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.
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.
- 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.