Every once in a while, you need to take a moment to pause. To sit and reflect on what you want to accomplish, where your heart is, and what matters most to you. A few weeks ago, I found myself skipping work (yet again). Sitting in bed, with a copy of a Le Cordon Bleu booklet and an empty application (dating back to 2015) that I got from their booth at a random fair.
Flipping through the booklet, I came across their “basic techniques” list. As expected, all your favorite French desserts are included, from eclairs to creme patisserie, to different breads. I have always been fascinated by French desserts, their simplicity is contradicted by their rather intricate techniques.
Brioches are a standing example for that. Light elastic, fluffy bread with an enriched dough base, that just melts in your mouth. After going through a few recipes, none seemed consistent in the information regarding the ingredients measurement and directions. And since it was my first time, I couldn’t really wing it, especially how yeast-risen dough is a completely foreign category for me. I did manage to come across two recipes that
a) required a stand mixer (which I “conveniently” received as a birthday present a few days before)
b) Needed 30 minutes of kneading, and a whole lot of waiting for proofing.
That basically got me sold.
I made these twice. Once completely ignoring everything that had to do with rising times, and overnight refrigerating, I later found out that the dough it actually a very sticky one, and skipping this step will result in a very loose dough that won’t hold its shape. And a second time where I managed to follow the exact recipe, with a slight change in the dough ingredients, tweak the chocolate filling recipe a bit, and make my own walnut filling. However, one thing I got the first time that I wasn’t able to achieve the second time around (the pictured brioches), is the golden brown color, and that’s because I ran out of eggs for the second batch, so instead of an egg-wash, I had to settle for a milk-wash.
The second batch turned out like an exact replica of bakery-bought brioche wreaths, with a homely taste.
To get the braided wreath form, it’s not a complicated process. I had originally prepared a .GIF to show the process, but it wouldn’t upload here, so you can visit my Twitter account to check it out. Or follow the following process strip.
Other than that, it’s super easy! You mix up the brioche, let it rise, chuck it in the fridge overnight, then roll them out, roll them up, cut them, twist them, proof them, bake them.
Mini Brioche Wreaths & Two Fillings
Makes 8 wreathes (4 Chocolate filled & 4 Walnut filled)
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
- 380 g all-purpose flour
- 8 g instant yeast
- 45 g granulated sugar
- 9 g fine sea salt
- 186 g eggs (around 3 medium eggs or 4 smaller ones)
- 63 g whole milk
- 165 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/8th inch dice
- zest of one orange
- 30 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 15 g granulated sugar
- 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 g vanilla powder
- 5 g honey
- 100 g walnut
- 50 g pistachio
- 1/4 cup milk
- 70 g sugar
- 5 g orange blossom water
Make the Brioche Dough
- Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.
- Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for about 15 seconds to distribute the yeast evenly.
- Add all of the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter and mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating after each addition before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and push the dough off the hook. Mix for a total of 30 minutes on low speed.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Fold the left side over to the right, the right over to the left, then the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top so you have a “package” with the seam at the top. Place the dough seam-side down in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it ferment for 1 hour.
- Repeat the folding process, place it back in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Make the Chocolate filling, cream the butter until pale and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla powder and mix until incorporated, then add the honey and mix until incorporated.
- Make the walnut filling, ground the walnuts and pistachios together in a food processor. Put the milk in a saucepan on medium heat, and add the sugar, swirl occasionally till it dissolves completely. Add the chopped nuts with the orange blossom water, and mix to gate a slightly watery paste. Let it cool, then run the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the excess milk. Discard the liquid and keep the paste aside.
- Make the wreaths, Remove the brioche from the refrigerator and divide it into four equal pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time while keeping the rest in the refrigerator.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to 40 cm by 20 cm. If the dough becomes too warm at any point, gently place it on the back of a sheet pan lined with parchment and refrigerate for 10 minutes, then continue working.
- Spread half of the filling onto the brioche using an offset spatula, reaching all the way to the edges but leaving 2 cm of dough bare on one of the long sides. Brush the bare part with water. Starting from the other long side, roll up the dough tightly and evenly. Once the dough is rolled up, gently roll the log until it is 50 cm in length, being careful not to squish or deform the dough. Cut each 50 cm log into two 25 cm logs.
- Using a large knife, make a cut in the dough log, leaving 3 cm at the top uncut. Place the right half of dough over the left, then repeat until you have a “braid” of dough. Gently brush a bit of water onto the ends of the dough and press them together, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have 8 total wreaths.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap lightly on the surface of the brioche and let it proof in a warmish place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 165 C. Brush the brioche with egg wash, being careful not to drag any of the filling onto the brioche when you do, and bake until golden brown, abut 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
P.S. As with all breads, these brioches become a bit stale over time, so they’re best eaten on the day they’re made or the next day. Keep in an airtight container.
Bon Appetit 🙂