Recently I came across a recipe for ‘Blackberry and Custard Brioche Buns’ in the British version of Good Housekeeping magazine, and from the description they sounded so delightful that I decided I just had to make them. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit (because, you know, I just can’t help it, and also because some of the recipe seemed to be missing), but I stayed true to the original idea. The result? Buttery buns filled with vanilla-scented pastry cream and topped with sweet-tart blackberries – ideal for a summer breakfast, brunch or afternoon snack. Enjoy these buns warm or at room temperature, but do eat them the day they’re made.
Makes 12 buns
- 2 1/2 cups (330 grams) bread flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons (3.8 grams) instant dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large (150 grams) eggs
- ¼ cup (59 grams) water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, cold but malleable, plus more for buttering bowl
- 1 egg whisk with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
- 1 cup (242 grams) whole milk
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large (56 grams) egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (244 grams) blackberries
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
- Swedish pearl sugar (available here), for sprinkling on buns
Start to make the brioche:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, yeast and sugar at low speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the water and salt and mix until combined (if your mixer is straining, mist the dough with a few sprays of water from a water mister to help it mix more easily). Continue mixing at low speed until the dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a buttered medium size bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm, dry place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Punch the dough down to release the air, cover the bowl again and let rise in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or up to 8 hours).
Make the custard:
- In a saucepan, bring the milk and half of the sugar to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve the sugar. In the meantime, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, cornstarch and vanilla paste until smooth.
- When the milk is ready, whisk about half of it into the yolks, whisking well until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the remaining milk in the pan and place over low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and continue to whisk until the mixture has emulsified. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours (or up to a day).
Make the blackberry topping:
- Place the blackberries and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the berries have softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Form the buns:
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch the dough down again and divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball and arrange them, spacing them evenly apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise at room temperature until slightly puffed, about 1 hour.
Bake the buns:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Put the chilled pastry cream in a disposable pastry bag, and cut a hole at the tip. Refrigerate the cream until ready to use.
- Brush the tops and sides of the buns with the egg wash and then coat the sides in the pearl sugar. Using the back of a spoon that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray, make a deep indentation about 1 ¼ inches wide in the center of each roll, rotating the roll to make the well even all around. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, until they are beginning to turn golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and use the spoon to reinforce and slightly widen the indentation in the same spot on each bun. Pipe a generous amount of pastry cream into the indentation in each bun, and then top with a few of the blackberries (save the syrupy berry liquid to serve over ice cream or pancakes). Return to the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the buns are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before enjoying.