A hybrid between enriched bread and delicate pastry, brioche is the best of both worlds. The addition of eggs, butter, and milk to a sweetened dough is the secret to a luxurious crumb, making brioche the picture-perfect base for fillings and toppings. For our Strawberry Brioche Tarts, we highlight the season’s freshest fruit. These light-as-air tarts get their fluffy height from Platinum® Yeast from Red Star®, providing the perfect pillowy bed for a bright Lemon Pastry Cream and ripe strawberries. With a gorgeous egg-wash to amplify the glossy golden crust, a light sprinkle of pearl sugar before baking adds a sweet crunch.
Strawberry Brioche Tarts
- 2½ cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ cup (50 grams) plus 2 teaspoons (8 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) Platinum® Yeast from Red Star®
- 1¾ teaspoons (5.25 grams) kosher salt
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) warm whole milk (120°F/49°C to 130°F/54°C)
- 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature and divided
- 1 large egg yolk (19 grams), room temperature
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces (226 grams) fresh strawberries, sliced lengthwise 1⁄8 inch thick
- 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
- Lemon Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk
- Pearl sugar, for sprinkling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 cup (125 grams) flour, ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, yeast, and salt at low speed until combined. Add warm milk; beat just until combined. Add 2 eggs (100 grams) and egg yolk; beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 1½ cups (188 grams) flour, beating just until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough is relatively smooth, elastic, and starts to pull away from sides of bowl, 6 to 9 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook. Add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined after each addition (6 to 8 minutes total); scrape sides of bowl and dough hook. (Dough may look slightly broken during this process but will come together.) Increase mixer speed to medium-low; beat until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 6 to 9 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook (Dough should pass the windowpane test; see Notes.) Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and knead 4 to 5 times. Shape into a smooth round.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Punch down dough; cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean surface; divide into 12 portions (about 52 grams each). Gently shape 1 portion into a smooth ball, pinching any seams to seal. (Keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out.) Repeat with remaining portions. Press or roll each dough ball into a 3½-inch round; place 1½ to 2 inches apart on prepared pans. (Dough rounds may shrink slightly.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and dough holds an indentation when poked, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together strawberries, lemon juice, pepper (if using), and remaining 2 teaspoons (8 grams) granulated sugar. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
- Using a ¼-cup glass jar or dry measuring cup dipped in flour, make a 2¼-inch-wide, ¼- to ½-inch-deep well in center of each dough round. (See Notes.) Divide Lemon Pastry Cream among dough rounds (about 1 scant tablespoon [about 11 grams] each), spreading to fill. Using a slotted spoon, arrange strawberries evenly on top of pastry cream as desired. (Enjoy or reserve any extra strawberries as a treat.)
- In a small bowl, beat remaining 1 egg (50 grams) and milk. Brush dough with egg wash; sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake until light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, lightly flour hands and pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again.
If you don’t have a ¼-cup glass jar, you can also use a 2¼-inch-wide ⅓-cup dry measuring scoop or even just your fingertips to make wells in dough rounds.
Lemon Pastry Cream
- ⅔ cup (160 grams) whole milk
- 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (6 grams) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons (4 grams) packed lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large egg yolks (37 grams)
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter
- Place a fine-mesh sieve in a small shallow baking dish or bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until steaming. (Do not boil.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, flour, and salt. Whisk in egg yolks until well combined. (Mixture will be very thick.) Gradually whisk in half of warm milk. Pour sugar mixture into remaining warm milk in pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and no longer tastes starchy and an instant-read thermometer registers 185°F (85°C), about 3 minutes.
- Remove mixture from heat. Stir in butter until well combined. Pour and press mixture through prepared sieve into baking dish or bowl; smooth into a thin layer. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour or up to overnight. Stir until softened and smooth before using.