Tag Archives: brioche

In My Kitchen March 2014

Sunrise with Pigeon

Sunrise with Pigeon

Here we go, I have a collection of stuff to share and what better place to put it than in Celia’s In My Kitchen series? Visit Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and join in by the 10th of the month, any month and have some fun seeing what everyone is sharing.

At the moment  it is not sunrise but the evening of the last day in February, there is the lingering smell of fried haddock in batter and chips from the Fish and Chip shop on Henleaze High Street, next to the Post Office and the Garden Centre. But you will have to imagine that… suffice it to say it has no particular health benefits but is quite delicious and as the temperature dropped to a miserable 4 C today plus windchill I felt it was a perfect supper, as if I need an excuse!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Other delights on the kitchen table have included my first attempts at pot stickers and wontons – I can’t think what inspired me to make these? Maybe something to do with a certain Sydneysider… and the fact that we have a fantastic Chinese supermarket in Eastville where you can buy dumpling wrappers and fresh won ton skins, Jimmy’s satay sauce, fresh choy, tofu, Chinese vegetables, mysterious things lurking in freezers and more.  The supermarket even tweets as @WaiYeeHong and does online orders, so it is a treasure trove of good things. We are quite spoilt in Bristol.

I could get into this making dumplings lark...

I could get into this making dumplings and wontons  lark, Celia is right, it’s very soothing…

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

I also attempted Fran @ TheRoadtoSerendipity‘s breakfast, on the principle that one should try everything at least once (maybe not tripe but you know what I mean)  I thought maybe if I eat her breakfast I too will be full of get up and go and zing and maybe find myself on a beach in Tasmania, magical thinking, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis etc etc … so the other morning I ground up buckwheat and turned it into porridge, dolloped tahini and date syrup and some dates on top and ate the whole bowlful. I stopped half way through and added salt. Not sure why, but there you go.  I have to say, I zinged around all day and felt most loving towards humanity and not at all hungry until at least 3 pm. On the minus side it was a bit too like school semolina in texture, though I did enjoy the taste, so I think I will move on to buckwheat granola production to use up the rest of the bag of buckwheat.

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

I made two small batches of marmalade. Each year I follow a different recipe, it kind of makes it a bit more interesting. This year I used Vivien Lloyd‘s crystal clear instructions to produce a very clear set marmalade. Looks very smart! I bought her e-book and also watched her video on YouTube and asked her questions on Twitter too!

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Seville Marmalade made to a Viv Lloyd recipe

Two different recipes of Vivien Lloyd’s here, the one on the right has a little molasses in and a chunkier cut. It isn’t quite dark enough for Brian’s tastes, who likes that Oxford Style made with lots of brown sugar.

For those of you who like fancy salts and peppers, I have to confess I have got through one jar of this espelette blend from M&S and gone back for a second. It goes very well on kale chips – (I know it is a bit last year to like kale chips, but I am often at least five years behind the trends, slow but steady, that’s me).

I was sent some special lemons and a jar of quince jam from Carla’s trees in Rome and you can see them peeking out here along with a jar of kefir lurking in the background.


I have a other few gifts to show you as well.

Fans of QI and Stephen Fry may know what these are. I was sent these as a thankyou for doing some editorial work for an old friend. They are very handsome but I think I need a party of people to help me empty one of those bowls as they are quite substantial.

Everything you need for mate tea

Everything you need for mate tea

Here is a beautiful old brioche tin from my friend Elaine, who goes to France on her holidays most years and found this for me. I am going to make brioche in it very soon but at the moment I just enjoy looking at it!

Antique Brioche tin

then there is a little round of creamy kefir cheese, made from St Helen’s Fullfat Goat’s Milk and sea salt. St Helen’s Goat’s milk is my milk of choice these days, it is mild and ‘ungoaty’ in flavour and I use it in preference to cow’s milk, particularly for kefir. It makes perfect little cheese rounds as you can see.

Goats Milk Kefir Cheese

I made ful medames loosely following Hodmedod’s recipe, though I used less sugar, and using their dried English grown fava beans.  I haven’t tried their cooked range as yet. They also have split fava beans with no skins, perfect for making falafel. They are a wonderful new company and I hope they do really well. Part of food security for any country is growing our own food and this company grows all its beans and peas here in the UK.

Ful medames a la Hodmedod

Here is a mystery photo of something in my kitchen reflecting the outside world, you might know what it is …

Can you figure out what this is?

Can you figure out what this is?

I was only going to spend half an hour doing this and time is ticking away so I am going to retire downstairs to the sofa and grab a cup of tea and an ultra healthy oaty bar from the freezer. These are based on Carl’s recipe for his son which you can find here and they are very wholesome indeed, having no added sugar (I don’t count the dark chocolate Callebaut chips) and no fat at all. I polish my halo every time I eat one !

It’s been fun doing this, i don’t normally namecheck so many companies and businesses, but once in a while it is OK I hope. Anyway you don’t have to click on the links, just thought if you were interested you can find out a bit more if I put them in.

I hope you find something you like here and don’t forget to visit Celia’s blog and see all the other kitchens this month!

Carl Energy Bar

PS In my rush to get my tea I forgot these two images that I really wanted to put in the post, so bad form I know to add after publication but here goes…

From Emily Sincerely I got this surprise handmade card  for Valentine’s Day this week !

Thank you Emily! xx

Thank you Emily! xx

and this is what it had inside … I think she (and Proust!) are spot on!

Beautiful Quote from Proust

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Brioche

I was saving this one up for the end of the month as I had a birthday and I thought a birthday brioche would be just the thing. That, and a lovely outing with my family for dim sum made for a fine celebration.

All the other Mellow Bakers who have made this one have enjoyed it. Pop over to the board to read their posts here. The recipe has been written up on several of their blogs, here is Zorra’s lovely chocolate filled brioche, Cathy’s great step-by-step post and Lien’s cute chicken baby brioches amongst many others. I’ve added my ‘numbers’ and brief instructions at the end of the post, though you really need the book for all the detail.

briocheI had two goes this month at making the brioche. I got in a complete muddle about the yeast and the columns, not helped by the fact that there is an error in one of the columns, which I knew about, but then managed to forget by the time I came back to make the brioche the second time.

For those of you who have not seen this book, each recipe is laid out with three different sets of weights and measures. The first, on the industrial scale is in pounds, the second (Metric)  on a small bakery scale is in kilos, the third set is the Home set, and is in ounces and cups and teaspoons.  Three different sets, all giving you a different final dough weight and there are errors in several of the recipes. Most of these have been picked up and annotated and there is a pdf of the errata sheet available here.  I find the layout of this book challenging, even after baking from it now for several months.

The first time I made the Hamelman brioche, I made a very small quantity, I used the Metric column and divided by 10%.   The first lot I made took forever to rise, I got into a muddle about the yeast quantities and I think I used too little.  I used the instant yeast, chilled everything, mixed the dough, put it in the fridge overnight and then made little balls and put them in tall muffin cases, originally used for mini panetonnes last year.   The finished balls were light and airy, but didn’t fill the cases and though delicious looked a bit like muffins.

Last weekend I made the dough again, this time using fresh yeast from a local bakers and converting the Home column to grams. I had forgotten about the errata. So one way I ended up with 13 grams of yeast, but then when I checked it against the Baker’s Percentage table I ended up with 34 grams of yeast. Hmmm….  I checked with the other Mellow Bakers about converting from instant yeast to fresh yeast and in a complete crisis of confidence, emailed King Arthur Flour and asked them too. Everyone confirmed that they use a conversion ratio of 1:3 and that I was on the right track.  Robyn solved the mystery of the two sets of numbers by kindly reminding me that there was a mistake in the Home column. There are great advantages to having a friendly forum to go to for help and advice!

The Kenwood liked having a full load of dough to work with, and mixed away purposefully. I stopped every now and then and attempted to sheet the dough, i.e. hold a blob by the corners and see if you can let it stretch gently out into a smooth sheet of dough. After twenty minutes of mixing, I decided it was good to go, I could see the strands of gluten and it looked smooth and shiny and to be honest, I had had enough by that point. An hour at room temperature, it shot to the top of the bowl. I degassed it furiously, it was alive with hissing bubbles – that fresh yeast! – and put it in the fridge to calm down overnight.

Second time around I was determined to use the brioche moulds I had picked up ages ago. I have looked at loads of instructions for shaping brioche a tete but I wasn’t very good at it. I am not very keen on working with the dough even when chilled. I can’t quite explain why, but I find it difficult to shape. I tried to roll out a strand, to make into a twist and it just wouldn’t roll out for me.  I worried that if I overhandled it the butter would start to melt and the dough would get oily, so I went back to making what I hoped would work – my brioche shapes are best described as characterful! They reminded me of cottage loaves by the time they came out, leaning here there and everywhere.

The pay off:  the aroma of brioche baking on a chilly weekend morning has got to be one of the best things ever! Warm brioche, soft apricot jam, a little sunshine – Zeb agreed, reminding me of his French origins.   We loved this bread; its butter content means that it can’t be an everyday bread, but for holidays or special days or treats, it’s worth doing, life as a home baker wouldn’t be complete without a brioche once in a while.

In conclusion, I hope I haven’t given a bad impression of making this. It is in fact relatively straight forward if you follow the instructions. Chill all the ingredients, chill the water, chill the mixing bowl. Mix for the right length of time. Leave the dough over night, shape and bake. Just make sure you have your ingredients all weighed out correctly first and read the whole recipe through. I’ve got the hang of it now!

And always, but always, serve it warm. Cold brioche, like cold croissants, just isn’t right.



My version of this brioche (adapted ever so slightly from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman)

520 g bread flour
160 g high gluten/very strong bread flour
7 little cold eggs making 340 grams
60 g chilled water
11 g salt (less than stated in the original)
82 g sugar
340 g chilled butter, softened with a rolling pin, but still cold when added to the dough
34 g fresh yeast


Chill everything, even the mixing bowl. If you are using your hands to mix, regularly cool them down.

Mix everything apart from the butter for at least 5 – 7 minutes. You will get a very firm dough. The eggs must be completely incorporated. I mixed the water, eggs, sugar and yeast together first and then added the flours and the salt.

Then you add the chilled butter, piece by piece, and knead/mix till you have a smooth satiny dough, it takes forever and in theory you should be able to hold a piece up gently by the corners and watch it ‘sheet’.

When you are happy with the development of the dough, tuck some clingflim over the top, so no air can get in, leave for an hour at room temperature. Degas after an hour and put it in the fridge overnight. If you remember, degas it again a couple of times while it is in the fridge.

Shape the following day, and allow to almost double in size before applying eggwash to the top. I baked mine at 195 C. The four loaves took approx 30 minutes to bake. Cool on a rack for at least a minute before EATING!

I’ve just had to correct this as I left out the sugar, I blame Brydie’s Nana!