Yield: 4 servings
|Batch Quick brioche dough
|Almond Brittle Topping:
|(3/4 stick) unsalted butter
|Sliced, blanched almonds
|Pastry Cream Filling:
|Stick soft unsalted butter
Butter a 2 by 10-inch pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment or buttered waxed paper.
To form the dough, fold it over on itself several times on a lightly floured surface and form it into a sphere, rounding it so that the outside skin of the dough is smooth and seamless. Cover the rounded piece of dough with a towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Then press dough evenly into the prepared pan and pierce it at 1-inch intervals with a fork. Cover the pan with a towel and allow the dough to rise until it is half again larger in bulk, about 30 minutes.
Uncover the dough and refrigerate it for 20 minutes. Immediately after you refrigerate the dough, set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. To make the topping, combine all ingredients except the almonds in a small saucepan. Place the pan over low heat and bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly.
Stir in the almonds, then remove the pan from the heat, and pour the topping into a buttered, heat proof bowl and cool it to room temperature.
After the dough has chilled for 20 minutes, remove it from the refrigerator and, using the back of a spoon or a small offset metal spatula, spread the almond topping evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the topping is well caramelized and the dough is firm and baked through. Remove the pan to a rack to cool for ten minutes, then loosen the topping from the sides of the pan by inserting the point of a small sharp knife ½-inch down between the topping and the side of the pan. Unmold the cake, remove the paper and cool it on a rack.
While the cake is baking prepare the filling: Combine ¾ cup of the milk and the sugar in a non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Whisk once to mix in the sugar and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining milk and cornstarch thoroughly in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the yolks. Whisk in the boiled milk in a stream and return the mixture to the pan. Replace pan over low heat and whisk constantly as the cream thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Allow to boil, whisking 30 seconds. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla. Divide the butter into 8 pieces and whisk into the cream one piece at a time. Pour the cream into a bowl, scrape sides of the bowl clean with a rubber spatula and press plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate cream until cold. Remove the cream from the refrigerator and whisk by hand until smooth, about 10 seconds.
To fill the cake, slice it in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife. Place the bottom layer on a platter and, using a small offset metal spatula, spread evenly with the filling. Cut the top of the cake into 10 or 12 wedges and rearrange them on top of the cake, fitting them closely together. (Pre-cutting the top eliminates pressure when the cake is cut and prevents the filling from oozing out).
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All recipes courtesy of Nick Malgieri