Spiced Custard & Mulled Fruit Brioche Buns
That's not say I haven't been busy in the kitchen. I've made my favourite pistachio and white chocolate cheesecake for a colleague for her parents' wedding anniversary, some vegan dark chocolate brownies topped with an almond and date fudge sauce for another colleague for his partner's birthday, and 100 (yes, 100) filled macarons of various flavours for a wedding of a family friend (though by the time I had done a test-run of each flavour I probably made about 250-300 in total). It's safe to say I don't want to bake any more macarons for a little while. Though, a key baking highlight for me from the past few months (and probably of all time) was the wedding caterers telling me that my macarons looked like they had been produced by Ladurée (if you're not familiar, Ladurée is a French luxury bakery and is renowned for their perfect macarons). #result
Anyway, moving on to these beauties. Getting into the holiday spirit I recently made some mulled wine, which made the whole house smell just delicious. I also treated myself to a Kindle version of Edd Kimber's (the very first Bake Off winner) "Patisserie Made Simple" and decided to make what was on the front cover, his magnificent-looking Blueberry Brioche, but with a twist. I then stumbled across his recipe for Rhubarb and Custard Brioche Tarts, which has spiced custard in, and my recipe idea was born.
Brioche buns. Filled with spiced custard. Topped with mulled fruits. Finished with a sticky and sweet mulled wine syrup and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios. I think I've hit Christmas morning breakfast on the head with this recipe. Let me know what you think!
Utensils: Stand mixer with dough hook attachment, large mixing bowl, medium saucepan, medium measuring jug or bowl, whisk, fine mesh sieve, clingfilm, sharp knife or dough scraper, kitchen scale, rolling pin, slotted spoon, silicone pastry brush, 5-10 10cm fluted loose bottom tart tins or 1-2 6-piece mini fluted Bundt tins or a mixture of both. If you don't have enough tins to make the buns in one go you could make them in batches. You could also make smaller buns in a 12-piece muffin tin.
Top Tip: It's sometimes hard to know what red wine is best for making mulled wine. For this recipe, a young, bright, fruity and ideally unoaked red wine will work best. I used a fruity Argentinian Malbec with flavours of raspberry, plum, black fruits and sweet spice and velvety soft tannins. You could also look for Italian reds, Southern French or New World Merlot wines. Don't opt for anything too pricey, but at the same time don't use something you wouldn't enjoy drinking. Mid-range is your best bet.
180g plain flour 180g strong white bread flour 30g caster sugar 1 teaspoon fine salt 85ml whole milk, cold 7g sachet dried fast action yeast 3 large eggs, plus one for glazing 150g unsalted butter, diced and pliable but still a little cool 50g shelled pistachios for decoration, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor
250ml whole milk thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced 2 cardamom pods, cracked 2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste / extract 100g caster sugar 1 large egg 2 large egg yolks 20g cornflour 25g unsalted butter, diced
Mulled Fruits & Mulled Wine Syrup
150g Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely diced
2 large pieces of orange peel
Juice of 1/2 orange
2 large pieces of lemon peel
50g soft dark brown sugar
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste / extract
1 star anise
200ml red wine (I used a fruity Argentinian Malbec)
Makes: 10 brioche buns
1. Make the brioche dough: Place the flours, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix to combine then add the milk and eggs. Knead using a dough hook on low/medium speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the butter a piece or two at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. The butter needs to be pliable but still a little cool. This is because we don't want the butter to be too warm otherwise the dough will become greasy. Then knead for a further 10 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm. Place in the fridge overnight.
3. Make the spiced custard: Place the milk, flavourings and half of the sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for about an hour to infuse. Then bring the milk back to a simmer and remove from the heat once again.
4. Whisk together the remaining sugar, cornflour, egg and egg yolks in a measuring jug or bowl. Pour a steady stream of milk into the cornflour mixture while whisking constantly. Once you've added all of the milk, pour the mixture back into the saucepan through a fine mesh sieve to remove the flavourings. Place back on a medium heat, whisking constantly until the custard has noticeably thickened (this took about 5 minutes). Push the custard through a fine mesh sieve once again (to remove any lumps) into a bowl and press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface (to stop the custard from developing a skin). Once cool enough, place in the fridge until needed.
5. Prepare the brioche buns: In the morning take the brioche from the fridge and divide into 10 equal sized pieces according to weight (if you're using a 12-piece muffin tin then you'll need to divide the dough into 12 pieces). Form the brioche into balls and then flatten into discs of about 11-12cm wide, first using the palm of your hand and then a rolling pin if required. Use these discs of dough to line your loose bottom tart tins, mini fluted Bundt tins or muffin tin (there is no need to grease the tins). The excess of the dough will go up the sides of the tins as if making a tart shell.
6. If using loose bottom tart tins, place them on a baking tray. Lightly cover your tins with clingfilm and set aside for about an hour to prove until the dough is risen and puffy. Once ready, the dough should spring back slowly and not completely when you press it. If it springs back quickly and completely then it needs more time to prove.
7. Make the mulled fruits: As the dough is proving, wash the blueberries and peel and finely dice the Granny smith apples. In a medium saucepan add all of the flavourings, the brown sugar and the red wine and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, stirring often.
8. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a jug to remove the flavourings (set these to one side because you'll use them again shortly) and then transfer the mixture back to the saucepan. Add the blueberries and apples and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove the fruit from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and leave to drain in the sieve set over a bowl to catch any liquid. Add any liquid back to the saucepan.
9. Add the flavourings back into the wine and place over a medium heat to simmer until thickened and syrup-like (this took about 10 minutes), stirring often. Once thick and syrupy, remove from the heat and set to one side.
10. Assemble the brioche buns: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C). Remove the custard from the fridge and beat to loosen a little. Brush the edges of the brioche with a beaten egg using a silicone pastry brush and push down the dough in the middle of each bun (or around the ring of each Bundt mould) slightly to make more room for the filling. Fill the middle of each bun with custard (you could use a spoon or a piping bag for this, whatever you find easiest) and then top with a spoonful or two of mulled fruits. Sprinkle the edges of the buns with finely chopped (or blitzed in a food processor) pistachios. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the exposed brioche is golden brown.
11. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. As they are cooling, use a silicone pastry brush to brush the mulled fruits with mulled wine syrup. This will add extra flavour and make your fruits nice and shiny.
Storage: Best eaten warm and on the day they are made. Store any leftover buns in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To freshen up the leftover buns, gently warm them in the oven or a give them quick zap in the microwave (approx 30 seconds) before eating.