Those who know me well know that bread making has been my nemesis. However over the past year I have given it a lot more focus and one of the guys I used to work with is a bit of a legend in bread making and with his sage advice “wetter is better”, my bread making has turned a corner.
The extreme end of the “wetter is better” mantra is the Brioche dough. The dough coming out of the mixer is more like a batter than a dough but a night resting in the fridge, not only adds a depth of flavour but also firms up the dough so it can be shaped.
For this attempt and to stop family arguments I went for a plain version, based on a Paul Hollywood recipe (but added a little more sugar). My wife was rooting for a choc chip and orange, I like a little lemon zest in mine. My youngest son Ethan, who is the bread connoisseur, likes it straight up when warm or with a little butter when it is cooled. If he has not snaffled the lot when it is warm that is.
Bread can be a commitment but working it in around what you are up to is fine. I made the dough before I went to bed with every intention to bake it mid morning. By the time I had gone out for a run with the eldest son, done some work up the allotment and walked the dog, it ended up an afternoon/teatime treat. The extra time in the fridge does it no harm.
This heavily enriched bread with 5 eggs and lots of butter is deliciously rich but also amazing light. It is like eating a fluffy, buttery cloud.
Makes: 1 round tin loaf
Oven Temp: Gas 5, 375F, 190C (170C Fan)
500g strong white bread flour
65g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
5 medium eggs
250g softened unsalted butter
1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer. Add the salt and sugar to the bowl and then the yeast, keeping it away from where you put the salt.
2. Warm the milk in a pan or in the microwave so it is tepid. Whisk the eggs into the milk and add to the dry ingredients.
3. With the dough hook attached, mix on a slow for 2 minutes, then speed up to a medium speed for 6 – 8 minutes until you have a soft, elastic dough. It will still be very wet.
4. Cut the butter into tablespoon size chunks and add to the dough and mix for another 5 minutes. Half way through, scrape down the sides of the bowl right down to the bottom, to ensure that the flour and butter is thoroughly mixed in. The dough will still be very soft.
5. Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge overnight. The dough will firm up and you will be able to shape it.
3. Grease a 23cm-25cm round deep cake tin. A springform tin makes it easier to get out (I used a 23cm as that was the largest I had).
4. Take your brioche dough from the fridge. Tip it onto a floured surface and knock it back. Divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Put 10 of the balls around the edge of the tin and two in the middle.
5. Cover with the clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 2 – 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
6. Heat your oven to 190°C (170°C Fan)
7. When doubled in size, bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If it is getting too brown place some foil loosely over the top.
8. Remove the brioche from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe