Brioche de maman

Yay, first entry! Naturally, home all day, I got bored. It was raining less today, but I could hear the wind blowing like mad, so I didn’t feel like going out. Besides, it would only make me shop & we can’t do that on an intern’s budget. But we have flour, eggs, milk & yeast at home! J So what do we do? Bien sûr, une brioche!

My little bundle of fluffy dough is currently rising to the occasion, so I used the opportunity to do the dishes, clean up some of the mess & start up on the post. This is the recipe I’ve grown up with, the recipe, which raw dough my sister & I used to steal pinches of & eat it hidden away from mom. hihihi It is still my favourite raw dough to eat LOL You are in luck that my mother had finally come up with measurements that yield some sensible results instead of flops (you know how moms are: a little bit of this, a little bit of that, & voilà. Riiiight…)

Right now I am making only half of the below recipe, because it would yield I think 4 little ribbons (or, babies as mom calls them), & I have nowhere to go with more than this. Also, I will list how much oil & milk you need, but believe me, I didn’t use as much. You need to knead & see for yourself. The most important thing is, the dough needs to come together in this nice smooth ball & not stick. Mine, before putting it to rest, still felt a bit sticky, but I really didn’t want to add any more flour & make it heavy. To my knowledge, it has never been made with butter. I’ve made mine with olive oil & I doubt mom has ever used olive oil, due to its price. That said, I only last year somehow learnt it is NOT made with butter. I could’ve sworn my life on it, because it always smelt & tasted so good, I could not believe it has no butter. A nice addition are raisins, which I love, but I don’t have them now.

Also, what really really makes this brioche what it is & what I’ve known it my entire life to be is a certain spice called mahlab or mahlepi (Wikipedia). It is used in Mediterranean cuisine, & my guess is mom had the idea to add it in from our numerous trips to Greece. I don’t know where to tell you to go looking for it, cause the only place I’ve seen it is at home. It gives a certain something to the brioche that nothing can imitate. Either way, that is not to say that you can’t play with additions to adjust the flavor here. Grated lemon zest, grated orange zest, orange flower water, etc etc….

This brioche spells Christmas and Easter for me. It is always there for the holidays. A holiday is not a holiday without it. Christmas Eve would have to be a fasting meal, which we as kids never really liked, so we’d stay up till past midnight to be allowed to have a slice of this egg bread with a slab of butter…..Mmmmm….. And then for breakfast, & afternoon snack, & supper time…. until it disappears J

Ingredients:

500 gr flour

1 pack active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla sugar pack/1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar (you need some sugar 1) to activate the yeast & 2) to make it a bit sweet – put as much sugar as sweet as you’d want it to be)

2 eggs

250 ml warm milk

100 ml oil

1 egg (1 egg yolk) for glaze before baking

Today’s additions:

–       juice of one mandarin

–       drop or two of orange flower water

Preparation:

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, sugar in a bowl.
  2. Crack the egg in the flour mixture and start incorporating by hand. It will stick to your hand, but don’t worry.
  3. Start adding slowly the milk and oil, alternating between the two and incorporating between each & seeing how the dough comes together. Slowly, it’ll stick less & will be forming a ball shape. If you’re using a food processor, pretty much the same result is required. Don’t overbeat it. (this is where you will add your additions if you are using some)
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out of bowl, onto floured surface

  1. Let it come to a ball shape, & take it out of the bowl onto a floured counter surface. This is where you will knead till perfection. (there is a kneading technique that mom uses here in order to make the brioche come out “stringy”, it will tear into strings when baked, but I don’t know it & it still turns out) If it sticks, add more flour. Slowly, not too much, If it’s too dry, separates & cracks from itself, add more milk or more oil. This would happen if you haven’t used it all & if you haven’t, it’s not a big deal. if it’s too runny or greasy, add more flour. Keep kneading until it’s nice & smooth.
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let it rest & rise for about 40 minutes

  1. Let it rest on the counter, covered with a tea towel, or put it back in the bowl, covered with the towel in a warm area to rise & double in size, maybe some 40 minutes. (mine didn’t rise a lot even though it was rising for some 50 minutes. You also don’t want it to overise)
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nice & smooth after its nap

  1. Once risen, punch it down, not too hard though and divide it in into 4 little pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Divide it again in two. Knead a bit, but not too much, don’t take the air out of it. Knead each little ball into a spiral. Make a ribbon out of two. Or out of three, however you desire. Or don’t roll them at all, leave them as little balls. (if it stuck a bit to the counter or the bowl, while rising, don’t panic, just collect it, knead it around, it should be fine. Don’t reach for the flour right away)
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before being glazed

  1. Place them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper (turn the oven on 200C). Cover them with a tea towel until the oven warms up. Just before putting them in the oven, glaze them with the egg wash.
  2. In the oven they go! Baking time would depend on your oven, and whether it’s a convection or not. Mine right now is, so this is a test! Yikes! 🙂 They should be done when they’re nice & brown & well risen. Make sure you don’t have an oven rack very close above the one you are using, because depending on the amount of sugar you’ve used, it will rise differently. The more sugar, the more it’ll rise. You don’t want it to stick to the top rack… :/ (a few years back this was very, very close to happening, so I speak from experience)
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Success! Convection oven is a breeze!

P.S. There’s one difficulty with this: self-control: to try & not eat it all, all at once, when it comes out of the oven! hahaha

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bit of butter & you’re one bite closer to heaven!

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