Friday, April 24, 2009

Tarte Tropézienne

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.

Bench notes:
- 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.

Tarte Tropézienne
8 to 10 servings

2 C flour
3/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t yeast
3 T warm milk
3 eggs
5 oz butter, softened and cut into several pieces

1 egg + 1/2 t water for egg wash

Cream Filling

1 C milk
1/4 C sugar
3 yolks
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

Crumb Topping
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.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Cream-filled brioche??? How delightful!!

Claudia said...

Gorgeous! I ned to be brave enough to attempt a brioche - but what a wonder if I could make that happen in my kitchen. So pretty. And yes - I love custard.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

oh yum! we have something similar called bollos de mantequilla that are filled with buttercream. my grandfather used to make them sometimes with whipped cream and crumb topping just like this but individual. oh so delicious!

Bunny said...

I am in such awe of brioche, the first time I saw a loaf of it on my computer I just sat here looking at it thinking how beautiful that simple loaf was. The texture was amazing. I plan on trying my first brioche this week on my day off and am looking for a recipe to make. Is this recipe good to use to make other things with too, or just for what you've made here ??? I would like to make this recipe and try making sticky buns with brioche, is that possible with the brioche recipe here??? Sorry for the questions , I really am venturing into something I don't know about with brioche!

Jesse said...

omg. You must be a mind reader!! My sister and I were just discussing this very tarte 2 days ago and she made me promise to make this for her when I return from pastry school. I was looking for an appropriate recipe... and here you are. Thank you! Do you have a version of this scaled in weights? I can convert it myself, but if you have measurements you use I'd prefer those. Thank you for this!

pastry studio said...

Aran, bollos de mantequilla sound wonderful. Maybe a little like Italian bomboloni but those are fried. I've been trying to develop a baked version but no success yet.

Bunny, brioche does seem intimidating, but the secret is you just have to beat it for a long time so that all that butter is fully incorporated and interferes with the gluten bonds. This will create a nice tender crumb. If you have enough power in your mixer, it should go OK. Or if you have the patience and some dough scrapers, you can always get your hands dirty!!

There are lots of recipes out there with different ingredient ratios. You can look around and see that butter and eggs vary considerably, as does method. Some require a sponge, others don't. Etc, etc!!

Here's my recipe from pastry school that I normally use. The recipe for the Tropezienne was based on this - I decreased the butter a bit (because of the richness of the pastry cream filling) and used milk instead of water. Now the easy thing about this recipe is that you really don't have to do a sponge or a first proofing, you just put it all together and refrigerate the dough overnight. It's very easy and I've made cinnamon rolls with it. Jesse, I've got some but not all weights for you.


1 T dry yeast
1/4 C lukewarm water
4 C flour (1 lb, 4 oz)
2 t salt
3 T sugar (1 1/2 oz)
6 eggs
12 oz butter, softened

Dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm water.

Put everything together in a bowl except the butter and mix. As I've said, I've never done this by machine, but there are enough recipes out there that you can see that the kneading by machine should take several minutes to establish that it's smooth and elastic. You can also probably do this with a paddle if you don't have a hook because there's a lot of butter and it's a crazy soft, sticky dough. [To mix by hand, it's more of a pinching of the dough between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, then incorporating the portions removed into the other end of the dough. That gets done for about 5 - 7 times until it comes together. Then you begin kneading the dough, which is accomplished by using your hands to reach out to the far side of the dough, get underneath the dough, scooping it up from the bottom and bringing it toward you so that the dough flips around and slaps down on the work surface. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic - wish we could all be together so I could show you this!]

Then you start adding the butter, about an ounce at a time and let it become fully incorporated. Keep adding the butter and beating on medium speed. At some point, it will look like it's breaking. Don't panic. It will work through this and become a nice satiny dough. [By hand, the butter is incorporated using the same process as above, pinching the dough, then lifting it from below, scooping it up from the bottom and bringing it toward you so that the dough flips around and slaps down on the work surface. Do this just until the butter is mixed in. You will see and feel this when it comes together.]

Once you see that the butter is completely mixed in, stop mixing and place in a covered bowl or bag and refrigerate overnight. Your dough will then be ready to shape. Let rise at room temperature and always glaze with egg wash.

Hope this helps. It's kind of hard to explain the whole process. Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer them!

Jesse said...

That's fantastic - thank you so much! I think I'm going to make this next weekend.

Juliana said...

This brioche filled with cream look so good...I'll try to make the brioche with my bread machine. Your pictures are great!

jb said...

Oh how lovely brioche is- add cream and it's divine!

Paris Pastry said...

I made this a couple of weeks ago, it was so yummy!!!

Rumela said...

My father is a huge fan of brioche and I always try to bake one for him whenever we see my parents. He has yet to be fully blown away by any of the recipes i've tried. Simplicity is key, and yours looks perfect! Can't wait to try it. thank you for shearing your post.

Anonymous said...

Good recipe but the cream is a little bit liquid. I prefer this one:
Because this tart is easier to cut

Food Esteem | Love for Food • Passion for Photography said...

It's gonna be in Singapore soon! Love it <3

antnbee said...

Received your ebook for xmas and am really enjoying it.
I have a stash of broiche dough in my freezer from a Tartine recipe and was wondering if you had any idea on the weight of 2/3rds of your brioche recipe?

pastry studio said...

Hello, antnbee. I went back through my old notes and I'm so sorry I don't have the weight of the dough. It doesn't take much since the formed dough is only 9" in diameter and 3/4" high.

The other thing to keep in mind with the cream is sometimes it can break down because of excessive stirring or excessive heat, which can cause the starch cells to rupture. Once the pastry cream has been chilled, don’t stir too much or it will break down the starch.

I've been thinking about re-doing this pastry for my blog because it gets tons of hits but I think I can improve upon it. I want to reformulate the dough and I would probably also cut back on the amount of whipped cream and honey folded into the pastry cream by a third. I will play with it some.

Thanks so much for your kind feedback on my book. Lots to explore there and I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

One of the best Tarte Tropeziennes I've found is at Bouchon Bakery, Beverly Hills. Ethereal brioche, and a delicate orange and kirsch flavor.