Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Braided Brioche

I figured since I posted two Chowder recipes, it was time for a bread post. One of my favorite meals in the fall is some homemade soup and a fresh loaf of warm bread. Brioche, over the years, has become one of my favorites. It's just so delicious, buttery, flakey and hearty. It's also very versatile, you can eat it plain or you can use it for sandwiches & french toast (just to name a few). This recipe, as much as I want to call it my own, came from one of my favorite cook books The French Laundry (It's on my store page ⬆). And actually the recipe isn't even Thomas Keller's (Owner of The French Laundry), he got it from Jean-Louis Palladin. Like many recipes in The French Laundry, this recipe takes some time to make. So, if you are making it for a specific event, you will have to start it ahead of time. Also, you don't have to make this braided, I just wanted to do it cause it seemed like fun. You can just toss the loaf in a butter loaf pan, which is what the actual recipe calls for. Enjoy!

  • 1/3 cup very warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees F)
  • One 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (not quick-rising)
  • 2 1/3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 20 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes, plus butter for the pans
Directions (In Loaf Pans)

Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl. Let set for 10 minutes, then stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside.

Sift together the flours, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute at low speed, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Slowly add the dissolved yeast and continue beating at low speed for 5 minutes. Stop the machine, scrape any dough off the dough hook, and beat for another 5 minutes. Add the butter cubes, about one quarter of them at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, beat for 10 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and silky.

Transfer the dough (it will be very wet and soft) in a large floured mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and gently work the air bubbles out by folding the dough several times while lightly pressing down on it. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Generously butter two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-3-inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. With floured hands, divide the dough in half and shape it into two rectangles to fit the loaf pans. Place the dough in the pans and let the dough rise uncovered in a warm place until it is about 1/2 inch above the top of the pans, about 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the brioche until it is well browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately turn the brioche out onto a wire rack.

If using immediately, let the breads cool for 10 minutes, then slice. If serving within a few hours or up to 2 days, promptly wrap the hot bread in aluminum foil and set aside at room temperature until ready to use. To freeze, wrap the hot bread in foil and promptly freeze; when ready to use, reheat (without thawing, and still wrapped in foil) in a 250 degree F oven until heated through, 20 to 25 minutes. The bread can be kept frozen for up to 2 months.

If using the brioche for croutons or bread pudding, let the loaf sit at room temperature, uncovered, to dry for a day.

If you want to do the braided loaf, watch this video . Preheat your oven to 350 and place the braided loaf on a baking sheet and place in oven or preheat a baking stone and just cook the loaf right on the stone. You'll notice in the video, they place the braided loaf into a buttered loaf pan, you can do this as well. Do whatever makes YOU happy :)

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