One thing you should know about me up front is that I’m a card-carrying Francophile. If it’s French I will either want to eat it, drink it, wear it or visit it, which will explain the French pâtisserie course I’m about to start at Le Cordon Bleu (eek, more on this as and when my first day of school beckons!) and my nifty little recipe category French fancies. First up we have brioche, the butteriest bread in all the land and the recipe that has single-handedly taught me baking persistence. There will be mess, your arms will feel like they are going to drop off but within minutes of your loaf going into the oven, your kitchen will smell like Paris.
This recipe is taken from the Le Cordon Bleu Basic Pâtisserie Manuel via the gorgeous Rachel Khoo and makes 1 loaf or 12 buns
- 250g flour
- 6g salt
- 25g sugar (I used caster)
- 3 eggs
- 1 sachet of instant dried yeast
- 12ml of warm milk
- 125g of cold, unsalted butter, cubed
you will need – a loaf tin (mine is a 1lb tin) or a muffin tray
- First up, mix the yeast with the warm milk and don’t worry if it looks like a thick, grainy paste at this point, I think its meant to. The milk should be just warm to touch, any hotter and you can kill the yeast and all it’s magic properties. Pour the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre, then add the eggs and yeast into the well and slowly combine. Next add the salt and sugar into the dough and mix. Let the kneading commence! You have to knead the dough for 15-20mins on a lightly floured surface until the dough resembles elastic chewing gum. I did all of this by hand (Le Cordon Bleu are all about by hand apparently) so I can’t comment on using a dough hook attachment on a mixer, although I’m told this works great and cuts down on the kneading time.
- Chewing gum consistency achieved, it’s time for the butter and the mess. The butter must be cold, and cubed, then you can begin to add it to the dough. I flattened the dough into a rough rectangle, added half the butter and then began to knead the cubes in. This is messy, the butter squidges up through your fingers constantly, but you just have to enjoy the chaos and keep going with it, scooping up the butter, kneading it back into the dough, until all the butter has been incorporated. Repeat this with the second half of the butter and eventually your lumpy mess will morph into the slinkiest, smoothest of doughs that makes a sexy little thwack against the work surface.
- Place the dough in a clingfilm covered bowl and leave to prove for 1 hour, before knocking it back and transferring it to the greased loaf tin (or a greased muffin tray if you’re making buns). Wrap the tin with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to rise overnight.
- The next day, take the brioche out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temperature as you preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180°C. Eggwash the loaf and then bake for 45mins, 10-15mins if you’ve opted to make buns.
Brioche is best eaten warm, helps with the whole melt-in-the-mouth gloriousness. It also makes the most luxurious French toast which is exactly what I did with mine. See. Delicious.