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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Brioche, The Most Buttery Bread

A brioche bun is a breakfast delight. Photo
by Elena Moiseeva | IST.

 

Almost 200 years ago, Brie was crowned the Queen of Cheeses. Following the Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815), representatives of 30 nations convened in Vienna to reconstruct the map of Europe. It wasn’t all work: During a lively discussion on the merits of different cheeses, Brie was unanimously proclaimed “Queen of Cheeses.”

But what about a Queen of Breads to go with the cheese? None has been proclaimed in the history books, so we’re doing the enthroning here.

The luscious butteriness that makes Brie a queen is the key flavor of brioche (pronounced bree-OASH), our nominee for Queen of Breads. In fact, it already has a crown (see Types Of Brioche, below).

WHAT IS BRIOCHE BREAD?

Brioche is a light, slightly sweet bun or loaf made with eggs, yeast and butter, and glazed with an egg wash. The butter and eggs make it very rich. Brioche is served as a breakfast bread, used to make French toast (better than challah!) and with luxury ingredients such as foie gras and smoked salmon. (Perhaps our favorite luxury food is pâté de foie gras on toasted brioche.)

 

LET THEM EAT BRIOCHE!

The word comes from Old French, broyer, to knead. The expression, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake,” commonly misattributed to Queen Marie-Antoinette, is a translation of the phrase, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” The quotation was attributed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau to “a great princess,” possibly Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of Louis XIV (although how “great” a princess is who disparages hungry commoners is up for debate).

 

TYPES OF BRIOCHE

  • Classic brioche is baked in a fluted tin with a ball of dough crowning the top (called brioche à tête, brioche with a head—see photo at top).
  • Round buns are baked without the flutes and the crown; we love them with burgers. We’ve bought mini versions for sliders.
  • A standard loaf of brioche is called brioche Nanterre, after a town in the western suburbs of Paris.
  • Almond brioche is sliced from a loaf of brioche, cooked so it looks like French toast, and topped with frangipane (crème pâtissière flavored with ground almonds), sliced almonds and powdered sugar. It is also made the shape of a round roll, topped with sliced almonds (photo at right).
  •  

    Almond brioche. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • Orange brioche is a roll filled with orange cream and topped with sugar. Chocolate brioche is filled with chocolate, the brioche version of pain au chocolat.
  • Gingerbread man brioche is made for Christmas: not with ginger, but shaped like gingerbread men and topped with sugar.
  •  
    Beyond French toast, leftover brioche makes heavenly bread pudding, bread salad, croutons, eggs in a basket,* fondue dippers and grilled cheese sandwiches.

    BRIOCHE HISTORY

    According to LaGourmandise.net, the word brioche first appeared in print in 1404, although it could have existed hundreds of years before then. It is believed to have sprung from a traditional Norman recipe, though some culinary historians have argued that brioche is probably of Roman origin.

    Want to bake brioche? You don’t have to buy fluted brioche molds: Here’s a recipe for a loaf of brioche.

    Check out all the different types of bread in our delicious Bread Glossary.

     
    *EGGS IN A BASKET RECIPE: Cut a round hole in the center of two slices of brioche. Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the brioche slices and brown on one side; flip over. Crack two eggs and add one to each hole. Cook until the eggs reach desired degree of doneness.

      





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