"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!"
Either way, brioche is some good stuff. My family has made it for my entire life every Christmas morning. My mom and aunt decided some 30+ years ago that it would be fun, so a tradition was born!
This past Christmas I tried my hand at my own brioche, and it turned out fine. This has always been nothing more than a Christmas treat for me, but R recently suggested that I make it for a spring brunch...glad I did. The picture below shows the holiday version with Santa Clause face, but I left out the facial parts to make a sun for the brunch.Recipe:
1 package yeast, active dry or compressed
1/4 cup warm water (lukewarm for compressed yeast)
1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) soft butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk, scalded and cooled
About 5 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
Beaten egg white
Mix yeast with warm water and set aside to soften. With a mixer (Thanks, Aunt Pam!), cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, orange peel, and salt until fluffy. Beat in eggs and yolks, a few at a time, blending well. Then add yeast and milk and gradually mix in 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn the dough onto a heavily floured (about 3/4 cup) board and knead until smooth and quite elastic, about 15 minutes. Add more flour to board if necessary.
Butter a large bowl; turn dough over in it to coat surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. I've also let it rise overnight in the refrigerator before letting it warm to room temperature in the morning.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead into a smooth ball.
Pinch off a lump of dough to use for decorating (this is for the Santa face) and reshape both pieces into smooth balls. Flatten large ball with hands to a 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick cake on a buttered sheet of foil or a 14-inch pizza pan, depending upon the shape you want to make.
Clip dough with floured kitchen scissors with scissors pointed to the middle. Twist these strips of dough together to make the whiskers/sun rays. Then you can be creative and shape the remaining dough into eyes, cheeks, and mustache how you see fit. Of course the sun design comes out fine as well. My bread (pictured above) didn't exactly look like a Santa.
Let dough rise, uncovered, in a warm place until well puffed, 30 to 45 minutes. Brush surface with beaten egg white - don't beat too much. Bake in a 325 oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until richly browned. Serve hot or let cool on a wire rack and wrap airtight. The loaf keeps well for a week at room temperature, but I usually keep it in the fridge. To reheat...you can figure that out. Pull apart - do not cut - to serve.