In just a little less than a week, I’ll be on my way to France checking out both the historic sites and the bread! Planning the trip has brought me right back to junior high school, the little bits of French I learned, and one big life lesson.
It was a surprise to my mother when, at twelve, I announced that I wanted to make bread.
My seventh grade French teacher had assigned a cultural project. While she had offered a wide array of options, the only one I even considered was finding and baking “something French.”
My mother happily added my ingredients to her shopping list and then I went about baking an incredible loaf of brioche. Likely it was beginner’s luck but, nonetheless, it was a magical loaf.
My mother bragged about it, always with a lilt of surprise in her voice, to everyone we knew for weeks.
And then she discovered my faux pas.
In my enthusiasm and bull headed desire to bake that brioche, I had carefully torn the recipe from a cookbook in our local grocery store while she had shopped. When she found out, my mother was in utter disbelief that I had the capacity to commit such a horrific crime.
Hadn’t she done her part in making sure I attended those obligatory religious education classes?
“What could you have been thinking?” she demanded. “What about the person who buys that book?!!”
Under close watch, I made amends, torn between feelings of shame and pride over what had happened. In the end, there was no way I’d repeat my offense again…ever. My short lived career as a bread baker effectively ended, though the brioche lingered with me for years after that.
I haven’t thought about brioche much since then until planning for this trip to France got underway. I probably blocked the whole episode out till now, but it’s been 40 years and I’m ready to revive my success (although this time, I’m consulting only cookbooks I’ve purchased…)
I’ve been “piloting” a few recipes over the last couple of weeks and found them very challenging! At first, nothing seemed to fit with my mantra of keeping it simple, but I wasn’t giving up! If I could pull off great brioche in the 70s I knew I could could do it again with more skill and precision now, right?
I’ve posted my favorite recipe so far in the post No-Knead-Take-Your-Time Brioche. I promise biting into this bread is like biting into a little slice of heaven.
In the meantime, if anyone’s up for a challenge, why not help me hunt other anyone-can-do-it brioche recipes? I’d love to hear about your experimentation! There’s always my recipe index if you’re looking for something new, too!
Please leave a comment if you’ve a recipe to share or a funny moment from your own adolescence. (It’s a wonder we make it through those early teen years, right??) I’ve written other stories about my own growing up in Reclamation and Saturday Morning Ritual.
Hope to see you around the bread bowl, maybe even with our hands together in some sticky brioche dough!