Oh, this is good.

Lemon-scented brioche buns split, filled with luscious roasted strawberry ice cream, and topped with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

A new take on ‘strawberry shortcake’!? I think yes. I can’t believe I never thought of this before.

Brioche is a French bread that almost tastes like it could be cake. The texture is incredibly tender with a tight crumb. As a professional pastry chef, I can say that this kind of dough is your ultimate secret weapon in the kitchen. It makes the best cinnamon rolls, fries up the best doughnuts, and is excellent for french toast and bread pudding.

I was already smitten with brioche a long time ago, when we met in pastry school. But to sandwich creamy, frozen custard in between it? I love it. The flavor combinations are endless. I think that pistachio ice cream would be particularly delicious, perhaps paired with a small scoop of chocolate ice cream. But that’s just me.

The inspiration behind this recipe came from an Italian cookbook called Bocca. One of their desserts is gelato in a brioche bun. Beautiful, just beautiful.

Store-bought ice cream or gelato would be fine if you have no desire to stand over a stove top today. I like the deeper flavor you get from roasting fruit, so that’s what we have going on for the Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream. You can click the link to get the recipe.

How to make this high altitude recipe:

Lemon Brioche Buns (adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)

Poolish:
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Dough:
zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 egg and 1 egg yolk, for egg wash

Make the poolish: In a medium sized bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Top with the flour and let sit for 20 minutes.

Make the dough: Add the poolish to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the lemon zest, sugar, flour, salt, and eggs. Mix on medium speed until the dough is shiny and elastic. You should be able to take a small piece and stretch it to “see through thin”.

On low speed, add half of the butter, several tablespoons at a time. Beat on medium speed for several minutes until the butter is incorporated. Add the remaining butter and continue mixing until the dough is very shiny and silky to the touch. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled; this takes about 25-30 minutes at 8,200 feet. Press out the gases in the dough and cover tightly. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

The following day, shape the brioche dough into small balls. Place them in well-buttered muffin cups. You will get about 15-16 buns. Beat the egg and egg yolk together with a pinch of salt. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each bun with the egg wash.

I like to ‘proof’ my yeast pastries in a slightly humid, slightly warm oven. I do this by placing a bowl or pan of very warm water on the bottom of my oven. Do not turn the oven on. The steam and slight heat from the water mimics the environment of a professional dough proofer, and you do not have to worry about your product drying out uncovered while it rises. Just keep the oven door closed as much as possible. Let the buns rise until they have doubled in size, about 20-25 minutes. When they get close, take them out of the oven and remove the water bowl.

Preheat your oven to 360 F. Gently brush the buns with a second coating of egg wash. Once the oven is ready, bake the buns for about 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are a rich golden brown and they sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then use a butter knife to gently turn them out of the muffin cups, or the bottoms may get soggy.

Cool completely and then split in half. Fill with several generous scoops of the best ice cream you can find. Top with the remaining half and dust liberally with powdered sugar.

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