Bake this brioche and it could become a weekly event! It’s delicious, light and versatile. Adapted from top pâtissier Yann Couvreur’s recipe, all the prototypes have been delightful made with various flours and quantities of milk or cream. Choose from white spelt flour, plain cake flour or lower-gluten by partially substituting gluten-free flour for the plain cake flour. The optional rum and orange blossom water lend the brioche an amazing flavour and the texture’s amazing: buttery, fluffy and well-structured. And after a few days when the crumb is a little dense it’s perfect for toast or making bostocks, baked almond cream French toast. When fresh it’s just heavenly and various friends have given it the big thumbs up, commenting on its soft fluffiness. Want to give give this rum and orange blossom water plaited brioche a go?
In the photo above you can see the most recent prototype (number 4), made with 2/3 plain cake flour and 1/3 glutenfree flour. Delicious, soft and fluffy! Prototype 2 in the photo below is made with 4/5 plain cake flour and 1/5 glutenfree flour. Also super delicious and fluffy! Or you could make it entirely with cake flour and plain all-purpose flour like Yann Couvreur.
Prototype 3 below is made partially with fine white spelt flour adding a lovely flavour though the dough isn’t as golden and slightly more bread-like.
Prototype 1 with 3/5 plain cake flour and 2/5 glutenfree flour was delicious but dense partly from adding extra liquid in a bout of panic then extra flour later to compensate. Also it wasn’t baked in a loaf tin, which would have helped it rise. It was still delicious and perfect for making the bostocks on the right (recipe to be posted)!
Tip 1: don’t add extra liquid during the first stage when you see the dough’s stiff and heavy – so you don’t need to add extra flour later. You can use a pastry scraper and oil your hands to make it easier to handle the dough. A slightly sticky dough is better than a dry one.
Tip 2: be flexible. If you’re using different flours expect different results. To compensate for using some gluten-free flour you can add xantham gum (just a little – in prototype 1 one tablespoon was too much). Doves Farm self-raising gf flour already includes a little xantham gum so you don’t need to add any (prototype 4, for example, has 1/3 gf flour and no added xantham gum).
Tip 3: bake in a loaf tin long enough so the plait fills just 1/3 the height of the tin (after rising it goes up to 2/3 of the tin then in the oven rises slightly past the top rim). If you bake on a tray with no tin the brioche won’t be as fluffy.
This wreath for Three Kings Day was yummy but could have risen more.
So you can choose: free-form with a pretty plait or in a tin and fluffier?
You can see there are various possibilities. It helps to have an idea of bread or brioche-making techniques. Attending a workshop really helped me, seeing a chef rolling, shaping and proving the dough (youtube videos are useful too). Also the final result depends on many variables: your flour, butter, room temperature, humidity and oven. Basically you’ll be carrying out your own yummy experiments. Or instead you could make a classic brioche with no milk like the one on Rice ‘n Flour’s website Authentic Cordon Bleu French brioche recipe. The flavours are interesting: 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp bergamot extract.
THE RECIPE (note to self: remember to read the tips above)
My brioches are adaptions of the brioche au mètre in the book La Pâtisserie by Yann Couvreur, with various quantities and types of flour to make it lower gluten.
A stand mixer with a dough hook.
Day 1, making the dough (24+2 hours earlier than baking time): prepare dough – 10-15 mins preparing and kneading, 30 mins rise, 20-30 mins kneading, 1 hour rising then in fridge 20-24 hours. Day 2, shaping and baking: 10-15 mins shaping, 1 1/2 to 2 hours rising, about 30 mins baking.
DAY 1 – MAKING THE DOUGH
Ingredients – sorry, there are so many combinations of different flours that I haven’t converted them from grammes to US cups. Here’s the link for a handy traditional oven flour converter.
- 95g/ml full-fat milk
- 14g/1 and 1/2 tablespoons crumbled fresh yeast (2 and 1/2 tsp active dried yeast; or 1/2 tbsp instant dried yeast)
- 340g flour – OPTIONS: lower-gluten prototype 1: 200g cake flour, 140g Doves Farm self-raising glutenfree flour, 1 teaspoon xantham gum; slightly lower-gluten prototype 2: 275g cake flour, 65g Doves Farm self-raising gf flour, 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum; and spelt flour prototype 3: 230g cake flour, 110g fine white spelt flour. Lower-gluten prototype 4: 220g cake flour, 120g Doves Farm self-raising gf flour. Yann couvreur’s version: 275g cake flour, 65g plain all-purpose flour. Your version: invent a combination of flours to make up a total of 340g.
- 62g/1/4 cup caster sugar (superfine)
- 3g/3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 82g/ml whipping cream (can substitute with milk)
- 1 free-range medium-large egg (beaten, 55-57g)
- 85g/1/3 cup (3/4 stick) good-quality unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons (8ml/g) orange blossom water (optional)
- 2 teaspoons (8ml/g) dark rum (optional)
- You could replace the orange blossom water and rum with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 extra tsp milk (add to the 95g) or 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1/2 tsp pure bergamot extract and 2 and 1/2 extra tsp milk. Or any flavourings and quantities, according to taste.
- Beaten egg to brush on loaf; a little pearl sugar (optional)
When the eggs and milk haven’t been added yet the dough is quite heavy and ugly (see photos above). Don’t panic and don’t throw in extra liquid to make it soft (like I did for prototype 1). Accept your ugly dough and when you add the eggs and milk later it’ll look much better.
AFTER 30 MINUTES RESTING AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
After step 7: (a) if your dough is really liquid add a little more flour and knead another 5 minutes on medium speed; or (b) if too stiff add a little more milk and knead.
AFTER 1 HOUR RISING AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
AFTER 20-24 HOURS RESTING IN THE FRIDGE
DAY 2 – SHAPING AND BAKING
Here’s the link to a great King Arthur video showing two ways to plait a 3-strand loaf.
With thinner dough sausages you’ll get a nicely defined pattern.
After baking (about 30 minutes) cool on a wire rack – wait a little before eating and cool completely before storing. Waiting is hard and while taking photos I might have taken a bite or two. 🙂
Eating and storing
Brioche is always best eaten the same day. Stored in airtight tupperware or wrapped well in plastic film it will be okay 2 more days. Brioche freezes well. And it’s yummy toasted or for making Bostocks, French toast or bread and butter pudding.
Yum, one more slice? With butter, jam, marmalade, ham or cheese? Hope you’ll be inspired to make brioche too!
Well, it’s time to say bye dear reader! Hope you’re having a lovely week and not too cold. Yesterday it actually snowed here in Barcelona!!! The kids at school loved it – some had never seen snow before! But if you’re feeling the chill you can always bake. Your oven will heat up your kitchen and home making them smell heavenly! Wishing you happy warm baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x