It must have been unbelievable luck when I made that brioche back in 7th grade. As I’ve been experimenting with it over the last few weeks, I’ve found my hands covered in sticky dough, tried to problem solve by adding more flour, and ended up with loaves that varied in size and texture. Everything tasted good. Everything was eaten. Still, there was the matter of keeping it simple.
I finally settled on a brioche from Cooks magazine. While time consuming, it was the least messy and easiest to prepare. Not to mention, the results were delicious!
I admit that I cut the recipe in half when I made it. I’d already used up so much butter and so many eggs that I wanted to be sure about this recipe before I jumped in with both feet. Given the results, next time I’ll make both loaves.
I also want to note that this bread takes time. I really appreciated that about it. There’s something really restorative about slowing down and paying mindful attention to something; even if it is just bread dough.
The first morning mixing up the ingredients didn’t take long, but then I tended it every 30 minutes for about 2 hours. I’m still in awe of how the texture, nearly effortlessly on my part, begins to change and I can’t help thinking about this life lesson for myself. When do I need to take it easier on myself and just give something time? Patience is not my forte.
The dough just goes into the fridge after that for 16-48 hours. Perfect if you want to have it for lunch or dinner in the next day or two.
When I head to France later this week (if I ever get my suitcase packed that is), my intention is to enjoy the gift of time to just be with some longtime friends, effortlessly. We’ll tend each other as we make our way through the streets of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. We’ll climb the hillsides and sample local cuisine.
While two of my travel companions are now gluten free, don’t worry, I’m planning to sample as many breads as I can. I’ve already got my eye on some new recipes like brioche roll with Nutella and I’d like to see what they authentically do with brioche in France. Afterwards, when I’m back in my own kitchen, I’ll get busy incorporating everything I’ve learned to share out with you!
Get your hands into a bread bowl this week! Brioche is perfect for Easter.
No-Knead-Take-Your-Time Brioche (makes 2 loaves)
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs (one reserved for the brushing the top)
1/2 cup water, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
16 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (yes, that’s 2 sticks)
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk 6 eggs, water, and sugar together in another bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in butter till smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or my favorite dough scraper) until it forms a mass and no flour remains. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes.
Holding edge of dough with fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 45 degrees and fold again. Keep doing the folds until you’ve done at least 8. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times. (Let yourself slow down here, too, to notice what’s moving and taking shape inside of you.)
After the 4th set of folds, cover tightly and refrigerate at least 16 hours, but up to 48.
Transfer dough to well-floured surface and divide into 4 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, pat dough into a 4 inch disk. Working around the circumference, fold the edges of the dough toward the center to form a ball. Pinch ends together.
Flip the dough ball and without applying pressure, move your hands in a circular motion to form dough into a smooth, taut round. (If dough sticks to your hands, use a light dusting of flour). Repeat with remaining disks. Cover loosely with plastic for 5 minutes.
Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaf pans. After 5 minutes, flip each dough ball so seam side is facing up, pat into the 4 inch disk again and repeat the forming of dough rounds. Place rounds, seam side down, side by side in pan and press gently into corners. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about 1/2 inch below top edge of pan; 1 1/2 – 2 hours.)
Thirty minutes before baking heat the oven to 350 degrees. When loaves are ready, remove plastic and brush with the last egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt. Set loaf pans on middle rack of oven. Bake until golden brown (35-45 minutes), rotating half way through baking. (Be sure to let them cook, they brown somewhat quickly because of the egg wash. You can take an internal temperature of the bread if you want. It should be 190 degrees).
Transfer to wire rack, cool 5 minutes then remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours