Can we talk about mornings for a second here?
I’m not a morning person by nature. I never have been. I remember as a kid, hating waking up in the morning for school, wanting to sleep in the afternoon and loving staying up late at night. I remember spending the night at my grandmothers house and staying up late to watch late night talk shows with her, and hearing the television on long after I went to sleep. I think I inherited my love of the late night from her. God knows it’s not from my father. All of my life, I remember him waking up at some awful hour and going to work. Now that he’s retired he sleeps a little later, but it’s not much.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized there are two things that help me to cope with mornings. Coffee. And delicious fresh baked goods in the morning. I decide to try the brioche recipe from Ad Hoc so I could have delicious fresh baked bread for breakfast.
Have you ever made bread? You really should. It’s a pretty amazing process. Dough is sexy. For real.
It’s so awesome to watch a small ball of dough go through its rising process to become a huge silky piece of dough finally a fluffy inside, crusty outside loaf of bread. Brioche is pretty fantastic bread. It’s really airy and soft.
There are a lot of eggs and even more butter in this bread so it’s really rich. There is even a bit of sugar so it’s slightly sweet. Personally I think brioche’s best application other then fresh with butter, is French toast. The sweetness of the bread lends itself to sweet applications, and dipped in French toast batter, the bread gets even creamier on the inside while the outside gets caramelly brown in the pan. Don’t misunderstand; this bread is lovely in all savory uses as well. I made grilled sandwiched with bacon that were fabulous.
Go make some bread this weekend. It’s not that hard I promise. Read the recipe first, time it out right and you’ll have beautiful fresh bread before you know it.
Recipe from Thomas Keller
1/3 cup very warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
One 1/4 ounce package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (not quick rising)
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel or fine sea salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1. Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for 10 minute, then stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside
2. Sift together flours, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute at low speed scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Slowly add dissolved yeast and continue beating at low speed for 5 minutes. Stop the machine, scrape any dough off the dough hook, and beat for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the butter cubes, about one-quarter of them at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Once all of the butter has been added, beat for 10 more minutes, until dough is smooth and silky. Transfer the dough to a large floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hours.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently work the air bubbles out by folding the dough over several times while lightly pressing down on it. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight
5. Generously butter 2 loaf pans or one Pullman loaf pan (I used one loaf pan and simply shaped the other loaf into a large ball in a large baking dish). Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. With floured hands divide the dough in half, shape it into 2 rectangles that fit in the loaf pans. Or shape it into 1 loaf and put it in the Pullman pan (if using a Pullman pan, cover with lid once the dough reaches 1/2 inch from the top). Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm place until it is about 1/2 inch from top of the pans, about 3 hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the brioche until it is well browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35-40 minutes for 2 loaves, 45-50 minutes for a Pullman loaf. Removed from oven and immediately turn the brioche out onto a cooling rack.
7. If serving immediately, let the bread cool for 10 minutes, then slice. If serving within a few hours or up to 2 days, promptly wrap the hot bread in aluminum oil and set aside at room temperature until ready to use. To freeze, wrap the hot bread in foil and promptly freeze. The bread can be frozen for up to 2 months; when ready to use, reheat (without thawing, and still wrapped in the foil) in a 250 degree oven until heated through, 20-25 minutes.