May 3, 2008

Brioche with fennel seeds

I know that brioche is a French bread. In fact, this sweet bread is so French that you should know that Marie Antoinette said “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (let them eat brioche) instead of “let them eat cake” (it wasn’t really Marie Antoinette, but an unknown French princess, and the original phrase did mention brioche). And it makes more sense because brioche is a kind of bread, so if the crowd didn’t have regular bread, why didn’t eat brioche instead. Pourquoi pas, right?

Ok, brioche is French. But my nonno (grandpa) used to bake wonderful brioche with a little touch of anise seeds. So, here’s my version with fennel seeds!

Ingredients (makes 1 big loaf)
5 ½ cups flour
1 cup milk
1 ½ cup sugar
4 tsp yeast
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange blossom water
Tbsp fennel seeds
1¼ stick of butter
Pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. When it has doubled its volume, add it to the flour mixed with 1 cup of sugar. Begin to incorporate using a fork, and then knead using your hands. When the dough is nice and elastic, let it double in volume, covered in a warm place. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and mix the egg yolks with ½ cup of sugar until a light colored creamy mixture forms. Slightly beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Add both egg mixtures to the dough, cover and let it rise again. Punch down the dough and then add the butter (room temperature), 1 Tbsp at a time, while kneading the dough on a floured surface. Incorporate the orange zest, the orange blossom water and the fennel seeds. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then knead the dough and shape the loaf. Create one long strand of dough, about 3 times longer than your bread mold. Cut into three parts and make a braid. Transfer into the mold (already sprayed with non-stick oil) and let it rise covered for at least 1 and a half hours. Brush with some sugared milk. Bake in a preheated 425 baked oven for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry after inserted into the bread. Don’t forget to put a cup of warm water in the oven while baking your brioche.

Nothing can beat warm brioche with some butter and apricot jam!

Tip

In Italy if you order brioche or brioscia (or even briosce) what you actually get is a croissant shaped brioche or just a regular croissant, both called cornetto. Cappuccino and cornetto is the ultimate Italian breakfast.

Posted by Daziano at 1:57 PM |  

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