The Scotsman

Food & Drink

Brioche is one of life’s great plea­sures, eaten warm from the oven or as part of a savoury or sweet treat

- Neil­forbes @chefneil­forbes Food · Cookbooks · Bread · Comfort Food · Recipes · Cooking · Baking · Scotland · Aberdeenshire

Bake your own brioche, plus Rose Mur­ray Brown’s top Côtes du Rhône wines

It was the great chef Pierre Koff­man who said “serve good bread and all will be well”. So true. We like to start our din­ers’ meals with a lovely crusty loaf, and at home we all en­joy bread in some way, shape or form.

The rise (par­don the pun) of good bak­eries pop­ping up all over our vil­lages, cities and towns is an in­di­ca­tion that there’s a huge de­mand for good bread. Good bread made with old va­ri­eties of grain is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, and with the back­ing of The Real Bread Cam­paign, sales of white, sliced stuff is drop­ping, sug­gest­ing we are mak­ing more at home or buy­ing bet­ter bread from places other than the su­per­mar­ket.

Con­sid­er­ing the few in­gre­di­ents needed to make bread – just flour, wa­ter and salt – it’s as­ton­ish­ing to consider how dif­fer­ently bread is made all over the world. A proper sour­dough loaf needs noth­ing more than those three in­gre­di­ents, but it does need a fourth el­e­ment: time.

It takes bread hours to fer­ment and then to prove. At Cafe St Honoré, our bread takes two hours to bake ev­ery morn­ing af­ter a long time bub­bling and prov­ing. I find the whole bread thing fas­ci­nat­ing and I adore other bread prod­ucts – like Vi­en­nois­erie

– a form of bread, but en­riched with eggs, but­ter, milk and some­times the ad­di­tion of fruit or al­co­hol.

Which brings me to brioche – with a light and slightly puffy tex­ture of an en­riched dough. It’s very French of course, but it has been eaten here in Scot­land for cen­turies. It dates back to the French mid­dle ages and was some­times de­scribed as a rowie. In­ter­est­ingly, also the name of a but­tery bread prod­uct from Aberdeen­shire – there’s prob­a­bly a con­nec­tion. Ev­ery­one thinks Mariean­toinette said “let them eat cake”, but in fact the cor­rect trans­la­tion is “let them eat brioche”. So let’s get bak­ing!

Brioche loaf

Mak­ing brioche is one of my favourite jobs in the kitchen at Cafe St Honoré. We bake it two to three times a week as we get through so much. It seems to last well in the fridge, but if you do have any go­ing slightly stale, it makes an ex­cel­lent bread and but­ter pud­ding, richer than reg­u­lar bread. When the brioche comes out of the oven, brush the loaves with lots of melted but­ter to in­crease the rich­ness. There is noth­ing finer than a slice of freshly toasted brioche spread with lash­ings of but­ter and rasp­berry jam.

Makes one loaf

100g milk

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

7g salt

10g sugar

10g fresh yeast

330g strong bread flour, I only use or­ganic zest from half a lemon

100g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 75g un­salted but­ter, melted

Warm the milk with the sugar, yeast and lemon in a pot.

Place the flour, salt, eggs and egg yolk in a food mixer with a dough hook, then add the milk mix­ture and mix un­til a good dough is pro­duced. You can also do this by hand.

Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl to prove in a warm place for 2 hours un­til it dou­bles in size. Then re­turn the dough to the mixer and add the soft­ened but­ter and beat un­til all the but­ter is in­cor­po­rated.

Press the dough into a but­tered and floured terrine mould or bread tin and prove again un­til the dough reaches the top.

Bake at 185C/gas Mark 4.5 for 45 min­utes then re­duce the tem­per­a­ture for a fur­ther 25 min­utes to 150C/gas Mark 2. Re­move from the oven and care­fully re­move from the tin. Brush all over with the melted but­ter as it cools.

Brioche with as­para­gus and wild mush­rooms

This dish is sim­ply di­vine. I love a charred slice of rich brioche, as it lends the bread an­other flavour. Served here with a sauté of the last of this sea­son’s as­para­gus and some wild mush­rooms. If you can’t get hold of wild mush­rooms, but­ton mush­rooms would do the trick.

Serves two

2 slices of pre-made brioche 4 spears Bri­tish as­para­gus a small hand­ful of brushed wild mush­rooms a knob of but­ter

1 tbsp cold-pressed rape­seed oil 1 tbsp chopped pars­ley and chives good salt and pep­per

Be­gin by blanch­ing the as­para­gus spears in boil­ing, salted wa­ter for 2 min­utes. Re­fresh un­der cold run­ning wa­ter. Cut into thirds.

Melt the but­ter in a thick-bot­tomed fry­ing pan and add the oil. Once at a mod­er­ate tem­per­a­ture, fry the mush­rooms for a minute or two to add a lit­tle colour.

Then add the as­para­gus spears and mix. Sea­son and add the pars­ley and chives. Check the sea­son­ing and add more if nec­es­sary.

Toast or char the brioche slices on a grid­dle and rub with a lit­tle but­ter.

Top the toasted brioche slices with as­para­gus and mush­rooms and serve at once.

Brioche bread and but­ter pud­ding

It’s never too warm for a bread and but­ter pud­ding. Yes, even in mid­sum­mer I’d quite hap­pily dive into the sweet, fruity cus­tard that sus­pends the lay­ers of rich, but­tery brioche. Ooz­ing with deca­dence and just re­ally good flavour, this is a dish for us all. And it’s a sus­tain­able in a way by us­ing up old bread, crois­sants or brioche, and a bit of old spice from a jar once used to make a win­ter pud­ding, like cin­na­mon or nut­meg. Show me a per­son who doesn’t like a bread and but­ter pud­ding, and I’ll show you a liar!

Serves four

half a loaf of brioche, crusts


250g un­salted but­ter, melted 500ml dou­ble cream

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

3 egg yolks

150g sugar

1 whole egg

1 small hand­ful of Cal­i­for­nian raisins and mixed peel

2 tbsp jam or mar­malade, warmed. I like home-made plum jam

1 Heat the oven to 180C/gas Mark 4. 2 Rub an oven­proof dish with a lit­tle of the melted but­ter.

3 Slice the brioche 1cm thick and sub­merge in the melted but­ter.

4 To make the cus­tard, heat the cream and the vanilla pod on the stove un­til it comes to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave to in­fuse for a few min­utes. Whisk to­gether the egg yolks and sugar un­til thick and creamy, and whisk into the cream. Whisk in the whole egg as well.

5 Layer the but­ter-soaked brioche with the cus­tard and raisins and mixed peel, re­peat­ing un­til you reach the top of the dish. Don’t put fruit on the top layer as it will burn in the oven.

Bake in the oven for 45 min­utes un­til hot. Top with a few more raisins and mixed peel, then spoon warm jam over the top. Leave to rest for 10 min­utes be­fore serv­ing, if you can re­sist of course!

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 ??  ?? A brioche loaf, above, goes bril­liantly with as­para­gus and wild mush­rooms when charred, main
A brioche loaf, above, goes bril­liantly with as­para­gus and wild mush­rooms when charred, main
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