Swiss Brioche Cream Cake (Nidelkuchen)
This is a specialty of the Konditorei Aebersold in Murten, a charming walled medieval town in Switzerland’s Canton Fribourg. After tasting and speaking with Hans Aebersold about the topping in 2005, I came home and worked out this version.
While the original recipe remains a secret, my efforts got me pretty close. One difference is that the bakery uses a dough similar to a rich white bread, though this brioche dough version certainly makes for a delicate result. This is a great coffeecake to serve for breakfast or brunch.
Makes one 9-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings
1/2 batch Brioche Mousseline Dough (page 184)
1/4 cup crème fraîche or other thick cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1. Round the dough to a sphere. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Butter and spray a 9-inch springform pan, buttering the sides thickly as the topping may run over while baking.
2. Using the floured palm of your hand, press the dough into the prepared pan. If it resists, cover for 10 minutes, then press again. Cover and let the dough proof until about 50 percent thicker, 30 to 40 minutes.
3. After about 20 minutes, set a rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
4. For the topping, whisk the crème fraîche and yolks together. Use the palm of your hand to gently press an 8-inch round area in the enter of the dough to deflate it, leaving a K-inch thicker rim at the side of the pan all around. Use a small offset spatula to spread the topping to within K inch of the side of the pan. Sprinkle with half the sugar.
5. Place the pan in the oven, decrease the temperature to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes. Open the oven and pull out the rack; quickly sprinkle on the remaining sugar.
6. Bake the cake until well risen and the topping is set and golden, about 20 minutes longer.
7. Cool the cake on a rack, then remove the side of the pan and slide the cake from the base onto a platter. Serve on the day it’s baked.
Brioche Mousseline Dough
This is a richer, softer, and in some ways lighter dough than the brioche recipes in BAKE! and BREAD. Use it for a standard or round loaf baked in a pan or for any of the brioche roll variations on page 186. Softer and stickier than a leaner brioche dough, it’s a little difficult to handle but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Flour the palms of your hands rather than the work surface or the dough and you’ll have no problems forming the dough. No matter what size or shape pan you choose, it will look appealing and taste even better.
Makes 2 pounds/900 grams, enough for 15 to 18 individual brioches depending on the size of the
molds used or 1 large or 2 smaller loaves baked in loaf or round pans
2 tablespoons/25 grams sugar
2 and 1/4 teaspoons/1 envelope/7 grams fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
1/2 cup/75 grams whole milk, scalded and cooled to 100°F
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups/400 grams unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1 teaspoon/6 grams fine sea salt
8 ounces/2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, softened
1. Stir the sugar and yeast together in the bowl for a stand mixer, then whisk in the cooled milk. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk again. Whisk in the eggs.
2. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour, making sure not to leave any in the bottom of the bowl or stuck to its sides.
3. Using the dough hook, beat the dough on the lowest speed until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
4. Mix again on low-medium speed and sprinkle in the salt. Add the butter in 8 or 10 separate pieces, then let the dough mix until it completely absorbs the butter and becomes smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough doesn’t absorb the butter easily, stop and scrape down the bowl and dough hook every couple of minutes.
Once you see that the butter is on its way to being completely absorbed, increase the
speed to medium for about 1 minute.
5. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, turn it over so that the top is buttered, and cover with plastic wrap. Let ferment until it doubles in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature.
6. Once the dough has fermented, scrape onto a floured surface and give it a turn: Press the dough into a fat disk and fold one side over the center, then fold the other side over both. Roll the dough down from the top to form an uneven sphere. Place the dough back in the bowl (butter the top again if necessary) seam side down and cover again.
7. Refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours or until it rises again and then chills down. It’s now ready to use. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, but you should bake it within 18 hours of beginning to mix it.