Is there anything better than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through your home?
Today was my first time making brioche and I did not really know what to expect but after having a lot of success with my Heavenly Hot Cross Buns, I thought I would give the 'baking bread from scratch thing' another go. I was going to bake a simple loaf but changed my mind and decided to go for a wreath pattern and I am glad I did - it looks so pretty and festive with its golden glaze, jeweled sweet sultanas and some holly decorations for that festive touch. I am going to try another version of this bread with chocolate or hazelnut spread or a cinnamon sugar mixture at some point.
This bread is surprisingly easy to make and, like most breads, is best eaten fresh the same day slathered in fresh butter but don't worry if you can't finish it because it also tastes amazing toasted or as the base for french toast or bread pudding too.
I swear the smell that will fill your home will have your mouth watering!
Add a little mixed spice or pumpkin spice to your dough for a yummy flavor change
Grease your dough hook with oil before starting - it makes the dough simple to remove when done
If your join isn't too tidy, cover with some clever Christmas decorations and make it the top of your wreath
If you are new to baking please read my Heavenly Hot Cross Buns post for my bread baking tips and tricks
YOU WILL NEED
7g | 0.25 ounces | 2 +1/4 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 cup warm (NOT HOT) milk
1 heaped teaspoon castor sugar
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup butter at room temperature, chopped
Extra bread flour for the kneading process (less than 1/4 cup is usually sufficient)
1-2 tablespoons sultanas, dried cranberries or dried fruits of your choice (optional)
1 egg yolk
Splash of milk
Dissolve the yeast in the milk, add the heaped teaspoon of castor sugar and use a whisk to ensure it all well mixed and the yeast has dissolved. Cover and set aside for 5-7 minutes or until frothy - THIS IS CRUCIAL, if it is not frothy your dough will not rise, so start again if needed.
Add the flour, salt and caster sugar to your cake mixing bowl and give a quick stir to combine.
Place the bowl in your cake mixer, with the dough hook attached, and on low speed gently pour in the yeast and beaten eggs and knead until the the dough is smooth and firm. (You can also do this by hand if you wish.)
Gradually add the chopped butter and continue to incorporate with the kneading function on low to medium speed until all the butter is incorporated into the dough - it will look wet and sticky.
Adding a tablespoon at a time, add extra flour until the dough no longer looks sticky. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy - it must have a good stretch. This may take several minutes.
Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl and brush the surface with a little extra oil to prevent it drying out. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
After the first rise, punch the center and divide the dough into 3 portions.
On a flat clean surface roll out each portion into a long thin log about 70cm/28" long.
Braid and plait (just like you would with your hair - a 3 section hair braid) together from one end to the other. Place into round baking pan 26cm/10" in size ensuring the two ends connect nicely together (they will join when baking). You will now have a circle/wreath shape.
Gently press the sultanas/cranberries into the top of the dough if you are using them.
Add a splash of milk to your egg yolk, mix together and gently brush over the top of the wreath (this is what gives the wreath that brilliant, golden glaze).
Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for another 1 hour.
Bake in a 210°C/400°F oven for 10 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 180°C/350°F and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
SERVES 12 GENEROUS SLICES or 18 REGULAR SLICES