Venetian Brioche Buns

These soft, pillowy Venetian Brioche Buns are a favorite in the cafés and pasticcerias of Italy for a reason. Believed to originate in Venice, Italy, the rolls can be found with a variety of toppings and fillings, from almond paste to jam. We opted for a classic buttery, lemon-scented dough topped with a swirl of creamy Italian Lemon Pastry Cream. Finished with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar and crunchy pearl sugar, these delicately sweet buns are a perfect addition to breakfast and dessert tables alike.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Venetian Brioche Buns
Makes 12 buns
  • ½ cup (120 grams) warm whole milk (110°F/43°C to 115°F/46°C)
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) instant yeast*
  • 3¼ to 3½ cups (406 to 437 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) tightly packed lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature and lightly beaten
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Italian Lemon Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons (17 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) pearl sugar
  1. In a small bowl, stir together warm milk, 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 cups (250 grams) flour, salt, lemon zest, and remaining 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (32 grams) sugar. Add warm milk mixture and eggs; using the paddle attachment, beat at low speed until a smooth dough forms, about 1 minute. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 1¼ cups (156 grams) flour, beating until a shaggy dough forms; scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough becomes smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky, about 12 minutes; add up to remaining ¼ cup (31 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined after each addition (7 to 8 minutes total). Beat until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 5 to 8 times. Shape dough into a smooth round.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Lightly punch down dough. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 12 portions (about 69 grams each). Roll each portion into a smooth round. Working with one at a time, press or roll flat into a 3-inch disk. (Keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out.) Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, 25 to 35 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  8. Place Italian Lemon Pastry Cream in a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round piping tip (Ateco #802). Pipe pastry cream in a spiral on each bun, starting at center and spacing swirls within spiral about ¼ inch apart. (Reserve any remaining pastry cream to serve with buns.) Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust tops with confectioners’ sugar; sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  9. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers at least 190°F (88°C), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and serve warm, or let cool completely on wire rack.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Lemon Pastry Cream
Makes about 1⅓ cups
  • 1¼ cups (300 grams) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) plus 4 teaspoons (16 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons (4 grams) tightly packed lemon zest
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg yolks (57 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar, lemon zest, and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming. (Do not boil.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 4 teaspoons (16 grams) sugar. Pour hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to boil. (Mixture will thicken.) Cook, whisking constantly, until cornstarch flavor has cooked out, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Stir in butter until completely combined. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cooled. Whisk smooth before using.


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