Brioche Tart with Creme Anglaise.

But the picture.  The picture of the tart, and the intrigue of a Brioche crust filled with a tangy crème fraiche topping with a crust of hardened sugar, had me.  I really had to make this tart.  It sounded delicious, and as it said, the fruit was optional.  At that point, I also felt it was my duty, as a home bake, as a human being, to avenge the memory of Julia Child and make a crème anglaise, just to banish the evil White Secret Sauce.  I mean, really.

So this tart.  It is intriguing.  It is refreshingly rustic in a tangy, bready, sweet kind of way.  The fruit-consuming members of my family told me that that fruit and fruit syrup really made the tart, that the crème anglaise was a perfect balance to the lightly sweetened Brioche.  This tart is not at all what you expect, but what it is, is an elegant, rustic, and quietly impressive tart unlike any other.  A tangy cheese filling, a bready crust, topped with vanilla custard and, if you so choose, sweet fruit.  All the components, while drawn out, work together.  It’s a tart to impress the foodie audience and more importantly, now, it is a Brioche Tart with Crème Angalise.

Brioche Tart with Crème Angalise

Adapted from Baking with Julia


Makes double the amount needed for the Tart.  But a loaf of Brioche is never bad.

Makes about 2 ¼ lb. of dough.

The Sponge

1/3 cup warm whole milk (110 degrees F)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1.  Put the milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, but mix together with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Sprinkle the remaining cup flour to cover the sponge.  Set the sponge aside and let rest in a warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sprinkling of flour has begun to crack.  If the sponge has not increased in volume, it is likely that the yeast is dead.  Repeat this step in that case, being careful with yeast packet #2.

The Dough

1/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

2.  Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup flour to sponge and set bowl into the stand up mixer.  Attach the dough hook and mix on low speed for a minute or two until the ingredients are just combined.  Add the remaining ½ cup flour, until just incorporated.  At this point, turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and allow the hook to mix for 15 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  This time is very important for the texture of the brioche.  Look for a cohesive, slapping, ball of dough at around 10 minutes.  If there is not, add a couple more tablespoons flour.

3.  After 15 minutes, scrape down the dough hook and add the butter in small cubes with the dough hook on medium-low.  Do not worry if the dough appears to fall apart—it will come back together.  Once all the butter has been added, put the mixer on medium and let the dough turn for 5 minutes or until the dough has returned to a slightly stickier, cohesive ball.  Add a tablespoon or two more flour if the dough has trouble incorporating the butter.

4.  Grease a large bowl with oil or butter and transfer the dough ball to the bowl.  Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and drape with a kitchen towel.  Place in a warm place and allow dough to double in size, about 2 to 3 hours of resting.

5.  Once dough has doubled, punch down the dough ball and lift away from the sides of the bowl, turning the dough as you move.  Once you have made your way around the circumference of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  This is the second rise.  Allow the dough to rise for at least 4 to 6 hours or overnight.  After this rise, the dough is ready for use.

Brioche Tart

½ recipe (1 1/8 lb.) brioche dough, chilled

1 cup crème fraiche

1 large egg

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

A little heavy whipping cream

1 large egg white, beaten

Sparkling sugar, for sprinkling

6.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 10” spring form pan.  Take the portion of brioche dough and, on a lightly floured surface; roll out into a 12” diameter circle.  Imprint the edges of the spring form pan on the brioche circle but placing the pan upside down in the center of the dough and gently pressing on the edges.  Brush the edges of the dough circle with heavy cream.  Crimp the sides of the dough circle so they just cross the indented 10” border.  To crimp, pull the dough up and twist to form a nice shell pattern.  Once the entirety of the dough has been crimped, place in the spring form pan, drape with a kitchen towel, and set in a warm place until the dough has appeared to greatly increase, almost double.  About 1 hour.

7.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 275 degrees F.  Whisk together the crème fraiche, egg, vanilla, and flour.  Set aside.  Take the spring form pan and press your fingers throughout the dough, almost to the bottom, and all over the bottom platform of the dough.  Spread the crème fraiche mixture over the bottom of the dough, making sure not to overflow the crimped edges.

8.  Take the ½ cup white sugar and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the crème fraiche mixture, allowing the mixture to absorb the sugar as you go. Sprinkle until the mixture will not hold any more sugar—you will know.  Whisk the egg white and brush generously over the edges of the tart.  Sprinkle with sparking sugar, and then place in the oven.  Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the edges of the tart are golden brown and the center of the tart is jiggly, yet firm.  Similar to a done cheesecake.  Remove from oven and serve at room temperature, with crème anglaise and fruit.

Crème Anglaise

Food and Wine

2 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

½ cup white sugar

4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1.  Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.

2.  Place the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the vanilla bean, with the seeds scraped out and added to the pan.  Cook until small bubbles just begin to form, about 5 minutes.  While milk and vanilla are marrying, whisk together the egg and ½ cup white sugar.

3.  Slowly pour half the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to keep eggs from scrambling.  Add the remaining milk and whisk until combined.  Return to the saucepan and with a wooden spoon, cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes.  Immediately run through strainer on ice, scraping the vanilla seeds in.  Chill for at least two hours covered, and serve over the tart.

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