Wegmans grocery stores had the best craquelin brioche. While they were unwilling to share their recipe, they guided me to this one!
We are fortunate enough to have a Wegmans grocery store nearby. My family and I shop there once a week for our groceries. While the interior aisles are pretty much ho-hum, it’s the bakery area that I am crazy about. Wegmans has some breads that are out of this world (red, white and blue bread in the summertime, orange cranberry bread in the winter).
One of our all-time favorites was their craquelin brioche. Emphasis on the WAS. I say that because they don’t make it anymore. Apparently, Wegmans decided to retire this bread for no apparent reason. This particular bread was our favorite because the inside of the buttery brioche tasted cream-like. It was almost as if someone had filled the middle with a pastry cream.
Naturally, after Wegmans retired the bread, I emailed them to ask for the recipe. And not surprisingly, they turned me down. They told me that their policy was not to share any current or past recipes. But, as a consolation, they directed me to a blogger’s craquelin brioche recipe instead.
So I finally made the time to try the suggested recipe, and I am so glad that I did. Not only does this make TWO loaves, but the insides of these breads also turned out sweet and pasty-cream-like! The interiors were soft and almost gooey (but not in an underbaked kind of way). My daughter went crazy for this and said that it was almost as good as Wegmans!
Yes, this recipe will require some time to pre-plan, but I think it’s absolutely worth it. Since it makes two loaves, you can freeze one of them. Or, if you’re like my family, just eat both loaves in under a week. Yup, that’ll do it.
- 1 and ½ cups pearl or nib sugar
- 1 orange separated into zest and juice
- ½ cup warm water
- 3 and ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar divided
- 2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 and ¼ cups bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup crushed ice
- 3 and ½ sticks unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ teaspoon almond extract optional
Make the nib sugar (can replace with candied orange peel as an alternative)
- In a small zip-top bag, toss together the pearl sugar and orange zest. Place in the freezer for at least one hour or up to overnight.
- Once ready to use, add in the orange juice and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain before using.
Activate the yeast
- In a measuring cup, add the water, yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.
Make the brioche dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if mixing by hand, whisk together the flours, salt and the remaining ¼ cup of sugar.
- Add in 5 of the eggs plus an egg yolk (save the egg white for later - place it in the refrigerator for now). Add the yeast mixture and almond extract if using.
- Mix on medium low speed for 5-6 minutes. The dough should be stiff. If it appears too sticky, add about 1-2 Tablespoons of flour. Do not over-flour or else your bread will be super hard once baked. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the crushed ice and 1 Tablespoon of the butter. Mix on medium low speed until the butter is fully incorporated. Slowly add the rest of the butter and mix on medium low speed. The dough will appear to be a sticky, ugly mess, but keep mixing for about 10 minutes or so. It will eventually appear to be satin-like and smooth (trust me). Once the dough gets to this stage, transfer to a well-oiled bowl and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Then cover lightly with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Your dough is now ready to use. You can move on to the next step, refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 1 week.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two. Working with one of the dough halves, break off about a ¼ of the dough and set aside for now. Using the remaining ¾ of that piece of dough, press into an approximate square. Grab a handful of the prepared sugar nib mixture and press into the dough. Fold it in half and repeat several times until about half of the sugar nib mixture is used up.
- Shape the dough into a cylinder. Then, take the smaller piece of dough and roll it out into a large rectangle. Place the sugared cylinder in the middle of the rolled out dough and cover it up. Pinch the seams so it's completely covered. Place into a standard loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of dough.
- Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 4 hours or until doubled.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Brush the top of the doughs with the remaining egg white. Top with additional pearl sugar if desired. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Allow the bread to cool before serving.