Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Simple Things

     Isn't it sad that after all those amazing pictures, we have come back to this. Pictures I took at 2 am in the night, i.e. no natural lighting, while excessively tired and without much aesthetic sense? No, I'm not fishing for compliments. It just makes me sad that this post must follow the last. Or at least, it would make me sad if I didn't like the food of this post so much. The food being the bread of course, and this bread being brioche.

     For those who may not know, I am an Anglophile and an Asia-phile, an India-phile, and a Francophile. I just can't help it. Such beautiful places...with such amazing foods. I love crepes and croissants as much as the next person, I treasure my memory of being a fourth grader visiting Paris and walking around a grocery store munching on a fresh baguette, but this Saturday I craved something else. Also because, apparently I've gotten to the point where I enter a supermarket, look at the bread, and think: but why would I buy bread? I can just make it at home. It is a lovely point. So, putting two and two together: I made French bread - easy French egg bread - I made brioche! Ta da.

     I did this on Saturday and saved it up for now because I knew I would have absolutely no time to cook between then and now. Physics midterm people, and it ate up all my time. But you know the great thing about making bread? You mix a little, you let it rise and you study for a few hours, then you knead a little, and then study for an hour. It's a great process. Of course, that's if you actually study in between and don't start watching Friends. So, you study while you knead to make up for it!

     What can I say about this bread? It's delicious warm out of the oven. It's good toasted and with a lot of butter (well, obviously). It makes great French Toast. (It is the French cousin of Challah bread after all.) Why would you not make your own bread? Especially when it is as simple as this. The smell of freshly baking bread will reward you, and then the taste will take it over the top.

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande 

1 2/3 cup All Purpose Flour
2 3/4 oz Butter, Room Temperature
2 Eggs, Room Temperature
1 tbsp Yeast
2 tbsp Sugar
1/3 cup Warm Milk
1 pinch Salt
1 Egg Yolk

In a large bowl, mix the flour and yeast. Make a well in the middle and add the warm milk slowly. Then, add the sugar and pinch of salt. After mixing (you can use a wooden spoon or your hands), add the butter a small piece at a time. Mix each piece in before adding the next. Then, add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each, then work the dough until it detaches easily from your fingers and is elastic. I had to add a little more flour at this point to make the dough less sticky. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place for two hours, until its size has doubled. Work the dough for ten more minutes, and divide it into four balls. Place them in a greased loaf pan, and cover. Let rise for another hour. Then, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops of the brioche with egg yolk mixed with a dash of sugar. Use scissors to make small cuts at the top of each of the balls. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes. Once it is golden brown, remove from the oven and unmold.


My loaf pan only fit three of the dough balls, so I made the last one into a bun as you can see above. I just rolled the dough into a round and baked it on the baking sheet for slightly less time than the loaf (about 15 minutes). 

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