Friday, April 24, 2009
Tarte Tropézienne is not really a tart at all, but rather a disc of brioche that is sliced and filled with cream. It takes its name from Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera, where it is said to have originated in the mid 1940s and popularized in the 60s when St. Tropez became a tourist paradise.
Recipes for the filling vary considerably and include buttercream, mousseline (buttercream made from pastry cream and butter), pastry cream and cream diplomat (pastry cream lightened with whipped cream). Almost always the cream is flavored with kirsch. I’ve used a pastry cream flavored with kirsch and orange flower water and lightened with whipped cream sweetened with honey. The brioche is usually topped with pearl sugar, but I use a recipe for a crumb topping from Pierre Hermé that is easy and delicious.
Due to the abundance of butter, brioche is a very, very sticky dough. It should be made a day in advance to allow for overnight refrigeration that retards the proofing while the buttery dough firms up enough to make it easier to handle and shape. The pastry cream and crumb topping should also be made ahead and refrigerated so the Tropézienne can be assembled fairly easily the day you plan to serve it. Once the brioche is baked, fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream and assemble.
If you are a custard fan, you’ll love this pastry. Once you slice into it, you’ll find yourself with a rich buttery brioche that oozes a soft and luscious cream perfumed with the culinary riches of Saint Tropez.
- This recipe for brioche makes just a tad more than needed for this pastry. You can either make additional Brioche à tête rolls in fluted tins or Brioche Nanterre in a loaf pan (bake @ 350 for about half an hour) or freeze the remainder for later use.
- The butter for brioche should be softened but not oily, pliable but not greasy.
- Be sure you do not let the brioche get too browned or it will taste bitter. Because of the butter content, it tends to brown quickly, so watch closely. You can also bake at a lower temperature of 350 degrees for a bit longer time.
- Tropézienne should be eaten fresh the same day. It can be chilled for a couple of hours to firm up the cream.
- I must confess that I’ve never made brioche by machine, but have presented those conventional instructions here. This requires a sturdy machine that can withstand a rather long process of beating to develop the dough and produce a good texture and crumb. I always make brioche by hand using the slapping method because I love the process. But it is very, very sticky dough and requires a couple of bench scrapers and a lot of patience with getting your hands dirty. It’s a fun process for anyone who likes to dive into the mixing and experience how the whole thing comes together. Good fun but extremely messy.
8 to 10 servings
2 C flour
3/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t yeast
3 T warm milk
5 oz butter, softened and cut into several pieces
1 egg + 1/2 t water for egg wash
1 C milk
1/4 C sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 T flour
1 1/2 t kirsch
1 1/2 t orange blossom water
2 oz (4 T) butter @ room temperature
3/4 C heavy cream
2 T honey
adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme
1 generous T butter @ room temp
2 T sugar
3 T + 2 t flour
Combine the warm milk and yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for a few minutes, then stir until the yeast is completely dissolved.
Sift together the flours, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute at low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dissolved yeast and continue beating at low speed for 5 minutes. Stop the machine, scrape dough off the hook, and beat for another 5 minutes.
Add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, beat for 10 minutes more.
Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.
Deflate the dough gently. Working your way around the bowl, take the edges of the dough, lift up and gently drop inward. Either cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or place the dough in a large plastic bag that has been very lightly oiled and refrigerate overnight. The brioche will continue to proof.
For the crumb topping, place the softened butter in a small bowl and mix the sugar in with a fork. Add the flour and mix with your hand, pinching the mixture together to form large and small crumbs. Refrigerate.
Once the dough is ready, cut 2/3 of it and place on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment. Pat it gently into a 9” circle about 3/4” tall. Let the dough rise uncovered in a warm place for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Gently brush the top of the brioche with egg wash and sprinkle with the streusel. Bake the brioche in the center of the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Start checking at 12 minutes; the brioche should be soft, puffed and golden. Remove the brioche from the oven and immediately take the brioche off the baking sheet and place onto a wire rack to cool.
For the pastry cream, whisk the sugar with the egg yolks until pale. Add the flour and cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Bring the milk to a simmer on low heat. Gradually add 1/2 of the hot milk to the sugar-yolk mixture, whisking vigorously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Take off the heat and cool a bit. Add softened butter, orange water, and kirsch. Pour into a bowl and cool slightly. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until chill thoroughly.
Whip the cream with the honey until soft peaks form. Fold half the whipped cream into the pastry cream to loosen it up. Fold in remaining cream until smooth.
To assemble, cut brioche in half horizontally. Smooth cream mixture over bottom layer, and place second layer gently on top. Serve.