The  French were clearly thinking with their arteries, cutting off the head of a woman who comes up with ideas like that. Marie Antoinette clearly didn’t need to worry about her weight – I guess being Queen means you can get away with carrying a few extra kilo – but there is no way that I’d be able to eat brioche every day and still fit any of my clothes.

Still, having an office full of people to offload leftovers on, not to mention Lyndal and the lads at boxing, I proceeded to bake possibly the richest bread known to man.

Braided Brioche (adapted from The Fresh Loaf)

280g plain flour
1 Tbsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp white sugar
1.5 cups warm milk

420g plain flour
115g unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
75g white sugar

The night before you want to eat it, make a sponge by beating all the ingredients until smooth. I used skim milk, which clearly makes up for all of the butter that gets added later, right? Cover with Gladwrap, and set aside for 1/2 hour.

To the sponge, add eggs, salt, sugar and 1c of the flour. Beat until smooth again, then add in the finely cubed butter and mix until well distributed.

Add the remaining flour a handful at a time, reserving the last 1/2 cup or so, and mix until a soft, kneadable dough forms. Knead in the bowl for a minute or so, then tip out on a floured counter. Dust with some of the remaining flour, and knead, adding more flour as it sticks to the counter, for 5-7 mins until it is smooth and satiny.

Spray a large bowl with oil and add the ball of dough. Spray the top with oil and cover with Gladwrap. Put in a warm place to rise for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in size. Turns out the only way to get dough to rise in my apartment is to have the dryer going and shut the laundry door. Handy to know. Luckily I had washing to do.

When it’s doubled, deflate, then put in the fridge overnight. Mine actually continued to rise far too fast in the fridge, so I had to deflate it again after an hour or so.

The next day, organise the fillings that you want to have in your braid. I used a bought lemon curd, and made a berry and cream cheese filling as follows:
1c frozen mixed berries
1.5 Tbsp cornflour
1 T sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Add all to a saucepan on low head, and stir until the berries defrost and the sauce thickens. Mush the berries so there are no big chunks. Allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup cream cheese, a splash of vanilla essence, and 1/2 Tbsp beaten egg.

When the  berries have cooled, take the dough out of the fridge and gently deflate and split into two even pieces.

On a floured board, roll into a rectangle with a thickness of just under 1cm.

Transfer to baking paper, then put your fillings down the middle of the dough.

Cream cheese and berry

Cut strips into the dough on an angle, approx. an inch apart.

The lemon curd incarnation

Fold the strips from alternate sides, pressing down gently where they meet.

Does it look like a mummy to anyone else? A badly wrapped, still bleeding, mummy.

Be careful not to cut too close to the filling, as it will seep out while baking. Not that I’d know anything about that.

Brush with beaten egg, then cover with Gladwrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 mins. Seriously, wait for it to double, otherwise you’ll end up with flat brioche, like me.

While it’s rising, preheat the oven to 200°C. When the bread is ready, brush again with egg, then bake for 20 mins. Rotate, then bake for another 15-20 mins until cooked. Turn down to 160-170°C if necessary.

Leaking lemon goo

I wonder how I could make them look less grumpy...

As hard as it may be, wait at least 30 mins for the loaves to cool before cutting. After that, well, if the Queen tells you to eat brioche, you really should eat brioche!


P.S. As an added bonus, the house smells delicious for hours afterwards!

P.P.S. Go for a run before baking. You won’t be able to move after eating it.