This weekend was one of those cozy, happy, putter-at-home sort of times. A comfy clothes, pony-tail, barefoot weekend.
I read good books and sipped creamy espresso laced with raw sugar and a dash of vanilla.
I drank red wine at night and watched good belly-laugh movies with Bear.
And I did a whole lot of baking while working my way through my annual tradition of listening to the entire Harry Potter series on CD.
I loved it.
My bread machine is one of my very favorite kitchen appliances. I know some folks feel that the only real bread is the bread made exclusively by hand, but I’m not one of them. In my book, anything that helps me get scrumptious, healthy food on the table when I’m tired, sick, or just plain stressed, is a good, good thing.
I used my bread machine to do all the finicky bits – mixing, kneading, doing the first rising – then I do the rest on my flour-dusted counter: kneading, shaping and popping the dough into a pan. It’s a very happy relationship.
I’ve been making bread since I was a girl, but for some reason I’ve never made brioche. Thankfully that changed this weekend.
I think bread is amazing. You can make so many different styles, textures and tastes with the same basic ingredients.
With nearly every loaf of yeast-risen bread, you must have flour, a liquid (water, milk, coconut milk, juice, broth), salt, yeast, a fat of some kind (Oil, butter, margarine, lard, coconut solids) and a bit of sugar to get the yeast fermenting once it hits the liquid. Most bread recipes are a variation on these components, and once you’ve got the basic formula down, you can let your imagination run wild creating your own bread recipes.
For brioche you use a higher quantity of fat (butter) to a lower quantity of flour (2 cups instead of the standard 3-4 cups for a large loaf), resulting in bread that is light, airy, and absolutely delicious.
I like my brioche with chunks of dark chocolate and a hint of nutmeg, but you can also add dried fruit (currants, sultanas, apricots, etc) or even nuts. Just make sure you wait to add them until just before you put the bread in the pan to bake. That way you know all the bready bits have been mixed properly.
I like eating my brioche while still warm cut in thick slices and spread with salted butter. With the remainder I toast it for breakfast, turn it into French Toast for brunch, or cut it into chunks for a rather fabulous bread pudding.
What is your favorite kind of bread?
Bread Machine Brioche with Dark Chocolate Chunks
3 large eggs (I used duck eggs, but chicken eggs will be fine)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups white flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp fast-action dry yeast
1 bar (or more!) good quality dark chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- Pour first five ingredients into pan of bread machine. Top with flour, sugar, then yeast. Close lid, choose the dough setting, and press start.
- Take a nap, read a book, or work on another project until the last beeper sounds.
- Remove dough from bread pan and place on well-floured surface.
- Preheat oven to 200 C (350 F).
- Press dough into a rough circle and pour dark chocolate chunks on top.
- Knead well until chocolate chunks are well-dispersed.
- Butter a cast iron pot, brioche pan, or bread pan and place dough inside.
- Bake 25-30 minutes until brioche is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top.
- Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
- Serve immediately with lashings of butter.