You Deserve a Big Ol’ Pan of Baked Brie

You Deserve a Big Ol’ Pan of Baked Brie
Photo: Claire Lower

Brie en croute is an excessive dish. Brie, on its own, served at room temperature without adornment, is already delightful: soft and spreadable, creamy and a little funky, a cheese that does not need to be melted.

And yet we melt it.

We don’t just melt it: We smear the top of it with jam or brown sugar or something else sweet and sticky, then we wrap it in puff pastry and bake it. Why do we do all this to brie, which is nearly perfect in its simplest state? Because we can. And because it tastes good.

It’s the excess, the extravagance, the extra-ness that makes baked brie perfect for holiday parties and Christmas movie marathons, but there’s no reason you need to limit yourself, family, or party guests to a single wheel of the stuff. Lean into the decadence, and make yourself an a big ol’ pan of baked brie.

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Making an entire pan’s worth of baked brie — a brie en croute-sserole, if you will — is even easier than baking up a single wheel. There’s no wrapping, no leaking, no worrying about the brie liquifying and spilling out of the pastry as it bakes. It all stays in the pan.

The process is so simple, there’s no need for a recipe. Remove a sheet of store-bought, frozen puff pastry from your freezer and allow it to thaw until pliable. While it’s thawing, shove a bunch of brie into a pan — cut it up as needed to completely fill the pan with cheese, like a delicious tangram puzzle — then smear some stuff on top of it: honey, jam, brown sugar, what have you. Drape the sheet of store-bought puff pastry on top of the cheese, brush it with an egg wash, and bake it until it’s puffed and golden brown.

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

In regards to the toppings, you can smear, sprinkle, or scatter the top of your brie with whatever you want. With so much brie in play, you’re not beholden to one flavour profile. You can divide the foundation of brie into thirds or even quadrants, devoting each section to a different topping. (I smeared one third with raspberry jam, sprinkled the middle third with brown sugar and bacon bits, and left the last third plain.) Jam, pepper jelly, honey, cranberry sauce, caramelised onions, salty rendered meats, and nuts all make great toppings, and baking brie this way gives you enough room to try them all.

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Your pastry should be thawed by the time you finish these first two steps. (If it unfolds with ease, it’s ready.) Set it on a floured surface and roll it out until it’s big enough to cover the brie completely. Push any excess down around the borders of the pan.

Other than cheese, pastry, and jam (or whatever toppings you choose), you’ll also need an egg wash to top it all off. Beat one whole egg with one tablespoon of milk , then brush it all over the pastry (mayo works too). Pop it in a 200°C-oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is a deep, golden brown.

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Let cool for 15 minutes, time enough for the cheese to solidify just a little bit. You want your brie to be gooey, creamy, and scoopable, not flowing and fluid. Slice it up and serve it with fruit and crackers, or eat it directly out of the very large pan. We’re making brie here, not judgements.

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