Citrus-bee pollen tropezienne

I was in one of those bread-making moods the other day that and I didn’t really want to be boring and predictable and make another cake just quite yet, and I wanted to make one of my favorite desserts, tropezienne. Tarte tropezienne, the formal French way of saying it, is basically a brioche that is stuffed with cream and sometimes berries. So think a shortcake, but French! My sister actually was the one to introduce me to this dessert a long time ago, as she had it when she was studying abroad in France. It sounded a bit weird, at first, kind of like a sweet jam sandwich. Between that and not having a bakery with access to brioche growing up, I never had a chance to make or try these as a kid. But then I finally got to try tropezienne in college(a caf√© chain in Boston called Paul sells some really delicious ones), and I finally understood why my sister raved about it so much. Fluffy, butter bread sandwiching a rich, luxurious cream. It was sweetened to the point where it didn’t really feel like yeasty, savory bread, but really like a cake. Really just the best that French pastry has to offer, besides laminated dough and macarons. In the case of when I was making mine, I really wanted to embrace spring citrus, and since I happened to have an abundance of Meyer lemons and blood oranges, that’s where I went with the flavoring of this dessert.

For my components, we have a bee pollen-infused brioche, because why not, a Meyer lemon-bee pollen simple syrup, a Meyer lemon chiboust cream, blood orange gelee, and blood orange segments. The blood orange components in this dessert are meant to be a substitution for the berries you might find in tropezienne, since I wanted to make sure that citrus and bee pollen were the main focal points. Chiboust cream, for those of you who have never heard of it before, is basically a custard that is lightened with whipped cream, kind of like Bavarian cream or pastry cream, but with subtle differences. In the case of the one I’m making, it’s basically a lemon curd, but subbing out the butter with whipped cream. For my original recipe, I actually didn’t include the simple syrup, but I found without it, the brioche got a bit stale, dry, and tough as it sat over the following two days. From my experience with making baba, I knew that a simple syrup would not only alleviate the problem, but also help with further imparting citrus and bee pollen into the dessert.

Makes 8 servings:
For the brioche:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2/3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons bee pollen
3 eggs + 1 for egg wash
1 packet active-dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons bee pollen
2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated blood orange zest
2 tablespoons poppyseeds

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Melt the butter and bee pollen into the heavy cream. Once melted, pour your heated cream mixture into a bowl and whisk in your eggs to help drop down the temperature of the cream. Once the cream mixture is at 100 degrees, pour into your flour-yeast mixture. Knead the dough together for at least 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface(I recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook to optimize the formation of gluten in your dough, as nerdy as that sounds), then place into a warm (no hotter than 110 degrees F) area, in a covered, oiled bowl, for an hour. Punch down the dough and divide into 8 portions. Roll out until smooth and allow the buns to proof for a further 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk an egg and brush on the buns. Sprinkle on a mixture of bee pollen, citrus zest, and poppyseeds. Bake at 375 degrees F in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Allow the buns to cool completely before slicing in half lengthwise.

For the Meyer lemon chiboust cream:
Juice and zest from 3 Meyer lemons
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring Meyer lemon juice and zest to a simmer. Temper that with the egg yolks, cornstarch, salt, and cornstarch. Whisk on medium-low heat for about 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened to where it would coat the back of a spoon. Take off heat and pass through a sieve. Allow to cool down until room temperature and fold in the vanilla, then the cream. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the blood orange gelee:
Juice and zest from 3 blood oranges
1/4 cup agar
a pinch of salt

Reduce ingredients together until the agar is fully dissolved into the liquid. Pour into silicone bar molds and allow to chill until set. Cut into 1/8th inch by 1/8th inch cubes.

For the Meyer lemon-bee pollen syrup
Juice and zest from 2 Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons bee pollen
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Reduce ingredients together on medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Generously brush the syrup on the cut sides of each brioche bun before assembling.

To garnish:
Blood orange segments

Pipe in the chilled chiboust cream. Sprinkle in cubes of gelee and your segments before topping with the other half of your bun.


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