“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
James Beard (1903-1985)
James Beard (1903-1985)
Truer words have not been spoken.
Being born of European heritage, not one day would pass without bread, in fact, almost not one meal would pass without it. It was as constant as the rising of the sun, and perhaps as comforting.
Ask anyone about the smell of freshly baked bread and I assure you a smile will appear before their answer. That heavenly scent, whilst indescribable, leaves you with an innocent warmth that emanates from your core. Even sweeter still for me is the perfume of toast, if I could bottle it I would. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked 'what is that wonderful smell coming from your kitchen' to be told, 'I am just making toast...'
Whenever we dine out I always get excited to see what bread we will be given as I feel it allows me to know what to expect of their food. If given cold, stale or flavourless bread I know to lower my expectations, but should I find soft bread that steams as I tear it in two I know I am in for a treat.
Despite my love for bread, I have never made it myself. I have a deep respect for bakers who rise whilst the sun still slumbers to knead and bake until morning, so that the rest of us have something on which to smear our jams. I figured that unless I had hours to spend I just would not be able to make it. And for years I was fine with this. And then one evening, as I prepared to make dinner, I realised that the recipe called for brioche, having none and being too late to get any I started to panic. Racing to my laptop I optimistically hoped that perhaps I could find a 'shortcut' recipe that would give me brioche in a few hours for dinner. Five or so clicks later, I stumbled upon Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day - and voila, I was retrieving a glorious loaf of brioche from my oven four hours later. Granted it's not as pretty and maybe not as light as a brioche given the proper kneading and preparation, it's more than adequate should you find yourself with little time and in need of bread. I loved baking my own bread so much that I cannot wait to set aside some time and do it again.
Whilst we enjoyed the brioche in its battered eggy cloak, in all honesty, we enjoyed it most with a simple smear of butter straight from the oven; that in itself is perfection.
Picture taken two days after baking.
prep time: 4 hours.
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 4hours & 30mins.
taste: 4/5. Knead a quick brioche? Then try this.
Even without an eggwash to gloss its crust it came out with a lovely burnt umber sheen.
I rested mine at room temperature for 1 hour before chilling in the fridge for 2 hours and then placing it in a tin at room temperature for 1 hour before baking at 200C for 30mins.
As it was only stirred with a spoon I found mine had some lumps in dough form, but they smoothed out during cooking.
Still warm from the oven it was soft and gently sweet; a smear of salty butter made it sing.
Once it began to get stale I used it to make a simple french toast with maple syrup, cinnamon, bananas & a dollop of creme fraiche. I found that it didn't soak up the egg as well as white breads do but it still tasted great.
Would I make it again: Yes. I would love to try this again, however next time I would use my paddle attachment to combine the ingredients to achieve a smoother more incorporated dough and would also use an eggwash for the top.