100 Favorite Dishes: No. 9, Salty Tart's cream-filled brioche

Sweet and simple: Cream-filled brioche at Salty Tart

Sweet and simple: Cream-filled brioche at Salty Tart

As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2014, coming April 16, the Hot Dish has been serving up 100 of our favorite local dishes. Now it's time to grab your tickets to the Best of the Twin Cities party on April 24 at Muse. Enjoy complimentary samples from some of the city's best eateries, drink specials, live music, and more. Click here to purchase, and we'll see you there!

When you peer into the brightly lit pastry case at Salty Tart in the Midtown Global Market and see the mini lemon tarts, golden as the yolk of an egg, or peek behind the counter to get a glimpse of Surly chocolate cupcakes being piped with buttercream, you may be tempted to pass over the item that's just about the best thing at this bakery or any other: The cream-filled brioche bun. 

It's not flashy or overly-decorated. Even its name is a little vague-sounding, like it might be just a sort of sweet dinner roll. But that's far from the truth. These profiterole-like pastries go down like a dream and require serious skill to make, which is why we leave that up to the professional: James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef Michelle Gayer.

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Her macaroons were made famous after another local food personality, Andrew Zimmern, mentioned them on a Food Network Special called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The chewy coconut cookies are a must-order, but we would throw down with Zimmern and say the cream-filled brioche is even better. 

Soft buttery brioche dough, almost doughnut-like in consistency but a little denser, serves as the protective packaging around a scoop of perfect pastry cream, generously flecked with vanilla bean. The only finishing touch it needs is a brush of egg wash to deepen the color as it bakes, and a roll across a plate of vanilla sugar. Doing anything else to it, even adding more flavor, is unnecessary -- it's already the complete package. 

No. 40: Crema's affogato
No. 39: Broders' quadrucci con pollo

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