February 26, 2010
After a memorable meal at Bistro Jeanty, the Michelin star restaurant situated in the quaint foodie town of Yountville, California, and a viewing of Julie & Julia, I understandably went through a “French phase.”
To be honest, I still am, despite the protests of my expanding waistline. And to avoid having this blog lean too heavily on the Asian side of dishes, I want to offer the first bread recipe I’ve ever tackled with resounding success.
Brioche is a butter lover’s dream bread. If Paula Deen were French, this would be her go-to loaf. It’s cake disguised as bread. Because of its taste and consistency, playing around with how you present and serve brioche can turn it into a savoury side or a decidedly dessert-y offering. Brioche is great for french toast, or simply slathered in butter and jam. If you want go all Filipino on it—ala Ensaymada—you could just butter it, sprinkle it with sugar and grated cheddar (edam and mozzarella also works) and you’re good to go.
At any rate, the recipe I went with to get rid of my bread-making virgnity (as well as break in my brand new KitchenAid mixer) is from the delightful Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. Out of all my newer cookbooks, it’s had the most use, with its tasty and practical homestyle French recipes. I may detail some of the other recipes I’ve gone through with success from this book, but since it’s the weekend and people do their test baking then, I offer you brioche, adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook.
Warning: This is a two-day recipe. So make the dough in the evening, resume baking in the morning.
1 package dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water (not boiling, i don’t measure the temperature I just make sure it’s hot to the touch)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
4 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, cut up in chunks
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for the egg wash
- First, make sure your electric mixer’s bowl is not cold. Room temperature. Next, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the mixer’s bowl, mix gently with a spoon, and let it sit for 5 minutes. The sugar and yeast should be dissolved.
- Attach the bowl to the electric mixer with the paddle attachment and add the large eggs and beat on medium speed for a minute.
- Turn the speed to low and gently add 2 cups of flour and the salt. Mix for 5 minutes. Add another 2 cups of flour and mix for another 5 minutes.
- Add the butter one chunk at a time and mix for 2 minutes. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so the butter is well incorporated.
- While the mixer is running add the final 1/4 cup of flour.
- Switch to the dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
- Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, place the dough in a warm room (room temperature) for about an hour.
- Place the dough on a clean, floured countertop and cut in half.
- Pat each portion into their own 6x8 rectangle, then roll it up.
- Place each dough portion, seam down, into their own greased bread loaf pan. Cover with a damp towel and set side in the warm room to rise until doubled in volume, about 2, 2 1/2 hours. It may take more. Key is: warm room.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the loaves have risen enough, brush the top with the egg wash and bake for 45 minutes. Keep checking to see if the top has turned a nice brown. Keep checking. If you wonder if it’s done, take it out of the oven and tap the top. If it sounds hollow, it’s done!
- Cool on a wire rack. Cut, then serve!
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