Brioche

This is a very easy brioche to make, with a good buttery flavour. It can be sliced for toast, or used as a base for peaches or other fruit baked on brioche. At Easter I spice the brioche with cardamom to serve with the traditional Russian Pashka, a rich pudding of moulded cream cheese and glacé fruit.

To get perfect rounds of brioche, I will occasionally bake the dough in a large, clean tomato can, or in smaller evaporated milk cans. Whatever the contents once were, the can itself should be straight sided, with both top and bottom removed. Stand the can on a baking sheet lined with buttered foil, and half-fill with dough. Exact timings for baking will vary according to the depth. If the crust is browning too fast, cover with foil.

Ingredients

  • 7 g/¼ oz fresh yeast or 1 heaped teaspoon dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 275 g/10 oz strong flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175 g/6 oz butter, melted and cooled
  • beaten egg, to glaze

Method

Mix the yeast into the milk and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes, until frothing. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and add the sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs, then the yeast mixture and the butter. Work in the flour to give a soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover with clingfilm or a saucepan lid and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½ hours until doubled in size.

Knock the dough down, and mix briefly. Cover and leave in a cool place for 4–6 hours or overnight in the fridge to rise again until doubled in size. Mix again briefly. Divide between two buttered 450 g/1 lb loaf tins. Cover and prove in a warm place for 1 final hour. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven, 240°C/475°F/gas mark 9, for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Test with a skewer – plunge it into one of the brioches in a discreet but central spot, and if it comes out dry then the brioche is cooked.

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