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Courtesy of Janet McCormick Strawberry Brioche combines strawberry on top of sweet brioche bread.

At the end of winter we scramble through creating fun things to do in order to endure the harsh temperatures, dreary sunless days and overall lack of things to do just to get by. Though I started getting better at being present during each day, I found myself waiting for the end to come, knowing celebratory relief was near. To me, that relief is the warmth of the sun and all the events that flood in and around this time of year. But nothing says it's here, better than the ripest, sweetest strawberries the market could ever feature.

I saw them and knew instantly their home would be atop a loaf of sweet brioche bread. I look at gangly, pudgy berries with love and compassion for their fate is in my grasp and I know their value and how their essence will speak to the brioche. And so under the guise of helping and in the language of deliciousness, I gathered not one but two quarts of fresh strawberries thinking I'm going to assist in making this brioche shine. I resisted the urge to make the usual strawberry shortcake I always bless our tables with this time of year for this new, updated dessert. The combination of butter, eggs, and flour creates a soft, fluffy, and flavorful bread that is perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. It's classic French cuisine and not at all difficult to make. It's almost a cake which is why it's a perfect addition to a few crushed and sugared berries.

STRAWBERRY BRIOCHE

2/3 cup warm milk

21/4 tsp. Instant yeast

1/4 cup honey

4 eggs plus one for brushing

31/2 cups - 4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. Salt

4 T. Salted butter at room temperature

11/2 sticks salted butter (cold) sliced

In a mixing bowl combine the he milk, yeast, honey, 4 eggs, flour, and salt. Mix for about 4-5 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons room temp butter and mix until combined, about 2-3 minutes.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and roll out onto a lightly floured surface, creating a large rectangle that's about 12x18 inches. Lay the thin slices of cold butter on one half of the dough, pressing gently into the dough.

Fold the other half of the dough over butter, covering it completely. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, roughly 12x18 inches. Fold 1/3 of the dough into the center, then fold the other 1/3 over the top of the first layer so you have three dough layers (like an envelope). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer for 15-20 minutes until chilled.

Remove the dough. Roll out into a large square. Cut 3 strips and braid. Place this on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Beat the other egg, brush over the braid.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

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