Lemon, ricotta and blueberry brioche slab

A fluffy, buttery pillow slathered with lemon curd and ricotta and scattered with berries.
A fluffy, buttery pillow slathered with lemon curd and ricotta and scattered with berries. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Nut-free

You will need to start this recipe one day ahead (with minimal effort). If I can make this work, anyone can. My greatest failing as a cook is my limited capacity for yeasted goods; which is ironic given my love for le carb. Cakes, fine. Pastry, also fine. But bread-like goods are my greatest kitchen weakness, so believe me when I tell you, you can't stuff up this brioche. I mixed the dough briefly then let it have a sleepover in my fridge for a slow prove and viola – brioche!

Ingredients

Brioche

270g plain flour

30g castor sugar

1 tsp salt

7g sachet dried yeast

60ml milk

2 eggs

105g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

½ tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Ricotta mix

1 cup ricotta

2 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Lemon curd

2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks

¾ cup castor sugar

⅓ cup (80g) butter, cubed

juice and zest of 2 lemons

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Egg wash

1 tbsp milk plus 1 egg yolk, whisked to combine

To top

250g punnet blueberries

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

For the brioche, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat to combine. Add the milk and eggs and beat until incorporated. It will be really sticky. Add the butter and vanilla and give it a quick blitz for about 45 seconds. Then just use your hands to make sure it is combined; knead it in the bowl just long enough to ensure the butter has incorporated. (The softer your cubes of butter, the easier this step is.) Cover tightly with cling wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day, sit the bowl somewhere warm and bring the dough completely to room temperature (this may take a couple of hours). Sprinkle a bit of flour on a work surface and turn out the dough, it will be very soft and elastic. Roll to roughly a 25 x 35cm rectangle or basically slightly larger than the roasting tin you are using.

Line the roasting tin base with baking paper and gently drape over the dough, tucking the ends in at the corners and letting the edges collapse in on themselves (think deep-dish pizza crust). Let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes while you make the lemon curd and ricotta mix.

Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced (190C conventional) .

Add the ricotta mix ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.

For the lemon curd, whisk the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Stir through the vanilla.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the base of the brioche, keeping within the thick edges as a border. Dollop over the lemon curd. Brush the edges of the brioche with the egg wash then pop in the oven for 22-28 minutes, until the edges of the brioche are gloriously golden and the ricotta and lemon curd mixture feels slightly set.

Remove from the oven. Combine the blueberries, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste in a bowl. Scoop onto the brioche just before serving. This is best served warm and on the day of baking.

Tips: The slab effect is key here – none of that shaping and moulding and potential for overworking, just a quick roll and into a roasting tin like a fluffy buttery pillow.

Blueberries are cheap right now and make a great tart contrast to the lemon curd. Feel free to swap with what you have on hand, just be careful if using frozen fruit as the extra liquid may leach into the lemon and ricotta swirl – will still taste great, just may not look as pretty.