Happy Easter! Boy, do I have an Easter Monday brunch idea for you. These Carrot Cake Brioche Buns are sure to surprise and delight. But please don’t mistake these beauties for an Easter-only delight. I’m really not about that. These buns are good for any ol’ brunch. And since carrots are pretty much always in season, why limit yourself? Trust me you’re gonna want to make these more than once and I doubt you’ll want to wait until next April.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my stories got a little beachy over the past week. Yes, I was back in Tulum, Mexico at the exact same hotel, right next door to the exact same room. I actually wanted the exact same room, but them’s the breaks. This may sound like boring travel plans. But in my opinion, if you find a beach vacation that ticks all the boxes, hold on to it. There’s a lot of things that can turn a trip to paradise into a real bummer. Crap weather, overcrowding, a seaweed-heavy beach, a litter-heavy beach and, worst of all, bad food. Our little spot in Tulum doesn’t have any of these drawbacks, so we’re holding on tight.
If you want to know more about where we stayed, check out my Tulum article from last year. But this post isn’t about my newly freckled nose or my adorable coati sighting, this post is about these Carrot Cake Brioche Buns. I frantically flew home because I needed to share them with you. Thankfully, that need corresponded with my pre-arranged flight. 😉
So, I have a question for you: Do you consider carrot cake solely an Easter thing? Please say no. I mean, I know it’s as common an Easter treat as a chocolate bunny. But when I was growing up, carrot cake popped up every so often even when Easter was nothing but a distant memory. Like, a carrot cake would be someone’s birthday cake. People don’t tend to do that with holiday-specific desserts. I mean, when was the last time you saw someone with a birthday Buche de Noel?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re rolling your eyes at this thinking, “Geez, girl! Eat carrot cake whenever you damn well please!”, and frankly, I agree with you. Food isn’t the place for rules but rules are so often imposed on food. And then those rules quickly become internalized and boom, another hard and fast tradition is born. Tradition is fine, but I’d like to keep the possibility of birthday party carrot cake alive.
Don’t worry, these concerns don’t keep me up at night. This rant against the carrot cake/Easter association is only a long-winded explanation of why I am not billing these Carrot Cake Brioche Buns as an Easter dessert. They are, instead, a springtime brunch option free from any holiday association…just ignore the fact that I’m posting them over Easter weekend. Cool? Cool!
Okay, let’s talk about these buns! Once you master brioche dough, these bad boys are a cinch to make. The filling is nothing more than carrots and ginger cut into matchsticks sauteed in dark brown sugar and a saucy amount of butter. Silvered almonds bring the crunch and a silky goat cheese glaze sets the whole thing off. These Carrot Cake Brioche Buns do take a little time to make but most of that is downtime. In other words, these buns are perfect to make on a lazy Saturday. Just stick around in your PJs to assemble them, then pop them in the fridge overnight. Bake them the following morning for hot, gooey buns just in time for Sunday brunch.
The brioche factor may scare a few of you away from attempting this recipe, which makes me a little sad. The truth is, brioche is not that difficult. But having said that, I think you should only give it a whirl if you have a stand mixer. I know, not everyone has one and they are dang expensive, but brioche is a kneady (get it?) bread. In fact, I’ve never had the nerve to attempt brioche by hand. But if you’re game, by all means, give it a go and let me know how it goes. I promise I’ll be amply impressed.
So, that about does it for these Carrot Cake Brioche Buns. Hope you all have a Happy Easter and find a way to work these buns into your spring brunch rotation. The buns deserve far more attention than Easter alone can give them.
Carrot Cake Brioche Buns with Goat Cheese Glaze
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs lightly beatened
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened, diced
Carrot Cake Filling
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1-inch knob ginger, fine julienne
- 3/4 cup carrot matchsticks
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Goat Cheese Glaze
- 140 g 5 oz goat cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Brioche
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Heat the milk to 120°F, then remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast and lightly stir. Leave the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
- When the 5 minutes have elapsed, add the sugar, salt, and eggs to the milk/yeast mixture and stir until just combine.
- Set the mixer to it's lowest setting and add a cup of the flour. Slowly add the remaining flour ,1/4 cup at a time. Adding more flour only when the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Once you approach the 2 1/2 cups mark, check how sticky the dough is. The dough should be tacky but not gooey. You may need the extra 1/2 cup of flour, or you may not. I always err on the side of sticky dough, because you can always knead in a little extra flour by hand later on. If your dough is too dry, it's harder to walk it back.
- Once the flour is thoroughly integrated, you can start adding the butter. Add the butter a piece or two at a time. Once the butter is no longer visible, add another two pieces. Continue until all the butter is integrated. This can take up to 30 minutes. Be patient.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for another 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and set aside. Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and add the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours or until doubled in size.
For the Filling
- While the dough is rising, make the filling.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is bubbling, add the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the ginger and carrot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the slivered almonds.
- Transfer the filling to a bowl and let cool completely.
- Place the risen brioche dough on a floured surface and using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rough rectangle, about 1/4 of an inch thick.
- Spoon the cooled filling onto the dough and spread it evenly with the back of the spoon. Be sure to leave a 1-inch border of bare dough along the edge closest to you.
- Starting with the edge farthest from you, tightly roll the dough into a log. Place the log seam down and wrap in parchment paper. Place the log on a flat surface in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
- Slice the chilled log into 9 evenly-sized buns. Place the buns in a 9 x 7-inch baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer the buns to the fridge and let rise for 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the egg wash by whisking the yolk and cream together in a small mixing bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns generously with the egg wash.
- Place the buns in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Transfer the buns to a cooling wrack and cool for 10 minutes before glazing.
For the Glaze
- Place the goat cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the sugar and whisk at a medium speed until a thick paste forms, about 3 minutes.
- Increase the speed to high and add the heavy cream, salt and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and silky.
- Pour the glaze over the warm buns and let sit for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle the buns with additional slivered almonds and serve immediately.