Lazy Sunday – Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago, I had a few lemons that I wanted to use up quickly, so I decided to make lemon curd. It’s surprisingly very easy! Just lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing that I’d get very bored just eating lemon curd on toast, I searched for some recipes to use it up. Once I saw this one for brioche crescent rolls filled with lemon curd, I knew I had the perfect recipe.

I used homemade lemon curd, but you can always use store bought if you don’t have enough time or enough lemons. If you do have those two things, I definitely recommend making your own lemon curd. It really is very simple. The first time I made it, I noticed some of the egg whites had cooked in my curd. So I spent a good 30 minutes trying to fish out those egg white pieces.

Can you spot the egg whites?

Not wanting to go through that process again, I found this awesome tip from Fine Cooking. Cream the butter and sugar first until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, and finally add in the lemon juice. You’ll end up with a lumpy yellow mess that looks pretty disgusting. But don’t worry, once you put in on the stove, it’ll become smooth and creamy lemon curd. I tried a second time, following the tip, and got beautiful, delicious lemon curd with absolutely no cooked egg white pieces!

As I’ve said before, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to baking with lots of butter. So I cut down on the butter in this recipe and used only 1/2 cup of butter. As I was mixing in the butter, I already thought that it was too much. But despite decreasing the butter, the crescent rolls were still pretty rich.

I made half of the recipe and got about 18 crescent rolls. As you’re making them, be careful not to put in too much lemon curd on the dough. I did that several times and lemon curd was peeking out of the crescent rolls, and then spilled out as the rolls baked.

These crescent rolls puffed up and browned beautifully. The dough was so soft and fluffy while the lemon curd was tart and sweet. It’s a great combination because the tart lemon curd cuts the richness of the buttery brioche.

I baked these on a Sunday morning for my family for breakfast. They’re a nice sweet treat to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee as you read the headlines of the newspaper and bask in the sunshine on a lazy Sunday.

Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd
Adapted from girlichef

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 warm water
1/8 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp.
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup lemon curd (or any type of citrus curd)
1 large egg, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
powdered sugar, for sifting

Lemon Curd
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, place the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and another cup of flour and mix until well combined. Add salt and remaining flour about a ½ cup or so at a time, until the dough comes together but is still fairly sticky.
3. Pull the dough out of the bowl and place onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add a quarter of the butter at a time, waiting until well blended before adding more.
5. Clean the large bowl you used earlier, transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes to warm up.
7. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 10 inches wide. Cut into 12 equal wedges/triangles.
8. Add two teaspoons of lemon curd to the base of each triangle. Starting from that base, roll each triangle of dough and form into a crescent shape. Pinch ends to seal.
9. Place each crescent roll on a parchment lined sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
10. Preheat oven to 350F during last 15 minutes of rise time. Brush each crescent with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Curd
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs.
3. Add in the lemon juice. (Mixture will look very lumpy and chunky).
4. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will thicken as you cook it.
5. Cook for 15 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon.
6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
7. Pour lemon curd into jar or bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
8. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
9. Spread on bread, toast, english muffin, etc… and enjoy!
You can keep fresh lemon curd in the refrigerator for a week or two.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

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Only the Best for Mom – Brioche French Toast

For Mother’s Day, my brother decided to make my mom french toast. Wait before you dismiss this as just a regular old french toast recipe (like I did). The little details of this recipe really make this french toast better than any you’ve ever had.

My friend Rachel, who spent a year studying in France, once told me that french toast is actually the French dish, pain perdu or “lost bread.” People would soak their undesirable, old, hard bread in the egg/milk mixture to recover the moistness that it had already lost. However, American culture has transformed pain perdu into one of the most desirable breakfast dishes. So attractive that we no longer use old bread, but instead fresh bread, defeating the original purpose of the dish and often times making a soggy french toast. But this recipe helps to remedy that by toasting the bread before soaking it. This made a big difference as did the type of bread used. Challah is suggested, but we used brioche, which resulted in a rich, buttery french toast that was absolutely delicious. However, I had to stop eating after one piece of toast due to its richness.

My brother had the brillant idea of adding macerated mixed berries to the dish, which helped cut some of the rich flavor of the toast. By adding sugar to the fruit, you create a concentration gradient, with a higher concentration of sugar outside of the fruit than inside the fruit. As a result, the fruit release its juices to achieve chemical equilibrium. Being a chemical engineering student, I love it when I can explain real-life phenomena using concepts I’ve learned in school. 😀 Anyways, getting back to the food, the macerated berries were delicious and add a nice touch to the already amazing french toast.

This french toast was a great dish to make for our mom for Mother’s Day. But don’t wait for a special day like that to try it out. It’s a great and easy recipe that will make you feel like you’re eating brunch at a fancy bistro instead of at home.

Note: This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, they don’t post the recipe online unless you have a subscription, but you can watch how to make it here.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Bunch of brunches

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Brunch has become a regular Sunday event for me and my friends. It’s one of the best ways for all of us to come together, cook and bake, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also a great excuse for me to cook something creative. A few months ago, my friend Lin and I started looking at fun brunch recipes, from glazed avocado poptarts to savory breakfast pizza. I clicked from site to site, pinning brunch recipes for later. That weekend, I tried my hand at empanadas, which turned out beautifully as I mentioned before. Other dishes that morning included breakfast pizza topped with tomato, mushrooms, and baked eggs, a dutch baby pancake, and zucchini fritters.

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The next weekend, we hosted our first weekend for prospective grad students accepted into our department. We all used it just as another excuse to cook and bake. Lin bought 3 dozen eggs, two Costco packages of butter (aka 8 lbs of butter), two Costo sized bags of cheese, and tons of potatoes. We managed to use most of it up in cooking up stratas, frittatas, and lots of biscuits. Our classmate Jacob baked over sixty buttery biscuits that would make any Southerner proud. To contribute, I baked two loaves of quick bread using leftover beer as a leavening agent and banana muffins. Needless to say, our homemade brunch was a success and garnered many compliments. However, despite our amazing brunch, most of the students who visited that weekend didn’t end up choosing Berkeley for grad school. But I suppose they ought to be choosing a school for other reasons than amazing food.

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Two weeks ago, my friends and I spent the weekend up at Napa in my friend Rachel’s grandparents’ house. It was a beautiful weekend filled with amazing weather, delicious food, and lots of wine. And again, we cooked up another awesome brunch. On the menu were buttermilk and bacon waffles (Rachel was so excited to use her new waffle maker she just had to bring it on the trip), sourdough french toast, goat cheese and asparagus omelets, and of course, mimosas!

Thanks to my friends, brunch has become much more than just a meal for me. It’s become an event in which we all express our creativity through cooking and baking new dishes; in which we all come together as a team and family; and in which we enjoy one of life’s simplest gifts: each other. Corny, I know, but true.

Challenging myself

At times I wonder why I chose the path I did. Before starting grad school, I had this rather naive and earnest outlook, thinking my life would continue on the linear path to success and greatness. As long as I tried hard, I’d get to where I’d want to end up. That philosophy seemed to work for undergrad. However, that’s one big difference between undergrad and grad school that I’ve learned this past year: in undergrad, you know exactly what to do to succeed: study hard and do well in class; in grad school, you have no idea what you’re doing. And for me, a person who likes to know what’s expected of her, this has been one of the most difficult things to deal with. Everyday I question whether I’m doing enough or what I’m doing is right. This doubt then leads me to wonder why I chose such a path. Why am I putting myself through this, to become a better person or just to torture myself?

I do similar things when I choose baking projects. In high school, for my French class, we could get extra credit for baking a French dessert for Christmas: either buche de noel or croquembouche. I’d say up late into the night trying to perfect those desserts, only to roll up a cracked genoise or burn my sugar coating. The one thing that I’ll always remember thinking from those experiences: “Man, French desserts are hard.”

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Having learned my lesson from those near all-nighters just baking, I’ve tried to choose rather simple, straight-forward recipes to try. I often bake quick breads because of their simplicity. However, my ambition has gotten the better of me several times. One time in particular, I stayed up till 2am making empanadas. But I should mention that I did start at 11pm. The recipe wasn’t that difficult; it was just time consuming. I’m sure if more than one person was doing it, the process would have gone much faster.

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But in the end, it was all worth it. Once I had finished baking, I took the piping hot empanadas to my friend’s house for brunch and they were a hit! The crusts of the empanadas were flaky, buttery, and golden. The spicy sweet potato and black bean filling had a depth of flavor. Everyone praised the empanadas, and even my friend’s boyfriend, who is quite the foodie chef, complimented my beautiful crust. Right then, I realized that all of that work was worth it. All of my efforts and hard work that night had made people happy and that reward was so satisfying to me.

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And perhaps that’s why I’m putting myself through all of this work in grad school – to gain the skills and knowledge so that I can help the world and make a difference. The ability to create new knowledge and spread it throughout the scientific community actually excites and motivates me. And the satisfaction I’ll obtain in the end will make all of that hard work and suffering worth it.