Maple walnut brioche, sans kitchenaid or wrist detachments.
I admit it, I have a bit of an obsession with brioche. Any cafe that serves it immediately gets my full attention. However, the only cafe whose brioche made me melt on the spot is Crafted Coffee Company, who served it instead of English muffin in an eggs benedict that changed my life. For reals. (EDIT: Oh, turns out it’s just an egg and spinach on toasted brioche with hollandaise. Close enough.) I still remember their hollandaise. Sigh. Anyway. This brioche comes damn close – it’s of the super soft and tender variety, which you can tear apart and it’s a bit like cotton candy.
Of course, with most French treats, brioche is a finicky beast. All recipes I’ve seen advise using a stand mixer, and until I made this by hand, I felt I had to have the aid of a machine. Well, you don’t. I made this by hand, and it is even still attached. Just squeeze and twist and knead in the bowl (don’t try kneading it on the bench!). EDIT: Or if you do, use this method. This dough ends up so soft and silky that it’s really not much of a chore, and the results are so worth it I’m a little worried about my butter collection, which won’t last long now that I’ve got this down pat. EDIT: I think the warmth of your hands really helps incorporate the butter too. It sticks like mad to your hands but if you just try to embrace that and then get it off at the very end you’ll be fine.
The last few weeks have been full of baking and cooking disappointments, so when I bit into this, my blogging brain heaved a sigh of relief. It’s a halo of joy in the misery of winter (my least favourite food season, and if it weren’t for citrus fruits being in season I would be in serious trouble).
For once, I’ve stepped outside the pages of Artisan Bread in 5 (where I get most of my bread recipes, including past brioche recipes) and tried Ina’s delicious looking brioche, as well as the brioche from The Ottolenghi Cookbook. Surprisingly, the latter was a bit of a disappointment – still delicious, and softer than the artisan bread in 5 recipe, but nowhere near the pillowy, tear-apart cloud of buttery bliss that Ina’s recipe produced. Ottolenghi’s brioche is a bit more cake like (although I used the same ratio of added gluten to flour). It probably also helps that Ina’s recipe uses substantially more butter. I feel a bit inappropriate making such a butter-decadent bread at a time when butter costs about $5 a block, but this is worth it.
While I made a loaf, I used a little chunk to make a brioche tart/pizza (whatever you want to call it). While I used maple and walnut I’ve seen others fill the dough with custard, then sit poached fruits on top once baked. Whatever you use, it’s a pretty and freakin delicious way to use brioche dough. I really like the maple walnut take though since the crunchiness works well with the softness of the dough. You can make it as bit or little as you like, hence below is simply a guide.
Maple walnut brioche
- some brioche dough
- enough walnuts to mostly cover the dough round
- enough maple syrup, runny honey or golden syrup or light caramel to lightly coat
- optional: eggwash (1 egg + 1 Tbs water, beaten)
- optional: icing sugar for dusting