Black sesame brioche ring

Going to Asian bakeries like JJ’s and 85 Degrees C as a child, I loved all of the different kinds of pastries you could find and buy. Flaky, bready, buttery, sweet, salty, crunchy, there were so many different kinds of treats with an equal variety of colors, ingredients, and flavors. One of my absolute favorites was this almond ring. It was made with a fluffy milk bread dough stuffed with a sweet almond cream, baked with thin flakes of crunchy, toasted almonds and this golden-brown exterior. I was already making a ton of brioche out of boredom due to the coronavirus quarantine, and I wanted to do as many things with it as I possibly could(as brioche takes forever to proof and rise, so I might as well capitalize on a bigger batch if I can). Bread making takes hours already, but brioche, being a bread made with a ton of butter and eggs, takes exceptionally longer, because the yeast has to work longer on adding in air to something so heavy and rich. Because of that, I did a triple batch of my brioche so that I could wait the same amount of times for three times the output(before you ask, I scaled down the recipe below to only be the same amount that I actually used, so you don’t have to worry about having an excess of bread until you choose to triple the below ratios). One of the things I did with my brioche was recreate a similar pastry, but using one of my favorite flavors, black sesame.

Now sesame might seem a bit obvious, given my record of using it, but I did actually want to do an almond flavor, to keep true to the version I had as a child. Except I didn’t have whole or flaked almonds. And with how grocery stores were, I didn’t want to venture out to get any. So I did some rummaging through my refrigerator. And I found about 1/4 of a jar of tahini. I had a lot of tahini leftover from making a tahini-orange blossom ice cream, so I wanted to use up the rest of that. I also had black sesame powder and seeds, because I always have those, and I had halva(to snack on), so the rest was decided then and there. My filling is almost like a frangipani/almond cream, but I used black sesame powder, tahini(sesame paste in case you didn’t know what tahini is), and halva(a sweet confection made with tahini) to create a super nutty sesame version of that instead. To guarantee that golden brown exterior, I went with an egg wash, made with kewpie mayonnaise. I used the kewpie because it not only contains egg yolks in it already, but the MSG does add a surprising layer of umami that actually works really well with the bread dough and the sesame, despite this being a sweet pastry.

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Makes two large brioche rings:
For the brioche:
2 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling
2 eggs
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Heat up milk with half of the butter to 110 degrees F. Whisk in the eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast. Combine that mixture with the egg-milk mixture and half of your cream. In a mixing bowl, whip together the rest of your flour (1/2 cup) with the heavy cream, and slowly knead in the remaining butter (1/2 stick) into the flour cream mixture. Combine your two doughs together. Allow the dough to proof in a warm place for an hour while covered. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate for another 4 hours. Push down the dough and chill down for another 2 hours. Cut the dough into four pieces.

For the black sesame filling:
1/2 cup tahini paste
2/3 cups black sesame powder
1/2 cup finely grated halva
a pinch of salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons ghee

Blitz together into a thick paste. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon kewpie mayonnaise
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
a pinch of salt

Whisk together to form a liquid.

For assembly:
Black sesame seeds

Roll out your four dough pieces on a floured surface into 11 x 7 inch rectangles. Pipe the filling along the longer side of the dough, keeping half an inch away from each edge. Brush the immediate areas around the filling with egg wash. Fold the sides down, then begin rolling the filling towards the other side of the dough, like you would a spring roll. Once the dough has one layer around the filling, score the rest of your dough, cutting lines, perpendicular to the filling. Brush with egg wash and continue rolling. Take your log of dough and bring the ends together to form a hoop. Brush the entire piece of dough with egg wash and garnish with the black sesame seeds. Proof for another hour, and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

 

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