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Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I love the shape, the shine, the texture, the taste, the flavour and the 'Frenchness' of brioche..

Brioche making is a two to three day affair because very little yeast is used and the dough is usually given three risings, one of which is in a cold place, and this process takes a long time. 

I decided to by- pass all this and kept my dough in the fridge for two hours and gave it no 'warm room' rising at all. I didn't knock it back after the first hour either. It is far too sticky to even contemplate touching. The net result was my brioche was excellent so this way of making it is really worth trying.

Serve brioche thickly sliced and toasted: plain or with any jam or marmalade or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top.

Brioche also makes excellent French toast: take 4 thick slices and dip them, one at a time, into a mixture of 4 eggs, 100ml cream and 100ml milk. Make sure each slice is well saturated. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and cook each slice about 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Combine 50g castor sugar with 1teaspoon cinnamon powder and sprinkle over the cooked bread. Serve the French toast with a compote of berries and some yoghurt or ice cream.

Ingredients for Brioche:

190g plain organic white flour
2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 teaspoons castor sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter cut into small cubes, at room temperature
1 egg and 1tablespoon milk for glazing


Mix all the ingredients together except the butter cubes and the glaze. Stir well. Using electric beaters mix on a low speed for 4 minutes then high speed for 4 minutes. Lower speed to medium and add butter cubes, a few at a time, until the butter is incorporated into the mixture and it's smooth and soft and very sticky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover. Place in the refrigerator and leave there  for two hours.

Grease a fluted brioche tin, line with non-stick baking paper. Spoon the dough into the tin and brush lightly with the glaze.

Bake at 180C for 40 minutes. The brioche is cooked when a skewer inserted into it comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire cake rack and let cool completely.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

walnut and sultana bread

200ml milk (at body temperature)
1 egg yolk
3 eggs
30g soft brown sugar
3 teaspoons dried yeast
300g organic plain four (sifted)
190g walnut halves
2 teaspoons salt
Glaze: 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon milk)
2 handfuls sultanas soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

Set oven to 200C

Line a 25cm (10 inch) loaf tin, I used a collapsable one, with non-stick baking paper and set the tin on a (round) baking sheet for ease in and out of the oven.

In a large bowl, mix:

milk, eggs, sugar and yeast. Leave in a warm place for ten minutes or until the mixture looks like it is fermenting on the top (bubbling up).

Sieve the flour into the mixture. Mix well. Add the nuts and fruit if you are using it, then the salt. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and stand in a warm place to prove for 30-45 minutes or until the mixture has risen to within 1cm or ½ inch of the top of the tin. My mixture took nearly 50 minutes to rise. Brush with the glaze, gently and place in the oven.

Bake the bread for 5 minutes then turn the heat down to 170C and bake another 25 minutes and check it. I cooked mine a further ten minutes. All ovens vary so it's important to keep checking.

It is also important to check the bread is not burning on top. Place a piece of foil on it if necessary.

The bread is cooked when a knife is inserted into it and it comes out clean or when it makes a hollow sound when tapped.

Allow to cool in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the paper. Leave to cool completely.

Notes: I cooked my bread in a small convection oven which has a round turntable in it which is why I had to use a round baking sheet. It was a very hot day and I didn't want the house getting all hot from the big oven. I let the bread dough prove outside, covered, on a table in the shade as the inside temperature of the house was a bit too cold for the dough to rise. The heat of outside air proved a perfect proving place.

The above recipe is my adaptation of a Peter Gordon recipe.

PG used 1 egg and 3 yolks while I used 3 eggs and 1 yolk. He used ½ teaspoon salt while I used 2 teaspoons salt. He used 2 tablespoons milk for the glaze while I used 1 tablespoon. He used 250gm walnut halves while I used 190gm. I think the walnuts should be roughly chopped so I will do this next time. He didn't use sultanas. I did but I should have put another handful in the mixture. He baked his loaf for 30 minutes while I baked my mine for 40 minutes.

I have to say my loaf was absolutely perfect as my bread expert husband will vouch for but I think if the walnuts were roughly chopped it would result in a better distribution of them throughout the loaf. Next time I'll use more walnuts, either 250gm as PG suggested or even more than that. After all this is walnut bread.

The bread is heaven with cheese, especially goat's cheese and when it's a bit stale it's almost better. Sublime toasted, too.