Bank Holiday Baking

Bank Holidays are supposed to be a restful time, where you just put your feet up, eat junk food all day, watch reruns of old movies and curse the rain.
For me though, a Bank Holiday is the only time I get to spend baking so I gleefully plan what I'll spend time prepping, weighing, kneading, baking and eventually eating.
For some time now I had Brioche in mind, but I was also a little fearful. Anyone who is a novice but passionate baker will have read that Brioche dough is tricky to work with. It is not like normal, stretchy, 'dry' bread dough: Brioche gets its unquestionably light texture from the addition of eggs, lots of butter and milk. Suffice to say, the dough is incredibly sticky and impossible to knead by hand. Nor would you want to. The key to Brioche is a soft, almost cake like texture, but with greater delicacy. It has a gently yielding crust that gives way to its tender interior. This is achieved, not only through the addition of the eggs, milk and butter, but through minimal working of the dough. And, in fact, this is an ideal bread for people who find the whole kneading process boring. And the proving time is only 4 hours so it is feasible that, with an early start (or overnight start) you could be enjoying a late continental breakfast comprising of black coffee, unsalted butter and conserves spread on warm, split Brioche.
Brioche is, of course, a French bread although the word is derived from the Germanic Brier or Broyer, meaning to knead. It is thought that the Brioche was first produced in France in the 14th Century and has gone down in social history for the following faux pas, allegedly suggested by Marie Antoinette (although this has since been disproved, the legend remains): "S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche." This suggests that the Brioche was eaten as a cake, or sweetmeat rather than the bread it is today, and indeed so rich sweet is it, that it could be eaten as such.
Some recipe books suggest making the Brioche in a loaf tin so that it can be sliced and served buttered or cut into croutons. I, on the other hand, had a set of six Brioche tins that I had inherited from somewhere that needed using. Furthermore, I am in love with the fluted shape of the Brioche.
To anyone who thinks that Brioche is tricky, if you have a Kitchenaid or hands free food mixer, it is incredibly simple. The mixer literally does all the hard work for you. Unfortunately, I had to use an electric hand mixer (When is Paul going to get my Kitchenaid working?) with the dough hook attachment. This is tricky because not only do you have to hold the blender (which causes serious hand ache once the dough starts to thicken), you also have to steady the bowl AND add the pieces of butter. But. It is possible and this is how mine was successfully produced.
All you need to remember to do is take out the butter from the fridge several hours in advance to reach room temperature. It is paramount that the butter is soft enough to meld into the dough.
A final note. Once you have mastered the Brioche dough, it is incredibly versatile. It can made into large loaves, small buns, studded with dried fruit, chocolate chips or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. For inspiration, I referred to the Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook (whose basic recipe I used) and The Village Baker's Wife Cookbook by Gayle Ortiz. Both have inspiration ideas for expounding on your Brioche.
BRIOCHE makes 6 small Brioche 'buns' or one large loaf tin.
Recipe taken from Leslie Mackies Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook
Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Caster (or Granulated) Sugar
1.5 Teaspoons Dried Yeast (half a sachet)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs, free range and organic
3/4 Cup Milk
3.5 Cups Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into dime (or 5p if you're a Brit) sized pieces
Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water
METHOD:
Lightly oil a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the warm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and yeast in the bowl of your stand free mixer. Whisk until the yeast has dissolved and leave to foam and froth for five minutes.
To the yeast mixture, add the rest of the sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, milk, flour and salt. Mix on low speed with the dough attachment for three minutes.
Switch to medium speed and add the butter, one piece at a time. This will take about 10-12 minutes for all the butter to become incorporated. The dough will stretch out several inches when you pull it but will be incredibly sticky and wet.
Flour a work surface (best if you do this before you start mixing the dough) and turn out the dough. Dusting your hands with flour, gently shape the dough into a rough ball shape and place into the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm room for 2 and a half hours.
During this time, the dough will double.
Lightly oil your baking vessel (i.e. brioche moulds or loaf tin).
Remove the dough from the bowl once doubled and place once more on a floured surface.
Pat down with floured hands into a rectangle shape and roll into cylinder. At this points you can either a) Fold the two narrow ends together and under to form an elongated ball. Place in the loaf tin and cover with clingfilm for 1 and a half hours or b) cut the dough into 6. Then cut roughly a sixth of the dough of of each portion. Form the larger pieces of dough into balls and place in the Brioche Moulds. Repeat with the smaller pieces and, making indents into the already filled moulds, drop a smaller dough ball onto the top of each mould. Cover loosely with clingfilm for an hour and a half.
When you have half an hour left of the final proving time, preheat the oven to 180c.
The dough will once again rise a lot during this period.
Remove the clingfilm and brush with the egg wash.
Bake for 40 minutes (loaf tin) or 20 minutes (Brioche Moulds). Leave to cool on a rack for 30 minutes then gently ease from the tins. Break open and inhale the deeply sweet, eggy, yeasty aroma before biting straight in (if you can bear it)!
Note: If you are using a large Brioche mould, proceed as per the Loaf Tin.
Enjoy!

P.S. DON'T FORGET, ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT FOR PAULS BIG BURGER BALLYHOO!

28 comments:

Callipygia said...

You puffy golden brioche noggins make it seem as though you've been baking them for years. I am quite partial to the look in the fluted tins as well.

vonsachsen said...

Very informative post and these "buns" look wonderful! Feels like it would be excellent comfort food with a cup of warm chocolate...Mmmm... Have you ever tried to serve it the Sicilian way, with ice cream?

vs xx

mooncrazy said...

Ya know,I've always liked the Sicilians and their use of ice cream.

valentinA said...

Oh noooo, why did I have to read your blog just before I head to work?? Now I want to have one of your brioches & I'm sure I'll be drooling all the way to school!

Passionate Eater said...

I love the little ridges made by the tins! And those are very golden brown and shiny looking brioche. Yum! Perfect for eating alone or as french toast for later! (I love brioche french toast!)

Pille said...

I bought a silicone brioche tray when in London last month, and now I've got a handy recipe as well:)

Shaun said...

Freya, love - Fortunately, my mum has a Kitchenaid, so I am actually contemplating making this bread. Perhaps I will make it this weekend when the time for awaiting the bread to rise can be spent doing work, and I will need 'breaks' at about the times required to proceed with the next steps for this brioche recipe. Great inspiration as always.

Kelly-Jane said...

Oh they look so good. I think I will give this bread a go at some point. I've got the moulds! Love the shape as well :)

Little Foodie said...

You always pepper your posts with interesting facts and info. My husband is the bread maker so will get him to read this post. I don't have the patience. They look delicious and those tins are lovely.

Gemma said...

I love brioche and these look great, I'm sitting at work and am now starving!

Gattina said...

Freya, your brioche are gorgeous!!! I don't have any mixer either, but think of getting the one you using and try this recipe :D

Anonymous said...

I'm like you, I always end up using my downtime to do something in the kitchen! Your brioche looks wonderful, I'd love to split one of those open and enjoy them with my coffee right now.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Your brioches are perfect, Freya!

Brilynn said...

Ooooh, I want pretty brioche tins too! Those look great!

pom d'api said...

Hi Freya !! WWWAOUOUOU
Your brioche is very very beautiful
You are an veritable bakery

T.W. Barritt said...

Bravo - I love brioche and yours look superb! I'm also glad to see a recipe that makes a batch of just six loaves. That would satisfy me for at least a day ...

JennDZ said...

I want to come for breakfast and have brioche with jam and coffee!

SteamyKitchen said...

i'm not brave enough to make this quite yet! need to practice baking more...looks so beautiful though!

Kathryn said...

These look really pretty! What a lovely way to spend the Bank Holiday. I could just eat one of those now...

Amy said...

Beautiful! I love the tins. I plan on making brioche later this week and this was a really helpful post! Thanks!

Jeanne said...

Oh how beautiful! I love brioche but had the impression that it was Very Tricky To Make. You make it sound perfectly manageable (and I'm particularly heartened to hear you made it sans Kitchenaid, seeng as one of these beauties does not (yet!) grace my kitchen...

gilly said...

Absolutely GORGEOUS brioche! I love the dark crust - it looks picture perfect! Great how-to!

Sara said...

Those are so beautiful! I've never even tasted brioche, much less made it. Your recipe doesn't seem to hard though, I might try it.

kellypea said...

Have only made brioche once and it's been a while. It always looks so pretty after it's all baked up and stuff. Yum again. This reading food blogs before lunch is a problem. Jeez. And I haven't fogotten the Burger Ballyhoo. I have one more to try out, and then we're voting at home for the winner.

Kristen said...

Delicious looking loaves. I love those tins.

Helen said...

What time is breakfast again? These look gorgeous, bravo!!

Kirsten said...

So lovely!! :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Brioche is another one I haven't done but very much want to. Like you I would want to do it in the fluted pans. Yours are lovely. I'm open for coffee/breakfast...