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Bread Basket: Brioche 

1 Jun , 2015  

“S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche”,
This oft-repeated sentence is commonly translated as, ” If they have no bread, let them eat cake.” History has been rife with speculation about the author of this unfortunate and irresponsible statement. It has popularly, if you could describe it thus, been attributed to the ill-fated Marie Antoinette. When famine raged in France, brioche, until then a freely available food, suddenly became a rarity, a food for the rich man’s table. Her ill-fated words were allegedly the catalyst that triggered off the French Revolution, which ended the 1000 year old monarchy in France.

Though of French origin, the brioche, along with croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au lait and Danish pastries, to name only a few, is considered a “viennoiserie”, (translated as “things of Vienna”) meaning baked goods made from yeast-leavened dough in a manner similar to bread, or from puff pastry, but with added ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, cream and sugar, thus making it richer and sweeter, like a pastry. The dough is often laminated by brushing with egg after proving. It should not be confused with cake, as it’s leavened and kneaded. Similarly, it should not be confused with a croissant either, as the latter has butter folded into it, while the brioche has butter kneaded into it. The classic shape of a brioche has a fluted bottom and an upper protruding knob, made in a brioche pan. Today, however, the name is synonymous with a style of bread and dough that can be made in a variety of shapes – as in a regular loaf, or braided, or as individual buns. The typical add-ons are fresh or candied fruits, or chocolate. With vegetables or meat, it becomes a savoury. It’s often eaten with foie gras, or duck liver pate.

As it’s made with quite a bit of butter, the dough is made to rise under refrigeration, contrary to the usual instructions to ” leave to rise in a warm place.”So rising takes longer, but that makes all the difference to the texture. In a warm tropical country like ours, we need to also work the dough in an air-conditioned room, or else we’re likely to have rivulets of butter trickling all over our counter.
Nowadays, it forms the basis for other desserts and can even be stuffed and served as a delicacy. We have included here a recipe for basic brioche as well as the stuffed ones:

1. Basic Brioche:

2.”Easter Bunny” Brioche:

A charming recipe, made to look all appealing with natural decorations.

Brioche was known as “pain benit” or blessed bread, in the 16th century in France, as it was blessed in churches and distributed freely to the faithful after mass. It truly is blessed, as it has invented and re-invented itself many times in all these years, to stay firmly entrenched as a favourite and even a comfort food for many across the world. We hope it will bless your kitchen too with its presence.

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Joan Rajadas

Joan has enjoyed every moment that she's spent in the kitchen up to now. She has a deep sense of nostalgia for the food of her childhood and she loves recreating some of that for friends and family. When she eats something, she finds herself wondering at the origins of the fruits and vegetables that went into it. When she travels, she thinks about the influences that have shaped that land and its cuisine. She often thinks that, if every one of us could have been blessed with two or three parallel lives instead of one, she would have chosen to be a food anthropologist in one life - travelling the world, looking up forgotten tribes and documenting their recipes and customs. In the other, she would have been a zoo vet. In this life, however, she has a wonderful husband and two lovely children who have been her biggest support, her bulwark, her everything.
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