Gâteau à la Crème: a French Brioche Pastry with Lemon Cream Filling

Gâteau à la Crème: a French Brioche  Pastry with Lemon Cream Filling

A buttery brioche dough sprinkled with coarse sugar and filled with a tart lemon custard filling.

I’m a day late, but I couldn’t resist baking this French pastry along with the other Bread Baking Babes and Buddies. Bread Baking Babe Lien was the hostess for March and she chose a pastry with a rich brioche bread crust filled with a luscious lemon custard.


I enjoyed this pastry, but my family thought it wasn’t sweet enough. Despite my family’s reaction, the other Bread Baking Babes and Buddies gave this pastry rave reviews. I was happy there was one slice left for me the next morning for breakfast.


The cream filling calls for crème fraîche, which can be expensive and hard to find in my neck of the woods, so I made my own the day before I wanted to use it in this recipe. It’s so easy, there really isn’t a reason not to make your own. I used Emeril Lagasse’s crème fraîche recipe on the Food Network.

You can check out all the delicious versions of this pastry the Bread Baking Babes and Buddies baked up at Lien’s Notes. Thanks Lien!

Gâteau à la Crème

Yield: 2 small gâteaux (4-6 slices each)

Gâteau à la Crème


    Brioche dough:
  • 250 grams (about 1 2/3 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed & at cool room temperature
  • Lemon Custard:
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 cup crème fraîche*
  • Finish:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pearl or nib sugar



Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook (put salt on the very bottom and yeast on the very top). Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks and mix on low until the dough starts to come together, ~3 minutes. Turn up the speed to about medium and allow to knead for another 5 minutes, or until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.

One by one, start adding cubes of butter to the bowl and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated, 2-3 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside at warm room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 1 hour longer (this makes the dough easier to work with).

Lemon Custard:

For the crème filling, mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a large mixing bowl and gradually mix in the crème fraîche. Set aside.

Forming the dough:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough in half. One piece at a time, for the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Gently continue to press the dough flat and spread it into a circle that is ~9-inches in diameter; start from the middle and press outward, leaving a 1-inch border, as best you can. Or make it slightly larger and build up your own edge. Take care not to stretch the dough and to keep the dough even in thickness. (You can either do the flattening on the parchment-lined tray itself, or do it on your work surface and carefully transfer it over. I did one each way - and both ways worked fine.)

Gently set a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and set aside at warm room temperature for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F (or if your oven doesn't have a 360 mark, you can do what I do and just stick it somewhere between the 350 and 375 marks).

Filling, finishing, and baking:

Prick the base of the dough all over with a fork. Brush the rim of both rounds with the beaten egg, and then scatter as much nib sugar over as you wish.

Divide the custard between the two rounds, filling them full. You may have just a bit of custard left over. No worries...eat that part with a spoon while you're waiting.

Carefully slide the tray into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are risen and golden brown. The filling should still look a bit wobbly, but it will be bubbling around the edges. Set the tray on a rack to cool. Cut into wedges and serve!



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    Leave a Comment:

  1. says

    That’s so funny that your family thought the gateau wasn’t sweet enough! My husband must be related to them; he didn’t think the gateau was sweet enough as a dessert but he thought it was okay for breakfast.

    Homemade creme fraiche is great, isn’t it? I was too lazy to go out to get cream and buttermilk though, so we used a combination of cream cheese and yoghurt to replace the creme fraiche.

    I must say that I think your gateaux turned out beautifully! I feel certain that it was exactly the right sweetness!

  2. says

    Wonderful bread Barbara! And even made your own crème fraîche, wow.
    Thanks for baking with us. (I’ll add you to the round up)

  3. Samta says

    Wow! these look super yummy. I wish I could grab one for myself!
    First time here – and I love your space.
    I am now a follower :)

  4. says

    These look so good! I would love the cream filling. I am dying to try this! I am wondering how you could make it sweeter though. Please respond and tell me! Thanks for sharing this wonderful content with us! Great job!

  5. says

    Wow. I have never heard of this, but I have to tell you that I’m totally lusting for this. I love anything custard, and there is a bag of Meyer lemons in my fridge screaming to be transformed into something worthwhile. This could be it! Did you think the dough was sweet enough, or would you adapt it with a little more sugar? I might be tempted to use vanilla sugar? I love that it’s a free-form kind of tart. those are fun to make.

  6. says

    oh my good mercy!!! Are you kidding me? I had no idea how amazing this was going to be as I couldn’t say the name. I’ll just call it deliciousness

  7. says

    I’m feeling really dumb right now because I can’t even pronounce the words in this treat but am loving the look and ingredients. This will definetely be going on my must make list. Anything with lemon makes me a fan. :)

  8. says

    Those look amazing! I bet I would have loved them if other people thought they weren’t sweet enough. :)

    And I had no idea you could make creme fraiche! It’s easier and cheaper to find where I live than sour cream but sometimes I run out and when I do, I’m going to use that recipe. Thanks!

  9. says

    Delicious! This French speciality is very similar to “Salée A La Crème” (a Vaud treat) which my Swiss grandmother made…