Brioche Cake with Caramel Custard Cream


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As soon as I spotted this recipe in The Cake Book by Tish Boyle, I knew I had to make it. The recipe sounded so fancy and like so much fun. And I have always wanted to, but had never baked a yeasted cake before. So this was the perfect occasion. And sure enough, the end result was an elegant yet simple, light and flaky Brioche cake filled with a soft, pillowy caramel custard cream…mmmmMMM!




Caramel custard aka Flan is an extremely popular dessert in India, especially in my place, Kerala. This silky sweet pudding and the slightly bitter, amber-colored caramel on top makes for a great combination. It is one of those desserts that you absolutely love or completely hate.  It tastes heavenly and looks gorgeous if done right, but can be totally unappetizing if gone wrong. Everyone in my family happens to love a good caramel custard; everyone except me, that is. I have always been an ice cream fan. But the caramel custard cream here has caramel and custard mixed together and then some whipped cream folded in, resulting in a very light and fluffy caramelly (?) cream that I absolutely loved.


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Be patient and careful while making the custard cream, though. Take the pan immediately off the heat once the sugar has caramelized to a golden color. It will continue to cook and darken in the pan. Once off the heat, let the caramel cool down a wee bit, and only then add the hot milk to it. Add the milk little by little, whisking like crazy after each addition. I was so excited and impatient to make the custard that I immediately poured the hot milk into the HOT caramel all at once and the whole thing was a curdled mess and I had to throw that away… 😦


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The brioche dough is extremely soft but bakes up beautifully and has a thin tender golden crumb and is light and airy inside. The brioche is sliced into two and each layer is brushed with a rum-flavored soaking syrup and then filled with the custard cream. A dusting of  powdered sugar on top (which I totally forgot… 🙂 ..) and you’re done!

This is definitely not a rich dessert type of cake but rather, an extra special snack/breakfast cake or maybe a light dessert. Don’t let the long recipe scare you. Yes, it takes a few extra steps than a regular cake and some extra (read “a lot of”) time as well, for the proper rising and baking of the Brioche dough. But if you enjoy baking, then this cake is going to be a lot of fun. The sight and smell of the Brioche out of the oven alone will make you jump and grin with joy….well, I did… 😀 So, who wants a piece for tomorrow’s breakfast?… 😀

Taking this beauty  to Fiesta Friday#36 at The Novice Gardener!


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Brioche Cake with Caramel Custard Cream

Recipe source: The Cake Book by Tish Boyle


Brioche Dough

1/4 cup whole milk

1 tbsp. honey

11/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup bread flour, or as needed

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.

1 large egg, whisked with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash

2 tbsp. unblanched sliced almonds


Caramel Custard Cream

1 large egg

2 tbsp. cornstarch

11/3 cups whole milk, divided

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. water

1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1/2 cup heavy cream


Rum Soaking Syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

11/2 tbsp. dark rum


Powdered sugar for dusting



Brioche Dough

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and honey and heat until it registers 110 deg to 115 deg F on an instant read thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle over the yeast. Let stand for 10 mins, until the yeast is creamy.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and attach the paddle attachment. Mixing at low speed, gradually add the eggs, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt and mix until blended. Gradually add the bread flour. Mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 mins. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl: if it does, add up to 2 tbsp. more bread flour, mixing until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Add the butter 1 tbsp. at a time, mixing until it is well blended. The dough will be very soft.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead by hand a few times to ensure that the butter is completely incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a medium buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 11/2 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down to deflate it, and knead it a few times. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at leas t 4 hours (or up to 12 hours). the dough should be double in volume: if it doesn’t, let it stand at room temp until it has.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-3-inch springfoam pan. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Arrange five of the balls along the edge of the pan, and place the last ball in the center. Flatten each ball gently with your palm to form a disk. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it is puffed and almost fills the pan, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle over the almonds. Bake the cake for 30-35 mins, until it is a lovely golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 mins.

Remove the side of the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Caramel Cream

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cornstarch. Whisk in 1/3 cup of the milk until smooth; set aside.

Place the remaining 1 cup milk in a small microwaveable cup and microwave at high until boiling, 11/2 to 3 mins.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the  heat to high and cook, without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the hot milk ( the mixture will bubble up). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until any hardened caramel has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot caramel mixture into the egg and cornstarch mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the custard comes to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 min. Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter until melted. Immediately strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.

Set the bowl containing the caramel custard in a large bowl filled about one-third full with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the custard). Stir the custard frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 mins.

Cake Assembly

Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally in half to make 2 layers. Brush the cut side of each layer well with the rum syrup.

Remove the caramel custard from the refrigerator and beat vigorously with a rubber spatula until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the 1/2 cup heavy cream at high speed until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the caramel custard.

Spread the cream over the bottom layer of the cake (it will be a thick layer). Top with the other cake layer. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour before serving.