If there's one thing Melbournians are mad for, it's brunch, and with our cafe culture already at peak saturation I suspect that breakfast chefs the city over are constantly on the look out for new concepts that will help set them apart from the crowd. In recent times it's the base that's been receiving a little more attention, and where once any old bread under your eggs would do, people are now more interested in sourcing quality sourdough, or using something more than just your standard sandwich or vienna loaf. Brioche buns, in particular, have certainly become an "it" item, with sliders, squid ink and charcoal buns now a regular feature on your more adventurous menus.
While the latter are certainly striking in appearance, I'm not mad about employing a bold statement if it doesn't also contribute to the piquancy of a dish. That being said, a little embellishment can also be good fun, and so it got me thinking of what other flavours could work in pimping up a classic brioche bun.
Having just pulled the last of this summer's tomato crop I reckoned the two could make nice bedfellows, so set about preparing a rich, roasted tomato puree, which was then folded through a light and not-too-sweet brioche base. What resulted were buns a deep shade of orange and, while the tomato flavour was lost somewhat, there was enough of it still there for a strong, savoury presence.
A subtle change and one unlikely to overthrow their squid ink counterparts, but certainly a nice compliment if you had a roll of eggs and bacon in mind. And while I'm personally not that big a fan of using brioche as burger buns, it seemed only appropriate...
ROASTED TOMATO BRIOCHE (Adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
- 210 g plain flour
- 240 g bread flour
- 10 g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 g dried yeast
- 150 ml milk, lukewarm
- 80 g crème fraîche
- 2 eggs
- 100 g butter, at room temperature
- 80 g roasted tomato puree*
Mix together the flours, sugar salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, to combine. Whisk together the wet ingredients (not including the butter) and add to the flour mixture. Using a dough hook, mix on medium speed to form a dough. Gradually add the butter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours).
Degas the dough and divide into ten pieces (approximately 90 g each). Pre-shape into rounds and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shape the dough into round buns, place on a baking tray lined with paper, cover, and leave to prove for around 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Gently brush the buns with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and then bake at 180°C for around 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 10 buns.
** To make your own roasted tomato puree, halve a couple of punnets of cherry tomatoes and place on a baking tray together with a few whole garlic cloves (lightly crushed) and then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Roast at 150°C until beginning to darken around the edges and then leave to cool. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and blend for a few minutes, then pass through muslin cloth to remove any skin and seeds.