Gateau a la creme (Brioche with creme fraiche filling)
After watching the bread episode on Raymond Blanc's "Kitchen Secrets" several times (it is such a delightful show, and I just can't tire of it), I just had to make the Gateau a la creme. The recipe can be found on Raymond's site:
I used a different brioche dough recipe (I used Ciril Hitz's recipe from his latest book, "Baking Artisan Pastries and Bread"), but otherwise followed Blanc's recipe. It couldn't find creme fraiche, so I had to make my own. I warmed up some heavy cream slightly (just to room temperature), and stirred in a tablespoon of buttermilk. I let this stand, covered, on the counter for about 24 hours until it had thickened considerably.
The result was amazing. First, it is simply beautiful to look at (especially with the nib sugar decoration on the sides). Second, the sweetness is just at the right level. You might think that because of the lemon and creme fraiche this might not sweet enough, but it is. The amount of sugar in this gateau is surprisingly low, and still it tastes amazing.
Another great thing about this recipe is that a lot of it can be made ahead. I made the brioche dough earlier in the week and held it in the freezer until the day before baking. The day before baking I took it out of the freezer and into the fridge to thaw. I had prepared the creme fraiche over the weekend, and kept that in the fridge as well (it will keep easily for a couple of weeks). Tonight, I had guests coming at 7. At 5:30 I came home from work. I took the dough out of the fridge and shaped it by hand into the gateau shape. I covered it and let it rest. I then prepared the custard filling and set it aside. After the 30 minute rest, I poured the filling and baked the gateau. After 25 minutes of baking, the brioche had risen nicely and browned beautifully, and the custard was set. The sugar sprinkled on top caramelized slightly to great effect. The gateau was ready before 7. I let it cool for about 30-45 minutes or so, and served it.
I apologize that I don't have any pictures of the gateau, but it was devoured before I had had the chance to take pictures.
I really urge you to try this recipe out. I am normally not so excited about a recipe!
One word of warning: I recommend that you bake the gateau on a baking sheet placed inside a pan with a shallow rim. A little bit of the filling tends to escape, and you don't want to make a mess in your oven.