The Brioche au Comté

Just imagine a cheese fondue that you would pour on a butter brioche pie and that you would gratiné a few minutes under a broil. You will have an idea of the Brioche au Comté.

This recipe was apparently invented by a wine producer for the Jura area, where the Comté is produced, in the East of France. In fact, he combined two traditional recipe from this area, the "tarte au Comté" (Comté pie) and the "tarte au sucre" (sugar pie). The tarte au Comté is traditional pastry crust garnished by a filling made of grated Comté cheese and crème fraîche, whereas the tarte au sucre is brioche-type pie garnished with a filling of crème fraîche, egg and sugar. Therefore, the wine producer had the brilliant idea to use the brioche pie of the tarte au sucre and the filling of the tarte au Comté. Yes, brilliant, because unlike with a classical hard crust, the cheese feeling impregnates the brioche crust and flavors it beautifully, even in the edges where there is less filling...
As he produces "Vin Jaune" (yellow wine), this wine producer also incorporated this very special wine in the filling, in the same way as the Apremont wine is incorporated in a Savoy's cheese fondue (you see, here again). Vin Jaune is a wine specific to the Jura area, as it is made from the late harvest of a local grape named Savagnin (sounding like Sauvignon, but this is in fact a "cousin" of the Traminer grape used in the Gewurztraminer) and maturated under a layer of yeast (called the "voile", i.e. the veil), like for the Sherry with which it had a number of similarities (except that Sherry is a fortified wine). Incidentally, since I didn't find Vin Jaune in my area, I used Sherry (1 shot) for this recipe...

Totally decadent and regressive

Levels of difficulty
20 minutes
2 hours
30 minutes

Ingredients 4 servings
(as a starter or, with a salad, as a light but “rich” dinner)

1.     For the brioche
§  500 g of strained AP flour
§  125 g of butter, room temperature and cut in a dozen of pieces (the recipe I followed calls for the double, but I estimated that a ratio butter/flour of 1:4 was enough!)
§  Around 10 cl of milk (to adjust depending on the flour quality)
§  4 eggs
§  75 g of crystalized sugar
§  10 g of salt
§  10 g of dry baker’s yeast (the double if fresh yeast)

2.     For the filling
§  200 g of Comté cheese (raw milk if possible, and the older, the better)
§  125 g of crème fraiche
§  1 egg plus 1 yolk
§  1 shot of Vin Jaune (or if not available, Sherry)
§  Ground black pepper
§  Grated nutmeg

1.     Making the brioche
§  Mix together the flour, the sugar, the salt and  the eggs
§  Mix the yeast into 5 cl of the lukewarm milk and add it to the flour
§  Blend the whole in a mixer with the hook tool and complete as needed with the remaining milk
§  Mix till obtaining a consistent texture
§  Continue to mix adding progressively the butter till obtaining a consistent and silky texture, and till the dough forms a “ball” around the hook
§  Put the dough in floured basket and let it rise, covered by a towel at room temperature, for around 1 hour or till it doubles its volume (passed this time, if you have prepared it in advance, you may want to keep it in the fridge before the final phase)
§  Put the dough on a floured pastry mat and “punch” it with your fist to “degaze” it and/or kneed it at minimum (much less than bread)
§  Place it in the buttered/floured baking dish, and shape it with your fist of with a floured wooden pestle, so that it covers consistently the form of the dish, and with your thumbs, create an higher edge on the circumference
§  Let rest and rise, covered by a towel at room temperature, for around 1 hour or till it doubles its volume
§  Bake it as is (no filling) for around 6 minutes at 375F (preheated)

2.     Making the filling
§  Put together the grated cheese, the crème fraiche the egg and the yolk, the Vin Jaune (or Sherry), with 2/3 pinches of black pepper and 2/3 pinches of grated nutmeg, and mix vigorously the whole, manually with a wooden spoon

3.     Baking
§  Pour the filling inside the prebaked brioche pie and bake it for around 20 minutes at 350F. Personally, I took the option to use the steaming/bread baking function of my oven, to favor the development of the brioche and I was happy with it
§  If need be, pass the pie a couple of minutes under the broil at 450F to perfect the color
§  Let it rest 5 minutes and serve it directly, for instance with a dandelion/sorrel/ramp salad like here