There are few things as indulgent and universally adored as the golden layers of a well-made Baklava or the soft, buttery crumb of a delicate brioche. Each, in its own right, is a masterpiece of pastry. So, imagine the idea of marrying these two desserts – this Baklava Brioche, is a fusion of decadent flavours and textures. Each bite is an embrace of the familiar and the novel, taking us from the nostalgic lanes of a classic patisserie to the vibrant hustle-bustle of a Middle Eastern souk.
Creating this dessert involves a beautiful harmony of well-chosen ingredients. The brioche dough is a simple yet vital element of any good bread – warm water and milk to activate the yeast, all-purpose flour to provide structure, salt for seasoning, eggs for richness and texture, and a touch of sugar. The final addition, generous cubes of room-temperature butter, gives the brioche its characteristic tender crumb and indulgent taste.
The filling, inspired by the iconic Baklava, brings together a tantalising mix of coarsely ground cashew nuts and pistachios, brown sugar for a hint of molasses sweetness, and a warm embrace of cinnamon and cardamom. These spices, inherently Middle Eastern, infuse the nutty filling with a sense of authenticity, tying the dessert back to the roots of a traditional Baklava.
No Baklava-inspired dessert would be complete without a syrup. A simple concoction of granulated sugar, lemon juice, water, honey, and a pinch of cinnamon is simmered together to create a glossy, sweet syrup that adds the final Baklava touch.
The journey of creating this Baklava Brioche is as exciting as its outcome. So, give this recipe a try and enjoy a fusion of flavours and textures that speak of old traditions and new beginnings.
Basic Ingredients for Baklava Brioche
- Warm Water and Milk: These are used to activate the yeast, which will ferment and create the carbon dioxide that causes the brioche to rise. The warmth is important to stimulate the yeast’s activity.
- Active Dry Yeast: This is the leavening agent that causes the brioche to rise and gives it its light, fluffy texture.
- All-Purpose Flour: The structure of the brioche comes from gluten, which forms when flour interacts with liquid. All-purpose flour has a good balance of proteins to create the right amount of gluten for a soft yet structured brioche.
- Salt: This seasoning enhances the flavours in the brioche and helps balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.
- Eggs: Eggs add richness to the brioche dough and contribute to its tender texture. They also provide structure and help the brioche brown as it bakes.
- Sugar: This not only sweetens the brioche but also feeds the yeast, aiding in the fermentation process.
- Butter: Key in brioche, it gives the bread its rich flavor and delicate, tender crumb.
For the Mixed Nut Fillingling
- Butter: Used to bind the filling together and add richness.
- Cashew Nuts and Pistachios: Traditional baklava ingredients, these nuts add texture and a unique, sweet-nutty flavour to the filling.
- Brown Sugar: Adds a deeper, molasses-like sweetness to the filling that complements the nuts.
- Cinnamon and Cardamom: These warm spices provide a flavour link to traditional baklava and add depth to the filling.
For the Honey Syrup
- Sugar, Water, and Honey: These form the basis of the syrup that will soak into the brioche, providing moisture and a sweet flavour reminiscent of traditional baklava.
- Lemon Juice: It balances the sweetness of the syrup and helps prevent crystallization.
- Cinnamon: It complements the spices in the filling and rounds out the flavour of the syrup.
- Active Dry Yeast: If you can’t find this, instant yeast is a good alternative. Remember to adjust the quantity accordingly as different types of yeast have varying potencies.
- All-purpose Flour: bread flour can also be used. It has a higher protein content, which could result in a slightly chewier texture.
- Cashews and Pistachios: If these aren’t available, walnuts, almonds, or pecans can be used. Make sure to adjust the sweetness and spice levels, as these nuts have different flavour profiles.
- Brown Sugar: Can be replaced with white sugar or coconut sugar if unavailable. You might lose a bit of the deep, molasses-like flavour, though.
- Honey: If honey is not available, you could substitute it with maple syrup or a simple sugar syrup. The flavour profile will change slightly, but it should still result in a tasty dish.
Preparation Tips for Baklava Brioche
- Proofing: Ensure your yeast is fresh and active by proofing it before use. Mix it with warm water and milk and a pinch of sugar. If it starts to froth and bubble after a few minutes, it’s ready to use.
- Temperature: Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature before mixing your dough. This will ensure they incorporate more evenly.
- Rolling: When rolling the dough, aim for even thickness throughout to ensure even baking.
Serving Tips for Baklava Brioche
- Serving Temperature: Baklava Brioche is delicious both warm and at room temperature. If serving warm, ensure it’s cooled slightly after baking so the syrup and flavours have time to settle.
- Presentation: Slice the brioche in front of your guests for a bit of a show – the cross-section with the spiralled filling is very impressive!
- Room Temperature: The brioche can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
- Refrigeration: For longer storage, keep it in the refrigerator. It will last up to a week.
- Freezing: You can freeze the baked and cooled brioche. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminium foil, and finally, place it in a freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. To serve, thaw overnight at room temperature.
- ¼ cup hand warm water
- ¼ cup hand warm whole milk
- 3 teaspoons (12g) active dry yeast
- 2 ¾ cups (500g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons (7g) salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons (45g) sugar
- 200g butter, room temperature (plus 1 tbsp to coat the bowl)
- 1 egg, beaten with one teaspoon of water, for glaze
Mixed Nut Filling
- ½ cup butter
- ¾ cup cashew nuts, coarsely ground
- ¾ cup pistachio, coarsely ground
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. cardamon powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup honey
- Pinch of cinnamon
Making the Dough
- Add the active yeast, sugar, milk, and water to a small bowl. Gently stir, cover with a kitchen towel, and rest for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- In the stand mixer bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix the ingredients on medium speed for a couple of minutes with a dough hook attachment. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, and make sure it is fully incorporated after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add butter, one tablespoon at a time, until blended. Finally, increase the speed and knead the dough for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it has a smooth and supple consistency.
- Form the dough in a bowl. Coat the sides of the bowl with butter and place the dough in the centre. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2 hours until it has doubled in size.
- Gently deflate the dough by lifting around the edges and letting the dough fall back into the bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and rest for an additional hour, or ideally overnight
Making the Filling
- To prepare the filling mixture, in a medium size bowl, combine the cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom powder.
Rolling and Shaping the dough
- Butter a 9-inch pan. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 9 x 12-inch rectangle about ½-inch thick. Evenly spread the butter over the dough, followed by the mixed nut filling and press slightly.
- From the long edge, gently roll the dough into a log. With a serrated knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. With the cut sides up, gently cross-layer the two halves together. Lift the dough gently, place it in a circular shape in the springform pan, cover it with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest and rise for an additional 60 to 90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Prepare an egg wash by mixing one egg with a tsp of water. Brush the eggwash over the risen dough. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Preparing the honey syrup
- Prepare the honey syrup while the baklava brioche is in the oven. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, honey, lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil over med/high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat to med/low and leave to simmer for an additional 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Once the baklava brioche has come out of the oven, gently brush the syrup over it. Allow to cool before serving!