[On April snow and breakfast in bed - A five-minute brioche]
When I mentioned the five-minute brioche, I forgot to say it’s more of a five-minute and five-day brioche.
Five days where the blossoms turned into snow. Five days where I got less sleep than what a normal night means to you. Five days where everytime I came home, I opened the fridge to imagine that bubbly dough turn into brioche.
And then on the night before the fifth day, I set my alarm to eight am; two hours later than a day on. Still dizzy from a sleep overdose, I walked to the kitchen. Fleurer le marbre [sprinkle the marble with flour]. Couper la pate [cut the dough]. Bouler [make balls]. Faire pointer [proof]. Et se recoucher [and go back to bed].
This, my friends, is the recipe for happiness. Especially, if I then braid my hair and spend the day with someone I love.
A couple of hours later, we slowly emerged from that broken night – or more accurately, morning nap; a concept that I should put to practice more often.
The loaf went in the oven. And then got sliced, topped with the strawberry jam he made last week – with the somewhat bland berries I was a little too excited with at the market – and then eaten in bed, with the necessary dose of good tunes and the occasional sun peaking through the window.
It felt like a Sunday. With all the trimmings, bar the messy kitchen. And, no matter how much I love to get my hands dirty by kneading the hell out of a sticky dough until it becomes smooth, it seemed appropriate to take a shortcut this time.
Even more so that this brioche proved the die-hard French that I am wrong.
First came Dan. And his focaccia. Almost no-knead. And almost more delicious than any bread I’ve ever tasted. Then came the no-knead bread that got everyone crazy. And now, Zoë.
So as much as it hurts me to say it, it is possible to make brioche in a matter of seconds. In one bowl. With one wooden spoon.
Brioche en cinq minutes
Adapted from Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg’s Five minute bread.
I once read somewhere that in order to make a good brioche you need time. I think it was actually mentioned as part of the ingredient list, which I thought was clever as I remembered the hours spent kneading – by hand – a three-kg batch at school.
And while I love the process, I must admit it does feel good to – every now and then – take the easy option. It says five minutes. But it really is less than that.
Butter gets melted. And mixed with water, eggs, honey, and salt. No sugar. Just honey, which being inverted sugar – kind of natural trimoline – helps the brioche to stay moist after baking.
Flour and yeast get incorporated. And the dough is left outside to proof. Only to be, later, chilled; for a day or two. Or in my case, five.
And if there is ever a good moment for confessing such a thing, it shall be now: I leave all of my doughs to proof in a microwave. Basically, place a bowl of water in the microwave and ‘cook/bake’ (which word should I use?) for a minute or two, just to create enough steam. Quickly switch the bowl of water for the bowl of dough. And home Panem prover you have!
This does not decrease the proving time, but creates the perfect conditions for your yeast – and by consequence, you – to be happy.
And for the record, I only made a quarter of a recipe. But only because I didn’t have enough honey in my cupboards. A morally despicable fact that got fixed. As soon as I bit into a slice of warm brioche.
As a side-note, I do think this recipe could take more butter. Possibly twice more. Possibly because I’m French. Possibly something I will try and report. Which will also allow me to show you how to bouler une pâte [shape the dough into a ball], because – let’s be honest – I’m not sure it translate into words.
Brioche en cinq minutes
makes four loaves
350g butter, melted and cooled down
170g clear honey
1kg strong flour
15g instant yeast
one egg, beaten, for the eggwash
In a bowl, combine the melted butter, water, salt, eggs, and honey. Add the flour and yeast. And mix using a wooden spoon until smooth.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and allow to rest at room temperature for a little over 2h (or feel bad-ass and stick it in a turned-off microwave – make sure you read the note above beforehand though).
Transfer the cloth-covered bowl to the fridge and chilled for at least 24h or up to five days.
On the day you’re ready to bake, generously butter a loaf tin and cut 450g off your dough. Then using a scraper – or a knife – divide into four bits. Have some flour handy and gently pat each piece into it. Putting the flour side up – and sticky side down – shape it into a ball using the palm of one of your hands.
Place the four balls into the prepared tin and allow to proof for 1h30.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the top of the dough with the eggwash and bake for 40 to 50min, or until golden brown. Unmould and allow to cool on a wire rack, or not.
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