This is the second installment in my new series about the wonder of homemade bread (you can read the first post on black olive bread here). Wonderful golden fluffy brioche, enriched with egg and in vogue bun for burgers. Brioche has pushed me to my limits on more than one occasion. The first time was not long after my 23rd birthday, on a whim Dan and I planned a trip to Paris, neither of us had ever been before. I was fresh out of art school was dying to see the Andy Warhol retrospective at the Grande Palais.
Our mild grasps of GSCE level French had served us well, and thankfully most people we had encountered spoke at least a little english. Until one morning, with my Parisian food bucket list firmly in my mind, we set out to a tiny bakery across the road from our hotel to buy freshly baked brioche. Gleaming orbs of fluffy light bread topped heavily with sugar or oozing with chocolate, sat behind the window, nestled between croissants and pain au chocolat. In my best (yet still horrific) french accent I asked ‘Je voudrais deux brioche s’il vous plaît’ to which the baker asked me several probably completely normal questions about my request in perfect and eloquent French. To this day I still have no real idea what he said. Clutching firmly to the thought that I might have heard the word sugar I nervously replied ‘avec du sucre?’. After what felt like the longest wait, where I was sure I had just said something completely idiotic, which had me questioning how I’d ever passed any language exams, the baker lent down behind the counter and popped two immaculate rolls into a bag.
^^^ looking fresh faced outside Notre Dame ^^^
I would love to be able to speak a second language but no matter how many times I try, anything I learn falls out of my head faster than it entered. In comparison to making myself understood to someone who doesn’t share a language with you, this loaf is a cake walk. It is very similar to a normal white loaf, but with the addition of an egg. The result is a fluffy rich bread, that makes the best french toast – recipe to follow later this week!
Previously on BAKE
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makes a 2lb loaf recipe by Jennifer Brown
50ml boiling water
150ml tap water
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 sachet/7g fast action yeast
420g strong white flour plus extra for lining the tin
40g plain flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 egg beaten
flavourless oil for greasing the bowl
- Stir together the hot and cold water with the milk and sugar, then stir in the yeast. If you add the yeast first the hot water can kill it, which will stop your bread from rising and leave you with something inedible. Leave this to one side for about five minutes until it begins to foam.
- Tip the flours and salt into a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on, and stir on low for about 10 seconds, just to enough to combine the ingredients.
- Pour the yeast mix, oil and egg into the mixing bowl and mix at a medium speed (I use 6 on my KitchenAid) for 10 minutes, until it forms an elastic dough that springs back when you press it.
- Grease a large mixing bowl ready to prove the loaf in.
- This is a very wet dough so it’s worth greasing your hands with flavourless oil when you handle it or it will stick to you. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and roughly shape into a ball. Place it in the greased mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for a hour to rise.
- When the dough has risen (this is the tricky bit to explain!) stretch the dough out until you have formed a thin sheet about 1cm thick. Fold into thirds - imagine you’re folding an A4 letter to go into a standard envelope. Starting at one of the thinner ends, roll the dough towards you, using your thumbs to tightly tuck the roll so it stays taut, you don’t want any gaps in the roll.
- Place the loaf in the tin, sprinkle with flour, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise a second time, for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size again.
- Preheat the oven to 200C and place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven, the steam helps to create the best crust.
- Place the loaf in the oven for 10 minutes. After the time has elapsed turn the oven down to 160C and bake for a further 20 minutes. When cooked the loaf should sound hollow when you tap on the base. If the top starts to catch during cooking (which mine did in my super dodgy oven) cover with foil when it starts to look like it’s about to burn, and leave covered in the oven until it’s finished cooking.
- Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire baking tray. If you leave it in the tin it can end up going soggy as the steam escapes.
- Enjoy with soft cheeses and sweet berries, or as the best french toast - recipe to follow on Wednesday.