This classic brioche recipe was easier than I ever imagined it would be and it was light, delicate and ultra buttery;  simply perfect!

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A huge majority of the foodie peeps that we follow on Twitter have all been a Twitter about #BBA.  I was not sure what it was but everyone was throwing out terms such as yeast, flours, butter, sponges, rising to the occasion, etc… I knew I had to get in on the action!   I finally sent out a loud Tweet, about how I wanted to find out what #BBA was and what was I missing???  Jennifer over at Foodbat was the first to answer my call of distress and she told me to head right over to Pinch My Salt to find out from Nicole about the latest and greatest!

BBA Challenge is a group of crazy home bakers that are trying to work their way through Peter Reinhart‘s book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice.   The great thing about this challenge, unlike some of the others I participate in, is that I am not required to make all of the breads, I don’t have to post on a certain day (it will be the same week as everyone), and  I am able to go at my pace;  the only requirement is that I own the book and I cannot post the recipe (if you want the recipe, this is where you can get the book).  The journey will bring us all together to share, cry, learn and enjoy what each other bakes.  We had the honor of meeting Peter, a couple months ago and from what I learned, I am sure this challenge will make Peter proud!

I jumped in on week four, which was the Brioche.   I was glad to jump in at this time, as I love brioche.  I love plain and simple brioche with butter and marmalade or one with dried fruits tucked inside.  As well, this classic, makes a wonderful sandwich bread or hamburger and hot-dog buns.  I have always wanted to make brioche but was scared, I figured it would be too time consuming and/or too hard.  I was partly wrong, it does take some time but overall was very straightforward and easy.  Peter’s book offers three versions of the basic brioche recipe:  Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle Class Brioche, and Poor Man’s Brioche.  The Rich Man’s Brioche calls for the most amount of butter and since I was low on butter, I went with the Middle Class Brioche as it only called for 8 ounces of butter, there is also a recipe for the Poor Man’s Brioche as it calls for less and is probably more healthy!

The recipe starts out with a basic sponge which is incorporated with eggs, flour and very little sugar.  After it sits for awhile to allow the gluten to break down, the fun begins.  I started with a rather stiff dough but once I started working the room temperature butter in, slices at a time, the dough softened up and became sticky.  I was really amazed as when I started the process, I was sure it was not on the right path, I never imagined it would become so pliable.  I let my dough sit overnight in the fridge.  It did rise somewhat but not a lot, which I was kind of worried about, but it all worked out.

I woke up early in the morning and shaped my dough into cute little balls with the token ball on top.  I wished I had the beautiful fluted brioche pans, but they are not part of the budget right now, so I used muffin pans.  Muffin pans worked out just fine.  After shaping the dough, I let it proof for 2 hours.  I probably should have only gone for an hour and a half as the dough did rise a bit too much and my brioche ran together a little, but the dough, that I let rise in a loft pan, looked beautiful – I was so excited!  I baked the brioche for about 25 minutes and the entire time, I was reminded me of the French Boulangerie that was below the apartment we rented in Paris, a couple years ago.  I always knew when it was 5 am because they would start baking the bread, I loved that smell!

Our brioche came out beautifully, not picture perfect and dainty with fluted edges but still beautiful.  It was light, buttery and not too yeasty, really perfect.  I served it with deep dark espressos and Chez Pim’s Marmalade, Bouquet des Fleurs, which is bitter and so very fragrant, absolutely delicious!  Want to learn about these marmalades, read on….

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Pim, over at Chez Pim, makes these outstanding artisan marmalades, here is a bit about them, that I took from her site:  “Pim’s artisan marmalades are made from rare, exotic citrus grown sustainably in the hills of Watsonville, California. Each small batch is handmade from a single varietal to preserve its own distinct qualities, adding only minimally refined organic sugar, and using the pectin naturally extracted from citrus – because commercial pectin is only for the timid.”

I have tried making marmalade once, which I admit was good but I loved the texture of Pim’s so much more.  She uses these beautiful long strips of citrus and it is cooked just enough, as not to break down the fruit too much.  It went perfectly with fresh brioche from the oven.  If you would like to try some of Pim’s marmalades, be sure to check out her online store.

If you would like more information on the BBA Challenge besure to check out Nicole’s wonderful site, Pinch My Salt, you will find the BBA Blogroll there as well;  there are some GREAT brioche out there!  If you are interested in continuing the BBA journey with Chez Us, please sign up for The Daily Dish, our newest (and improved) newsletter, here.