Brioche Doughnuts with Brown Butter Pastry Cream and Maple & Vanilla Bean Glaze

Sometimes, you just want a doughnut. And not just any doughnut. If you're going to eat fried dough, you might as well go big or go home. 

Use a dough with a ton of butter - brioche. 

And don't just make a regular pastry cream - add brown butter. 

And the pecans - more brown butter. Butter everywhere. 

When I say go big or go home, I mean it.

There are times when you just want to go over-the-top indulgent. You've thrown all common sense out the window and just decided, "Screw it, today is a fat day." Nothing in this recipe is at all healthy, not even remotely. Butter and sugar are everywhere. But really, did you expect a healthy doughnut when "brown butter" is in the title?

And these pecans. Oooohhh man, these pecans. I've been popping a few into my mouth every few hours. I've even put them in my morning granola. My logic is that my granola already has nuts in it so then I can add more nuts. Nuts that are covered in maple syrup and honey and brown butter.... There's actually no logic in that. I don't care. The milk left over at the bottom of the bowl is worth it.

Maybe today isn't going to be your fat day. Maybe today is your "I'm going to be an adult and go exercise and not sit on my butt all day reading pastry books". Maybe today is your "I'm going to eat this kale salad and like it."

But one day, you're going to have a fat day. And these doughnuts will be waiting.

Brioche Doughnuts with Brown Butter Pastry Cream and Maple & Vanilla Bean Glaze

Recipe from The Modern Café

307 g bread flour
8 g salt
45 g sugar
4 g instant dry yeast
71 g whole milk, at room temperature
113 g eggs, at room temperature
154 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Brown Butter Pastry Cream
Recipe from The Modern Café

108 g whole milk
41 g sugar
1 g salt
1/2 vanilla bean
55 g yolks
16 g cornstarch
16 g brown butter, warm

Maple and Vanilla Bean Glaze

175 g icing sugar
100 g good-quality maple syrup
1 vanilla bean

Maple Molasses Pecans
Recipe adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

50 g honey
35 g maple syrup
7 g molasses
5 g vanilla extract
1 g salt
300 g whole pecans
25 g brown butter, warm

To make the brioche dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer, pour in the milk and eggs and stir to combine. Pour the dry ingredients on top. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Add one-third of the butter and switch the mixer to medium speed. Once that butter has been incorporated, add another third of the butter. Wait until it has been completely mixed in, then add the remaining butter.

Continue to mix on medium speed until full gluten development is achieved. To check for gluten development, perform a "window test". Stretch a small amount of dough with your hands. It should be elastic enough to be pulled until it is very thin and you can see through it without it ripping.

At this point, the final dough temperature should not exceed 27 C/ 80 F.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to ferment for 45 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a sheet pan lined with a silpat or greased parchment paper to prevent it from sticking. Wrap the sheet pan with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 12 hours.

Lightly flour your work surface. Roll out the brioche to a thickness of 3/4 inch. Using a 4 inch circle cutter, cut the brioche and gently transfer the rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet with about 1 inch of space between them. Gather the scraps and reroll them once and cut as many circles as you can out. Discard the remaining scraps.

Lightly cover the brioche with plastic wrap and let the dough proof for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in size.

Heat about 2 L of vegetable or canola oil in a very large saucepan or soup pot to 185 C. Once the oil has reached the correct temperature, start frying the doughnuts one or two at a time. Fry each side for about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the oil and let cool on a wire rack. 

For the brown butter pastry cream, place the milk in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the cream. Place over medium heat.

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisk until slightly paler in colour.

When the milk mixture has come to a boil, slowly pour a small amount into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Continue tempering the yolks with the milk mixture, then transfer all of back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook for another minute, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Add the brown butter and stir to combine. Set the pastry cream over an ice bath to cool. Once it has reached room temperature, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the maple and vanilla bean glaze, place the icing sugar in a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and stir to create a smooth glaze. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the glaze. 

For the maple molasses roasted pecans, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Combine the honey, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the pecans and stir to thoroughly coat the pecans. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with a parchment or silpat and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring the nuts every few minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer the nuts into a bowl and add the brown butter. 

To assemble the doughnuts, transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a small circular tip. Poke a small hole in the side of the doughnut and insert the piping tip. Pipe the pastry cream into the doughnut until you feel a little bit of resistance. When you remove the piping tip, the pastry cream should come out a little.

Dip the doughnut in the maple glaze and let the excess drip off. Let the glaze set, then add a few pecans on top. Serve immediately.

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