In Lynsie’s words
Whenever I get asked to teach a cooking class I get giddy. I love sharing what I know with others. The fact that I am a self-taught cook makes me even more thrilled to pass along what I know because the reality of what I’ve learned is this: anyone can do what I do! Cooking and baking well simply requires discipline, a little perfectionism and a desire to get to the bottom of a recipe and learn from the foundation up.
Brioche was one of the first pastries that I mastered, and the recipe that I used to make Brioche Cinnamon Buns at my old bakery is the very same recipe (and technique) that I still use today in my own kitchen. While cinnamon buns are fun to make (which is what I taught in my recent cooking class) I happened to stumble upon a process for shaping the dough in a new way, thanks to my new favorite blog Half Baked Harvest. I will absolutely not pretend to have come up with this beautiful Snowflake Brioche design by way of my impeccable creativity (haha), however it’s the idea alone that I borrowed from Tieghan’s amazing website; the rest (recipe + caramel sauce) is my own and I’d love to teach all of you how to make these amazingly simple (and delectable) goodies at home.
First, start by making the Brioche Dough
Simply follow the below instructions, make a double batch of the dough and refrigerate your large batch of dough overnight per my instructions. Stop there, then pick up in the next recipe card to learn how to shape the dough into a snowflake…
Overnight Brioche Cinnamon Buns
Yield 2 loaves
By far the most luxurious bread dough to both eat and make, this brioche is special (and easy) because it can be made after dinner, requires and overnight-in-the-fridge fermentation (rise) and is always ready for breakfast.
It always feeds a crowd and can be made in many different styles so its versatility makes it my favorite type of bread to make for a special occasion.
Double the below quantities for Snowflake Brioche
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp yeast (or 1 packet)
1/4 cup whole milk
5 eggs, cracked into a pyrex measure
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly cold to the touch
For Cinnamon Buns
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon powder
1 stick butter, melted
Begin by bringing eggs and butter to room temperature. I like to keep my butter out overnight in a cool place. Eggs can be removed from the fridge an hour before or can go in a warm-water bath for 20 minutes.
Next, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, milk and 2 eggs. Mix but don't expect the dough to come together yet.
With mixer on low, add each egg and wait a minute until absorbed before adding another.
Once all eggs have been added, increase speed of mixer to medium-high and beat dough for 5 minutes or until it is coming together and slapping the inside of the bowl.
While your dough is mixing, prep butter: peel each packet of butter so that it's ready to go when you are incorporating it into the butter.
Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and begin to add walnut-sized pieces of room temp (but still slightly cold to the touch--not warm!) butter, bit by bit, only adding more after the previous piece disappears in the dough.
Toward the end, you may have to wait longer in between additions. Once all butter has been added, remove bowl from stand mixer and gently run your hands/fingers through the dough to check for butter lumps. If you find any, smear them into the dough by squeezing them while spreading.
Pour dough into a large plastic bin and place in the fridge to rise overnight. *A double batch of dough gets refrigerated as one unit, just make sure you have a large enough container. A 4-quart with a lid works well. Make sure to place something heavy on top since this dough has a mind of its own and will push open the top during rising, even in the fridge!
For Cinnamon Buns
When ready to bake in the morning, remove from the fridge, turn out carefully onto a floured work surface, shape into a rectangle (2 rectangles if you made a double batch) and roll out into a large rectangle measuring the length and width of your silpat or baking sheet.
Spread half of butter over surface with fingers or a pastry brush, then sprinkle with cini-sugar to cover everything but the top 1 inch (lengthwise).
Drizzle the rest of the melted butter over the cini-sugar, then roll in sides and bottom of the rectangle 1/2 inch.
Working with the bottom, roll up tightly until you reach the un-sugared top. Spread with any leftover butter from the pan that you used to melt it in, and pull and press to seal your log. At this point, if dough is warm, place in the fridge uncovered to chill so that cutting is easier.
Once dough is chilled, use a serrated knife to slice log in half. Now slice each half in half, and keep repeated until buns are the size you'd like. Remember that when they bake they will get huge, so sometimes smaller is better!
At this point, buns can be frozen* until ready to proof (rise) and bake, or you can let them sit on the counter, evenly spaced on a baking sheet covered loosely with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes. Place them in a preheated oven set to 375 F and bake until golden brown and springy when touched, about 15-20 minutes.
*If you do decide to freeze the buns, place them in a ziploc bag and simply prep some on a baking sheet the night before baking to thaw in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap. Then in the morning bring them to room temperature for 30-60 minutes until ready to bake. They should feel soft and springy, which means the yeast are active.
Store cut buns (raw) in the freezer until ready to bake. Thaw overnight, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge, then place on the counter for an hour in a warm place (still covered) to proof before baking in an oven preheated to 375 F for 20 minutes.
Double this recipe easily to make 1 batch cinnamon buns and 1 brioche breakfast loaf.
Yield 1 loaf
While the flavors are still the same, the design and shaping of this dough is what gives it its je ne sais quoi quality. This is quite the showstopper and perfect for a holiday breakfast table or even brunch!
1 double batch brioche dough
For the Filling
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 pinch salt
For the Egg Wash
2 Tbsp milk or cream
Remove your brioche from the fridge, turn out loaf to a floured surface and shape into a rectangle.
Using a knife or pastry cutter, divide dough equally into 4 portions. Set all but one aside and begin rolling each into circles approximately 12 inches in diameter. You won't get these perfect, nor should you. This is a very forgiving dough. Just make sure if you can that the first two bottom layers are larger than the upper two for shaping purposes.
Once you've shaped your first circle, gently pick it up and place it on a silpat or piece of parchment lying on a baking sheet.
Spread 1/3rd of the butter-cinnamon-sugar mixture (filling), adding evenly spaced spoonfuls over the dough then smoothing out with your hands.
Repeat with the remaining 2 balls of dough, then roll out the last to cover.
Next, use a juice or water glass and place in the center to help guide your shaping process.
Using a sharp knife, place the tip at the edge of the glass and cut dough equally into 4 "triangles". Repeat by cutting each "triangle" in half again, then repeat again until you've cut your dough circle in 16 equal pieces. Next, working with two segments at a time, lift up both flaps and twist away from each other twice, then pinch ends together, tucking under any excess dough. *This is why you placed two larger circles on the bottom, as they are large enough to pull over outsides, pinch and then fold under.
By this time, your dough has already been warming and proofing (rising) due to the reactivated yeast. Set a timer for 20 minutes and preheat oven to 375 F.
Make your Egg Wash
Combine egg and cream or milk in a small bowl with a whisk or fork.
Using a pastry brush (or your clean fingers), gently spread egg wash all over entire snowflake. Work carefully so as not to deflate dough.
Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. While loaf is baking, make caramel sauce.
Make sure to watch this video for a Caramel Sauce Tutorial!
Also, visit Tieghan's site to see some very cool step-by-step images for how to shape your Snowflake Brioche.
Courses breakfast, brunch
Caramel Sauce Cockaigne
Yield 2 cups
This is the caramel sauce that I made in my bakery for years and one that is super easy! Typically, caramel sauce is made using water for beginners but I skip this step because I really want you to learn how to make caramel sauce like a pastry chef! No training wheels here.
Sauce Cockaigne refers to a French-style caramel sauce that has a very distinctive burnt sugar flavor, due to its slightly longer cooking time. If you want a normal caramel flavor, just cook for less.
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, cubed and @ room temperature
1/2 cup cream or half and half
1 pinch salt
Begin with a heavy-bottomed saucepan (medium size) over medium-high heat.
Add sugar and stand over the pan the entire time, stirring with a whisk constantly until sugar begins to melt.
At this stage, you'll want to use your whisk to break up sugar clumps as they form. Simply smash them with the tip of the whisk. This step is best done now, even though when all the sugar melts and turns to liquid, you'll still see some clumps...don't worry! These will eventually go away during cooking--and even if they don't, it will still taste great.
The above process will take you about 10-15 minutes. Do not leave your sugar unattended.
Once sugar turns to liquid and clumps have been mostly broken up, stop whisking as much and just watch, whisking only every now and then.
At this stage I don't use a thermometer, as is common in most caramel recipe instructions. Instead I go by how the bubbles look.
You'll be looking for rolling bubbles, starting in the middle coming from the bottom up. Once this happens, whisk and smell. You want the sauce to smell like caramel with a slightly burned aroma. If you add the butter and cream too soon your sauce might not have a great depth of flavor, so be patient, but also note that if you let it cook too long it can burn easily, which won't taste good. Make sure to have enough sugar, butter and cream to make a couple of batches until you get it right. The time put in is worth it!
The above process will take only a few minutes, so pay attention.
Once sauce bubbles immediately after whisking, remove from heat and carefully add butter all at once, whisking constantly to melt and emulsify.
Next, add cream equally as carefully.
Add your pinch of salt, pour your caramel sauce into a heatproof pitcher and reserve for pouring over your Snowflake Brioche, or any other dessert you like!
Using organic cane sugar will yield a more burnt sugar flavor than regular granulated sugar, but it's what I prefer. Play around with ingredients until you find what works best for you!