There are just some days when you need to have something different, and I do think that Easter weekend constitutes ‘some of those days’.
Of course back in the UK, I would have popped to one of the many bakery shops and bought something nice, sweet and sticky, to match the craving that hits the spot…. but here in France that usually means I head for the kitchen, which of course I am more than happy to do.
So today I had a couple of ideas and I decided to make a sweet sticky bread that is ideal for breakfast, elevenses and mid-afternoon……
This sweet bread has a few components, but it is well worth it.
Start off by making the bread, this is an ‘enriched’ dough, we use milk, butter and an egg, giving the bread that ‘brioche’ texture and taste.
The dough is a bit wetter than other doughs, and will take time to rise, but don’t worry about it, it will come good. You do need time for this bread, it works really well if you take it to the 2nd prove stage and leave it overnight to prove, and then it is ready to pop straight into the oven.
For the dough, measure out the milk and the butter and place them in a heat proof jug and place in the microwave to heat warm the milk and start to melt the butter, it doesn’t need to have completely melted. Of course this can be done in a pot on the cooker, with the same result.
Place the flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl and mix it all together to combine the dry ingredients. I like to use my mixer with the dough hooks for this stage, start the machine and with the hooks on, add the egg and then with a fork, mix the milk and butter together and pour 2/3rds in to the bowl, continue to mix and add the remaining milk/butter mixture. Keep the hooks running for another 3-4 minutes, allowing the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured board/table and finish off the kneading by hand, (2-3 minutes) until you have a smooth dough smooth skin, pull the outer skin (gluten cloak) down and tuck under the ball, test to see if your dough is ready. Press your finger into the dough and if it bounces back fully it is ready, if not, continue kneading for a further 1 minute and test again.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and leave to prove until doubled in size.
While your dough is proving, make your filling, mix the butter and sugar together and make sure they are well combined before you add the fruit and nuts.
When the dough is ready, remove from the bowl and place on your lightly floured table, and push out to a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to get an even thickness of dough, 33x25cm/13x10in in size, have the long side facing you.
Spread the mixture over the dough, making sure you don’t pierce the dough in the process.
Roll the dough up, from the long side, making sure it is tight like a swiss roll. Once rolled, you need to cut the dough in half, down the length of the rolled dough. Leaving one end of the dough intact, split the dough down the length, and turn the dough up so that the cut edges are showing.
This part is a bit tricky, but just take your time, start to wrap the 2 lengths of the dough, together, crossing each piece over the other in turn, like making a dough rope. Once you have completed the ‘rope’ join the two ends of dough together to make a circle. Then place the dough on a tray or a large round tin and leave it to prove and double in size. The 2nd prove can be done overnight in a cool place or the fridge.
When the dough is ready, pre-heat the oven to 240c and place the dough in the oven for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 200c and continue cooking for a further 25 minutes.
To check the bread is ready, remove from the oven and carefully turn it upside down and tap the bottom it should sound hollow.
Make the icing for the top of your bread, place the icing sugar into a bowl and then gradually add the water to make a thick sugar paste, that can be drizzled across the top of your bread.
Allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes then brush with the marmalade to give a wonderful glaze, then leave for a further 20 minutes before adding the icing, if the bread it too hot, the icing will just run off.
Then when ready, place your bread in the centre of your table and allow everyone to cut a slice and enjoy.
I also make a lunchtime version of this bread, I will post the recipe another day.
This bread can be made ahead and frozen until needed, don’t add the icing, this can be added just before you are going to serve. Make sure the bread is completely cold, wrap it well then freeze.
When needed, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw completely before using, to warm the bread up, pre-heat the oven to 200c and place the bread in the oven for 10 minutes. Then add the icing.
See the full list of ingredients and instructions below.
Breakfast stuffed brioche bread
For the dough
- 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5g salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 50g butter
- 100ml milk
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
- 90g butter, softened
- 70g light muscovado sugar
- 120g ready-to-eat dried apricot (chopped) or cranberries
- 60g raisins/sultanas
- 65g walnuts/hazelnuts
- 50g orange marmalade
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
Heat the milk and melt the butter, this can be done either in the microwave or on the hob, either way the point is to warm the milk and butter and mix them together.
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl of your mixer with the dough hooks fitted, add the salt and the yeast, mix to combine and add the egg and mix, then start adding the butter and milk mixture, starting with 2/3rds to begin with then gradually add the remaining until you have picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue kneading the dough in the mixer for 3-4 minutes. Then tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and finish off the kneading by hand.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid (or disposable shower cap) and leave to rise until doubled in size. The time will depend on how warm your kitchen is.
While the dough is rising, make the filling. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Add the fruit and nuts to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until all combined.
Prepare a baking tray or large cake time with baking parchment.
When the dough is ready, turn it onto a lightly floured surface, push out then roll out the dough into a rectangle, approximately 33x25cm. With the long edge facing you, Spread the fruit/nut mixture evenly over the dough.
Roll up the dough tightly (like a swiss roll). Roll it slightly to seal, then cut it in half length-ways, leaving 1 end attached, turn the dough so the cut edges are pointing upwards.
Wrap the two dough lengths together to make a rope, then join the ends of the rope to form a circle. Transfer to the baking tray/cake tin and cover with clingfilm or a plastic bag to prove for the 2nd time.
Pre-heat the oven to 240C. Bake the bread for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 200C and continue cooking for a further 25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Gently heat the marmalade with a little water, then brush it over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thick icing, drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool before serving.