Imagine this for a moment:
You’re in Paris; the city of history, culture, sunset river walks, romance, great food and even better wine. You’re sitting in a Cafe on the Rue de la Nu-Aliments-Heros, sipping on Cafe au lait – I know it may not be the best coffee in the world but, c’mon, you’re in Paris! – and savouring a decadent slice of warmed Brioche. This rich, not-quite-bread-not-quite-cake wonder melts in your mouth and is every bit as satisfying as it is sinful.
Life is good.
Yet, unfortunately, you’re not in Paris (or maybe you are which, if so, bonjour and… can I visit? 🙂 ) but don’t let that hold you back; Brioche can be easily made at home.
If you haven’t tasted of heard of Brioche before (how and why?) it is a bread enriched with eggs and butter…
A lot of butter….
In fact this bread contains a sh#t-load of butter ( the technical term) and, as you devour your way through a loaf (or two), you will desperately hope the French Paradox is an unequivocal, proven-by-science FACT. (Apparently it is still disputed but I choose to ignore this, I suggest you do the same, at least for a day)
But a little indulgence never hurts, right?
Two amazing things happened when I made this recipe:
Amazing thing #1
It turned out amaaaaaaazing the first time. Success really comes on the first attempt – a recipe always needs a little tweak here and another tweak there – but I got it, right there and then. Cue the victory dance. I used the Rich Man’s Brioche, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, as the base for this recipe so eyebrows would have been raised if it hadn’t turned out anything less than great (yes, I blame a recipe for failures before I blame myself. Why? Don’t you?). But the spice and fruit mixture was of my own design – another way of saying I haphazardly threw spices into the dough – and it was perfect.
Amazing thing #2
I over cooked the first attempt. Not Burned. Overcooked. The insides was cooked to perfection but the crust was just too dark – again not burnt – for it to be photographed.
How is this a good thing, you ask. It’s simple really. I churned out an amazing Brioche and suddenly (“oh no!” 😉 ) I had to make and, most importantly, eat a second batch. I had to eat more amazing food. You guys, life as a food blogger is real, really tough!
Anyway, there are a few things you need to know about this Brioche:
It takes time
If you’re the sort of person who decides to make bread an hour before you want it —> all fingers pointing to me here <- then this is not the bread for you. Not right now. However, despite its lengthy process, very little time is spent on active preparation. You’ll smash the ingredients together in about fifteen to twenty minutes; shape the dough in about five (there is no kneading in the recipe – *raises hands in celebration*) and that’s all there is to it.
In between comes a slow, overnight fermentation in the fridge and a 2 – 4 hour fermentation the next day before the final baking.
Shaping the bread
You can shape and size the bread however you want. This will make up to 24 individual Brioche à tête (if you have Brioche à tête molds) or two loaves from standard-sized loaf tins. You cold also shape the dough into eight balls and arrange them in a flower-like pattern inside a springform pan (as seen in the picture below), its up to you. However you decide, the dough should half fill the molds/ pans before the fermentation stage.
It’s not that Sweet
Although this recipe may fall into the “sweet bread” category – as I hardly think you’ll use this bread to make a cheese sandwich, but, who knows – the finished bread is not at all sweet. The total amount of sugar used in the entire dough is 2 Tbsp and, instead, the complex flavours of the spices are interrupted by little bursts of sweet as you bite down into the dried fruit.
And there really is no restrictions to what dried fruit you could put in this bread. It’s up to you and your imagination. I let my imagination take a break for the day and used the sultanas, currants and dried cranberries that were sitting in my kitchen cupboard. This also felt safer when “creating” a recipe. But who says you can’t think outside of the box? Perhaps dried strawberries and other berries? Give it a tropical feel – and irritate the brioche purists – by adding dried pineapples, mangoes and perhaps even apricots. Shredded coconut anyone?
If you concoct any weird and wonderful combinations, please let everyone know about it in the comments below.
But enough chit-chat, I’m off to eat that second batch of Brioche
I think I’m addicted.
Fruit and Spice Brioche
Prep Time: 30 mins (plus overnight rising time) || Cook Time: 15 to 40 minutes
For the Dough:
- 520g all purpose or bread flour (preferably unbleached)
- 10g/ 1tbsp Instant or active dried yeast
- 1/2 Cup (125ml) milk warmed to 90°F – 100°F
- 5 Large Eggs
- 1 Tbsp minced ginger
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 450g of unsalted butter
- 250g of assorted dried fruits
- 1 egg, beaten, for wash
For the spice mix:
- 1 1/2 Tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 Tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp Ground Allspice
- 1/4 Tsp ground cloves
- First you need to make a starter “sponge” for the dough. In a bowl combine 65g of the flour along with the yeast and the milk. (If you’re using active dried yeast, allow it to dissolve into the milk before adding the flour. Instant yeast? Just mix it all up). Cover with plastic wrap and leave for about 20 minutes. It will rise and have a frothy/ bubbly-like consistency.
- Combine the spice mix ingredients together in a small bowl
- Lightly whisky the eggs with the minced ginger and combine them, in a cake mixer, with the “sponge” and mix at a steady speed for a few minutes. Add the remaining flour, salt and sugar and spice mixture. Continue to mix for a few minutes more until all ingredients
- Whilst letting the dough rest for a moment take the butter from the fridge and grate it on a cheese grater. Turning your cake mixer onto low speed, add the butter and dried fruits to the dough. Dont add more until the butter and fruit has been incorporated into the dough.
- After all the butter and fruit has been added, mix for a few minutes more. The dough will be quite soft and a little sticky. Line a backing tray with baking paper, spray with oil, and move the dough to the pan. Press it out into a large rectangle, spray on a little more oil, cover it with plastic wrap, and place it into the fridge. Leave overnight.
- The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and shape it as desired (see post for details). Spray the tops with oil, cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment for around two hours or until the dough almost fills the mold/ pan (this will take longer for larger shapes).
- Preheat your oven: For smaller shapes 200°C/ 400°F; Larger shapes 170°C/ 330°F
- Wash the tops of the dough with the beaten egg and leave for another thirty minutes until the dough fills the molds/ pans (again this will take a little longer for larger shapes). Place in the oven: 15 – 20 minutes for smaller shapes; 30 – 45 minutes for larger shapes.
- The dough will rise and turn golden brown and is cooked when the core temperature is at 82°C/180°F. Remove from the over and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing and eating.