The first time I ever saw the name Bostock, was when I was cooking from Tara O’Brady’s book, Seven Spoons about 3 years ago.
The recipe itself is quite charming. But I couldn’t figure out why it is called Bostock. I went online and tried to find out, and still nada, nothing, no clue. I did find one website that gave the French name for it: Brioche Aux Amandes. Well, no worries, who cares what it is called, it tastes quite yummy.
For lack of a better way to describe this pastry treat, I call it a cross between French Toast and an Almond Croissant. Like french toast, the day old brioche slices are soaked in a liquid. But instead of an eggy mixture, it is usually a simple syrup, or even thinned out jam or jelly. A layer of frangipane (almond cream) is spread on top of the slices, then they get sprinkled with almond slices, and they are all baked off in the oven, until the outsides are golden brown and crisp, and the inside of the bread is all creamy good like good french toast. The frangipane layer puffs up perfectly, adding such a contrasting texture to the nuts. These are cooled for a moment and then dusted with icing sugar.
Since it is baked as opposed to cooked on the stove top, this is a great weekend treat for a crowd. You can fill a baking sheet with these slices, and while they are baking up, you can attend to making frothy cups of cafe au lait or cappuccino, the perfect accompaniment to these yummy slices of baked bread. Treat them like a lovely croissant- they are perfect for dipping into said coffee confections 🙂
Here’s where it gets fun. I’m not sure if anyone has broken down the basics of a good bostock. The main components are day old brioche, a simple syrup, a frangipani, and sliced almonds. This is the classic version. And it will always taste amazing. But why stop at the classic version? I ask you, Why?!
First the bread: Yes, brioche, or even a thickly cut panettone work wonderfully. But so would thick cut Texas toast! Or how about thick cut raisin bread? If that is all you can find, go for it! But ensure that it isn’t fresh. You need it to be stale enough to stand up to the basting of the simple syrup. What I usually do is purchase a brioche loaf, slice it thickly, and then put it back in the bag and freeze it. Then when I am in the mood, I just pull out a few slices and let them thaw overnight. In the winter, when panettone is everywhere, I stock up, and do the same thing: slice it up and bag it for freezing. Then bostock or french toast are just moments away.
For the simple syrup This is a classic 1:1, sugar and water. You can add flavourings like a large piece of orange rind while it is simmering, or even orange blossom water or rosewater, lemon extract, vanilla extract, or as in the case of the recipe below, bitters, all at the end, when the syrup is cooling down. There are so many amazing bitters in the cocktail section of your specialty grocery stores these days. Why not add a few dashes of chocolate bitters, or cardamom bitters? And you can make the simple syrup ahead of time- it should keep in the fridge for a couple of months if in a sterilized glass jar. Then just pull out what you need and flavour it at that point. And like I mentioned above, alternatively you could also heat up some lovely apple jelly etc until it is thin enough to brush all over the bread.
The frangipane is something else that can be made in advance. I often make frangipane for one recipe, and have enough leftover to freeze. This is then the frangipane I will use for those impromptu bostock cravings. Like the bread though, pull it out the evening before and let it thaw in the fridge.
And the nuts. Yes, almond slices are the classic. But why stop there? I have used pistachios, hazelnuts, or like today’s recipe, walnuts.
Extras: If you want, why not add a layer of jam or preserves underneath the frangipane layer? Or maybe a lovely layer of chestnut cream?! Or instead of nuts, why not add a layer of sliced fruit on top to bake into the frangipane layer? Thinly sliced plums, figs, or peaches would be amazing.
The main point is, with a little thought, this recipe doesn’t have to be a lot of work in the morning. Having your bread sliced, your syrup made, the frangipane ready to go means that you can assemble these lickety split while everyone else is wiping the sleep out of their eyes. And they will be so happy to set those eyes on this yummy brunch treat!
For the recipe below, there is enough frangipane for a whole loaf of bread, so for sure you will have extra to freeze. Or use in a different dessert. Just store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
A couple of months back I made this up using pistachios. I ground some of them up and replaced half of the almond meal with them for the frangipane layer- hence the lovely green hue! I added 1/4 tsp of rosewater to the simple syrup (enough for 4 slices), and I sprinkled slivered pistachios over the frangipane layer. I also layered in a lovely mixed fruit jam that has an Indian flair to it that comes from Asha’s cooking blog, Food Fashion Party, here. All together, these flavours created a lovely middle eastern twist to this french specialty.
Today’s recipe is in honour of Autumn. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn, and what better way to welcome it, than with a Maple Walnut version! So there are black walnut bitters in the simple syrup, there is maple syrup in the frangipane, and I topped the slices with chopped walnuts.
I hope you try this out, and embrace a lovely baked pastry that didn’t involve creating a dough first! The bread is already made, right?! Most of the work is done. 😉 And because this is a framework, or master recipe, it has joined other similar recipes in the Pantry. You now have the framework to make up your own version. You’re welcome.
Maple Walnut Bostock
Thick brioche slices are basted with a walnut infused simple syrup, covered with a layer of maple syrup frangipane, and topped with chopped walnuts. They get baked in the oven till the outsides are crispy, but the insides are perfectly soft and almost creamy!
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup filtered water
- 5-6 dashes of walnut bitters
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 3 tbsp AP flour
- 3/4 cup ground almonds or almond meal
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 slices of thick cut day old slightly stale brioche. Depending on the size of your brioche loaf, 1 slice per person may be enough. If not, then cut two per person. You may need to make a bit more simple syrup though.
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Icing sugar for dusting
Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sugar has melted thoroughly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and gently add 5-6 dashes of the walnut bitters. You can make this ahead of time, even the day before. Keep in the fridge till needed. Store in a clean glass jar.
In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar. I use a wooden spoon to thoroughly mix until creamy. You can also use a hand held mixer to do this. You want them both to be completely incorporated and almost fluffy.
Add the egg and continue to cream until smooth.
Add the flour and combine.
Add the almond meal and combine thoroughly.
Add the salt, and then the maple syrup, and stir or blend until totally creamy. This can also be made the night before and stored in the fridge till breakfast.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Slice the bread and ensure that it has dried out a little. Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, thoroughly spread half of the simple syrup over one side of the bread. Take your time to let it soak in.
Turn them over and repeat with the remaining syrup.
Using an offset spatula or wide knife, spread out a layer of the frangipane over the top of the bread. Spread it to the edges. It shouldn't be too thick. Go for no more than 1/8" or 3mm.
Then sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the slices.
Bake on the centre rack for 18-22 minutes till they are golden brown and crisped up on the outside.
Let them cool for 5 minutes before dusting with icing sugar.
Serve with a good cafe au lait!
If you want to make more syrup, just increase both the sugar and water evenly. I have given the amount needed for 4 slices. But you may want to make more slices. Increase accordingly. Everything can be made in advance, including slicing the bread. Just keep it covered until the morning.