The Loire Valley is known as the ‘bread basket of France,’ and, as such, bread making is a popular endeavor during a French cooking class featuring brioche dough, but also “pain perdu”…
“At our cooking school, our philosophy is that the dish is only as good as the ingredients, and this is no more as true as it is when preparing brioche. We make a point of ensuring we use only the finest Normandy butter and take a drive down to our free-range French chicken farmer whose eggs are rich and give a lovely taste and color to our dough.”
- 1 pound 1.5 oz. flour
- 10.5 oz. whole egg
- 2.25 oz. caster sugar
- 5.25 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 3 teaspoons fine salt
- 14 oz. butter
- 2 egg yolks
- Sieve flour into a mixing bowl with salt, sugar, eggs and yeast and with the dough hook knead on a low setting till all well incorporated.
- Once incorporated add the softened butter in three separate stages and continue kneading until the dough stops sticking to the side of the bowl and becomes smooth and elastic, yet firm.
- Finish off by folding in the egg yolks.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered with Clingfilm and rest for 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch down and roll into three same size balls and place into greased bread tin.
- Allow to rise at room temperature till dough reaches top of the bread tin.
- Bake at 190°C / 374°F until baked, check with a skewer in the center as it should come out clean. This normally takes about 25 minutes in a convection oven.
Traditionally Brioche is not glazed, but if you like a glaze you can do so by mixing 1 egg, with a hint of sugar and water brushed over before going into the oven.
Another classic French dish, which you can learn more about during a French cooking vacation, is pain perdu, which is similar to french toast. This particular recipe is always served with a helping of vanilla ice cream.
- 4 thick slices of brioche
- 35 fl oz. of full fat milk
- 6 oz light brown sugar
- 1 vanilla pod split into 4
- 3.5 oz. pistachios
- 3.5 oz. lightly roasted, peeled hazelnuts
- 3.5 oz. halved walnuts
- 3.5 oz. sultanas
- Dip the brioche slices in milk just for a short period so that the brioche is lightly soaked through.
- Place the sugar in a saucepan adding a little water and cook gently till sugar has dissolved and you have a golden caramel. Add vanilla strips.
- Heat a frying pan and add a little of the caramel. Place a slice of brioche and cook lightly on each side to a golden brown, add a little of the nuts and sultanas. Repeat with all slices, you can do all four at the same time if you have a large enough frying pan.
- To serve, place brioche on a plate and pour the remainder of caramel over the top and decorate with a sprinkle of nuts, just as you serve place a generous ball of vanilla ice cream on the top and garnish with a strip of the vanilla.