Méribel (Savoie)-La Roche-sur-Foron (Haute-Savoie), 09/17/2020

The Bescoin or the brioche with ears

Bescoin is a nice milk bread flavoured with saffron and anise, sometimes ended by two "ears" made by twisting the dough. In the past, in Savoy, it could only be found in the baker shops on August 15, for major religious celebrations or during the Vogues, i.e. the saint’s patron festivals of the Avre valley that runs down from Chamonix to Lake Geneva. The rumor had it that the princes of Savoy loved it and the recipe was then popularized throughout the region. It became a staple of wedding and newborns’ baptism feasts. It is said that the bescoin two ears gave it the silhouette of a baby in his/her swaddling clothes! It was then shared with neighbors and it could be kept several days as it is said to be better stale! For instance, part of the bescoin baked for the Assumption festival was frequently kept till August 28, the day of Saint-Guérin and the mountain herders’ patron. The way to eat it was to cut thick slices with butter or honey for breakfast. I confirm that it makes a fabulous breakfast

Savoyard culinary legacy

Savoyard pastries regularly use saffron to flavor the many Savoy’s cake specialties. The 3 Michelin-star chef Guy Martin remembers that his grandmother who used to live in an altitude farm always flavored her Savoy cakes or her riouttes with a few saffron pistils from her own production into his Savoy cake. One can even find tracks of the use of saffron and anis up to 1420 in the Savoy’s soupe grasse, one of the onion soup  ancestors so to say, as featured in one of the oldest treaties of medieval gastronomy written by the said Maître Chiquard, Duke of Savoy Amédée VIII’s “private chef”.

My Bescoin

Although it is supposed to be a dessert or at least a sweet bread, I served mine with a Tome de Savoie cheese, produced in the same area. Superb! I also made another version, more brioche-like, and in this respect closer to the original Savoy's Bescoin, but I prefer this more "breadish" one...

* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from the route followed by the peloton.

Levels of difficulty







20 minutes

14 hours

30/35 minutes

Ingredients 6 servings

 §  2 tsp of dry yeast

§  500g of AP flour (T55)

§  40g of sugar

§  1tbsp of honey

§  3 medium eggs

§  1 tsp of saffron pods

§  1 tbsp of anise seeds*

§  20 cl of milk

§  1 pinch of salt

§  100g of soft butter

* I used fennel seeds from our garden


§  Dilute the yeast and the honey in the lukewarm milk and let it rest stand for 15 minutes.

§  In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, anise and saffron.

§  Add the beaten eggs, the milk and the butter, and mix roughly the whole by hand or with a spatula

§  Knead the whole for a minimum of 5 minutes (or longer if kneaded by hand) or till the dough takes a smooth and elastic texture

§  Cover it and let it rise up for around 1 hour in a warm/non-vented area, then let it rest for 12 hours in the fridge

§  Take the dough out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature

§  Punch it to remove the air

§  Cut the dough in two and shape two loaves

§  Let it rise up for 30/45 minutes under a cloth in a warm/non-vented area

§  Brush each loaf with a mixture of milk and sugar, score it and sprinkle some anise seeds on the top

§  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a 375F preheated oven

§  Let cool the brioche on a rack and eat it lukewarm… or wait till Saint-Guérin’s day to eat it stale!


A more brioche-type version

A more brioche-type version