When I worked at 85 C Bakery Cafe, I had my favorite breads. You can’t help but always gravitate towards certain kinds! The first two weeks I worked there, it was the cheese dog all the way. The cheese dog is a hot dog wrapped in a sweet bun topped with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, ketchup, and parsley. It was so good, I had it during my lunch break, I had two during my dinner break, and I would even had it for breakfast. Ugh it was so good my mouth watering just thinking about it. So when people asked me if I gained weight since working at the bakery, I say yes I did, and blame it all on the cheese dog. I could use one right now actually…
A second favorite of mine became the brioche. Since it was a giant loaf, one went a long way. It was sweet and buttery and oh so delicious. Right when it came out of the oven, I would look for the perfect loaf and buy it for myself. The perfect loaf was determined as follows: it needs to be just perfectly proofed where it is raised above the loaf pan but not overly proofed where the drizzle sauce drips out. There needs to be a straight, defined structure between each section of loaf. And last, there needs to be the beautifully golden brown crust (but not too brown) where when you sunk your teeth into it, it created such a nice soft crunch but continues to melt in your mouth. Okay now I am drooling.
Since I stopped working there in December, I’ve only been back a couple of times and my mouth has reached a brioche drought. And so I figured, I might as well try to make it for myself at home! I didn’t want to make the exact same one and so I used the recipe from the cookbook Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan and turned their Blueberry Brioche into a Blackberry Brioche (the blackberries were on sale, the blueberries were not). It was my first time making the bread so I didn’t really know what to expect, but the outcome was absolutely beautiful. It had the same buttery softness as my bakery and the blackberries offset any sweetness by its tartness. Next time, I’ll try it with different fillings. I’m thinking strawberries, cinnamon sugar, cinnamon apple, mmm that will be good!
To start, add in the warmed milk and yeast and stir around. Add in the flours, sugar, eggs, and salt.
Use the dough hook to knead until it becomes a tacky, stiff dough. You may need to push the dough off of the hook a couple times for it to continue to knead.
You then add the butter and continue to knead until fully incorporated. The butter turns it from a stiff dough to one that is light and fluffy. Push it out with your fingers and line up the berries.
Roll it up and cover to allow it to proof. It may look like a banana slug.
Once it has risen for at least 1 hour, push it down, then roll it again tightly. Place it in the loaf pan and watch it grow.
After three hours of patiently waiting, it has grown like a beautiful butterfly (that was my way of referencing Bugs Life). Brush on the egg wash and liberally dust with sugar.
Once glazed, bake it until it turns a beautiful brown color on the top. The sugar coating will be slightly crumbly but crisp. I love how some of the sugar has caramelized on top!
Have just a little more patience and allow it to sightly cool before slicing in. If you cut into it too early, all of the steam in the bread will evaporate and give you a dry bread once it is cooled. Share some slices with friends or eat the whole loaf yourself!
Fresh Blueberry Brioche
recipe from Huckleberry, by Zoe Nathan
Makes 1 Loaf
1 1/2 c fresh blueberries (I used blackberries in mine)
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 c + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c + 2 Tbsp bread flour
6 1/2 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp salt
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 c + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
Egg Wash (whisk 1 egg yolks + 1 Tbsp heavy cream + pinch of salt)
Place the fresh berries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery. Slightly warm the milk and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 2 + 1/2 tbsp of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for 6 minutes. Pause every minute to push the dough back down into the bowl and off the hook until it pulls off the sides and looks like a strong bread dough.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of 2 minutes. After 1 minute, pause to scrape down the bowl and hook. When the butter begins to blend in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter and bring the dough back together, 5 to 6 minutes longer.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16-by-10-in rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with a short side nearest you; distribute the blueberries and 2 tbsp of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log.
Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
Grease a 9-by-5-in (standard size) loaf pan (I use non-stick spray). Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12-by-6-in rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time.
Place into the greased loaf pan, loosely wrap in plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size, about 3 hours.
As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350°degrees. Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure the egg doesn’t pool around the edges. Liberally sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. Then transfer to a cooling rack.