Fresh bread

Monday is Eric’s and my twelfth wedding anniversary. That’s silk/linen, for those who keep track of those things, but instead of a traditional gift, or even a traditional dinner date, we’re taking the train to Chicago this afternoon and spending a few hours just walking around, seeing the sights, and enjoying each other’s company.

This is possible because a friend volunteered to take the kids off our hands. A precious offer, and one that should never, ever go unrewarded. So! Bread!

I made two loaves. The one on the left, a rosemary loaf, has been explained elsewhere better than I could do here. The other loaf is a brioche!

Brioche - ingredients

It really doesn’t take much to make a simple brioche, as it happens. Yeast and dairy (I used heavy cream, but whole milk is fine), eggs, sugar and flour (I used bread flour), salt, and butter. If you want to get fancy, you can make fillings of fruits, nuts, chocolate, or whatever, but that’s just extras.

First, warm 1/3 cup of your cream or milk, then add it to the yeast in a bowl. Go ahead and do it in the bowl of your stand mixer, if you have one; you don’t need a stand mixer to make brioche, but it is one heck of a sticky dough, and you might save yourself a headache by doing so. Anyway, let those two ingredients get to know each other for about five minutes, and then add a cup of the flour, 3 beaten eggs, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. Mix it all together.

Brioche - first flour

Then slowly add in another cup of the flour. Remember when I said it was a sticky dough?

Brioche dough, sans butter

Yep. Do yourself a favor and walk away while your stand mixer works for at least five more minutes, so as to prevent yourself from succumbing to the temptation to add a whole bunch more flour. I went and ate some leftover chickpea salad. If you’re doing this by hand, it’s going to take a bunch of slapping it onto the table and folding it onto itself to get it unsticky; good luck.

Come on back, then, and add in 3/4 cup of softened unsalted butter. Crank the stand mixer up to Ludicrous Speed (okay, medium-high should be fine) and walk away again. Eventually, you’ll come back to something that looks like this:

Brioche dough

Hurray! Cover the dough (in its very greasy bowl) with plastic wrap and let it rise until it doubles. Punch it down, cover it again, and stick it in the fridge to rise again for an extended period. I left mine in overnight.

This morning, we took it out, and I went to work shaping it. I cut about a third off the ball, and I shaped the remaining portion into a loaf, which went into a buttered loaf pan. The reserved part got cut into thirds, which I rolled into cords and braided.

Unbaked brioche

Here I made a mistake. I should have pushed the braid into the top of the loaf much harder than I did. You’ll see the result in a minute, but be warned. Anyway, then let the dough rise again in a warm place until it fills the pan. After that, bake it at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a knife in the middle comes out clean.

Baked brioche

My braid…migrated. Oops. Well, it will taste good anyway!

So. Who wants to babysit for me next?



2 Responses to “Fresh bread”

  • Wavatar Sarah says:

    I have a solution for your migrating braid: just make a braid out of the whole amount of dough and set it in the loaf pan. As it rises, it will fill the pan but you’ll still have the pretty braid design on top. Enjoy!

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