After a glorious weekend in Paris, I am now obsessed with all things French. Well ok, not all things, just their ability to make bread and pastries. I found myself wandering around Paris for a day on my own and I just hopped on and off the Metro to get from one pattiserie to the other. Since coming home, I am on a mission to recreate some of the delights which I sampled while there and first up is a brioche.
Brioche is a wonderfully enriched sweet bread, which is crumbly and soft, almost cake-like, and just fantastic with lashings of butter. There are numerous variations on the recipe, with eight recipes in my french baking recipe book alone. Having 8 to choose from was daunting enough that I avoided the internet in case my head actually spun.
In the interest of simplicity I went with a classic brioche recipe for my first attempt. I decided if I could perfect this then I could work on mixing things up a bit.
All you need are the following simple ingredients:
1 sachet of dried yeast, 2Tbsp warm milk, 100g soft butter, 250g plain flour, 3 eggs (plus one for eggwash), 1 tsp salt and 50g caster sugar
First off, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk to activate it.
Place the flour in a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer if using one) and make a well in the middle.
Place all other ingredients into the well, ensuring that you dont place the salt directly on top of your yeast amd milk mixture.
Combine the ingredients with a wooden spoon and then work the dough for 5 minutes in a stand mixer with a dough hook or by hand for 10 minutes.
You should have a nice glossy and elastic dough to mould.
When I was in Paris wandering around salivating at all the boulangerie the Brioche where all fancy and baked in flutes tins. However, if like me you havent gotten around to buying absolutely every shaped tin imaginable, then any tin will do. I decided on a loaf tin for mine as its easier to slice (and eat) but if you were making this for an occasion other than a Monday morning breakfast, you can place in a 8in round cake tin and using a floured wodden spoon handle, depress the centre of the dough to give a hollowed round shape. Alternatively divide the dough into muffin tins or mini loaf cases for cute single portions.
After placing your dough in your selected buttered tin, cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to prove for 2-3 hours. Once proved, give the dough a generous eggwash and place in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Your brioche will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Et Voila! Brioche!
Brioche is lovely on its own but my favourite is to toast it and then add lashings and lashings of butter. The boys like theirs with jam. On day 2 when your loaf is not as fresh, Pain Perdu with chopped banana makes an amazing post swimming snack for the little ones.