Known in French as a “Fallue”, this old-fashion brioche from Normandy is a staple of regional French baking. Traditionally made with “crème fraîche”, it is known for its thorny top and scrumptiously creamy crumb.
Brioche comes is so many variations in France, and this one is the most treasured ones of Normandy. And I just couldn’t share any other recipe than the one from French baker Philippe Gouley – awarded several gold medals for his “fallue” recipe, by the official “fallue and teurgoule brotherhood”.
Needless to say, this recipe is a winner.
Like most brioche recipes, it can be completed with a stand mixer or by hand. It consists of a simple dough with flour, eggs, butter and one signature ingredient: crème fraiche.
Crème fraîche is a rich cultured cream that is an essential of French cooking. It is often used as a base for sauces, emulsions, soups and sometimes in baked goods. Outside of France, it often gets confused with – or translated as – sour cream. But it is actually not quite the same….
What’s the difference between sour cream and crème fraiche?
- Sour cream usually has around 20% fat content, and some gelatin or vegetable enzymes will often be added to it to stabilize it and make it thicker. As the name reveals, it tastes sour.
- Crème fraîche usually has at least 30% fat content. Hence, it is naturally rich and thick (thanks to natural bacteria) and does not require any thickeners. It tastes creamier and less sour.
While you can find crème fraiche in every single grocery store in France, it is rare commodity in North America. Liberte makes a good 40% fat content one (which can be found in some Canadian grocery stores), but other brands such as Riviera are unfortunately harder to find.
That being said, if you do not have crème fraiche on hand, plain sour cream can actually be a great substitute in this recipe. The result will just be slightly more sour – but I find it quite pleasing in this brioche.
Note: Substituting crème fraiche for sour cream works in this recipe, but this is certainly not always the case. It will often work for baked goods, such as this brioche, but won’t work for sauces or soups (sour cream has less fat and more protein, so will tend to curdle when brought to high temperatures).
Another option, if you are feeling ambitious, is to make your own crème fraîche with just buttermilk and cream.
The Brioche from Normandy is traditionally enjoyed for dessert with “Teurgoule”, the old-fashion baked rice pudding from Normandy. I also find it delicious for breakfast, with some butter, fruit jam, or honey.
Brioche from NormandyPrint This
2 cups bread flour (ideally French-Style T55 flour) (500g)
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (113g)
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon crème fraiche (or sour cream) (100g)
¼ cup white sugar (50g)
18g fresh yeast
Add in all the ingredients – except for 1 egg and the yeast – in your mixing bowl. Mix (with the paddle attachment or by hand) for 30 seconds. Add in the yeast and mix for 10 minutes. At the end, Knead the dough by hand – if it is too sticky, sprinkle a pinch of flour; if it is too thick, add in a little bit of cream. The dough should be soft and shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
Shape the dough in a big ball and wrap it with a clean cloth (in which you sprinkled a bit of flour in – so the dough doesn’t stick to it). Let the dough rise for 2 hours, ideally at 22C/71.6F.
After 2 hours, flatten the dough and fold it in half, length wise, to obtain a big oval log. Seal the dough with your fingers, and place it (seal down) on a greased baking tray. Cover with a cloth, and let rise again for 1hour and 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Break the remaining egg, whisk it with a pinch of salt and brush it all over the dough. With scissors, make small cuts all around the top half of the dough, to create a “hat”.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the brioche is golden.
Enjoy it warm or at room temperature.
This brioche stays fresh for up to 2 days, well wrapped in a cloth.