I didn't need much of an excuse to whip up a batch of cupcakes. Then I found out it was National Cupcake Week and it was just like kizmet!! Hello, Nutella and Almond Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Cream Frosting :) Where have you been all my life?!Read More
I really wanted to make brioche. It's one of my favourite breads. But I'm always a little nervous of bread. Making it, that is. I've faced my inner demons and made this and this but I still take a deep breath every time I embark on a new bread project. Still, I decided I wanted to make brioche and found this delicious Chocolate & Hazelnut Pull-Apart Brioche from Butter and Brioche. Thalia photographs her bakes perfectly and has really detailed instructions on how to make everything so I just love following her blog.
The dough recipe is pretty straightforward. Making the initial dough is a 2 step process and then the butter is added giving it the richness you'd expect from brioche. I used my standalone mixer and dough hook to get me to the stage when I was ready to roll out. The brioche dough looked as I expected it to but I found it really sticky when I was to roll it out. Thalia suggests that the work surface should be lightly floured but I found that I needed much more flour (probably too much) to be able to keep the dough moving. When the dough is shaped into a rectangle, it is then spread with Nutella (yum) and sprinkled with hazelnuts. The original recipe adds extra chocolate chips here which I didn't use, but I think it would work with and without.
The cutting of the dough requires some precision but is at the same time fairly forgiving. You cut the rectangle into long strips and place them on top of each other. Then cut this thin tower into equal squares and stack them in the tin. I had a little bit left over which I squeezed down the side and as it's tear and share bread, it just merges into the one loaf (why I say it's pretty forgiving). Then we leave this to prove and then bake it in the oven. Now the original recipe says that it will increase in volume during proving until it's above the top of the tin. Mine didn't rise that much but I decided that I would still put it in the oven after the 1½ hours so mine looks a little flatter than Thalia's lovely loaf.
There are other brioche recipes I'd like to try but this was a great recipe to start with. I love naked brioche with jam for breakfast but the Nutella adds an extra richness. I'm not a huge fan of the chocolate spread but I think it works really well here. I might, in fact, reduce the amount of hazelnuts and add in the chocolate chips next time as well as the Nutella.
I love tear and share bread. It's really convivial to have sharing platters of food and long lunches or dinners with good friends. I haven't had a sharing sweet bread before and this is a wonderfully yummy one for my initiation.
This would be a lovely (naughty) addition to the breakfast table but I would love to share this for brunch with family and friends. Can't wait to make this again :)
Chocolate and Hazelnut Brioche (from Butter and Brioche)
- 240G PLAIN FLOUR
- 25G CASTER SUGAR
- 5G SALT
- 7G INSTANT YEAST
- 70ML MILK
- 2 EGGS + 1 EGG YOLK (these need to be at room temperature)
- 125G BUTTER, CUBED (this needs to be at room temperature)
- 160G (½ CUP) NUTELLA
- 75G CHOPPED HAZELNUTS
- 1 EGG YOLK WHISKED WITH 2 TBSP MILK
- Optional: 90G DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a standalone mixer with a dough hook
- Combine the ingredients on a slow speed
- Add the milk and eggs and mix on slow for 2 minutes
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 6-8 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth and elastic
- Add the cubed butter piece by piece and mix until it's all fully incorporated in the dough which should take around 5 minutes
- Make sure that the butter is properly distributed throughout the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure it's all mixed together well
- On a lightly floured surface, place the dough and roll into a rectangle, roughly 30cm by 40cm (you need to be able to move the dough around so ensure it's not sticking to the surface by dusting the surface with more flour if necessary)
- Spread the Nutella across the dough and then sprinkle the hazelnuts across the surface - this is where you would add the optional chocolate chips from the Ingredients list
- Cut the dough into 6 long strips (lengthwise) and then place them on top of each other so you have a long, tall stack
- Cut the stack into 6 even squares
- Place the squares side by side in the baking tin, filling it 2/3 full
- Brush the surface of the loaf with the egg yolk mixed with milk
- Leave it to rise in a warm area for 1½ hours until the dough has puffed up and risen above the top of the tin and there should be a "skin" when touched lightly
- Once risen, pre-heat the oven to 180C degrees and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (mine took around 25 mins) but you want a skewer inserted in the middle to come out clean (if during baking, it looks like it's browning too quickly, you can cover the top with foil)
- When it's cooked and out of the oven, leave for 5 mins in the tin and then turn it out onto a rack to cook
- Enjoy :)
So today it's our 9 year wedding anniversary. 9 years. I mean, 9 years! That's almost a lifetime, right? Any time before we were together is a dim and distant memory now, but we have lots of happy memories and two wonderful boys to show for it :)
Continuing my experimentation with macarons, I thought they would make a nice treat to celebrate our anniversary and decided to look at shapes this time - and what better shape for love than hearts! To make the shell batter, I followed the same recipe and process that I used for my Matcha Macarons - minus the Matcha powder and I used Hollyberry Pink colouring instead of the green to colour them.
To create the heart shape, I created a PowerPoint slide with 12 standard Clipart heart shapes on an A4 sheet of paper and slipped this under the baking paper on my tray to use as a template. It's a little trickier to pipe the hearts and also I didn't achieve the smooth, flat surface that I usually have with the small round macarons but they just have a little more texture than usual! I also thought I'd experiment with some edible heart decorations and these worked well (some decorations can burn in the oven so I thought I'd try just a few with these until I was sure they would work).
We had a family party in the summer and I made a few different flavoured macarons and the most popular filling turned out to be Nutella. I personally find it a bit sweet but since hubby is a chocolate fiend, I thought these would work well with the contrasting dark colour of the chocolate spread.
If you'd like to have a go with these, please use my Matcha Macaron recipe but omit the ½ tsp of Matcha powder from the batter. Then to colour them, I used Sugarflair Sugartint Droplets in Hollyberry/Pink - I had to use quite a lot of this to achieve a dark colour but you can add as much as you like, just remembering that once you add the meringue to the mixture, it will tend to lighten in colour.
Finally, you'll need a jar of Nutella spread or whatever filling you choose for these - simple jam would be just as effective or you can mix the jam with a little buttercream to give a richer filling. The beauty of macarons is that they're so versatile once you master the shell, you can then experiment with lots of flavours, colours and toppings. I use a piping bag to fill my macarons and then sandwich the top onto them. If I had edible glitter, you'd probably see a little of that on there too - but then again, that might not be quite manly enough for this gift!