Decidedly French

I spent bits and pieces of my weekend baking brioche.

It was the most decidedly French thing I’ve ever done.

Simple, yet strikingly high-maintenance at the same time.

Like taking 15 minutes to tie a French scarf so as to appear effortlessly chic.

I’ve never understood the French.

But I’ve always enjoyed the golden-hued bread, which always manages to be dense and airy at the same time.

And when I saw exactly how many eggs and how much butter goes into the dough, I immediately understood from whence my love came.  Six.  And a cup.  Respectively.

The bread is simply divine on its own, warm from the oven, and smeared with (dare I say it?) a pat of good butter, but I have grander plans in mind.  Stay tuned, dear readers.

To make 2 brioche loaves, you will need:

  • 1/2 C warm water (110 -120 degrees, for me, this is the hottest tap water I can get)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) dried yeast
  • 3 T sugar
  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • 4 1/4 C unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (beyond softened)
  • egg wash (1 egg, mixed with 1 T milk), if you’re fancy

Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix till combined, and allow to sit for 5 minutes so the yeast and sugar dissolve.  It’s likely your little concoction will get bubbly, fear not.  Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed.  With the mixer on low, add 2 C flour and salt, and mix for 5 minutes.  With the mixer still on low, add 2 more C flour and mix 5 more minutes (if your mixer isn’t jumping around like crazy at this point).  With the mixer still running, add butter in small pats, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Sprinkle in the flour.  Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Scrape the dough into a large, buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, take the bowl out, and let the dough come to room temperature for at least an hour.  Grease two 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pans (though truth be told I used one 8.5 inch and one 10 inch).  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half (adjust the ratio if your pans aren’t of equal size).  Pat each portion into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle.  Roll into a log, and place, seam side up, in prepared pans.  Cover pans with damp cloth and let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until dough is doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  When the loaves have risen, brush the top of each with egg wash and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top springs back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped.  Turn loaves out on wire rack to cool completely.


6 thoughts on “Decidedly French

  1. Pingback: Why I Got Married « a glass of milk

  2. Pingback: Brunch « a glass of milk

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