looked. It was also delicious.

Gateau a la Creme “Brioche?? Custard!?! Waaahhhhhh!” was the shriek that rang through our neighbourhood when Lien announced this month’s challenge.

The shrieks were followed by blubbering whimpers of gateau a la Creme? But, but, but… we’re Bread Baking Babes, not Cake Baking Babes! :stomp:

And then I noticed the note at the bottom of the recipe:

NB: For this recipe you will need a food processor with a dough hook attachment.

-Lien, BBB March 2013 recipe

And I breathed a sigh of relief. I wouldn’t have to make this month’s bread because we don’t have a dough hook attachment (at least I don’t think we do) for our food processor. We don’t have a stand electric mixer. We don’t know anyone who has a stand electric mixerrrr …no stop!! (You’re right. It’s untrue. See? That’s what fear of custard and brioche will do.)

Then Jamie opened her big yap and said she didn’t have an electric mixer so she’d make this by hand. And Tanna chimed in to say she’d put her electric mixer away and join Jamie.

Phooey!! I had no escape.

So, I plunged ahead. And you know what? I’m really glad that I did.

BBB Brioche and Gateau a la Creme diary:

3 February 15:34: 7 eggs, 8 egg yolks, butter, sugar, crème fraîche…. Oh my!! That’s decadent indeed. Even if I do half the recipe, that’s a lot of eggs!

16:51: I just looked again to see if I had misread. Does it really call for baker’s dozen eggs?

NO! I’m wrong; it calls for one more than a baker’s dozen!! Considering the price of eggs these days, I’m going to have a lot of difficulty selling this one. I’ll definitely have to make just a portion of the recipe. A small portion.

Still blanching about making a sweet custard, I was curious to see if anyone has ever made savoury brioches. Here are three (no doubt there are zillions more) that look interesting:

  • Dana Treat: Holly B’s Savory Brioches
  • Club Paneo: Brioche with Gorgonzola and walnuts
  • Made From Scratch: Savoury Brioche
  • My Kitchen in Half Cups: Southwestern Brioche ( based on a recipe in “Mark Miller’s Indian Market Cookbook: recipes from Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe”. Tanna says that this is “over the top fabulous” and that she has made it several times since.

and look at these sweet brioche recipes:

I’m more and more liking the idea of making a sweet brioche as well as a savoury one. I suspect I’ll still cut the recipe in half though. Even to use half a dozen eggs seems like a lot.

4 February 2013 11:39 I was right; we don’t have a dough hook. I looked through my bread books and the recipes for brioche only have instructions for making the dough with a machine. Even Chad Robertson, who generally hand mixes all dough, says to use a machine:

Brioche is the only dough in this book requiring the use of an electric mixer. A long, steady amount of mixing is required to fully incorporate the butter.
-Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p.144

Internet to the rescue!

Then I watched Raymond Blanc’s video for Gateau a la Creme. I can see why Monsieur Blanc is one of Lien’s favourite chefs. He’s wonderful! I love that he shows the mistake!

7 March 10:05am Hmmm, I should probably be thinking about actually making the brioche and gateau instead of just whining about it. I’ve decided I’m going to follow the BBB recipe and make a savoury brioche another time.

So. Looking at the recipe again… it calls for nibbed sugar and caster sugar. Lien already handily translated nibbed sugar for us to say that it is pearl sugar. That’s just coarsely ground sugar, right?

But what IS caster sugar? That’s just regular white sugar, isn’t it?

Internet to the rescue again:

Caster (Castor) Sugar | See Superfine Sugar […]
Superfine Sugar | […] Alternative Names: Bar Sugar, Berry Sugar, Castor Sugar, Extra Fine Sugar, Fruit Sugar, Instant Dissolving Sugar, Ultrafine Sugar | Uses: […] in creamed mixtures, meringues and baking
Pearl Sugar | […] Alternative Names: Decorative Sugar, Sanding Sugar | Uses: […] mainly in the baking and confectionery industries to sprinkle on top of baked goods
-Canadian Sugar Institute – Types of Sugars

The cream filling also calls for crème fraîche. Now I know I can make my own by adding buttermilk to cream and waiting for 8-12 hours. But can’t I just use Greek-style yoghurt?

9 March 2013 15:36 I asked the resident expert about what I should use instead of crème fraîche and he reminded me that a mixture of cream cheese and yoghurt works pretty well. Our current batch of yoghurt is decidedly unsour so I hope the faux crème fraîche will be sour enough. (Clever me. I wiggled out of making the faux crème fraîche by wheedling with T. He didn’t quite roll his eyes but went ahead and mixed it up. Yay T!!)

10 March 09:05 I THOUGHT it was an hour earlier. Oh wait, yesterday at this time, it WOULD have been an hour earlier. (When are we going to stop the madness of changing our clocks twice a year? :stomp: Daylight Saving mmphh..sppttt..ssssspttttt Just Say No :stomp:

I looked again at the recipe to dougle check that I am right about the number of eggs and that there really is no other liquid. Is it really 3 for a half recipe??

3.5 free-range eggs […]
150 g unsalted butter […]
-BBB March recipe

Nope. I just can’t do it. I cannot put three and a half eggs into the dough! Especially because we are trying to use these precious farm eggs only for quiches and omelettes.

Suddenly I feel much better. :-) Let’s see now… an egg is roughly a quarter cup. I’ll use two eggs and substitute the other one and half eggs with 90gm milk.

10:03 That was close! I almost forgot to put in the sugar!

And really? Is that the right amount of flour? It seems like so little!

Suddenly, I’m not feeling as better as I was before…. Maybe it will get better as I knead it. Maybe. Right after I watch Richard Bertinet’s video on how to hand-knead sweet dough. Again. (It turns out that not only can I not read and retain but I can’t watch and retain either.)

11:09 Note to self: Refrain from wearing T’s wide sleeved terry cloth bathrobe when using the Bertinet method of kneading. The sleeves do NOT stay rolled up. (I cannot wait until winter ends so the kitchen isn’t 15C. On the other hand, I’m not looking forward to when the kitchen is 25C and it’s poisonously hot and humid outside. :stomp:)

2nd not to self: no matter how many times anyone says that it’s okay not to bother rehydrating dry yeast before adding it to the dough, don’t listen. Always rehydrate it first. It took ages before I wasn’t feeling little grains of yeast in the dough.

Brioche 18:10 I decided that instead of making a loaf out of the extra dough, I’d make little buns. Little bird shaped buns like the ones I saw on Elise’s site. They were pretty simple to shape – just six ropes each knotted once. Then I used a knife to make the tail feathers. I WAS going to use pepitas for the beaks but lo and behold we didn’t have any pepitas.

Of course we didn’t have any pepitas. I think I finished them last week and forgot to put them on the grocery list. :stomp:

So I used sunflower seeds instead. And chopped Thompson raisins for the eyes. The birds are so cute! I hope they stay looking cute.

19:50 Putting the gateau together turned into a nightmare. But only because I can only retain about 2 words at a time.

For the glaze, brush the rim of the gateau with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the nibbed sugar and prick the base of the dough evenly with a fork to help the even cooking and rising of the dough. Pour 1/4 the crème mixture inside the rim of the dough of one gateau, sprinkle with the caster sugar and dot with the butter. Pour in the other 1/4 when the baking sheet is already in the oven, so you won’t spill. (make 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.
-BBB March recipe

Why did I have so much trouble comprehending these instructions?! I spent an inordinate amount of time shrieking that I didn’t ever want to make sweet dough again that I hated custard that I should have pretended I was sick that I… well, never mind. You can fill in the blanks, I’m sure.

Naturally, I made too much filling. Naturally, I tried to pour it all in anyway. Luckily, I was so furious about losing oven heat that I stopped pouring just before it began to overflow all over the oven floor. Really, I know that I could easily carry the filled shell to the oven without spilling. :stomp: :stomp:

So. What am I going to do with this extra slop!? I know. I’ll brush it on my little birds.

20:00 I just took a peek at the gateau in the oven. It looks gorgeous!! It smells fabulous. It’s not quite done. I’ll turn the heat down to 325F….

gateau a la creme 20:06 Well. It’s done. But it’s a little darker than I had hoped.

Spit!! Good thing we’re not serving this to guests!

Now… it’s time to cook those little birds. Wish me luck!

20:20 They’re so cute!!! And not burned at all. (Maybe not quite done, but I’m taking them out anyway)

We had half of the gateau for dessert that night. To my surprise, I loved it! (It’s custard. I usually can’t stand custard.) T said it wasn’t sweet enough (!!) so he liberally sprinkled sugar on his and he loved it too.

We had the other half the next morning for breakfast. It was even more fabulous with coffee for breakfast than it was as dessert.

Who said it’s too hard to make gateau a la creme and that she’ll never do anything like this again? That’s ridiculous. It’s easy. Easy as Pie Gateau a la Creme!

Here is the BBB March 2013 Gâteau à la crème recipe. And here is what I did to it:

Brioche and a Gâteau à la crème
adapted from the recipe for Gâteau à la crème
in “From Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets” by Raymond Blanc

Brioche Dough

  • 250 gm unbleached all purpose flour
  • 7 gm vital wheat gluten (aka gluten flour) ¹
  • 5 gm (1.25 tsp) dry yeast ²
  • 90 gm milk, heated to 90F ³
  • 25 gm sugar 4
  • 3 gm Kosher salt
  • 150 gm salted butter, softened cut into small cubes (cool room temperature) 5
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Filling for one gateau

  • 2 egg yolks 6
  • 20 gm sugar
  • 24 gm lemon juice
  • lemon zest (half lemon)
  • 100 ml crème fraîche 7

Glaze and Extras

  • milk
  • 3 gm sugar
  • 5 gm butter, cut into small cubes
  • pearl sugar, to decorate (~4 gm)
  • Thompson raisins, cut in quarters
  • sunflower seeds
  1. Mixing the dough Put flour into the bowl. Stir in instant yeast. Whisk the yeast into milk that is heated to 90F. Set aside.
  2. Stir sugar and salt into the flour. Using your hands, smear the butter into the flour until it is pea sized.
  3. Add eggs and yeasted milk and stir until the flour is encorporated and you have a rough dough. (You can use your hands or a wooden spoon.)
  4. Kneading Turn the dough out onto an UNfloured board. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. Please do not be tempted to skip this step.
  5. Using both hands on either side of the dough and thumbs resting on the top in the center, lift it up and flip it over in the air before plopping it back down on the board. Fold the dough in half away from you as you plop the dough down. Keep repeating until the dough is smooth. Every so often, use the dough scraper to clean the board. Stretching the dough is desired on the turns but won’t start happening right away. (Please look at Richard Bertinet’s video for clarification.)
  6. When the dough is smooth, place it in the clean mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave in a draft-free area to rise to double (about an hour in a warm spot).
  7. Shaping Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board and gently remove the risen dough onto it. Cut the dough in half. Move one half to the side and cover it with a clean tea towel.
    • Gateau Shaping Line a quiche pan with parchment paper. With the half of the dough that is out, form into a ball and place it in the center of the quiche pan. Press the center down, gently pushing outwards to fill the quiche pan. 8 Make sure that you leave a rim of about an inch (2.5cm) wide around the edge of the circle. (When I shaped this, I pictured a child’s wading pool.) Use the tea towel that is covering the other half of the dough to cover the shaped gateau. Further cover the gateau with a plastic grocery bag and put it in a draft-free warm spot for about 30 minutes.
    • Brioche Shaping Cut the remaining half of the dough into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece into a rope that is around 8 inches long. Tie each one into a single knot and place it on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Put a sunflower seed and raisin pieces on the part of each knot that is sticking up to make the eyes and beak of each bird. On the part of each knot that is on the bottom, slash with a knife to form each tail. When all the birds are formed, cover with a clean tea towel, followed by a plastic grocery bag and put in a draft-free warm spot to rise until about doubled. (Each rope could also be formed into the sideways ‘S’ shape Lucia shape sideways 'S', one of the traditional shapes for Lucia bread.)
  8. filling Whisk egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in medium-sized bowl. Stir in the crème fraîche. Set aside.
  9. baking the gateau Turn the oven to 350F.
  10. Brush the rim with milk. Sprinkle pearl sugar (if you have it – if you don’t, just use regular sugar) on top of the rim. Use a fork to pierce through the base of the risen gateau, leaving the rims untouched. Apparently, this will help to cook the gateau evenly. Pour the filling into the gateau. (If you think you will spill the filling taking the gateau to the oven, fill it only to three quarters and pour the last bit in once the gateau is in the oven. I didn’t like doing that, because my pouring technique stank when the gateau was in the oven and I was spilling everywhere. Not to mention that all the heat was leaking out of the oven with the door wide open.) Sprinkle with sugar and dot with butter.
  11. Bake on the top shelf of the oven (to prevent it from burning on the bottom) at 350F for about 25 minutes “until the brioche has risen and the filling is set”. If it is getting too dark looking before the filling is done, turn the oven down to 325F to continue cooking.
  12. Remove and allow to cool on a footed rack before serving.
  13. baking the brioche Turn the oven back up to 350F.
  14. Brush the birds with milk or, if you have filling left over, brush with the filling. Bake on the top shelf of the oven (to prevent it from burning on the bottom) at 350F for about 15 minutes until they are light gold.


1.) Flour: The BBB recipe calls strong flour (bread flour). It is very difficult for us to find unbleached bread flour so I added a small amount of vital wheat gluten (high gluten flour). I used Susan’s (Wild Yeast) formula of adding roughly 3% vital wheat gluten to mimic strong bread flour.

2.) Yeast: I used mostly instant yeast (because we were just at the end of the jar I bought by mistake). There wasn’t quite enough so I added a few grains of active dry yeast. It was a mistake not to rehydrate the yeast. Richard Bertinet uses fresh yeast in the video he made for Gourmet magazine. If fresh yeast is available, use 9.4gm and crumble it directly into the flour.

3.) Milk: The BBB recipe does not call for any milk. All of the liquid comes from eggs. But as Richard Bertinet put milk into his brioche dough, and all the other brioche recipes I looked at call for milk, I gave myself permission to substitute one and a half of the eggs with milk. One egg is roughly equal to a quarter cup (60ml).

4.) Sugar: The BBB recipe calls for castor sugar (superfine sugar). I thought we had some in the cupboard, but once again, I was wrong. It turns out that regular sugar works.

5.) Butter: The BBB recipe calls for unsalted butter. I used salted butter and reduced the amount of salt from 3.5gm to 3gm. As for the temperature of the butter, there was quite a lot of discussion about this. Rose Levy Beranbaum says to use “very soft” butter and cold eggs. Maggie Glezer calls for room temperature butter in her pandoro (that’s pretty similar to brioche, isn’t it? Susan (Wild Yeast) uses “butter, cut into half-inch cubes, softened” in her brioche. A FreshLoafer prefers cold butter: “R[einhart] calls for room temperature butter. The vast majority of other recipes call for cold butter. […] [Bread Baker’s Apprentice]’s warm butter approach created a batter when I did it. The cold butter approach creates a stretchy dough” Richard Bertinet uses butter that looks soft but still a tiny bit firm (around 22:00 on the video).

So. If I were mixing brioche dough with a machine, I’d use cool, firm (but not hard) butter cut into cubes. But as I was mixing by hand, softened butter was the way to go.

6.) Egg Yolks: When I announced that I needed egg yolks for the filling, T scoffed and said to just use whole eggs (2 egg yolks = 1 egg. But I really wanted to see what it would be like to use egg yolks. So I manipulated T into making beet cakes for dinner and putting the yolks into the freezer instead of adding them to the grated beets. (It was an easy manipulation; we both love beet cakes.)

7.) Crème fraîche: I substituted with softened cream cheese mixed with enough plain yoghurt to make it into a thick creamy consistancy.

7.) Baking container: I, of course, didn’t even notice until well after the gateau was out of the oven that I was supposed to have baked it on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Duh. Maybe one day I’ll learn to read. (Then again – don’t hold your breath.)

I’m a little sorry because my dough actually ended up holding its shape nicely. (Photos? Are you mad???) Apparently, I will be making this again. T keeps going on and on about the fact that this it the best bread I’ve ever made. When I do make it, I’ll try to remember to bake it free form.

gateau a la creme After all the screaming and whining that I did, I have to say that now that I know how to make it, it’s not hard at all.

I am not surprised that T loved this gateau and the little birds. But I am surprised that I loved the gateau too.

I carefully wrapped up the little birds and put them into the freezer to serve at Easter. The next day, T ecstatically reported that the birds were fantastic! He had rescued two of them from the freezer, heated them up and had them with his morning tea.

T loved the brioche so much that he has been badgering me to make it again. And again. And again. And again.

Ha! There’s nothing like butter, sugar and white flour to make things taste wonderful!

Thank you, Lien!

Bread Baking Babes
Brioche et un petit Gateau a la Creme (BBB March 2013)

Lien (Notitie van Lien) is the host of March 2013’s Bread Baking Babes’ task. She wrote:

March recipe: Eggs and Butter!

OK here is the recipe for March. As usual I had a hard time deciding what to pick. […] [M]y sweet tooth won the battle this time, a recipe by one of my favorite chefs […] I’m curious about all those eggs and butter in the recipe, I tend to have a lot of problems with doughs like that, which have a hard time rising. So lots of eggs, really lots of eggs, lots of butter, crème fraîche….

We know that you too will WANT to bake a gateau or two!! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: bake Gateau(x) a la creme in the next couple of weeks and post about your experience (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 March 2013. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at all the BBBabes’ Gateaux:

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB)
BYOB is a monthly event begun by Sandy (At the Baker’s Bench), passed on to Cathy (Bread Experience) and hosted by Heather (girlichef) last year. Heather wrote:

[BYOB] encourages you to start (or continue) getting comfortable baking bread in your own kitchen. Anything from simple quick breads to conquering that fear of yeast to making and nurturing your own sourdough starter. All levels of bakers are welcome to participate.

BYOB Badge Heather has handed the BYOB hosting reins over to Roxana (Roxana’s Homebaking). For more information about BYOB and how to participate, please read the following:


brioche birdsgateau a la creme

I like bread, and I like butter – but I like bread with butter best

– Sarah Weiner, Tartine Bakery



10 responses to “Brioche et un petit Gateau a la Creme (BBB March 2013)

  1. Lien

    Yay for you that you went ahead and tried it anyway! Fantastic that you liked it too. Now you know you don’t have to be scared again next time.

    Oh, I’ll probably still be scared. But I really am glad you made me try it, Lien. -Elizabeth

  2. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Well I say whining pays off again! Why worry about reading when things just work right.

    Love the birds, must give that a try!

    Your Gateau looks dreamy lovely.

    Thank you! And you’re right. It did all work out right in the end. Do try the little birds; they’re really easy to shape. -E

  3. Heather @girlichef

    Oh, your gateau look wonderful! I’m happy that you wound up enjoying the whole thing. And the little rolls are adorable!

    Thank you Heather! I’m not sure I’m quite ready to make brioche again soon, but it will be easier the next time round. -Elizabeth

  4. Jamie

    HA HA HA HA HA I am rolling on the floor laughing. My big yap? No wonder you were angry when you found out I used my measly little hand mixer with the two silly little dough hook things – the spiral things. Sorry but it really was impossible to stir by hand for 5 minutes. But I too am so happy I gathered the courage and made it. We loved it! Yours looks so good- and LOVE the brioche birds! Too cute!

    I’m relieved to see that you’re laughing, Jamie. I realized after it was out there in print that “big yap” could be misconstrued. :lalala: And I wasn’t angry at all. (I would have been if the gateau had been a disaster though….) -Elizabeth

  5. barbara

    The birds are so cute! Does the bread taste eggy or does all the butter cut the eggy taste?

    They ARE cute, aren’t they, Barbara? :-) They turned out even better than I’d hoped. And no, there is no hint at all of egginess. -Elizabeth

  6. Elle

    Cutest bread birds ever seen and a lucious looking gateau Elizabeth. Love your substitutions and it looks like you have mastered another dough to the point that your hubby will demand repeats. Hard to be better than that.

    I’m not so sure you could say I mastered the dough, Elle. But I certainly got rid of my fear of it. (Ha. I think that T asked for repeats because I finally made some bread that was ALL white flour without even a hint of whole-grains.) -Elizabeth

  7. Katie

    I am so impressed. I’ve never attempted custard…. or brioche.
    Off topic, sort of, but I ate at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant, years ago, chatted with him a bit after dinner and he gave me an autographed cook book. I knew you would want to know.

        You’re right, Katie. I did want to know. That’s very cool.
        As for the custard, I am so impressed with myself too! I was pretty certain that I was going to wiggle out of it and was amazed to see myself with a whisk and all those eggs, butter and egg yolks. Thank goodness for Richard Bertinet’s video showing how to mix and knead brioche by hand! (What do you mean you’ve never attempted custard? You make clafouti all the time. That’s custard, isn’t it?)

  8. Ckay

    Oh Elizabeth, you made my day! There’s nothing best then (when the kids & husband have left home) to sit down, have a cup of Caffé Latte, a piece of fresh bread and read your post.
    I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed all the feelings you’ve put in this piece of writing and in your hand-made brioche and little birds.
    They are so cute. They’ll make a gorgeous Easter treat.
    So pleased the brioche turned out great and that you and T loved it.
    All the best.


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