I’m baaaaaack! There were many developments since my last post so many months ago. I’m back on US soil for one thing, I moved to a beautiful Pasadena Bungalow (in the background above!), and my 9 to 5 job turned into a 9 to midnight job pretty quickly. The late nights meant lots of frozen pizza and and Thai takeout…certainly nothing pinterest worthy was coming out of my kitchen. But alas, work has slowed down and my ovens have fired up again. Make way for some festive brioche!
Now that I’m home, the thing I miss most about France (other than everything) is the bread. I pretty much survived on flour, water and salt for three months: a sturdy baguette while strolling through town, flour laden slices of country bread with a smear of fromage for dinner and starting the day with a just-sweet-enough roll of brioche. Whether or not I was hungry, the smell of freshly baked bread would always lure me in.
In the US, you kind of have to hunt for good bread and there isn’t exactly a boulangerie on every corner. I feel like So-cal in particular seems to repel bakeries in favor of organic cold pressed juice bars. Bah!!! For Angelenos, Zoe Nathan is pretty much the go-to name for breads and pastries. Her small empire in Santa Monica includes greats like Milo and Olive, Rustic Canyon, Sweet Rose Creamery, and the cream of the crop: Huckleberry.
I was beyond thrilled when she released the Huckleberry cookbook last month – her recipes are humble crowd pleasers that highlight seasonal ingredients. This is my holiday take on her blueberry brioche, a sweet, visually striking bread that would be perfect for Christmas brunch or even gifting. (Sidebar: I originally meant to give this to a neighbor but I literally devoured half the loaf in 10 minutes). Enjoy!
Use plenty of flour when handling the dough – brioche is very sticky!
This recipe was a two day process. The dough rests overnight and is then rolled a second time before proofing.
This brioche is best served somewhat warm with a nice slather of butter. The next time I bake this, I will add some orange or lemon zest for some added flavor. Be cautious of your baking times- my oven has more hot spots than Zoe’s and could have used a little less time in the oven.
Cranberry Swirled Brioche
Makes 1 loaf
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp Bread Flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1.5 cups fresh cranberries, frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet **
- 1 tbsp dry active yeast
- 2 tbsp whole milk, warmed
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
- Egg Wash (I used Zoe’s recipe: 2 egg yolks, 2 tbsp milk, pinch of salt
***The original recipe advised against using frozen berries because of the water content.
1. Whisk yeast and milk in the bowl of a stand-mixer.
2. Add the flours, 2.5 tbsp sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks into the bowl. With the dough hook attachment, mix on low until dough comes together, about 1-2 min.
3. Increase the mixer speed only slightly and work the dough for another 6 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides. The dough should be pulling away from the sides at this point.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the butter, a little bit at a time over the course of 2 minutes. You will need to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. Once the butter is somewhat blended in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Keep mixing for about 5-6 minutes until butter is fully incorporated.
5. Dump the dough on a floured work surface and, using your hands, press into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle (it does not need to be perfect!). Position the dough vertically, facing the short side and pour the frozen cranberries along with 2 tbsp sugar along the top edge. Roll the dough down towards you into a log, taking care not to roll so tight the berries come out the sides.
6. Place the log on a greased baking sheet, wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
7. The next day, grease a 9×5 inch load pan. Remove dough from refrigerator and return to floured work surface. Press the dough into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp sugar. Position the dough vertically, facing the short side and roll the dough down towards you, tightly this time.
8. Place the dough into prepared loaf pan and cover in plastic. Place in a warm place and allow dough to rise until it has doubled in size, 3-4 hours.
9. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Brush the surface of your loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden between 35-45 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm. Bread will keep for about 3 days at room temperature but it will never taste as good as fresh out of the oven!
*Adapted from Huckleberry