Made of buttery brioche filled with pastry cream and chocolate chips, Pain Suisse, aka Brioche Suisse, is the perfect breakfast you’ll want to have every day!
There are 3 components in this recipe:
- Dough: We’ll be making today a brioche dough which is quite simple to make. The brioche dough is leavened with yeast and contains a large amount of butter and eggs, making it very soft and rich. Pain Suisse can also be made with a laminated dough (think croissant) but it is more time-consuming and not as straightforward.
- Pastry cream: I’m using the same delicious cream as I did when making cannoncini (Italian cream horns) with just a few minor tweaks. If you’re not sure how to make pastry cream, you might like to read the pastry cream tutorial with all the troubleshooting tips.
- Chocolate chips: You can use any chocolate chips you like depending on the sweetness and flavor you want. I use a combination of bittersweet and milk chocolate chips so that the end result isn’t overly sweet.
Let’s go through the ingredients you will need to make the brioche dough.
We’ll be using all-purpose flour, for convenience and a softer brioche. Bread flour has a higher protein content and would lead to more gluten formation. A brioche made with this type of flour might become too chewy.
Whole eggs are mostly composed of water (73%) and will hydrate the dough. The eggs will also add flavor, richness (especially from the yolks) and give structure to the brioche during baking.
It’s best to weigh the eggs before using them. The weight of the eggs can vary slightly within the same carton. If you add too much liquid to the dough, it will be very sticky and hard to handle.
This is not a low fat recipe! Brioche dough contains a lot of butter! This one contains 64% the amount of flour (160 g butter/250 g of flour). Butter adds richness and gives the brioche its incredibly soft texture.
It’s best to use European style butter, which has a fat content of 82% (versus 80% for American butter).
I’m using instant yeast in this recipe as it is more readily available. I’d recommend dissolving the yeast in a little bit of milk before using it. It is possible to add it to the flour mixture if you prefer. I’ve done it successfully. But I could see undissolved yeast in the dough after mixing. It was less obvious after chilling the dough overnight and there was no issue in the baked Brioche Suisse.
Alternatively, you can use fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast. It comes in small blocks that are refrigerated and can usually be found next to the butter in grocery stores. You might also be able to purchase fresh yeast in some local bakeries. It’s best to use an unopened, fresh package to ensure the brioche rises properly.
To use fresh yeast, simply crumble it into the mixing bowl then cover with flour. You can then safely add the sugar, salt and proceed with the recipe as explained. There’s no need to dissolve it in milk first.
Yeast shouldn’t come into direct contact with the salt or sugar which is why it’s best to cover it with flour until you combine the ingredients. Salt slows down the activity of yeast while sugar speeds it up.
You’ll need white granulated sugar for sweetness, flavor and to give the brioche a nice golden color.
Salt enhances all the flavors and slows down fermentation.
I like to add just a little bit of milk to dissolve the instant yeast but you can skip it if you want.
Let me quickly walk you through the process of making Pain Suisse before we dive into the details.
How to Make Pain Suisse – Overview
- Mix the brioche dough: We’ll start by mixing all the ingredients except for the butter. Once they are fully combined and the dough is smooth and elastic, we’ll gradually add the softened butter cut into pieces.
Why add the butter last? Fat interferes with gluten formation which is necessary to give the dough strength and elasticity. If not enough gluten is formed, the dough will be too weak to retain the gas bubbles formed by the yeast. The brioche won’t be light and fluffy.
- First rise: Once the dough is ready, let it rise until doubled in volume.
- Prepare the pastry cream: Transfer to a wide container and chill it until needed. It shouldn’t be hot when we spread it over the dough so the butter doesn’t melt.
- Chill the dough: Punch down the dough and chill it so it is easier to handle as it is very sticky. Letting it rest will also allow the flavors to develop more.
- Second rise: Roll out the dough, fill it with pastry cream and chocolate chips. Divide into equal pieces and let it rise once more.
- Bake: Bake the Pain Suisse and enjoy!
A warm kitchen and a lengthy mixing time can cause the dough to warm up too much. The ideal temperature of the dough when you’re done mixing it should be between 22°C (72°F) to 25°C (77°F). During mixing, it should never exceed 28°C (82°F) or the butter will start to melt yielding a greasy dough. It’s best to check the temperature of the dough occasionally to make sure it doesn’t get too warm. If it does, chill it for about 15 minutes before mixing again.
The easiest way to control the temperature of the dough is by adjusting the temperature of the eggs and butter. If your kitchen is warm, use cold eggs so that the dough doesn’t get too warm during mixing. You can also use cold butter. The butter should be softened before use or you’ll have trouble incorporating it into the dough. But if your kitchen is very warm, you can place the cold butter in a zip-lock bag. Beat it with a rolling pin to make it pliable without warming it up.
When mixing the dough in a 23°C (73°F) kitchen for example, I’ll use cold eggs (straight out of the fridge) and butter that was softened at room temperature for 5-10 minutes and is at around 18°C (64°F).
- Pour the milk into a small cup. Sprinkle the instant yeast over it and briefly stir. Don’t stir too much or it might get clumpy.
- Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Note: The picture below on the right is after a 10 minute wait.
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly mix with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients.
- Create a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the eggs.
- Briefly mix the yeast with the milk using a fork then pour over the eggs.
- Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes or until a dense, smooth, elastic dough forms. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape the bowl to ensure the dough is properly mixed. The dough will initially look very dry but will start to come together and become smoother as you keep mixing it.
- With the mixer still running (on low speed), add the diced butter in 4 additions. Wait for the butter to be fully incorporated before adding more. The butter will initially stick to the sides of the bowl but will eventually mix with the dough. Turn off the mixer occasionally to scrape the bowl. This step will take about 6 minutes.
- Once all the butter has been incorporated, increase the speed a little (speed 3-4 on a KitchenAid). Keep mixing for about 10 more minutes or until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. The mixer will start to struggle then suddenly the dough will wrap fully around the paddle. The dough will be smooth, elastic and quite sticky but easy to hold.
Tip: To make sure the dough is ready, do the windowpane test. Slowly stretch a small piece of dough into a thin layer. If it doesn’t tear, the dough is ready. If it tears immediately, keep kneading the dough for a few more minutes before trying again.
- Shape the dough into a ball by tucking the sides under and smoothening the surface. Place back in the mixing bowl (or a clean bowl) and cover with cling film.
- Let it rise in a warm place (free from drafts) for about 1 and 1/2 hours or until about doubled in size. If your kitchen is very cold, place the dough near a heater, or in a turned off oven with the light on. If your kitchen is too warm, try finding a cooler spot in the house.
You can prepare the pastry cream while you are waiting for the dough to rise. You’ll find the detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
When the pastry cream is ready, press a piece of parchment paper onto the surface and chill until needed.
Chilling the dough
- Once the dough has doubled in volume, gently punch it down to get rid of the gas bubbles. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly floured. Don’t skip the flour as the dough is quite sticky. But you don’t want to add too much either which would make the brioche dry. Shape into a rectangle.
- Lightly flour the surface of the dough and wrap well with parchment paper. Chill for 40 minutes then freeze for 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can chill the dough for 2 hours.
- Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Flour the rolling pin then roll out the dough into a rectangle about 4 mm thick (1/6 inch). The rectangle will be about 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16 inches).
- If the rolled out dough is warm, cover with parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Freeze for a few minutes or until cold. If the dough is too warm you’ll have trouble spreading the pastry cream and shaping the dough.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk the cold pastry cream to loosen it. Don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy. You can mix it with a hand mixer if you want it smoother but it’s not necessary.
- Spread it using a spoon (or a spatula) over the bottom half of the dough (along the long edge).
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cream then gently press them down with a rolling pin.
- Fold the top part of the dough over the bottom half with the help of the parchment paper. Lightly press with your hands to remove any air.
- Using a sharp knife (or a dough cutter), divide the dough into 10 equally sized rectangles, about 4 cm (1 and 1/2 inches) wide. Tip: For a clean cut and a brioche that rises more evenly in the oven, freeze the dough for about 10 minutes before slicing it. If it’s too warm and sticky, you’ll end up pulling the dough making it uneven.
- Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheet spacing them about 4 cm apart. Tip: If the brioche won’t release from the parchment paper, freeze it briefly to ensure it’s cold. Then carefully flip it onto a baking sheet. You should now be able to peel off the parchment paper. Alternatively, carefully slide a spatula under the dough to release it.
- Cover loosely with parchment paper and let it rise at room temperature for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until puffy. This might take more or less time, depending on how warm the dough/kitchen is.
While you are waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the syrup so that it has time to cool down.
- Pour the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Remove from the heat. Let it cool down at room temperature before stirring in the orange blossom water (if using).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F), conventional setting.
- In a small cup, briefly mix together the egg and milk with a fork.
- Lightly brush the brioches with egg wash, being careful not to let it drip on the sides. Egg wash drips might prevent the brioches from puffing up evenly in the oven.
- Bake in the middle of the oven (one batch at a time) for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to to overbake them or they will be dry.
- Remove from the oven and immediately brush with syrup. If reusing the same pastry brush, wash it first to avoid contaminating the baked brioche with raw egg.
- Transfer to a wire rack (using a turner/spatula) and cool down slightly. Enjoy!
The brioche dough tastes wonderful even plain. You can simply shape it into buns or make braided brioche. This recipe is enough to make two braided brioches. Divide the dough into 6 equal ropes (about 93 g/3.3 oz. each). Braid 3 ropes together to make one brioche and bake for about 15 minutes.
You could also replace the pastry cream with chocolate hazelnut spread (about 150 g/5.3 oz.) for a quicker, more chocolatey version.
Hopefully the tips in the step-by-step instructions will help you succeed on your first attempt. But here are some troubleshooting tips just in case.
The dough didn’t rise properly
- Expired yeast: Make sure the yeast isn’t old or expired before using it. If you already opened the package, it should be stored tightly wrapped in the fridge. If using fresh yeast, it’s best to purchase it just before you plan on using it. If kept in the fridge for too long (especially if already open), it will lose its leavening power.
- Too cold: The rise time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. If it is very cold, it will take longer for the dough to rise. Try placing it in a warmer spot next to a heater or in a turned off oven with the light on.
- Not enough gluten: The gluten formed gives strength and elasticity to the dough. If you use a low protein flour or you don’t knead the dough long enough, there won’t be enough gluten formed. The dough won’t be strong enough to retain the gas bubbles created by the yeast.
- Wrong measurements: It’s best to follow the recipe exactly as written. Adding too much sugar, salt or flour can all affect how well the dough rises.
- Salt and yeast: Large quantities of salt can kill yeast which is why it’s best to avoid direct contact between the two ingredients. If you’re not dissolving the yeast in milk first, place it in the bowl then cover with flour to protect it from the salt.
The dough is too sticky
The brioche dough contains a lot of butter and is quite sticky. But if it is impossible to handle, it might be due to the following reasons:
- Not kneaded enough: If you find the dough too sticky when you are still mixing it, try kneading it a bit longer. It will firm up as more gluten is formed and become easier to handle.
- Too much liquid: It’s best to go by the weight of the eggs (150 g/5.3 oz. in this recipe) rather than the number (3 eggs). Some eggs are larger and will add too much moisture to the dough.
- Too warm: Check the temperature of the dough frequently when mixing the dough to ensure it doesn’t get too warm. Don’t skip the chilling step.
- Low protein flour used: If you use low protein flour such as cake flour (around 7%-8.5% protein), it won’t be able to absorb as much water as all-purpose flour (around 10%-12% protein). Less gluten will be formed and the dough won’t be as elastic and firm making it harder to handle.
The brioche is dry
- Overbaked: The likeliest reason is that you baked the brioche for too long. Try baking it a few minutes less next time. If using a convection setting, switch to the conventional setting.
- Left uncovered: The brioche will dry out quickly if left out. Wrap the baked brioche tightly as soon as it cools down or place in an airtight container.
- Too little liquid: It’s best to weigh the eggs to make sure you have the right amount of liquid in the recipe.
- Too little butter: The less butter you use, the less moist and rich the brioche will be. Don’t be tempted to reduce the amount of butter too much.
- Too much flour added: The brioche dough is very sticky. Resist the urge to add flour to make it less sticky or the brioche will be quite dry. Sprinkle just a little bit of flour on the work surface when rolling out the dough. See previous section for a sticky dough.
The brioche is bland
- Too little salt: Salt enhances all the flavors. If you add too little, the brioche might come out bland.
- Low quality ingredients: There are just a handful of ingredients in this recipe and they will really shine through in the final result. Avoid old or low quality ingredients for optimal results.
- Baked too soon: Wait for the dough to rise properly. The flavors will develop as the yeast ferments.
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Felder, C. (2014). Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry (4th ed.) Rizzoli.