Ratatouille is the only animated film I have willingly watched four times in my adult life. And is it really so hard to see why? I mean hulllooo…France, French food, and a cute little talking mouse that magically pulls on your hair and voilà, you’re a five star chef!
But there’s more to it than that. In my pre-blog days, I’d use a recipe about 80% of the time. In fact, my parents always kind of groan when I go into the kitchen because it annoys them to no end when I decide to wing a crepe recipe and end up throwing half a gallon of milk away (is there a sound for innocent blog whistling anyone?). My father and I literally yelled at each other last year when he asked me how much flour I needed for my pretzel recipe and I said I started with my base and slowly added more until it was enough. My pretzels are always amazing, FYI. So says the hubby who hints at them for almost every major football event.
My point is, I wasn’t really a recipe gal. Or, actually, I was. But not in the way a lot of people are recipe people. I’d use a recipe to my craving, turn it into reality. But one thing I love most about little Rémy, is the dash of this, the splash of that…and a little sip to taste it all. Those images of him biting into two different food and two styles of music coming together to create this little whimsical stream of sounds that harmonize and become one, that’s why I loved that rat so much.
And because he was French.
So, since it’s been awhile since I thought of that furry little rat mastermind and because I haven’t done any French baking in a while, I thought I’d share this lovely French brioche recipe with you.
Serve this with copious amounts of butter and honey or a hearty spoonful of Nutella. Don’t forget a few cups of café au lait and indulge my friends. Indulge.
Note: this bread was pretty darn soft and perfect for three days. After that, well I’d have to make a double batch to let you know.
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs+ 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 stick butter, melted and room temperature
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- Flour for work surface, in case your dough is still too sticky
- Granulated or pearl sugar to sprinkle on the tops of your brioche
- Get two large mixing bowls. In the first one, put all of your dry ingredients: flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt and orange zest. In the other bowl lightly beat eggs, and incorporate the butter and orange juice.
- Then, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until the ingredients come together to form a ball. Keep adding until you can knead the dough with your hands and roll it out onto a floured surface, incorporating the rest of the flour from the recipe slowly into the still somewhat sticky dough. The dough should get smooth enough to work with the more you knead, but until then lightly coat your hands and knuckles with flour and keep sprinkling your surface with flour.
- Knead for about ten minutes and then put the ball into one of the bowls and cover to let rise for 1½-2 hours until doubled in volume.
- Then punch down and form into the shapes you’d like your finished brioche to look like. I did one mini braided loaf, and 7 round breads. To shape the round breads, roll a ball of dough, set it in a muffin tin (floured generously), use a finger to make an indent in the middle, like a donut, and roll a smaller ball and pull out a small cone shaped piece of dough to stick in the indentation.
- Let the dough rise for 40-60 minutes. Whisk the egg for the egg wash and use a pastry brush to coat the tops of the bread. Generously sprinkle sugar on the top (or get those big, white pieces of pearl sugar that won’t melt and will bring a true French feel to your bread)
- Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.