December 14, 2009

A Brioche to Recommend

Lately, I've been on the lookout for recipes that would help me develop some much-needed bread-making skills.  After several failed experiments, and with no bread-maker to help me out I realized that, although there must be many different methods for creating excellent bread, they might just be too radical for me to think of without hours, days, or possibly weeks of experimenting.  Sometimes an excellent cookbook or a single recipe can be your best teacher.

And so my theory was spot-on.  There were several recipes that used flour and starch combinations, and in the most extreme ratios, that would have eluded me for months.  I thought "so THIS is what it takes to make an excellent gluten-free bread!"  This included over 3 cups of cornstarch and reversed the normal starch to rice flour ratio I was used to working with.  Previously, I would have thought that this much cornstarch would turn a batter to glue.

So I'm excited to recommend this excellent recipe for Gluten-free Brioche (a French sweet bread perfect for weekend brunch) found on the stunning blog Cannelle et Vanille.  I don't have a stand mixer, so I believe this is why the bread didn't rise quite as much for me, but it still had the spongy air pockets, like lava-rock, that give this bread a chewy lightness, and the rich, golden crust that was formed when the honey-crystals caramelised with the egg-wash. The explosion of taste was practically volcanic.

As it makes 3 loaves (and I haven't got around to baking the last two yet) I'll probably pre-slice and freeze at least one loaf to make a quick sweet-toast in the morning.  In fact, this might be a great time to make French toast.  You could try this by first toasting the slices, which dries out the bread enough so it absorbs the egg and milk mixture really well, then coat it with egg on both sides, and fry in some butter and oil.  Add any spice that you like to the top or to the egg batter. My favourites have to be cinnamon and nutmeg, but experiment with anything you've got; try cloves or even cayenne for a surprise.  Serve with crème fraîche or whipped, even spiced, mascarpone. I think I'll help myself to some brioche...

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