Oh, when times were flush and you were loaded, you ate brioche, the millionaire’s bread, 50% butter by weight. You ate it fresh, smearing rich fingerprints all over your coffee mug. What of the leftovers? “Bah!” you said, throwing them out. “I’m made of dough! I don’t eat stale bread!”
But then the economy turned to mush, and now you’re thinking that maybe tossing food isn’t such a super idea anymore.
My friend Emily, the Chief Baking Officer (I swear that’s really her title) of the super-cute Sweet Cakes Bakery in Chicago, feels your newfound pain and wants to introduce you to the ultimate reincarnation of stale brioche: the Bostock. It’s buttery, topped with frangipane and baked till slightly caramelized but still moist. This thing is out of control. It’s like bread pudding you can hold, but only so much better because, if you recall, it’s topped with frangipane. If you topped a manhole cover with frangipane I’d break my teeth on it.
You’re going to need stale—at least day-old—brioche, almond syrup, and frangipane (the last two are super easy to make, and you can hold them until you’re ready). If you want to be fancy, get your hands on some sliced almonds and powdered sugar. And maybe a handgun to keep people away.
Step One: Put Aretha Franklin on the stereo. Really. It doesn’t come out right if she’s not kicking it.
Step Two: Lightly grease your pan. Scraping caramel is so déclassé.
Step Three: Cut brioche into 1 1/2-inch slices. Don’t stress over the precision, but do right, woman (do right, man).
Step Four: Dunk the slices in a bowl of syrup until they stop bubbling, then squeeze them out like a sponge and place them an inch or two apart on your pan. You really need the bread to be stale or it’ll turn to mush right about now.
Step Five: Spread the frangipane from edge to edge, about as much as you would to make a peanut butter sandwich. “Not too much,” Emily says. “You’re trying to make money off of food that’s garbage. Uh, I mean, it’s supposed to be economical. Uh, oh, just don’t write that, will you? You’re going to get me in trouble.”
Step Six: Sprinkle almond slices on top and bake in a 350° oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, just enough to set the frangipane and, if you’ve been good and Aretha’s been playing loud, enough to slightly caramelize the edges.
That’s it. It takes hardly any time and even less effort, and it’s so good you might be persuaded to live this financially responsibly forever.
1 C brown sugar
1 C water
2 T honey
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
Method: bring everything to a boil. Let cool. Keep in your fridge.
4 oz (one stick) butter
3/4 oz sugar
8 oz almond paste (not marzipan; this has less sugar), room temperature
2 large eggs
3/4 oz flour (cake flour is best, but all-purpose will do)
1) Cream butter and sugar in a mixer, as if for cake.
2) Break up almond paste into 1-inch chunks and add to butter and sugar, mixing until not quite fully incorporated (a few BB-sized bits are okay).
3) Add eggs one at a time.
4) Add flour all at once and continue mixing until just incorporated; it should be very soft and spreadable, like the creamed butter and sugar.
5) Store in the fridge or freezer.