Mass hordes of people and the incessant noise pollution that come with living in a densely populated metropolitan area can eventually fray one’s nerves. By the end of the week, my energy reserves are completely depleted by my daily commute and the city’s constant commotion. Once the weekend rolls around, I desperately need to let my brain and body rest. While my Saturdays are often spent running errands and exploring Paris or neighboring regions, Sundays are really the only day of the week on which I have the luxury of recharging my batteries without having to tend to any pressing obligations.
Without an alarm clock abruptly jolting me from my slumber, my Sundays start at a deliberately slower pace. Easing into the day’s activities is infinitely more pleasant when I’m gently nudged awake by the first rays of the sun. My morning ritual invariably begins with a trip to our neighborhood bakery down the street from our apartment. While our corner of town is akin to a quiet village in the countryside during the week, it becomes animated with activity during the weekends. The cobblestone sidewalks bustle with little old ladies and young families with their brood in tow shopping for the week’s provisions at the open market. With their caddies brimming with fruits and vegetables, they then head to the bakery. The smorgasbord of breakfast pastries and breads attract a line that spills out the door until after the lunch hour.
We usually head down to the bakery after getting up to avoid the late morning crowds. At that hour, the viennoiseries are fresh and hot out of the oven. After living in the neighborhood and frequenting the bakery for the last 5 years, the kid who works the front counter has grown to like us thanks to my chatty husband. He started out as an intern when the bakery was under different ownership. Initially lost and overwhelmed with juggling customer orders and stocking the shelves, he now mans the front with ease, cracking jokes with regulars, and has even graduated to occasionally making simple cakes alongside the pastry chef. He often sneaks us samples and always serves us the choicest pastries. For my weekend treat, I rarely veer from my favorite viennoiserie, the ultra caloric pain au chocolat aux amandes, which are chocolate filled croissants enrobed by almond cream infused with rum and topped with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. That paired with a pot of Vietnamese oolong tea and a nespresso and I’m good to go for the day!
I wasn’t too keen on leaving the cocoon of my apartment after one glance at the gray skies, so I broke my routine and baked my own breakfast this past Sunday. The only thing was that I didn’t realize how much time the dough needed to rise before baking, so making these brioches extended well into the late afternoon…actually, well into dinner time. Once in the oven though, the fresh yeast filled our apartment with the warm aroma of baking bread. And, breaking into these warm brioches along with a mug of hot chocolate was just what I needed to rejuvenate me for the upcoming work week.
Brioche aux Pralines Roses
250 g flour (type 45)
30 g sugar
7 g salt (about 1 tspn)
150 g eggs (a little less than 3 eggs)*
150 g butter, room temperature
12 g milk (about 1 tbsp)
10 g of fresh baker’s yeast
75 g pink pralines
*1 egg ≈ 60 g
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk.
- With the dough hook attached to your mixer, put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl and mix gently at low speed. Add the yeast and milk, then half of the eggs. Continue to mix and slowly add the rest of the eggs little by little. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, which will take a couple of minutes.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and add a third at a time to the mixing bowl. Allow the mixer to continue to knead the dough at medium speed until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and becomes smooth and elastic, which should take about 7-8 minutes. Laurent Jeannin cautions that kneading the dough at a speed that is too high could cause the dough to heat up, which will give the brioche an oily appearance
- Place the dough into a pre-floured bowl and cover with a damp dish towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour at room temperature. To verify if the dough has sufficiently risen, gently push on the dough with your finger. If it leaves a mark, the dough is ready. Otherwise, allow it to continue to rise.
- Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and push out the excess air from the dough by pushing down on it with the palm of your hand. Then, flatten the dough, flour the surface, cover it with plastic film, and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, during which time it will harden slightly and rise a bit more. If necessary, you could leave the dough in the fridge overnight if you won’t be working with the it immediately.
- Chop up the pink pralines. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Flour your hands and work surface. Flatten each part of dough and add some pralines to the center. Form each part into a small ball by folding the edges of the dough to the center and pinching it sealed. Then, roll the dough into uniform balls.
- Place the 3 balls into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside and allow to rise for another 2 hours in a warm area (25°C). Be sure to not poke or prod the dough, as it will deflate.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Brush the surface of the dough with egg yolk and bake for 40 minutes.
Best enjoyed warm with an espresso or a mug of hot chocolate.