These days I eat less bread than I used to.
Not no bread, but less.
And I try to stick to the good stuff when I do.
Like brioche, I love brioche.
So when I found out my friend Tara was going to include a recipe for bostocks in her new book, I knew I had to try it.
She’s a bit of a magician in the kitchen and we have a history of searching out bostocks together.
Plus I’ve made her chocolate chip cookies and they’re fantastic.
Same goes for her fried chicken, her pickled strawberry preserves and her house burger sauce.
All without surprise, excellent.
Anyway, brioche (and bostocks) come with a fair bit of nostalgia for me.
They remind me of my first days working in a pastry kitchen.
You learn brioche (the foundation of bostocks) early on,
it’s one of those basic recipes you have to master, like pâte à choux or crème pâtissiére.
It’s also really versatile as far as application goes.
Perfect the day you make it, but equally great days later.
If you haven’t made (or had) bostocks before,
they’re essentially thick pieces of brioche,
soaked in simple syrup (Tara’s has orange blossom water and citrus rind)
and spread with almond cream (often garnished with sliced almonds or even dried fruit).
In Tara’s recipe, the almond cream puffs up around the almonds themselves and melds into the soaked bread.
The result is a centre that is someplace between bread,
custard and a slice of cake, with the edges feeling crispy like a piece of toast.
They’re fragrant, but not overpowering, and perfect in hand on the way out the door.
From the Seven Spoons Cookbook, Ten Speed Press, 2015. I've used both a traditionally shaped loaf as well as a round and prefer the texture of bostocks made of round slices. If you're making your own brioche try using a coffee tin for baking.
- 150 g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 180 ml water (3/4 cup)
- 1 t orange blossom water
- 4-6 strips citrus zest (lemon, orange, yuzu), each 2.5 cm (1") thick
- 115 g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
- 115 g confectioners' sugar (1 cup)
- 100 g almond meal (1 cup)
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
- 2 t rum or brandy (optional)
- Scant 1/4 t almond extract
- 1/4 t fine-grain sea salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8 to 10 slices of stale brioche, each around 2.5cm thick (1")
- Sliced almonds, for sprinkling (optional)
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- To make the syrup, stir together the granulated sugar, water, orange flower water, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 week. Remove the zest before using.
- To make the almond cream, beat the butter in a bowl with a silicone spatula or a hand mixer until the butter holds a peak when the spatula is lifted. Sift in the confectioners' sugar, then fold to incorporate. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of bowl. Sift in half the almond meal, stir to incorporate, then sift in the rest with the flour. Mix again then stir in the vanilla, rum, almond extract, and salt. Pour in the egg and stir until creamy. Transfer to a bowl, then press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent it from drying out. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours, or up to 3 days ahead.
- To assemble the bostocks, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange the brioche on top. Brush syrup all over the slices until saturated. If any syrup remains, wait until the first soaking is absorbed , then brush again. Spread one cut side with almond cream, all the way to the edges, then sprinkle with almonds. Bake until the cream is puffed and brown, and the brioche is deeply toasted, 18 to 22 minutes. Let the bostocks cool for 5 minutes on their tray. Sift a light flurry of confectioners' sugar over all, then all that's left is the eating.
+ some things I like:
This rug, this rug and this one
I just ordered this book
I can’t wait to try these
My baking board
I think we should get this for our patio/garden
And Rosebud Multi-Use Oil
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott