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Brioche French Toast

Brioche has made an appearance on quite a few the plates of my food forays this summer. Drenched in duck fat then baked to crisp croutons, soaked in cream, eggs and whisky and dotted with sultanas and pecans for bread pudding dessert, classically shaped parisienne baked in a fluted round, and a toasted stack on a plate with a side of farm churned butter and orchard preserves.

I carried those tastes in my mind until the temperature finally dipped below 100 F here in Phoenix. In this part of the world, bread baking is a winter (as in double-digit temperature) sport and brioche was the first batch of bread out of my kitchen for the season. In spite of its appearance and taste, egg rich dough- light and airy crumb- golden toasty crust, brioche is a surprisingly approachable bread even for the beginning baker.

Ingredients

8 and 3/4 oz all purpose flour, unbleached

2 and 3/4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, soft to the touch

2 eggs, room temperature

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

2 Tablespoons sugar, sifted

1/3 cup whole milk, warmed to 105 F-115 F

1/4 Teaspoon fine salt

For egg wash:1 egg yolk + 1/2 Teaspoon water + 1/2 Teaspoon sugar, whisked

Step 1: Weigh out the flour.

If you don’t use a scale (you really should!) 1 and 2/3 cups will do.

Step 2: Measure the remaining ingredients.

Cut the softened butter into pieces.

Step 3: Heat the milk to between 105 F and 115 F.

Step 4: Place flour in large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer and sprinkle in the yeast.

With a fork, mix the flour and yeast together.

Use the back of a spoon or your fist to make a well shape in the middle of flour-yeast mixture. Slowly add the warm milk to the middle of the well.

By hand: mix gently with your fingertips, sweeping flour in to well as you work.

In stand mixer: slowly add the milk while mixing on low-speed with paddle attachment.

Step 6: Add the sugar and salt to the mixture and combine.

Add the softened butter, one piece at a time, incorporating each piece before adding another.

Step 7: One at a time, add the eggs, throughly combining into flour mixture between each addition.

Step 8: Kneading: begin to knead the dough, at first it will stick to the sides of the work bowl.

By hand: lightly work the dough with floured fingertips. Do not add too much flour, as this will alter the final product.

In stand mixer: use the dough hook on medium speed to knead the dough.

Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks, but rather pulls away from the side of the bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky, but workable and easily pull away from dough hook, bowl or fingers.

Step 9: Place the dough in a large bowl. Cover.

Rest the dough in a warm, draft free place. My house is back of cook top, under appliance light.

Allow to rest for 2 hours and double in volume.

Two hours later. Doubled in size.

Step 10: Place the dough on a very lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 additional minutes.

Knead: Use the palm of your hand, with finger tips in the air, push the dough down and away from your body. With your other hand, fold the dough over one time, rotate the dough 1/4 turn, and repeat the push and away with your palm. After a few turns you will have a nice kneading rhythm, turn the music on!

Step 11: Use a bench scraper, knife or roller to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.

Step 12: Place in a greased loaf pan. The dough will quickly expand to the shape of the pan. Cover and rest for 1 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Step 13: Egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

Brush the top of the dough gently with the egg wash.

Step 14: Use a sharp kitchen scissors or knife to gently cut or slash 8 X’s into dough.

Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F.

Turn oven temperature down to 350 F and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Step 15: Remove from oven.

Let rest in pan 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Let me know if your brioche makes it to the next day for French toast!

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