Saturday, August 28, 2010

Brioche - Fresh from the Oven

Yesterday I realised that the month has passed and we hadn't yet fulfilled the August's Fresh from the Oven Challenge. Ivan was lying in the bed with fever, besides it was his birthday. It was 35ºC outdoors (and nearly 30 indoors) but he was shivering, his nose was running, he was sneezing, coughing and maybe this was the worst birthday he has ever had. He wasn't in a mood neither for party nor for baking. Not even for baking! Normally this cheers him up, but not this time. Meaning he was feeling extremely bad.

I made him drink some Reishi mushroom pills and Samahan, made him milk with ginger and jaggery, put a towel soaked with vinegar on his head and filled the oil lamp with anti-flu essential oils.

Gosh, what a birthday :(

And since there was nothing more that I could have done I got down to baking to distract myself.

August's FFO challenge was hosted by Chele from Chocolate Teapot who chose a recipe for Brioche from the River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread.

Brioche is very similar to the Bulgarian Easter bread, named Kozunak
, but our kozunak is sweeter than the brioche. So when I saw the recipe I thought it's a little bit flat to my taste. So I called the best kozunak maker ever – my mom – to discuss the recipe with her.

I haven't eaten a better kozunak than the one mom makes. She makes it only for Easter and when she makes it, its in huge amounts because all her friends are waiting on a queue for a loaf. She improves the recipe every year to obtain the ultimate indulging result. And it's quite indulging indeed. But back to this recipe.

After a brief conversation with mom I knew how to make the recipe more pleasing to my palate. I've put less salt, slightly more sugar and of course the indispensable ingredient for mom's kozunak – lemon zest. I know it's brioche not kozunak after all, so it's not as sweet as mom's kozunak but it's just the perfect salty-sweet bread. Here is the original recipe and in the brackets in italics you'll find my changes.

At the end of the day Ivan got a bit better and we indulged ourselves with a good brioche loaf with some green walnuts preserve and goat cheese.

Don't forget to check how other members' brioches turned out at Fresh from the Oven site.

Brioche Recipe:

Makes 2 small loaves (like this on the photo)
Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread
  • 400gr strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting (since we live on the sea coast and the humidity is very high here I had to add 80 more grams of flour);
  • 5gr powdered dried yeast;
  • 10gr fine sea salt (I've put 8 gr);
  • 90ml warm milk;
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar(I've put 50 gr of sugar and the result was very well balanced loaves);
  • 100gr butter, softened;
  • 4 medium free range eggs, beaten;
  • zest of 2 lemons.
To Glaze
  • 1 medium free range egg;
  • 2 Tbsp milk;
  • sugar for finishing.

To knead by hand: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and bring it all together to form a dough. Knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add all the dough ingredients to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, and leave to knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Shape the dough into a round, place in a bowl and cover tightly. Leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, divide the dough in two and form into the shape of your choice. Lightly flour the loaves, lay them on a wooden board or linen cloth and cover with a plastic bag. Leave them somewhere nice and warm to prove until almost doubled in size; this could take 3 or 4 hours, as the dough is cold.

(I made it in one day and the whole proofing process took me a couple of hours. And I chose to form the loaves in plaits. Also I baked the loaves in a ceramic baking pan.)

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. For the glaze, beat the egg and milk together. Transfer the risen loaves to a baking tray and brush all over with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar on top. Bake for about 10 mins, then lower the oven setting to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20 mins or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. Beautiful loaves. I have not made a braided bread before. (Perhaps this could be an upcoming FFTO challenge?) Your changes sound great, especially adding lemon zest.

  2. Your loaves look absolutely gorgeous! I also chose to braid my loaves ~ looks really pretty once it's baked. The addition of lemon zest sounds very lovely, I'll have to give that a try.

  3. Brioche is my absolute favorite bread. I've always wanted to find a good brioche recipe and now I think I have! Thank you for posting this.

  4. @ Dionne, I forgot to mention that the baking time from the original recipe was too much, now it's fixed. Maybe it's ok if you bake a bigger loaf, but for the smaller ones 30 minutes in summary was fine.

    @ Corrie, Sarah, I'm looking forward to the next challenge :)

  5. I am defintely making this! Looks scrumtious!

  6. I prefer a baked steak!

  7. Really interesting post - and beautiful photo. I love the idea of the lemon.

  8. I am loving the plaited top of your loaf. Pictures are great too. Lovely clean light.

  9. Aw - the poor birthday boy. Hope he is feelign better now. Great photo's, your brioche turned out wonderfully.

  10. @ Sally, I really missed your post this month, but hope you are having a wonderful time on your vacation!

    @ Claire, thank you!

    @ Chele, thank you for the nice challenge! Thanks godness the birthday boy is ok now, otherwise he was on his way to make me crazy :)

  11. My Dad was from Eastern Europe and your recipe made me think. I just Googled Polish Easter bread - and yes there is one - it's called Grandmother!
    Back in my own kitchen and just putting the brioche dough in the fridge.

  12. @ Sally, I haven't made Babka before, but I know it's something very similar to our kozunak :)

  13. Hi Silvia, I have a question. Hope you can help. I've just made your recipe - it smelled heavenly while it was baking with the lemon in it. I plaited the dough (after leaving it in the fridge overnight) and then proved it for a few hours in a tin. It looked fine before baking but turned into a smooth loaf in the oven. How did you get the lovely domes and indentations on your loaf? Did it fit quite snugly in your tin? Really appreciate your advice. - S

  14. @ Sally, did you let the dough temper for a couple of hours after taking out of the fridge?

    I didn't leave it in the fridge overnight. After kneading the dough I left it to raise quite well (for about an hour and a half, but it was really hot that day - 30C inside). Then I plaited it and left it covered with a towel for around 20 more minutes (till the oven gets hot). I glazed it and sprinkled some sugar just before putting it in the oven. I used ceramic baking pan and there was plenty of place in it. During the baking the plait spreaded out and this was the result. My mother makes it this way and the result is always the same. I hope this will be of help.

  15. Thanks - really helpful. I plaited the dough straight out of the fridge but then left it to rise for a few hours. It tasted delicious and I really like the lemon in it but I'm going to have another try - I'd love to get the plait right!

  16. Glad you liked it Sally :)
    For the next time, it's really important to leave the dough to temper when you take it out of the fridge. Normally this takes an hour or two depending of the room temperature. But the difference in the end product is enormous.



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