If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ll have figured out by now that I’ve got a breakfast…thing. It’s not really a fetish. I mean, I don’t need a bowl of muesli near me to have an orgasm or anything. But, well, I think breakfast is bloody essential to overall health and happiness, and also damned tasty. (And if there’s some muesli about when I’m being frisky, all the better.)
Okay, you’re thinking you know good breakfasts. Fresh fruit and thick yoghurt, or maybe some grilled mushroom bruschetta with crumbled feta, rocket and balsamic vinegar, yeah? Top stuff. Delicious. Let’s knock it up a notch. Let’s leave “good” and try “spectacular”. The French cooking tradition has a few things to say about spectacular breakfasts, but we’re going to zoom in on one thing in particular.
Brioche. Fluffy, eggy, crunchy-crusted rich breakfast bread. Groaning with butter and eggs, the dough is astonishingly silky and supple and produces a bread that is beautiful in its own right, but reaches lofty and seraphic heights with jam or chocolate, or dipped in hot chocolate or coffee. I think the dipping thing is a traditional way of enjoying your brioche, but I can’t find anything online to back me up — could be the dribblings of a mind whose disease has not yet been diagnosed.
Brioche can be made into a loaf or a bunch of little brioche à tête: cute little brioche buns that have a little (usually drunkenly off-centre) nobble head on the top. M didn’t want to make little nobble heads, so these are technically brioche à têtes sans têtes. Actually, each wee brioche is stuffed with a pock of dark chocolate, too (M knows spectacular.), so they’re brioche à têtes au chocolat sans têtes. Or something.
Brioche à têtes au chocolat sans têtes
A combination of Richard Bertinet’s brioche recipe (from Crust) and ‘The Lazy Man’s Brioche‘ recipe from the Fresh Loaf. Ingredients from Bertinet, technique from the Fresh Loaf. Makes 18.
What goes in ‘em
- 500g bread flour
- 50g sugar
- 10g salt
- 6 large eggs (about 350g), plus one extra for eggwash
- 250g unsalted butter
- 10g dry yeast
- dark chocolate
What you do with that stuff
- Cut the butter into cubes and set aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add the eggs and mix together until cohesive.
- Turn out onto the bench and knead until it’s smooth and comes away from the bench–about 10-15 minutes.
- Press the cubes of butter into the dough and knead it all together. At first the butter goes everywhere, but if you persist you end up with a smooth, elastic dough. (About another 10 minutes.)
- Shape into a ball and plop it into a bowl. Let that rise for an hour (or until doubled).
- Turn the dough out onto the bench and punch it down. Back into the bowl for another hour (or until doubled).
- Divide the dough into balls. I did 18 balls of about 64 grams each.
- Press a square of dark chocolate into each piece of dough then roll into a tight ball. Pop it in the muffin pan.
- Paint the balls with a fairly watery egg wash.
- Rise for about 40 minutes in the pan–the balls should double.
- Give them another coat of egg wash, then rest for about 10 minutes.
- Cook in a 180 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 165 degrees for a further 15-20 minutes. They should end up dark brown.
- Remove them from the oven and cool.
Fluffy, crunchy, sweet and altogether incredible.
Makes for a damn spectacular breakfast. Ideally, eat these the day you make them. Brioche doesn’t keep very long, which is one of the great tragedies of culinary science. However, I have heard brioche that is getting a little dry and stale makes exceptionally good French toast, or the basis for a spectacular pudding. I don’t know: we never have any stale brioche…