Sunday, March 01, 2015

Brioche & French Toast

I've never been great at making french toast...but then I got to thinking, maybe it's the bread's fault.  I don't mean to blame the bread entirely, but, I am going to.  Brioche is definitely a better fit for french toast than my typical 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.  Unfortunately, it's also kind of a pain to make - so if you prefer the easy route, you could certainly purchase a loaf of brioche or other type of light, airy bread for your french toast.

This recipe is not hard - it just requires time and patience - both of which I do not always have.  You will need to start this the night before you intend to bake it.  If you want to make it into french toast the next day, you'll want to get up a few hours before you intend to eat so you have time for the 2nd rise and bake time.

Even though I will probably not make this a weekly staple, it does make two loaves which is nice so you can freeze one for later - and if you want something special for guests or a weekend brunch, it is worth the time because it is delicious! :)

Brioche Bread

5 tablespoons lukewarm whole milk
1/2 ounce instant yeast
1 pound 2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened, plus more for pans
1/4 cup superfine sugar (you can use a food processor to make regular sugar superfine)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk

Place the milk and yeast in a small bowl; stir to dissolve.

Place the flour, salt, and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment; add yeast mixture and mix on low speed to combine and knead, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula; knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. Add a few small pieces of butter mixture to dough; with the mixer on low, add remaining butter mixture, a little bit at a time. When all the butter mixture has been added, increase speed and continue mixing until smooth, shiny, somewhat comes away from the sides of the bowl, and is elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.  It will be super sticky and not form a solid ball of dough – that’s okay – that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Fear not!

Butter a large bowl, transfer dough to prepared bowl, and cover with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume about 2 hours.  Since it’s freezing here in the winter and our house is not very warm, I like to pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees, then turn off and place the bowl of dough in the warm oven for the 2 hours.

Lift dough from bowl and drop back into bowl to deflate; repeat process once or twice. Cover bowl and transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

Butter two loaf pans and divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Divide each piece of dough into 8 equal pieces; form each piece into a ball. Place 8 balls of dough in each loaf pan, side-by-side.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk. Brush dough with egg yolk mixture, reserving remaining. Spray two pieces of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; cover dough in both pans, cooking spray-side down and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brush each loaf very lightly with reserved egg yolk mixture. Transfer pans to oven and bake until brioche just begins to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees conventional oven and continue baking until deep golden brown.  Remove from oven and let brioche cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and place onto a wire rack and let cool completely.  Be careful – the bread is delicate.  If you will not be using both loaves right away, you can freeze one by wrapping it in tin foil and sealing it in a large Ziploc bag.
Brioche is great for many things but my favorite way to use it is by making French toast.  It’s also great for grilled cheese, burger buns, dinner rolls, and peanut butter banana toast.

If you’re looking for a tasty French toast recipe – you can check out the one below that some friends made for us.  I instantly fell in love with it and knew I would need to make it at home.  The brie melts in your mouth and the subtle hint of rosemary in the wine syrup somehow makes you feel – more awesome…if that’s possible.


Wine & Rosemary French Toast

Roasted Red Grapes:
1 cup seedless red table grapes, sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped rosemary
Pinch sea salt

Wine & Rosemary Syrup:
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or any red wine)
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1/3 cup maple syrup

Egg Wash:
3 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

French toast:
6 1-inch-thick slices brioche bread
2 tablespoons butter
French brie, sliced

For the roasted grapes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a bowl, combine the sliced grapes, coconut oil, rosemary and salt. Mix to coat the grapes evenly. Scatter the grapes on a sheet pan covered in tin foil and roast in the oven, 15 to 20 minutes. They should not be shriveled up, just plump and juicy.

For the syrup: In the meantime, in a stainless steel saucepan, add the wine and rosemary sprig. Simmer on medium-low heat until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary, add the syrup, turn off the heat and let rest. (This can be done ahead of time)

For the egg wash: In a bowl or casserole dish large enough to fit the bread flatly on the surface, beat the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until all the ingredients are well combined.

For the French toast: Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet to medium-high. Dip the bread in egg wash on both sides, allowing the egg wash to soak in but not over saturate the bread. Add the butter to the skillet and let melt. Place the bread in the skillet and let brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the bread over and place some brie on the cooked side of 1 slice of bread. Allow the cheese to soften while the second side cooks to golden brown. Turn off the heat and sandwich the 2 slices together. Cut the bread on a diagonal and plate. Top with roasted grapes and drizzle with wine syrup.

Recipes adapted from Martha Stewart & Food Network

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