Every introduction to Brioche has to reference Marie Antoinette's French revolution story when she plainly told her attendants that the peasants who couldn't afford bread should eat brioche. Buttery, rich and delicious its more luscious than bread but not quite the level of a cake. It lies somewhere in the middle. Traditionally, you would have to hand-knead endlessly and let the dough sit overnight in the refrigerator but Cook Illustrated says that you can skip this step because of the eggs, butter and general overall richness of the bread. The recipe is so simple and delicious that I've already made it twice this week-- once plain and then with Golden delicious apples and raisins. You can slather it with your preserve of choice, or dunk it into a cup o' joe or use it as a base for comforting bread pudding. I've heard that stale slices are phenomenal slathered with almond custard and toasted to golden goodness. But I'm trying to watch the calories in preparation for the eating fest coming Thursday but when I do try it, you'll be the first to know!
Heres the recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated:
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 Golden delicious apple chopped
1 fistful raisins
1. In a small bowl mix yeast into milk and add 1 cup of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Spray baking spray over an 8.5 X 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf tin.
2. Put butter, sugar and salt in workbowl of foodprocessor and pulse at 1 sec intervals till mixture is smooth. Scrape bowl frequently.
3. Add eggs one at a time till mixture is incorporated. It may look curdled but thats ok, keep going.
4. Add remaining flour and yeast mixture. Pulse at 1 sec intervals till a smooth (but sticky) dough forms. Next knead for 15 seconds continously.
5. Transfer dough to a well floured surface and knead till dough is not sticky anymore (just a few seconds really).
6. Shape into a rectangle, sprinkle some apples and raisins and fold longer sides in by 1 inch. Sprinkle somemore apples and raisins and then fold one short side towards the middle and fold the other short side over the seam of the first short fold (like an envelope). Cut the dough into 3 equal parts and drop into the loaf tin. Let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour or till the dough rises about an inch over the tin.
7. Bake in a 350F oven for about 35 minutes or till the bread is a nice golden brown.