Apricot Brioche - Brioche Nanterre
There are two recipes for Apricot Brioche. This one - for Brioche Nanterre - and another one which is using a plaited technique. Honestly? I think the plaited brioche gives you better fruit distribution but, of course, it's not a true and 'authentic' brioche Nanterre.
The other recipe can be found here:
Brioche is a Viennoiserie, a baked product that's made from yeast-leavened dough. It fits into the same category as croissants, pain au chocolat, chausson de pommes or Danish pastries.
Brioche is first recorded as "a rowle, a bunne, of spiced bread" as early as 1404. The origin of the word is Norman, predictably.
Strangely, Brioche started its life in France as the blessed bread of the Church and gradually became richer in taste and more refined with less and less actual bread . It also became more and more expensive. From being a 'bread' it became more of a 'cake'.
'Let them eat cake!'
Actually, Marie Antoinette never said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" when she commented on the parlous state of the poor during the French Revolution, but Rousseau's 'great princess' was misattributed to the wife of Louis XVI, and it has long gone down into history and folklore.
There are many ways to present brioche, from the traditional brioche à tête, baked in a fluted, round and flared tins, to brioche Nanterre, where the dough is formed into balls and these are baked together in a pan.
It is this latter form that is the basis for our apricot brioche.
This is a two-day process.
375 gms strong white flour or T55 French bread flour
40 gms caster sugar
75 mls milk
3 medium eggs
185 gms softened butter
pinch of salt
15 gms active yeast
150 gms dried apricots (the ready to eat variety) - finely chopped.
2 x 1lb loaf tins - very well greased. Line the bottom of the tins with a sheet of parchment paper to help stop the enriched dough sticking as it bakes.
Egg wash and poppy seeds (optional) - the glazing and addition of poppy seeds does create a high bake. Only use if you are confident of your oven.
This is ideal for making in a stand mixer. If you're making by hand, just expect to be mixing and kneading for a few minutes longer.
Process the flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and yeast in a mixer using the metal blade.
It will probably take about 5 minutes using a stand mixer, 8 minutes by hand, or you can put all the ingredients into a bread machine and choose a speciality dough programme (or a pizza programme) anbd remove when it looks ready.
Add the butter and mix for a further five mnutes (mixer), 10 minutes (by hand) and however longer it needs in a machine .
Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Grease the two loaf tins.
Take the dough out of the fridge. It will now be cold and much easier to handle.
Divide the dough into 75 gms pieces. Try to make 12 pieces of dough. I managed 12 pieces out of dough weigning in at 980 gms.
Flatten or roll out each piece and place 1 teaspoon of the apricots into the centre,
|Roughly chop the apricots|
|Roll out the portions and add a teaspoon of apricot to the centre|
|Bring the edges together, turn over and form into a ball|
Bring the edges together and gather into a small bag - very much in the shape of a Chinese dumpling or an old-fashioned Dolly Blue Bag (that'll separate you all out in age).
Turn it over so that the gathering is on the bottom and shape into a ball.
Place the balls into the tins starting at one end: 2 balls, then 1, then 2 balls, then 1 - until you have a total of 6 balls in each tin.
|You should be able to place six balls into each one-pound loaf tin|
Leave the brioche to rise for between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Optional : Wash with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. However, this does give a higher bake. If you'd prefer, don't eggwash or add the poppy seeds.
Bake the brioche for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack
I usually eat one- it's delicious toasted with lots of butter - and freeze one. If you do the same, you can always freeze it in slices or in halves. Brioche is an enriched dough and tends not to last.