Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brioche - Cook It! 2012: February Resolution + Cardamom Rose French Toast Recipe

Even though I've been madly pinning bread recipes for a while now, and have been dutifully keeping my sourdough starter alive, February was a bear of a month for me, so all the more complex bread fantasies dancing in my head were tossed out the window.

Luckily one of my favorite breads to eat is relatively easy to make, (famous last words, right?) but I've never done it before  in fact I've never baked bread it's the perfect second round of my Cook It! 2012 resolutions! {You can see my first round here, and Grow It Cook It Can It's entire fabulous pasta round-up here}

The recipe I went to for my brioche is from Leite's Culinaria, in part because the Portuguese Olive-Oil Orange Cake on this site hasn't let me down yet. It's perfect for potlucks in particular, not just because it's pretty and easy to transport, but it actually gets better after a day or two, so you can make ahead of time when busy.

On to the bread-making...

Maybe because I tend to be an improvisational cook, using recipes as inspiration more than a prescription, sometimes when I'm baking I have a hard time doing that crucial first step: read the entire recipe thoroughly ahead of time. I know this, but still often fail at it. This go around it meant my butter and eggs weren't room temperature, but I had already mixed the yeast in with the milk and sugar. My solution: I sliced the butter into pats and put them on the wrapper inside the oven. It was turned off of course, but the pilot keeps it warmer than room temp in there, so I only had about 10 extra minutes to wait until they felt soft enough to stir into the dough by hand.

Really the only other notes for next time are to use a little more butter when greasing the pans (some of the corners stuck a bit) and to start earlier in the day! Oh and maybe to start working out more. Mixing dough by hand is hard work. It's either that or buy a stand mixer. But really if I'm going to be baking brioche regularly, I think working out is the better solution.

Set out your ingredients (and read your recipe!)

Yeast activates within 5-10 minutes

Note bubbles around edge and foamy surface

Mix in your eggs

Brace yourself for an arm workout

Stir in butter tablespoon or a two at a time

Add remaining flour 1/2 c. at a time until dough is shiny

Mine was still a bit sticky, but I felt it was ready

Dough after first rise

Punch down dough and knead it briefly

Add to buttered pans and leave to rise again until doubled

Second rise, after an hour looks good

Baste egg wash onto your loaves

Prepare for a delicious smell 

And gorgeous loaves

That you will want to slice into immediately

Making your own bread is incredibly satisfying!

And the nice airy slices are pretty!

I believe the first bite of all fresh-from-the-oven bread should be with a bit of butter on it. After that I recommend eating it with brie. It also makes great toast, and bread pudding. I'm not sure there's anything it doesn't go well with, truthfully. But it is super for delicious french toast, so I went that route for the recipe inclusion.

Hot bread & butter = nothing better

Toasted with brie feels decadent

Recipe for Cardamom Rose Brioche French Toast 

2 slices of day-old brioche
3 large eggs
~3 Tbs milk
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
Dash of rose water (you want just a light rose flavor, so don't use a lot or it will overwhelm)
Couple pinches of freshly ground cardamom
4-5 scrapes of freshly ground nutmeg
Cinnamon and confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
Optional: Scrapings from 1/2 a vanilla bean
Maple syrup and fresh fruit for serving

Cut brioche into 3/4-inch slices. Lightly whisk eggs and milk together, adding vanilla extract, rose water, nutmeg and cardamom (and vanilla bean if using).

Place a slice of bread in mixture to soak while you heat pan, adding a pat of butter to use for cooking. Turn bread over at least once so that it gets well soaked, but not sodden.

Add first slice to pan to cook on medium heat, while putting second slice into egg mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon on top side of toast as it cooks, repeating when you flip it. Cook each side approximately 2 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve immediately with maple syrup, fresh fruit and a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar.

Alternatively you may heat your maple syrup with a dash of rose water and bit of butter instead of adding to your egg mixture.

Serves 2

Speaking of two, if both loaves are too much temptation to have around (not speaking from experience or anything), you can always freeze one for some other rainy day.

Fortuitously, March's resolution is homemade butter. As noted above, you know I don't have stand mixer, which means I will make this by shaking jars around for a long time. Perfect! It goes with my work out more theme, and of course the butter can be used for more brioche and other good things.


  1. your brioche looks so gorgeous! and cardamom rose french toast.... talk about dreamy....

  2. thanks caroline, on both counts. well and for making me do this in the first place of course. that too :)

  3. oooooh lady this looks amazing! nice job on your first ever loaves! i will be over in 15 minutes.

  4. As soon as there's a break in the weather, I'll expect a knock on the door!

  5. I'm definitely going to try your method -- that brioche looks awesome!