A Brioche Recipe from Le Calabash Cooking School
In France, brioche is a versatile bread that can be enjoyed during breakfast, or as a snack or dessert. It’s so versatile that some even call it a pastry due to its high egg and butter content, as well as ingredients like sugar. At the same time, brioche can also be found in savory French dishes as well. No matter how you serve it though, light and puffy brioche is – simply put – delicious.
While brioche’s origins aren’t definitively known – although it does resemble Greek Easter bread ‘tsoureki’ – many believe that it dates back to the early 1400s. Even back then the butter content was important. The richer version of the bread – literally, only the aristocrats could afford it – had a 3:2 flour to butter ratio, while the poor man’s version had a ratio of 4:1.
Today, butter is still incredibly important. As Le Calabash Cooking School’s Chef Alison says, the quality of the ingredients – particularly the butter – play an important role in the final taste of the bread/pastry. Here’s how Chef Alison makes her brioche (which you can learn more about during a culinary vacation to the Loire Valley):
300g (1 ¼ cup) whole egg
60g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
23g (1 ½ tbs) fresh yeast
12g (a little under 2 ½ teaspoons) fine salt
400g (3.5 sticks) butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
1. In a mixer, mix flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and yeast.
2. Knead the ingredients in the mixer using a dough hook. Add butter at three separate times.
3. Continue kneading until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl and becomes smooth and elastic, yet firm.
4. Finish by folding in the eggs.
5. Let it rest for 1 ½ hours and then punch down.
6. Divide up as you need and place in baking container.
7. Let dough rise to room temperature until the dough reaches the top of baking dish.
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C (375°F).
Since bread making – including brioche – can be tricky, here are a few more tips to make the tasty treat. According to Chef Eric, who runs a Paris cooking school, make sure to cover your formed brioches with buttered plastic film. For added flavor, you can also brush the brioches with egg wash (one egg plus one tablespoon of milk well combined). Lastly, you can make sure it’s completely done baking by inserting a toothpick into the thickest part; when you remove the toothpick, it should come out clean and dry.
Have you had brioche before? How do you like to eat it – on it’s own as a snack, or part of a bigger meal?
By Liz Hall