Deputy editor Miranda Crowell discovers that dancing and fist-pumping are side effects of brioche consumption.
For a long time, I've considered myself a Baker. I love the precision of it (I've never had the improvisational skills/confidence to be much of a cook) and I love the results (I could almost eat my weight in chocolate cake). So when I saw the Huckleberry cookbook, I figured I'd go for the glory: The heroic blueberry brioche on the cover.
My struggle with this recipe made me think that I may have oversold myself as a baker. Granted, I didn't make it in the best circumstances: The first time, I prepared it as I tried to cook three other dishes at once for the holidays, and I accidentally poured in almost twice the recommended amount of yeast, which yielded an impressively tall but inedible cake. The second time, I attempted it with my 3-year-old son "helping"—that is, trying to pour a pound of flour in the bowl and regularly making a grab for the blueberries. I'm not quite sure what went wrong—I suspect the milk may have been too hot for the yeast—but the bread, which you see here, came out rather flat-topped.
After I sheepishly left it on the Test Kitchen counter for the staff, though, one co-worker did a dance by my office door as she ate it. There was some fist-pumping in the halls. I found this in my email inbox: The Brioche Is AWESOME. ….. YUMMMMMMMMMMYYYY !!!!
So yeah, this is a tasty bread. Or I have very kind coworkers. Ok, both.
Worth noting: The recipe calls for a tablespoon of yeast, which is a little confusing, as a typical 1/4 oz. packet gives conversions in teaspoons, not tablespoons. Just measure it out in an actual tablespoon than trying to rely on your math skills (as I mistakenly did), and you'll be fine.
After you've made the dough and pressed it out, you're supposed to "distribute the blueberries and 2 tbsp. of the sugar along along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log." This is nitpicky, but there are so many blueberries, you actually wind up distributing them along the top half, not the top edge, of the dough. Mine were spilling out all over the place as I rolled.
FRESH BLUEBERRY BRIOCHE
"This bread is sweet enough that you know you're having a pastry but not so sweet that you can't eat an entire loaf without noticing," writes Zoe Nathan. "This would be soooo good in the Monte Cristo. It would take that salty sweet sandwich to the next level and it makes an amazing French toast. You can also fold toasted sliced almonds in with the blueberries.
"One of my happiest moments while writing this book, was taking this bread out of the oven on a Sunday afternoon and sitting around our dining room table with a few friends ripping it apart while it was piping hot. Everyone enjoyed it so much that by the time I thought of getting a knife it was all gone—and that is, hands down, the best way to serve it. Don't slice it, just drop it in the middle of your table and have people rip it apart right from the oven. That's love."
1 1/2 cups (225 g) fresh blueberries2 tbsp. whole milk1 tbsp. active dry yeast1 cup + 2 tbsp (280 g.) all-purpose flour1 cup + t tbsp. (280 g.) bread flour6 1/2 tbsp. (80 g. sugar), plus more for sprinkling1 tsp. kosher salt3 eggs1 egg yolk1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. (140 g.) unsalted butter, very soft1 batch egg wash: Combine 2 egg holks, 2 tbsp. heavy cream, and a pinch of kosher salt, and whisk until homogenous. Refrigerate until needed.DAY ONE1. Place the fresh blueberries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery.2. Slightly warm the milk and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 2 1/2 tbsp. of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.3. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for 6 minutes. Pause every minute to push the dough back down into the bowl and off the hook until it pulls off the sides and looks like a strong bread dough.4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of 2 minutes. After 1 minute, pause to scrape down the bowl and hook. When the butter begins to blend in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter and bring the dough back together, 5 to 6 minutes longer.5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16-by-10-in (40-cm-by-24-cm) rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with a short side nearest you; distribute the blueberries and 2 tbsp. of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log.6. Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
DAY TWO7. Grease a 9-by-5-in (23-by-12-cm) loaf pan. Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12-by-6-in (30.5-by-15-cm) rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp. of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time.8. Place into the greased loaf pan, loosely wrap in plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size, about 3 hours.9. As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/ 180 degrees C. Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure the egg doesn't pool around the edges. Liberally sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. Then transfer to a cooling rack.
This keeps, wrapped well, at room temperature for up to 3 days, but who are we kidding, it will be lucky to survive three minutes out of the oven.