Breakfast Tuesday: Brioche French Toast
February 8, 2011
Breakfast Tuesday! My favorite day of the week! I repeat myself a lot and exaggerate… A LOT, but today I’m super excited to share my day off breakfast treat because I put some work into it and because it’s something that is crazy decadent. My favorite kind of breakfast is a ridiculous, zero nutritional value, almost-dessert, something like brioche french toast!
I won’t bore you with the details of the French toast making, because we all have our own special way of preparing it, but I will share some of my brioche experiences. The entirety of my Monday consisted of preparing three different batches brioche dough from three different people. Last week, reading the recipes, I realized that most brioche dough must sit overnight, and some even require TLC every two hours before you are ready to use it. Some you can freeze, some you need to use a sponge, some you NEED a thermometer, you name some sort of baking instruction, it was there. I’m a bit lazy and extremely impatient, so the question became, “Are all these crazy extra steps worth it for the 23 year old home baker?”
The part of me that loves projects and challenges says “Heck yes! I don’t want to settle and take the easy route!” The part of me that just wants some brioche French toast and doesn’t feel like going to the market and spending five dollars on a brioche roll says “There has to be middle ground.” Surprisingly enough, I got over the laziness and made a bunch of brioche to conduct some rigorous taste testing.
I’m still working on the loaves that need extra time, because my kitchen is freezing, but I will share the recipe for the baked loaf in the pictures. How well the brioche turned out, even though it didn’t need to sit overnight and be punched repeatedly, surprised me. It certainly rivals market brioche, and definitely trumps hugantic chain grocery store brioche.
I will let you know how the rest of brioche baking goes. I have brioche buns filled with jam, another regular loaf, a raisin swirl loaf, and some dough frozen for sticky buns. Too much brioche? Nonsense.
“Breakfast Loaf” Brioche
(Recipe adapted from Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking)
Yields enough dough for one 9 by 5 inch loaf
Note: This recipe is a whole lot easier with the bread hook of a stand mixer, but I was able to do it without, and will write the recipe without use of the mixer. If you have access to a mixer, this recipe will be a cinch!
1/3 cup lukewarm milk, about body temperature*
2 ½ teaspoons, or one envelope, active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water, around 110 degrees F*
¾ cup bread flour
*The temperature is important because the yeast will be killed if the liquids are too hot.
2 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
All of sponge, recipe from above
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup, or 8 tablespoons, butter, softened, plus extra for buttering pans and bowls
1 egg, whisked
1. Sponge: In a cereal size bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water. Wait 2 minutes, then whisk again to make sure all yeast granules are dissolved. Whisk in warm milk. Fold in flour with a spatula or wooden spoon, until smooth. Cover the bowl in plastic, and let sit for 30 minutes or until more than doubled in size.
2. In the bottom of a large bowl, large enough to contain and knead all the dough, stir the eggs and yolks together.
3. Stir in the sugar, and then scrape all the sponge into the egg mixture.
4. Add flour, one cup at a time, and the salt, mixing it into submission after each addition. Mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, between 10 and 15 minutes. I suggest using your (clean) hands for this process.
5. Add the butter in three parts, continually mix until the butter is absorbed into the dough, not just melted around the outside.
6. Knead dough until it is smooth, shiny, and feels like elastic, 10 to 15 minutes more.
7. Place dough into a large, buttered bowl, then flip over to make sure top of dough is coated in butter.
8. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If your kitchen is in the 70 degree F range, 30 minutes should suffice. Once the dough has risen, you can place it in the fridge until ready to use, or use it right away. If you do put it in the fridge, make sure it comes to room temperature before shaping it for the loaf pan.
9. Prepare a loaf pan by buttering it generously. Make sure you butter the rim as well, because the brioche will try to escape over the sides.
10. Flour your hands, and remove the dough from the bowl. Round the dough by bringing the sides underneath it, tightening the skin on top, being careful not to deflate it too much. Once rounded, shape it into a loaf pan sized rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared pan.
11. Cover the pan with plastic, and let rise until dough comes 1 to 1 ½ inches above the pan. This process takes 30 minutes to an hour, again, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
12. While bread is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
13. Before baking loaf, brush top with egg wash. Be careful not to let the egg drip down the outside of the pan.
14. Bake loaf until well-risen and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
15. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before tipping it out onto a cooling rack. Let loaf cool completely on its side to avoid deflation.
Brioche is pretty much ambrosia out of the oven, right after it cools, but you can keep it, at room temperature or in the fridge, in an airtight container for a few days. You could also freeze it for up to a month.